Family Lifestyle: Family Fraud

Today Esme is broaching a subject that is very near to my heart as a blogger, the reality behind the on-screen facade. It’s extremely hard as a blogger to bridge the gap between those who want pretty escapism and those who find a perpetually positive approach at best saccharine and at worst perpetuating the media factory of idealism that makes the average reader feel inadequate. I personally prefer positivity as I feel I really have little in life to complain about, but thats not to say that like all of you I don’t have the same daily trials and tribulations. Being a new Mum is difficult enough without holding yourself up to ‘blogger mums’ so I’m glad Esme is keeping it real today…

I’m a fraud. I think you should know that I’m not what you think I am. Perhaps I should explain…

Nearly all of us bloggers are guilty of presenting an image that is not a complete representation of our lives, but, of course, most of the time that’s fine and kind of the point of blogging: it’s escapism and offering something to aspire to. Ever since Rebecca started Florence Finds that’s what this blog has been for me, an opportunity to look at some pretty clothes, dream about perfecting my beauty routine and a bit of a break from the daily grind imagining that one day I too could be as stylish and organised as her. When Rebecca asked me to write a family column here, I jumped at the chance. But when she titled it ‘family lifestyle’, I have to admit I was a bit scared – there was no way my real life could live up to what she would want.

The fear of coming across as Rebecca’s boring mum friend soon went away as I realised I had lots to write about, but when I started thinking about my next columns I realised that I had inadvertently already begun to portray a side of my family that is not completely honest. Don’t get me wrong, we really did go to Belgium, we do love the National Trust and Freddie really is that cute, but the smiley, happy, loved-up family days such as the Welcome to the World party are not our everyday and I would never want any new or expectant (or hoping one day to be) mums to think I’m something I’m not.

I adore my life right now, but it is not all baby giggles and trips away. We are by no means a perfect family and I am not a perfect mum: money is tight, my husband works more than I’d like, my baby does sleep through the night, but can be a complete nightmare during the day if he wants to. I get very stressed sometimes, am generally found to be wearing my least dirty terribly fitting jeans with a baggy t-shirt to hide my 9 months post-baby tummy and find myself doing that mum cliche of collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day with a glass of wine more often than I’d like to admit. I am not stylish, back in my pre-pregnancy jeans or able to juggle looking after a baby full-time with being a housewife (not mentioning an actual wife) and keeping in touch with friends as often as I’d like. I definitely don’t ‘have it all’.

I know that when Freddie was first born and I was struggling very, very hard with breast feeding, reading something like this ‘New Years Resolutions’ post on the stylist Emily Henderson’s blog would have made me feel completely inadequate and feel like I was failing even more than I already felt I was. Now I’ve got a few months under my belt (and a few more than Emily Henderson, I might add), I can step back from that post and knowingly declare to the mums who may have read it that they are not to worry. And because the last thing I would want to do is write something that would make someone like the new mum I was feel bad, I wanted to write this post so you all know the truth.

So what is the truth? Am I worthy of writing a column titled ‘family lifestyle’? Of course I am, as long as I give you all something you can believe in – a bit of the ‘sunnier’ side of life as a three, along with the starker reality.

Is that alright with you?

Love, Esme

Have you ever found yourself feeling inadequate after reading a blog, and do you have any favourite blogs that ‘keep it real’?

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

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29 thoughts on “Family Lifestyle: Family Fraud

  1. I found this post really interesting. I’m a newly pregnant mum to be and have just started my own blog. Yesterday I wrote a post about how hard I’ve found pregnancy so far and my finger hovered over publish for far too long as I wondered if it was ok to admit publicly something so negative. So many of the blogs I read seem to be so full of positivity and joy and I was struggling to match what I was experiencing with what they were writing about. But in the end that’s why I did publish it, in case there was someone like me reading who needed to hear it too. I think we do need to be honest sometimes (but it is nice to read about the good stuff too : )

  2. I would suggest reading a blog called ‘the Harriden ‘ for a fantastically funny portrayal of real family life . She has 5!!!!! boys and reading her tales always makes me smile in recognition of trying to portray serenity whilst constantly battling sheer chaos .

