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Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Amanda Simkin

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Amanda Simkin

On-the-go Chicagoan and mother of two boys, Amanda Simkin has a pretty full plate. When she’s not scouting the city for the latest kid-approved adventures, she’s sharing her family-friendly finds and then some on her blog Queen of the Land of Twigs ‘n Berries. So how does she keep her energy high (and her sanity in check)? Simkin gives us an inside peek.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

As the first of my friends to have a baby, I became the “go to” resource for many of my friends once they started to have families. Instead of answering the same question over and over, I wrote it down and somehow it spread like wildfire!

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Authentic, helpful, motherhood.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite post to write and research was “15 Mommy & Me Date Ideas.” With two little boys, I love to create special one on one time with them enjoying special activities we both enjoy. They loved having Mommy’s full attention without any sibling rivalry.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

I’m not sure if balance is attainable for me. But I have found that waking up before the kids do and peacefully working with a cup of coffee and then staying up late to write and enjoy a glass of wine lets me be present with my kids during the day.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

My beloved Nana always told me to enjoy the time I had with my boys. She lost a daughter at a very young age so she constantly reminded me not to take a second for granted, even when one of us was having a melt down.

What’s a typical day like for you?

It’s non-stop from the moment my eyes open until when they close. There is lots of writing, coffee drinking, and errand running in between…but the highlights are making messy and imperfect memories with my sweet boys.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Be you. Don’t try to be like some other parenting blogger just because they have a ton of page views or a pretty Instagram page. Embrace your messy, chaotic life and savor every second.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Ghada Karam

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Ghada Karam

When Ghada Karam decided she wanted to work from home to spend more time with her daughter, she realized she needed a way to make her dream a reality. The result? Confidential Mommy Talks, a blog and parenting resource that combines three of Karam’s passions: “Motherhood, storytelling and marketing.” So how did this mother of two and self-described “lifestyle mom” manage to build a full-scale operation that now boasts a healthy blog following, newsletters and thriving social platforms? She gives us the lowdown on how motherhood allowed her to create her dream ob.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I decided to launch my blog a few months after my first baby was born. At that time, I had a full time job, and I was completing my master’s program. My schedule was full, and I had very little time to spend with my daughter. I figured that if I had the chance to work from home, I would have the chance to be closer to her. That’s when I started educating myself about blogging, as I had absolutely no clue what to expect — this entire world was foreign to me. I had to start from scratch to find my topics, discover my voice and make sure this would be a good fit for me.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Motherhood, Milestones, Tantrums

What is your favorite blog post to date?

I enjoy writing most of my posts because they reflect my day-to-day life with my kids, and my life as a mom. It’s really hard to choose one favorite as they all reflect a different aspect of my life. One post I particularly like was written recently: “Why I Was Late This Morning (And Every Other Morning).” This post reflects my new life with two kids and the hard work it takes to get out of the house each morning.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Well, that’s a hard one… Until my second baby was born, I had some free time to focus on my blog when my daughter was in daycare. However, now that I have a baby at home, I’m still trying to figure out how to best make things work. I discovered recently that on the days I really want to focus on my work, I can sit in a coffee shop and work. This way I don’t get distracted with the housework, and I can quickly take a break to assist with the baby when he needs me.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

I’m a parenting blogger, so I constantly get exposed to relevant parenting tips and recommendations. The one I like best so far comes the famous philosopher Kahlil Gibran, who says that “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself […]And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” I like this statement because it will always be true, no matter how technologically advanced we get. It also reminds me that I need to look at the big picture, at the future, towards the time when my kids will get older and mature and will want to have an independent life away from me. Parenting is not about us, it’s about our kids, and that’s an important point to keep in mind.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My morning routine is explained in the post that I described above. In the morning, I try to get out of the house as quickly as I can to make sure I drop my daughter on time at her daycare. After that, I have about five hours to spend alone with the baby, so I try to juggle between the house chores, my work on the blog and a little fun time with him. Then, I pick up my daughter and we come back home, where we spend some time with her before we start to our night routine: shower, dinner and the endless negotiation to get to bed.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

I find it’s very important to prioritize the work or else things will just get postponed over and over, until nothing ever happens. I make sure to dedicate at least one hour of my day to the blog, and I prepare a checklist of the important things I need to focus on each day to avoid getting distracted. Of course, with my limited time, I can’t expect miracles, but I found that by having clear expectations I don’t get frustrated.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Melissa Bowers

