Friday, 12 January 2018

Is Blogging Making Me Unhappy?

I remember so clearly the moment I began this blog of mine.

It was 2013, I was sitting on my bed at my mums house with a pink laptop on my knee, trying to get comfortable with my 6 month baby bump getting in the way.

I was bouncing blog name ideas off Jon ... Beauty & The Bump perhaps, to reflect my interest in make up?! "No"...Jon said..."That name won't be any good once the baby is born".

"Yeah but I probably won't even keep the blogging up once the baby is here..." I replied.

And yet here we are....that baby is turning 5 years old in a few months time. And this blog is still part of my life.

Infact its more than just a part of my life.

It's become my career...the thing I earn my living from. It's become my business. And it's also become the focus of a LOT of my attention.

And I do mean a LOT of it.

I doubt that there's a day that goes by where I don't think about something related to my blog.

Infact if I'm being totally honest with myself, I doubt there's an hour goes by without me thinking about content I could write....thinking of blog related tasks I haven't done that day....thinking of tweets I could share, Instagram posts to do, emails to reply to...etc etc etc.

Even when I'm asleep, I'm thinking about blog posts.

I have always had a slightly addictive personality when it comes to hobbies. I've always been an "all in" kind of girl. For example, before I was a hobby was penpalling. But I couldn't just have one or two penpals like most people would, oh no...I had 83.

83 penpals from around the world.
The letters came in by the dozens every day, I always had a stack to reply to and I always felt a bit stressed out if I didn't get through a certain amount of replies each day.

For me, hobbies have always been less about a way to relax and unwind...and more something else to get my OCD on about. Something else to organise and plan for, something else to make "To Do" lists about.

Something else to worry myself about, if I'm honest.

Something else to tell myself I'm failing at, something else to berate myself about.

I'm probably doing hobbies all wrong, now that I think about it.

Last year, I earned the most amount of money in a year that I have ever earned before. Infact I earned more than DOUBLE the amount I've earned in a year before in my previous office based minimum wage roles.

And it's easy to tell yourself that's an amazing achievement. In many ways I guess it is.

But successful businesses and self employment usually come at a price...and for me, I wonder...has the price been my happiness?

In all honesty, I think it has in so many ways.

Never before have I cared so much about the opinions of other people as I do when I put my life online to be watched or read about as entertainment by strangers and, inevitably, judged in some way.

Never before have I compared myself so unfavourably to my peers and hated myself for my lack of ability to do things as well as they can - I can mentally beat myself up over the fact that I can't take photos that are as crisp as other peoples.

Never before have I judged the success of my life on the number of people who decide to unfollow me on a social media platform on any given day, or by the number of people who decide to press "like" on a photo I share.

Never before have I bought outfits or things for our home that I don't even really like, purely because they'll "look good for Instagram photos" and make me look as though my taste is the same as everyone elses.

And it eats into so much of your time and so much of your soul....I tell myself that I don't have time to paint my nails or read a book anymore because I'm always just so busy, but if I'm really honest with much of my time do I spend scrolling aimlessly through my phone?

Checking my blog comments, checking to see how my last Insta post is doing, checking to see who's watched my latest video, oh and lets just have a quick check back on those blog comments again...maybe there's been a new one in the last 30 seconds...and on and on and on it goes.

The social media approval seeking Merry-Go-Round that I can't seem to get off, even though I hate it.

And then there's the price tag on my head.

The knowledge that I'm only worth X amount to a brand when so-and-so is worth twice as much as me, because her followers are more engaged or her photography is better.

That's always a good one for knocking that self-esteem down a bit further.

Then there's all the mindless bullshit you find yourself being sucked into....

I spend too much time stressing out about creating a decent flatlay for Instagram....because that's what good bloggers do, and my flatlay skills are seriously lacking...because I don't really give a shit.

I spend too much time worrying about whether or not my blog images are bright enough or crisp enough or whether they create envy and admiration....because that's what good bloggers do...and they are rarely any of those things, coz my house is dark and messy and I don't really give enough of a shit to pretend otherwise.

I spend too much time stressing out over who how many thumbs downs my videos are getting and why they don't get as many views as other peoples....but in all honesty, my videos are a bit crap coz I don't really give enough of a shit to take the time to make them look better.

To sum it up....I spend too much time worrying about pointless, meaningless bullshit when in all honesty...I don't truly give a shit about most of it. I just feel like I SHOULD give a shit.

And then there's the way that blogging impacts on my family life...because it does.

Like when brands want to work with you because your children are the right ages to promote their product and you know that means persuading them to pose for photos with it when maybe they don't feel like it.

Or when the brand needs you to get a post live for them by a certain date even though it means you have to go out and take photos with the children in tow and you know it's going to lead to Shouty Snappy Mum making an unwanted appearance.