  3. That’s totally ok! In fact it’s really good, I read that post you linked to and it’s completely unrealistic. I hope she managed it, but to be honest I look at friends who are mothers and sometimes wonder how they even managed to get dressed, let alone pick out a nice outfit.

    For those of us hoping to be mothers but not there yet, it’s nice to see things that can be achieved with a baby, but have a bit of reality in there understanding quite how much organisation was involved. Positivity doesn’t have to mean an ideal, wonderful, sunny but unrealistic post, it can be a comedy take on something that went horribly wrong, or a this-is-how-I’d-do-it-next-time…

    Please keep things real!

  4. My daughter is a year old and has never once slept through the night and I stopped reading baby blogs a long time ago precisely because I knew that some of these portrayals of the perfect baby and life just wasn’t ringing true and I received a far amount of condescending remarks regarding the sleeping. So please, keep the real family life posts coming! Oh and I still wear my maternity jeans….

  5. I always love the ‘keep it real’ posts, they have always been the most popular on my blog too (my most popular ever being one where I instagrammed my kids untidy bedroom and the plates piled high in the kitchen – ha!). It’s a fine balance to work on presenting an image that is appealing and escapist without making your life sound that little bit ‘too’ enviable/perfect and saccharine as you say Rebecca. I do try to ensure our content keeps a realist approach. That honesty and transparency is usually a hit with core readers that will be very loyal to your blog.

    I also believe, Esma, that everyone has something interesting to say – that is, often what we don’t think is worthy of sharing with others, actually usually is. Most of us as human beings have a natural curiosity (aka, we’re a nosey bunch) and want to know how other people live/do things/cope/don’t cope/etc. Your column will strike a chord with many because it presents your normal (good,bad & in between) experiences in a way that people will be able to relate their own lives to and thus, as blog readers, they’ll begin to feel a part of a community who understands and get’s it. Rebecca is a smart blogger building her tribe this way and I look forward to reading more of your features in the future Esme 🙂

    Annabel xx

  6. I really enjoyed this post. l’ll be honest, I love a snoop into the lives of others, I’m nosey!!

    I don’t have kids but work full time, part time 2 nights a week and I’ve set up my own online fashion boutique and basically sometimes wake up and a Saturday morning and don’t put clothes on again till Monday morning (I do shower and change my jim jams ‘-) ). I’m totally exhausted, my skin is dull and my hair is a dry bushy mess Your in fashion, I here you ask!!!

    Sometimes I can read a post on a fashion blog and feel totally deflated wondering ………….how do they do it!!
    Keeping it real on blog’s keeps readers. Its good to read about the best of fashion, food and beauty but every now and then its good to see that we are all human beings with our own flaws.
    I love to read your posts Esme X

  7. Oh look at F’s little face in that hat…..he definitely has your eyes. I hope you have that picture out somewhere.

    As to the whole Emily Henderson thing, I have no idea how anyone would do that if that was all they did. Never mind have an actual job or a baby or a dog. Along with travel posts, ‘I’m lucky to have THIS but this aspect is a bit crappier than I was expecting’ type posts are my favourite. And I love the addition of family lifestyle to FF.

    Whilst positivity is a good thing, and no one wants to read woe is me-my life is crap posts the whole time (I always think that the fact said writers have a computer and electricity and aren’t currently in a refugee camp mean their lives aren’t *that* bad), there is a balance to be struck. And I think you’re striking it perfectly. Yay for Esme and Baby F. More posts please x x x

  8. I have a lot of mixed thoughts on this subject!

    Whilst I absolutely agree that presenting ‘perfection’, particularly regarding babies, can cause no manner of problems, during the latter stages of my pregnancy I had to start avoiding ‘honest’ blog posts and scrolling past huge swathes of social media because I found myself dreading my baby arriving because having a newborn sounded so awful. That’s not to say people shouldn’t be truthful, they absolutely should as it is so valuable when you feel alone and struggling but it all got a bit much for me. I started to imagine myself being so unhappy when our much longed for baby finally arrived.