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Melissa Bowers

You can take the girl out of the Midwest but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl — at least according to Melissa Bowers. The mother of two began her blog MichiforniaGirl as “a place for beachside chats about all sorts of things, like moving and teaching and motherhood and marriage.” Since then, she’s learned to embrace change and share her journey with parents everywhere. After all, it’s life’s surprises that make for the best stories. Bowers shares more.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I’ve kept a diary since I was in fifth grade — there are 52 (melodramatic) volumes stored somewhere in our garage — but blogging was always out of the question because its public nature didn’t seem to mix well with teaching high school. And then, two years ago, my husband got an un-turn-downable job in California, and we moved across the country when I was six months pregnant with my second child. Writing has always been my outlet, my coping mechanism, and it was the only thing I knew how to do in those times of transition.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Vulnerable. Hopeful. Wry.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

The Space Between Baby and Boy” is very special to me. It documents such a sweet, magical time in a child’s life, and as a parent, I always want to remember that feeling.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Oh, man. I write everything a paragraph at a time. If the Heavens part and both kids somehow take a simultaneous nap, I can write in slightly longer chunks; but generally it’s a stop-start-stop-start process. Not the best for creative flow, but that’s the only way anything gets accomplished these days!

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

I’m still learning, and most pieces of advice that worked with my kids yesterday do NOT work today, but here is one constant: Read to them. Start early and do it often. Books — and the conversations they encourage — teach compassion and human understanding more effectively than any smartphone or tablet.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My days look very different now than they did when I was teaching high school! At the moment, they involve a lot of cutting food into tiny bites, convincing small people that sleep is necessary, running fifteen-minute errands that somehow take all morning, and still trying to fit in some writing time. It’s chaotic, monotonous, and beautiful.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Do it because you love it — because you feel the words in your bones — and not because someone asked you to review a coffee mug or a baby carrier. It’s the real, authentic posts that introduce your blog to the most loyal readers.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Leah Moore

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Leah Moore

Sometimes parenting can bring unexpected challenges (more than dealing with 4am feedings and getting to work on time). For Leah Moore, it was her daughter’s rare diagnoses and the addition of twin boys that inspired her to share her journey with others on her blog The Cheese Bus. Navigating the ups and downs of parenting, the pain of dealing with tough days and the joy of exciting discoveries, Moore documents the road less traveled but in no way less relatable. As she explains, her site “is not for special needs parents or twin parents alone, but anyone who has been on a path and found themselves on a new journey.”

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I believe in the power of telling stories as an English teacher. I celebrate this work every day in my high school classroom. Six years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome, Cri Du Chat. I needed to learn to identify as a special needs mother and figure out what that looked like, without losing myself too. I also have twin two-year-old boys – so our house is anything but quiet. I have learned how to manage the joyful chaos that exists in our house and I wanted a place to share these experiences with other parents. The Cheese Bus is not for special needs parents or twin parents alone, but anyone who has been on a path and found themselves on a new journey. It is about finding the joy in the unexpected road and figuring out how to laugh along the way.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Honest, humorous, optimistic.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite post was the first one I wrote, “The Irony of Language.” I am a high school English teacher and my students were assigned to write their own belief statements, based on the concept of “This I Believe.” To help model the assignment, I wrote this piece for them. It has been about five years since I wrote it, and it always makes me cry. It is about the irony as a mother who uses words every day as a teacher and raising a child that was told she would never speak. However, when I look across the table at my now six-year-old who is able to talk to me, I remember how far we have come. It is my favorite piece for what it means for our family overall.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

It brings me joy to connect to other people, so I am make sure I maintain that work. I brainstorm ideas throughout my day and record them in a journal or my phone. After I complete the endless tasks on my to do list as a working mother, I replace the time I would have mindlessly watched tv with time to write. I never force myself to follow a deadline or put pressure on myself. Some weeks I write two entries, sometimes there are months in between. My goal isn’t about how many people can read it but rather to make sure I write honest stories. The best part of a parenting blog is that every day I gather material, it’s just about finding the time to write it down.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