Never has the impact of my blogging life on my family been more clear to me than it was on New Years Day...when, thanks to a deadline of midway between Christmas and New Year given to me by a PR lady who, bless her, is probably in her early 20s and doesn't have a clue how stressful the Christmas holidays with little ones can actually be and how unrealistic it is to ask a mother of 3 to get work completed then - I found myself stressed out, needing photos urgently for a promotion I was late with, and with no option but to drag the boys out with me in the freezing cold across muddy fields to get the damn pictures.

It was miserable, it was difficult, the photos weren't coming out right which was making me stressed...the boys just wanted to play and I wasn't letting them which was making them stressed...and even though I tried to make it fun for them and give them some free play time in the park after, it still ended up with one of them slipping over in the mud and wanting to leave, the other two hysterically crying because they wanted to stay and everybody feeling really bloody pissed off.

And after we'd bundled the crying kids back into the car and started driving back home in terrible moods....I noticed that everywhere I looked were families, out together on New Years Day walks.  Dads carrying new bikes for the little ones, children zooming along on their brand new scooters, everybody chatting and laughing together. Not a camera in sight.

And as I watched them...I tried to remember when the last time we'd had a family day out like that was, where there were no cameras at all. No insta stories, no YouTube filming, no DSLR or even phone camera for snapping a sneaky photo "for the memories" which of course I'll end up sharing on Instagram anyway.

And I couldn't.

And I still can't.

And that's when it dawned on me....just how much of an impact my blogging has actually had on our family life, and my happiness over all.

How often I've put what I need to do "for the blog" ahead of what might be best for our family.

Even right now, as I'm writing this... I'm ignoring my hunger pangs because I haven't eaten all day, I'm ignoring the fact that I'm freezing cold and all I really want is a hot bath...I'm ignoring it all because I haven't got any blog content written and the OCD sufferer in me can't handle that.

Because it tells me that the blog must come first, the work must be done, the content must be written or...or...!

Or what?!

Do you know what, sod it...I'm getting in the bath!

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  1. LOL penpal times. That must been the time when we got to know each other even though I can’t remember if we actually were penpals. I know we met through livejournal end of the 1990s or early 2000s!
    Anyway I have the same thoughts even though I can nothing really compare to your big blog. But I have my worries too what it all means to the family. I remember my so far biggest promo last summer that took me to a place 3hours from here, just 2 days before we head out for our summer vacation. All what mattered were good photos!!! And it was sush a shitty day. Cold like hell, raining cats and dogs and I forgot a jacket for my son!!! We returned home with a 4year old with fever! It was too much for him. Even for me. But all what counted was that Blogpost were I should get my so far highest payment. I worked my normal job on Saturday until 9pm, head out for that blogger job on Sunday at 7am and had to go back to normal work by 6am on Monday.
    What are we doing?
    xoxo Sina

  2. YES to ALL of this! I'm actually just fed up with it all at the moment and can't stand the pretense any longer. Sorry you're also feeling like this because it's SO crap.

  3. I'm so sorry that you are feeling like this, I have been blogging since 2011, but thankfully I do have the personality that doesn't give a shit, and seven children that won't let me spend too much time doing one thing as someone always needs a drink or a biscuit! When I read before Christmas that you had posts scheduled way into the New Year I was slightly envious, but if it's making you unhappy then it really is time to take a step back, try it every now and again, don't post every day, do a few less social media posts, and I bet you find that the world won't stop and all your loyal readers will still be there, its just as important to look after yourself and your lovely boys, because they grow up so very fast xxx

  4. love this, I only started about 2 months ago, I only have one page on my blog but post to insta regularly, it's so hard with 4 kids, my phone memory keeps getting full, my youngest always wakes up whenever I'm in the middle of editing a video and I don't even get paid for anything (not yet anyway)... even more brilliant is that I had over 100 penpal's too and replied to them all.. I thought it was just me!!

  5. OMG I resonate with this soooooooooooooo much!!!! I absolutely love blogging in so many ways but can get so fed up with it too. What's the answer? If you find out, please let me know ;) xxx

  6. This post is brilliant. I've only got a teeny blog where I want to rant but I can already see one month in how it can usurp your thought life, which means the rest of your life and your people. My kids are small as well. Sobering. I'm definitely an obsessive type and I'm telling women who relaunch their careers after kids to keep it all in perspective. So best I do the same! Thanks for the warning shot! (and do not feel you have to respond to this post :) XX

  7. I'm similar in that I have a bit of an addictive personality once I find something I love. I love my blog, but thanks to N deciding no photos that means I'm struggling a bit. More with wanting to take photos rather than blog, because I'm struggling to be inspired when really I . want to take photos of him - and I only share a few of him on IG. But now no more. I still like to write, but then it's not my job and I wouldn't intend it to be. But I do spend a similar amount of time on the blog as I do in my full time job. Only having 1 child makes it easier (and an OH who falls asleep in front of the tv and always works) but I write for me, and not what I think I should be doing. And that doesn't bother me.