    I’m not even 3 weeks in so I’m probably in for a rude awakening but so far it is not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s exhausting and hard work and we’re having our struggles but on the whole I am enjoying it very much. I hope this doesn’t sound smug or like I think I’m doing a great job – I’m not and I don’t.

    Which brings me to why I really enjoy the posts like your one about Brussels Esme – it was what I really needed during my (complicated & awful) pregnancy to give me something to look forward to. It has in fact inspired us to start planning a trip to Paris with Max in the summer.

    I think what I’m trying to say is that I appreciate the ‘happy, lovely’ posts as much as the ‘honest, darker side’ posts as they both serve a much needed purpose.


    • I am so with you on this Fee – it wasn’t as bad as I expected either! Not sure if I was just lucky (and we were lucky that she didnt have any problems etc) or whether I just hugely expected the worst after speaking to so many people! Six months in though I do get why people write those kind of posts – i think they just want to convey what a monumental life change it really is and its easy to describe all the bad things but difficult to describe the love you feel which overrides everything really! x

    • This is absolutely how I feel Fee. Sometimes (particularly newborn) motherhood blog posts are so dark and desperate about the ‘realism’ of it all that It makes me not want to have children. I personally want to know how people have a baby and keep some semblance of normality because I want it all – a baby and still to go on holiday for example! For that reason like you I loved the Brussels post. Of course I know it wont be easy and any baby will get tired travelling and cry and you’ll have to find somewhere to feed/change it etc, but to know it is do-able is hope in my eyes!

    • Absolutely, Fee. And, for me, that’s what’s great about blogging: if you need to read something positive, then it’s there, and if you need a post to tell you that you’re not the only one, you can find that too.

    • I was all psyched up for the newborn stage and I also found it fine, with most things in motherhood I have found the things I thought would be difficult (sleep deprivation, no nights out etc) ok and the things I find hard should be the easy things (cleaning the highchair for the gazillionth time for example)

  9. Thank you for writing that Esme! It’s a job sometimes to know what is normal when you’re in the house with a nine week old who speaks a different language to you, it’s lunchtime and you’re doing well if you’ve brushed your teeth and you’ve got mastitis. It doesn’t make you feel great, but I am, and I’m sure all oithers in a similar position are, doing the best we can with what we have. And you know what? If anyone passes comment on the dog hair on the floor or the dirty windows, they can just about clean themselves. Screw ’em.

    It’s great to know that despite the lovely pics and flowery words of many blogs, sometimes, some people are prepared to be more honest. And I thank you for it. x

  10. I much prefer to read the honest posts. Who really wants to read a post about going on holiday with babies that doesn’t mention baby changing facilities, black out blinds or child friendly restaurants? Yes it may be dull to some but the reality is do you really want to change your baby on the floor of a toilet? I mean have you seen most toilets floors!!

    That aside I do also LOVE the American fabulousness that is the USA mummy bloggers – you just have to take it with a pinch of salt and realise it must take huge amounts of planning and stress to portray that fabulous life!! (hello Taylor Sterling on Instagram – you have to follow her if you don’t already – its incredulous!)

    You’re doing a great job Esme!

    Rachie xo

  11. Truthfully, having a baby is one of the hardest things I have ever done (the overwhelming feeling of guilt about every decision that I make / sleep deprivation / no time to do what I used to spend hours on etc) but it is also the most rewarding. I’m all for the honesty but agree, blogs and other people’s experiences need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Every baby is different!!

    I think no matter how easy or difficult new mums are finding things, most would agree, they wouldn’t swap it for the world


  12. What I like about blogging (or reading blogs) is that it gives a glimpse into someone’s life. I like that glimpse to be real, but I also do think there is a place for prettiness and reading about the best and most positive things that happen to people. Some realism and honesty is good, but I don’t want to read about mundane fights and drudgery all the time. I do like to be honest about my feelings though, so I try to strive for a balance on my blog.

