Some were professional journalists. Others worked in accounting. Others were traditional Mormon housewives. But these women are all taking part in an increasingly popular online community of bloggers—mommy bloggers.
Recent statistics have shown that, as of March 2012, there are about 4.2 million moms blogging in some form online. Some big-name mommy bloggers, such as The Pioneer Woman, Motherlode and Scary Mommy have gained everything from corporate sponsorships and internet notoriety to lecturing gigs at blogging conventions for their work. The rise in popularity of such blogs is evidence that the market for stay-at-home mothers’ stories and advice has been undervalued, according to one local blogger, Lauren Sunderland.
“Once you become a stay-at-home mom, you lose your credibility, basically,” she said. “It makes it even harder to tell your story. All of these women are leaving their careers and staying at home, and their story gets lost in the background. … We’re all sitting at home thinking, ‘I wonder if my life’s like anybody else’s.’ And then, all of a sudden, you find these stories that you relate to, and they’re interesting and intriguing.”
While the culture of mommy blogging is alive and well in all crevices of the internet, its presence is not as tangible in places like Reno. Many of blogs tend to lean on the religious side.
Sunderland’s blog, The Reno-Sparks Mom, aims to provide an online presence for mothers in Northern Nevada. In addition to sharing personal stories about her life with her husband and 1-year-old daughter, Gwyneth, Sunderland’s blog is intended to connect other area moms to local resources and to each other.
“It was really frustrating that there were no resources for moms or how to meet moms anywhere that I could find,” she said. “Going on the internet and researching stuff took a lot of time, so I just kind of looked around and thought, ‘OK, well, I can use my blog for that.’ I just kind of combined my creative blog with local resources. I kind of made a go-to spot that moms can come to look at and find the resources I was looking for.”
The Reno-Sparks Mom’s topics range from marriage and parenting to personal stories and do-it-yourself tutorials. Although she enjoys providing resources, such as information about Reno-area moms’ clubs and special events, Sunderland finds that both she and her readers seem to prefer entries about her everyday life.
“We made our own fingerpaints the other day, and it was fun to share pictures of my daughter playing in her fingerpaints and our story with the fingerpaint,” she said. “Then, I discovered that my readers actually respond to those posts as well. They enjoy the day-to-day life things, too. I think they can relate to something, and there are not many things out there showing the daily life of real stay-at-home moms.”
And, while the blog is generally cheerful, Sunderland has found that it isn’t all as easy as some of the more picture-perfect mommy bloggers would lead readers to believe. She recently had to resign from regularly updating a calendar featuring parent-and-child events in Northern Nevada due to the amount of time involved in both parenting and blogging. (“It works well as long as she’s napping,” Sunderland said, laughing.)
She is also unafraid to show some of the more unglamorous aspects of motherhood, including her struggles with depression, despite pressure she feels from the blogosphere to cover only the most aesthetically-pleasing elements of her life.
“I pride myself in that I kind of keep it real,” she said. “My house isn’t always clean. I put pictures of my dirty home in the background. … Sometimes I’ll take a picture and be like, ‘Oh, geez, that’s just dirty in the background’ or I’ll sit down to write a story and realize that it was crappy, and I have nothing good to write about. There’s definitely a pressure, but I think people actually relate to the realism.”
Although mommy blogs have been considered frivolous by some, the popularity of the phenomenon is an undeniable indicator that there is an audience that craves the advice, reassurance and entertainment they can provide.
“It’s really easy to just discount these mommy bloggers and all of us as just women talking about their stay-at-home, boring lives,” Sunderland said. “But, really, we have backgrounds, and we have a voice, and it’s pretty awesome that we’re able to share that from our home.”