I was recently put forward by BritMums to give a Keynote Speech to the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) – at their annual conference, no less, which involved a journey of a few hours, during which I contemplated my blogging one!
The point of the talk was to help the several hundred Practitioners and Volunteers understand and help single parents better.
They’re trying to shed what can sometimes be perceived to be a rather mainstream image and encourage as many parents as possible to take advantage of their local networks and teachings and seeing as many families nowadays don’t fit the old stereotype, it makes sense to widen their appeal.
When I first started blogging, just over four years, ago, it was in an effort to find other older single mums. I knew they were generally portrayed as young scroungers, but the ones I had encountered throughout my life, were far from young and quite the opposite to scroungers off the state. They’d always been strong, independent people, with children born out of marriages.
I had a gut feeling that we weren’t who were being purported to be.
So I just began writing about it. ‘Challenging perceptions of who single parents really are’ was my tag-line and, although I’m aware it really needs updating and replacing with a few fancy statistics I’ve discovered since getting going, it’s something that even being invited to speak at this conference says is actually occurring.
But, obviously, it isn’t something that has happened single-handedly or overnight – life itself has done that.
I believe that being part of BritMums has helped though.
Having discovered their community pretty early on in my foray into the blogging world, and being embraced by their mentor project at the time – something they called a blogging ‘Big Sister’ – where someone with plenty of experience took people like me under their wing – I was led to contacts who were happy to support me in my efforts to make a difference.
Ellen Arnison, who blogs at In a Bun Dance was my such hand-holder and I have turned to her on many an occasion since. She gave me some very sound (possibly as Scottish as she is) advice which was ‘Plough your own furrow’ and this has stood me in enormously good stead.
I was very honoured to host people like her – established and respected – on my little corner of the web, professional women who had been previously or now found themselves to be single parents and this was very encouraging indeed. They were each in agreement about us not being fairly represented, so generously gave me their unique tale or take in what would become a Single Mums’ Stories series.
The impact they had got us shortlisted in the Inspire category of the Bibs (Brilliance in Blogging Awards) within Older Single Mum’s first year, such was its truth!
I’m still happy to run anyone else’s story if they want to volunteer one (contact details below), but it was something that took a back seat after a while and I was just myself, talking about anything and everything and quite regretful of the title I’d chosen for my blog because I felt it was limiting. It does what it says on the tin, however!
And this is my point really. Although it’s easy to get caught up with your stats, high reach isn’t everything. You’ll naturally engage with those you resonate with – no matter your subject. Most of my loyal readers aren’t even single – perhaps we just have a self-deprecating sense of humour in common!
Whatever it may be that drives you – food, photography, fashion, travel or health, for example, (I’ve never worked out what Lifestyle is!) – it’s all about passion and that was the word that kept being fed back to me after my talk to the NCT.
I realised they were right – that I am passionate about my subject(s) and by being true to my blogging self for the last few years, the brilliant platform that is BritMums helped me to help those who will help others on their lone parent path.
My blog isn’t one of the busiest in the world, but just by ticking along and keeping in mind why I set out to write it in the first place has been a good anchor. It’s ultimately done its job. My voice – and that of other single parents thereby – has been heard.
If you want to read a behind the scenes post about what happened on the day, it’s HERE!
How do you feel about ‘Ploughing your own furrow?’