    I read Emily Henderson’s post and tbh it didn’t seem that unrealistic if you consider its personal and business. I don’t see how having a child stops you caring about clothes, makeup and hair if that was something you found time for pre baby. Personally, I don’t bother with makeup daily, but if I did, I would have continued post baby. Clothes matter to me though, so I do spend time on looking nice (to me!). Her blogging schedule sounds heavy but then her blog is part of her business, so her first 3 posts seem pretty realistic business goals to me. If I added my business goals to my personal ideals for the year, it would be a terrifying list, so I try and keep them separate!

  13. I think everyone has different priorities and as much as every baby is different so is every mum. For instance mess doesn’t bother me too much so I prioritise home cooked meals over hoovering. I also prefer being flexible over attending lots of toddler groups. Sometimes I think maybe I am doing it wrong because I didn’t do baby massage/yoga/nct and don’t have loads if mummy friends but as long as my son and I are happy it just doesn’t matter!
    Having a baby is amazing and it is also hard. Your life changes massively and there is no getting away from that but it genuinely feels like a positive change. I’ve visited more museums, parks, beaches and art galleries in thelast 16 months than in the previous 10 years.

  14. I’ve just got home from my second day working since F was born and seen all of your comments – thanks everyone! I’ll keep it as real as I can , then – the good, the incredible, the awful and the messy!

  15. I love the honest posts, it’s always nice to know the feelings you think might be “wrong” are ok. Having just given up work I’m prone to having “what have I done?!” moments and need a dose of realism to let me know it’s all ok and the happy idealistic posts too so I know good times are just around the corner!

  16. Esme I love your posts full stop- after a traumatic birth at 37 weeks I loved your Brussels post as it gave me hope as I really struggled through the first few weeks of motherhood. The posts about day to day realities are good as they reassure and help you realise you’re not the only one. Ten weeks in I can honestly say I love being a mum and am genuinely enjoying it. The first few weeks after my husband went back to work, I still couldn’t drive and had hormones raging, recovering from a c section- if I had read a few more posts about being a mum to a newborn, I may have found that time easier to cope with as I had such unrealistic expectations. Rose tinted specs were firmly on pre motherhood and I hadn’t prepared myself for the realities of the next chapter of life. What I’m trying to say with this rambling comment is I enjoy reading posts, sunny side and reality, as life is all about balance and I always feel this blog is honest in its subject matter which makes for great reading xxx

  17. You have struck a good balance Esme – great stuff! I love reading about how other mums do things, especially with number two just days away now! Like you we tried to get out and about with our daughter, and it does take planning and organisation, but it is worth it and having a totally supportive partner so helps a lot! It’s important to keep it real as I think that’s what a lot of people want and need, all those little extra things you need to consider once you have the little ones with you. I remember squeezing into a tiny lift in central Rome at our hotel (after everyone had told me to take the small buggy – which would have offered no shade in the extreme sun or comfort on the cobbles…) Having a baby changes your perspective and priorities and that’s ok, sometimes we need a prompt to reevaluate what’s important to us. And sometimes we need to focus on our little ones and not feel guilty about not leaving the house or neighbourhood! That’s ok! Thanks so much for your blog Esme!

  18. I don’t read many blogs, very few in fact. Most of them put me in the wrong frame of mind to cope with my own life. Time is so precious, I can’t bare to think I’ve wasted it obsessing over how people I will never meet keep their lives so perfectly. I love reading honest stuff that makes me feel more normal, so thank you Esme…you’re doing a great job x

  19. Bit late commenting on this but… please keep it real, happy or sad 🙂 I love your posts Esme and I’m nowhere near becoming a mum (although I do have some pretty awesome step-children in my life). In fact I love all the real bits of FF, it’s what keeps me coming back!

    K x

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