The English teacher in me uses everything Atticus Finch ever said to Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird, but especially “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” I try to live my life with empathy and foster the same in my children. Most days, I just settle for the wisdom, as long as everyone made it through in one piece – it’s a success.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Even writing this one makes me tired. The alarm goes off at 4:50am. I join my neighbors at the gym because sadly my baby weight wants to follow me forever. I throw breakfast at my children while bribing them with as many episodes of “Peppa Pig” as humanly possible. I run out the door at 7am for a full day of teaching 9th graders powerful books. Most days I can make it home by 4pm for (choose one: dance class, speech therapy, grocery store catastrophes, or worse case scenario “Peppa Pig” and Popsicle on the couch). The twins go to sleep around 6:30pm and my daughter and I have a nightly ritual of watching “Say Yes To The Dress.” By 8pm, I am “alone” for the first time so I can joyfully pack lunches, make dinner, pay bills, grade papers, and sometimes say hello to my husband. And then I collapse.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Write from the heart. It doesn’t matter how many people read what you write. What matters is that you put something out in the world that will connect to someone else. Write your story. Someone will want to read it.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Stephanie Dulli

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Stephanie Dulli

Recently, we published a post in Mamapedia “Voices” that was so moving, it honestly made us cry. The piece was by blogger Stephanie Dulli of Stephanie Says, and we decided we just had to get to know this impressive writer. Here she shares more on what it takes to connect with her readers on such a meaningful level.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

The short story is I had been an actress and comedienne in Los Angeles and after I had my first son, we moved across the country, suddenly I was in a new state with no friends and no one to talk too except my friends in my computer! One of them said, “You have so many stories! You should start a blog!” So I did a little research and did just that. Through it I made friends in the area and basically blogging changed my life.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Random, silly, evolving.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

That’s a really tough one. I had shelved my blog for a while until I realized it could be whatever I wanted it to be. I’m more interested in writing essays on whatever strikes my fancy (which is frequently my children and our lives together) than a daily recounting of our activities. That being said if I had to choose just one it would be The Dance Of Motherhood.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Make your own rules and stick to them. I decided early on that I wouldn’t share things that I knew outright would embarrass my children. I don’t write about potty training or accidents. I don’t write about how bad they have been (Although I do tweet OMG IS IT BEDTIME YET?). But, I will go to the ends of the earth to get a laugh at my own expense. Parenting is always a great experiment where we are constantly assessing the variable that is our children. What they love to eat on Monday, they hate on Tuesday. So, my advice would be to decide your rules and then go for it! Also use less words than I do. I like all the words. Can you tell?

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Oh this is easy! And it came from a fellow DC Metro blogger. She told me the best thing you can do when they ask a question is take a moment and find out how much they know already. For instance, we just had a death in the family and my son asked some tough questions. I asked him what he thought and what he knew of it and listened while he told me. I was then able to tailor my answers to his level of understanding and not overwhelm him, but to clear some things up.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My two year old is currently co-sleeping so I wake up when she does and we cuddle for a while, which is heaven on earth. Then I get myself downstairs to hustle my sons off to school. After that I either run errands or come home and write and edit. I am a photographer and I find my little one is more likely to let me get more work done before nap time than after it!

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Write only to please yourself and then put it out there. And make a book of your favorite posts for your kids to read in the future. The internet is great, but nothing beats a book or a printed picture.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Ally Greene

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Ally Greene

Did someone say bacon? Ally Greene is serving up the savory treat and then some on her blog Bacon Coffee Mama. Along with sharing her mouth-watering recipes, Greene hopes to combat mommy shamers by creating a safe, judgement-free space for parenting advice and tips. Here’s what she had to say about her inclusive approach.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I had been working for a while as a freelance writer, doing content for others. I have always loved writing and writing for others boosted my confidence and helped me find my voice. I have always hated the amazing amount of judgment parents get from the world around them. A big part of why and what I write about is combating that “Mommy Judgment” and “Bad Mom” label. I also love sharing a honest, and funny take on being a parent. Combine my love of my family and being a Mama with my love of cooking and sharing great food with others and you get Bacon Coffee Mama. Over the years I have found that some of my best conversations have happened over a great meal or a good cup of coffee. That’s what I want my blog to be a place to find great food and great conversation about being a parent.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Honest, funny and bacon (many of the recipes I share have bacon).

What is your favorite blog post to date?