  8. I used to feel the same as you, albeit probably on a much smaller scale as I’m not as popular a blogger as you ;) Having Essie meant I had to take a step back then I got PND so took even more of a step back. And you know what, I feel so much better for it. If you can stop worrying about all that stuff (easier said that done I know) and it will feel like a weight has been lifted x x

  9. Admittedly I do miss getting letters in the post, but I’m now wondering how I ever managed to sit still long enough to reply to everyone! Sticks, slams, labels, fbs lol them were the days x

  10. I've been feeling much the same since the start of this new year. I've been slogging away at the blog for a few years and last I finally started making some money.
    I was happy for a while. I got into a good routine for me but the children started making a few comments here and there about me always working.
    I decided to schedule a whole month of posts for December so I could take some time off and spend more time with the family.
    It was wonderful but the problem I have now is that I'm struggling to get back into it.
    I blogged every day last year, sometimes 2-3 times a day because of all the sponsored posts but they seem to have dried right up since December and I'm sat here trying to think of something to blog out for today's post.
    For the first time in a long time I'm seriously considering getting a job and not being self employed anymore.
    I want the security of a regular income and regular hours. I've posted to Instagram once this week because I just can't be bothered and I'm sick of having to take photos all the flipping time.
    I too would like a family day out and enjoy it for what it is, not thinking of the blog at all.
    I love that we have all the family posts to look back on but but now the children are getting older it's harder to write about them because they're choosing not to have their photo taken and sometimes groan when I cajole them because 'it's for the blog'.
    Wow, I think you've openend the floodgates for me! I think it's time for me to seriously look for a new, 9-5 job!

  11. "I tried to remember when the last time we'd had a family day out like that was, and I couldn't" - that was me a few years ago. Stepped right back from any loft blogging aspirations and decided that I didn't want to aim to be a super blogger, just one that has a good life balance and is creatively happy. It has helped immensely! xx

  12. Very interesting and honest post. I've just started blogging about my life bringing up two kids in a remote stone cottage with no mains electricity, water or even a proper road to house, both wonderful and frustrating and lonely. Hoped blog would be creative outlet but can see the pitfalls already as you describe. Now I need to chop wood to get that hot bath!

  13. Very interesting and honest post. I've just started blogging about my life bringing up two kids in a remote stone cottage with no mains water, electricity or even a proper road to the house. Can be wonderful but also frustrating and lonely. Hoped blog would be creative outlet but can already see pitfalls as you describe. Now I have to go chop wood to get that hot bath ...

  14. I really empathize with this. This is something I wonder every now and then. Weighing up whether I'm capturing memories or living behind a screen. Christmas was the first time I took off blogging in 2 years and I still did stories etc but it was lovely to take some of the pressure off. I'm finding it quite hard to motivate myself now as a result though!

  15. Thank you for writing this, to show that I'm not the only one feeling this way (and I'm not even successful). I can definitely see how I could go down the same path and frankly it scares me. But how can it be wrong if it makes me feel like a person again? Not just mum.

  16. Interesting article! I have a 9-5 job that I really enjoy and do the blogging on the side as a creative outlet and that works well though I always secretly wish for it to become a full-time career - perhaps I need to be careful what I wish for!

  17. I remember the days of penpals 😊 There was something fantastic in receiving a real letter from a person living in a different city, in a different country. I often wondered where my childhood penpal is now, I'd love a 20 years later reunion.

    Loved reading your post and I think most of us, bloggers, have been there, whether we're full-time or not. I caught myself during dinner, when my partner is talking to me (or at least trying to) and I'm scrolling through Insta because you know... Engagement. We go out and I'm taking photos of food, of drinks, of everything, living in my own bubble and essentially ignoring the person that should have my undivided attention.

    A while back blogging got so overwhelming and I was constantly stressed out; my photos are not good enough, why is my following not growing, engaging on all the social media platforms, trying to create perfect flatlays, getting into fashion blogging when all I want to wear is jeans and jumpers and trainers, plus all the negativity and self-pity we witness on social media every day. It was literally making me anxious and unhappy, feeling like a failure (and I'm too old to feel like that). So, I stopped writing. And I love to write. I basically turned my back on blogging, even the bits that made me feel good, because it was all just too much. While I missed being creative, it did allow me a step back to rethink why I even started putting the pen to paper. And remembered it was because I wanted something creative in my life. So, I'm now trying to blog the way it works for me and not obsess over the lack of Gucci in my wardrobe. Yes, it's still tough sometimes and I still feel inadequate (on and off), but I'm happier.

    Good luck on finding a good balance of baths, family life and bogging.

    Maya |


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