Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blogging Lessons for Parents

Have you ever watched a bunch of marathoners at the finish line? Some stride through confidently throught the finish (only to puke on the other side). Others grimace and groan, determined to push through to the end. Still others stagger and crawl, the tears streaming down their faces a mixture of pain and pride.

The Word Count Blogathon is like that. Some, like Jackie Dishner at BIKE with Jackie, make it look easy. The rest of us are just grateful to have finally reached the finish.

Today, bloggers from around the world come together to reflect on the Blogathon. There's a wrap party on Twitter (join us at 8:30 am PST, #Blog2010). Blog posts celebrating lessons learned are lighting up the blogosphere. So I began to ponder -- What did I learn from the blogathon this year? -- and realized that my top four lessons apply to parenting as well. Take a look:

Four Lessons for Parents and Bloggers

1. You can't expect greatness all the time. It's pretty hard -- no, make that impossible -- to create a magnus opus every day. The only way to blog every day is to let go of your need for perfection. You need to accept the fact that some days, you'll only have the energy for a haiku. Or a borrowed YouTube video. Parenting is the same way. Some days, we're on our game, whipping up tasty, healthy meals while planning interesting activities and excursions. Other days, we order in pizza and let the kids watch TV and IT'S OK! Parenting, like blogging, is a long haul adventure.

2. Reaching out makes a difference. One of the main benefits of the Blogathon is the chance to learn from and interact with other bloggers. Participants are encouraged to visit others' blogs, to comment, to guest post, to share insights. Last year, I was an active particpant in the Blogathon, visiting and commenting on almost every blog in the bunch. I went above and beyond and hosted weekly blog exhanges, thereby creating relationships with other writers that last to this day. (The ever-hilarious and consummate professional Ron Doyle is currently designing my professional website.) This year, I was overwhelmed with deadlines (a GOOD problem for a writer to have!) and didn't reach out to other bloggers nearly as much. As a result, my experience this time around wasn't nearly as rich. Parents, too, need to reach out to others. Sure, you can do it alone, but it's much harder. When you reach out to others, you tap into the strength of a parenting collective. You can borrow others' ideas -- or just feel better about your own life. Isn't it reassuring to know that other boys badger their parents for airsoft guns as well?

3. Putting yourself on the list is a very good thing. We all KNOW that we need to make time for ourselves. We're heard the airplane oxygen mask analogy more times than we can count. But in the midst of daily life, with one child begging for milk and another asking for help on the computer, it's all to easy to forget to pee. Blogging is the same way. My paying work, naturally, takes priority over my blog. But all too often, that meant I had no time or energy left for the blog. (Hence, my hideous posting record in the month of April.) To blog every day, I added it to my work calendar: Blog. Just 4 little letters, but by placing those letters on the calendar every day, I gave them weight. Listed next to my assignments, "blog" became a priority, a part of my work day. Parents need to do the same thing. Schedule "exercise," "haircut" or "girls' night out." Put it on the calendar and make it happen!

4. You don't need a plan. More than one blogathoner has stressed the importance of a plan when blogging on a daily basis. I, however, did not have a plan for the blogathon. No plan, no pre-scheduled posts. And you know what? I made it through! Parenting, by it's very nature, requires hundreds of on-the-fly adjustments -- and often, the unscheduled days are the best. It's OK to be a planner, but it's equally OK to take life as it comes. Successful parents (and successful bloggers) are creative and adaptable.

What did you learn from the Blogathon? Did you like the daily posts in the month of May?


  1. I wish today was a TV & Pizza day. Someone else will have to get the pizza, though. I'm too tired.
    What? I still have an hours worth of driving to do? I have a fitness class to go to while the kids are in Karate? And we're out of milk?

    forget the pizza, I'm gonna take a nap instead-- when I get home.

    I enjoyed that you were posting daily. I did not post daily, but didn't plan on it- so it's good.
    Thanks for your commitment.

  2. I love the blogging - parenting analogy. And I, for one, had a hard time keeping up with all of your lovely posts and often read through but didn't comment. I still want to add some mom-of-boys things to your funny list, but haven't had time. Good job, you did it!!!!

  3. Jennifer, Today you created a magnum opus. Excellent post.

  4. I've enjoyed all the business going on out there.

    I, unfortunately, cannot keep up with comments and visits and follows if I post every day. I want to say thank you to every one that comes by, so I wait and post one day,the next day respond, then post, then respond: one day at a time.

    Crazy, but works for me...

  5. I also did not have a plan, although I found myself sketching posts out in my head a bit ahead of time. Learning to accept the not-so-ideal post was hard but necessary for me, too. I think the Blogathon really helped with that as it was holding me back in many ways. I also really liked the comparison between blogging and parenting, too!

  6. Jennifer,
    Like you, I didn't have a plan for what I'd post about in the Blogathon. I wrote as the spirit moved me. However, I did pre-schedule. I had to because I went off the grid during vacation.

  7. Jan said it best. Wow! Great analogy. So true, and such a relief at the same time. Thanks for the mention, by the way. You know it's not easy, though, right? I just have this weird thing about being able to hit all 31 days--and to do it effectively. The only way I can do that is with a theme. Other than that, no plan. I generally have no idea what I'll write until that morning. It takes a few weeks before the creative juices flow much smoother than that. But it's always fun. Always. Susan, I'm sorry I didn't get to your blog. Maybe once? The numbers were tough this year. Really tough.

  8. Really good points. I came to some of the same conclusions while doing the Blogathon. Building blogging into part of my work day helped me a lot too. Glad to see you learned things from the experience.