I would have to say it was the post I wrote about accepting the fact that I’m not having anymore kids. I cried writing that post, and honestly I still tease my hubby that I want another. Harper, my daughter, has her first loose tooth, and it’s just one more milestone that my baby is not a baby anymore, she isn’t even a toddler. Seeing my son so close to graduation and leaving me, and seeing my daughter growing up too; knowing how fast it goes and that there is no more babies in store, it’s hard.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Get on schedule and get ahead of schedule. I have a schedule for when I post, and I try to have a week’s worth of posts written and scheduled. As a parent life is going to get in the way. The kids will get sick, you will have a day you are just too burnt out, there will be last minute projects, and days that there isn’t enough hours. Be ready for those days by being ahead of schedule on blogging so you don’t feel guilty and can take a day when you need to.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Do what works for you, your kids and your family. This is something my best friend and I often say to each other when discussing the parenting issues we are dealing with. Advice is great, but in the end what is best for me may not be best for another Mama or their kids. People are unique, kids included, there is no one right answer for everyone.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Ha! There is no such thing! Typically, I get the kids off to school in the morning. Once I drop Harper off I come home and drink coffee while reading my emails, checking Facebook, ect. Once I have a couple cups of coffee in me I bounce all over. I do a little of this and that, generally hopping around from cleaning to working on freelance work to blog work. My Hubby gets up around 1 (he works thirds) and I either send him on errands or run with him. On good days I have diner planned out and going before I get Harper off the bus. My Hubby leaves for work before she even gets home from school. Then it’s homework with Harper and pestering my teen into at least one conversation. Then dinner, time with the kids and bedtime. Once the kids are in bed I half watch TV, half do blogging stuff, and occasionally do a little more freelance work, all while sending Harper back to bed six or seven  times, and shooing my teen out of the fridge three or four times. Eventually, I close the laptop, shut down the DVR, and fall asleep.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Blogging is no different than being a parent in so many ways. You will have good day and bad days. There will be days you feel like you are killing it and days you are certain you are doing everything wrong. As parents we push through, we go to bed o our worst days frazzled to the ore and we wake up the next day and do our best to do it all again, a little better than the day before. You have to do the same with blogging, even after the worst of days you have to wake up the next day and try to do a little better than you did yesterday.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Lindsey Martin

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Lindsey Martin

Telling a mom not to worry is like telling a person not to breathe, but Lindsey Martin of Worry Free Moms works to relieve some of the stress of parenting with her reassuring, humorous and always relatable blog posts. She shares more on how she manages to maximize the joy of motherhood by cutting down on the anxiety.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I wanted to try something new and help other moms at the same time. I read a lot of blogs, so I thought it would be fun to start one of my own. It was easy to chose what I wanted my blog to focus on because I have suffered from worry and anxiety my whole life, and becoming a mom made it much worse. Since my oldest is now seven, I have learned lots of ways to help manage some of my worries and anxiety over these years, so I wanted to share them to help other moms who are dealing with some of the same worries.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Inspirational, supportive and honest.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

My favorite blog post I’ve written is “How to Enjoy Your Pregnancy and Stop Worrying.” I wrote this because getting to experience pregnancy is such a gift, but for many it brings on so much worry that they don’t enjoy the experience. Having struggled to get pregnant myself, I quickly learned that it is not something to take for granted. There are many women out there that try for years to have a baby and are unsuccessful. Therefore, those that do get to experience the miracle of pregnancy should enjoy every moment.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Don’t stress out about trying to do it all and be sure to put parenthood first. When I first started my blog I wanted to get lots of post written because I had so many good ideas in my head that I wanted to share. I quickly realized, however, that it was taking a lot of time away from my kids, so I changed my mindset and told myself that I will just blog when I have time after the kids go to bed or are at school.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Try to enjoy every moment because they are only little once. Some days are really hard, especially with my three year-old twins, but when I look back at the pictures of my oldest (who’s seven)when he was their age, I get sad to think how fast time has gone, and I wish he was that little again. This makes me realize I need to slow down and enjoy every moment because soon the twins will be seven, and I will wish I could go back to them being how little they are now.

What’s a typical day like for you?

It depends on the day. My oldest goes to school everyday, and the twins go two days a week to preschool, so on those days I get them all ready and off to school. Then I go to work half the day while they are at school. After work I try to get something done like cleaning, groceries, laundry, blogging, and then pick them all up at 3:30pm. On the days the twins don’t go to preschool, I do housework, take them to the park or a play date, or find something else to keep them occupied! The evenings are busy with dinner, karate, baseball, homework, baths and bed. Then we do it all over again the next day!

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Be real and write what comes naturally to you. I don’t have a degree in writing, and it has never been my favorite thing to do, but when I just write about my life stories and experiences I enjoy it and could write for hours!
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Kathryn Mayer

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Kathryn Mayer

Kathryn Mayer’s humorous take on parenting makes for a great read, but if you think she’s only in it for the laughs, think again. Mayer’s blog Writing Out Loud serves a purpose beyond motherly advice: to help spread awareness for Newtown, CT and gun violence prevention. So how did she come to take on such a serious cause? We caught up with the outspoken blogger to learn more.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

Tired of bragging parents and feeling like I was doing everything wrong, I thought a more realistic, humorous perspective on parenting might resonate with people afraid to speak the truth. My blog evolves as kids grow and circumstances change. I started anonymously, as a return-to-work mom blog when I was returning to work after my youngest of four was in 2nd grade. I evolved to humor essays on parenting middle school/teens then the Sandy Hook school shooting forced me out of the shadows, and I used my blog to create awareness for Newtown and gun violence prevention. Today, I’ve found balance, bought my own url name and write about all of the above.

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Funny, raw, real.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

I’m always surprised which essays people love. It’s never what i think, but it was with this one. While primarily a humor writer, my favorite post is not funny at all, but a tribute to my 2nd daughter.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Wait before posting; always make sure it’s a good idea in the morning then go for it. Never write about something you don’t want to discuss in the check-out line at the grocery store. And if posting/shared on a large site, either never read the comments or learn to laugh.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

When kids were young: you’re allowed to be 10 minutes late per kid; I had four kids, this proved essential. As teenagers: listen more than you talk. They’re speaking volumes in their silence. Leave a costco-sized box of condoms easily accessible for the teenagers in your life. Like the fire extinguisher under your sink; they may never need it, but should have easy access just in case.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My kids are in high school and college so this will seem decadent to most: coffee in bed, exercise (use term loosely), work-work-work, review social media, log-off and write-write-write. High-school-sport-du-jour, cocktail, Netflix, rinse, repeat.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Always, always ask before you write about something. Give a funny/embarrassing story years to percolate before you post about it. They might not be over it yet. Also, your kids will grow up and resent you sharing so much; then they will fight over which kid you wrote about most and wish you wrote more about them. More people read you than you know; just because they don’t comment or share, doesn’t mean your words aren’t being read. You have a story to tell, tell it.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Darlene Dee

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Darlene Dee

Ever wonder how expensive it is to raise a baby? Darlene Dee decided to do the math with the birth of her daughter “Babystar.” Her blog Baby Costs Money keeps track of parenting costs and then some, offering readers fun updates on her daughter along with DIY projects and smart, budget-friendly tips.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

When I got pregnant with Babystar, the internet was a thing. The internet was NOT a thing when I had my first two babies. The internet is many things, including fun and scary. Google said it would cost me 245K to raise a baby. I thought it would be fun to keep track. (I was half right. Blogging is fun but watching those numbers go higher and higher is not really that fun at all!)

What three words would you use to describe your blog?

Sarcastic, informative, terrifying.

What is your favorite blog post to date?

So far, my favorite post is the one called “One.” I like looking back at the house all decorated for her first birthday, and that picture of her standing up in her adorable first birthday jumper is so freaking cute that I almost — almost — can ignore the stupid amount of money we spent on that party.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

Download all of the apps on all of your devices. Sync it all via some sort of cloud system. Cumulus, nimbus, stratus, whatever — I need to be able to take pictures and make notes on my phone at the park and pull them up on my iPad at 3am.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

Almost twenty years ago, my mother told me to pick my battles. That advice holds true from toddlerhood to the teenage years, and everything in between. (Including agonizing conversations with customer service reps and intentionally rude restaurant hostesses.)

What’s a typical day like for you?

If I am lucky, I wake up before the baby and drink coffee in bed while checking Instagram, Facebook, emails — you know, the essentials. If I am a different kind of lucky, I wake up to a toddler face squished into mine, impatient for milk. My husband and teenager have usually left for work and school by then, so the ToddlerMonster and I have brunch. (Yep, when breakfast takes over an hour, I consider it two meals.) We do some dishes or laundry (she’s getting very good at helping), and then get dressed for an adventure. We run some errands or go to a museum (rarely) or an indoor play place (usually) before picking up the teenager at school. I take pictures of our outings or purchases and make notes about what we buy during the week. Weekday afternoons are often spent taking a walk to the park (weather permitting) before everyone’s favorite dinner/bath/bedtime routines. I actually only really write blog posts on Sunday mornings when my husband takes the baby to church. I totally cheat (like most bloggers, I suspect) and schedule them to post throughout the week.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Be the boss of your blog, not the other way around.
Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Stephanie Loomis Pappas

Mamapedia Contributor Spotlight: Stephanie Loomis Pappas

Stephanie Loomis Pappas’ blog Snackdinner is designed to be a “resource for people who want to be better researchers and better parents,” but the site is much more. Rather than send parents on a Google rampage, Pappas does the work instead, offering up well-documented facts and figures on the most pressing parenting concerns along with creative approaches to problem solving. She shares more on how she sifts through bad parenting advice to serve up smart solutions.

What made you want to start your own parenting blog?

I’m a professor recently turned stay-at-home parent. When I was pregnant, I treated childrearing like any other topic I’ve studied: I read as many books as possible in those relatively quiet 37 weeks. I was astounded by all of the dubious advice in those books, as well as the handful of books I’ve been able to read since my son was born. My mission at Snackdinner is to help dispel all the bad parenting advice on the internet, but given the impossibility of that task, my even more important mission is to equip parents with the research skills necessary to make good parenting decisions. Of course, even the best-researched advice won’t work if kids aren’t into it. And that’s where the concept of “snackdinner” comes in: research is important, but so are the creativity and practice necessary to implement it.

What 3 words would you use to describe your blog?

research + creativity + practice

What is your favorite blog post to date?

The blog posts I most enjoy reading are less about kids (because the kids are always generally going to be fine!), but their parents as they struggle with their new roles. In that vein, my favorite post is Reluctant KonMari: What I gained from tossing my books. One of my fears when starting this blog was that it would be visual proof I had “failed” as an academic. In some ways I’m still a little sensitive to not being “Professor Pappas,” of which I was recently reminded when my son announced to me “Daddy is a doctor, you are a mommy.” Writing Reluctant KonMari was a great way to acknowledge and celebrate this huge shift in my life from professor to parent.

What’s your go-to tip for balancing blogging with parenthood?

A few months ago I started a post titled “Writing Without Naps.” I’ve yet to finish it because, well, kiddo stopped napping. Balance is hard. My go-to blogging tool is my editorial calendar. Although nearly everything in my life is digital, I keep a wall-sized paper calendar just for my blogging schedule. My calendar is visible to anyone who steps into my house, and even if they never comment on it, I feel just a little bit of pressure to keep up with the schedule I’ve set for myself.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you’ve ever received?

In those first few months with a newborn, where 8 hours of my day were spent just feeding the kid, my mom told me: “It doesn’t get easier. It gets harder.” This seemed an especially cruel thing to say to a first-time parent dreaming of sleeping through the night, until she added: “But YOU get better.” In the rare moments between the crises du-jour, I realize that she’s absolutely right. Although the challenges are getting bigger and bigger, I’m getting more confident and capable as a parent.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Right now my days are largely spent waiting for my potty-trainer to pee, which would leave lots of time for writing if I wasn’t springing up every few minutes to check on his progress. On a more typical day, I’m up by 6 to write before everyone wakes up. My non-napper is at least a late sleeper, so I write for about two hours before the day’s chaos.
After that routine beginning, our day can go anywhere: building towers out of straws and play dough, painting with watercolors, exploring the park behind our house. Spelling with fridge magnets is kiddo’s current favorite activity, so we often learn new words mid-morning. We make lunch together and then have quiet time together sitting on opposite ends of the couch while he reads and I write. Half the time I’m only pretending to write because I love watching him “read” to himself. In the afternoons and evenings we’ll play, do chores, and make dinner.
We’re still getting to know our new town, and so try to explore and make friends when we have the opportunity. My husband generally gives kiddo his bath, which both gives them time together and me a little more time to write before kiddo goes to bed. I’m usually only about 15 minutes behind him.

What’s the best insight you can offer other parenting bloggers?

Stop writing about your kids. If your goal is to build a large audience, you have to write pieces that matter to that audience. In my writing classes, I’d often ask my students “So What?” Why should other people care about your personal story? What are you trying to teach them through your writing? What should they get out of coming to your blog? You should never be writing just about your kids, or yourself, or your spouse. You should be writing about a topic that is bigger than you, and using your lived experience to make that topic come alive for readers. In other words, your personal anecdotes are part of the story, but they’re not the whole story.