Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family
Hi I'm Rachel! I live with my partner and our almost 18 month old son in a little Sussex town on the south coast of England. We hadn't been together long before I fell pregnant with our boy, so its been quite a whirlwind…absolutely loving family life though. It didn't happen the way I'd planned it growing up, but that's life right? Just because something isn't planned, doesn't mean it isn't loved.
What do you like doing to be you, when you are not parenting, working (if you do), or blogging?
I love reading. I've always loved to disappear into a book, and I could quite easily spend the whole day that way (and have many times in the past!) Unfortunately I don't get much time to read any more, but I try to fit it in where I can. My lunch break at work is often the perfect opportunity. I have also rediscovered my love for Lego, as my mum bought me a Lego VW Campervan kit for my birthday! Other than that, I am still finding my feet as a new (ish) parent and trying to fit more 'me time' into my weeks.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Saying my son would be a bit cliche right? So I won't! I think my biggest achievement has got to be leaving uni with a BA(Hons) 2:2 in Creative Writing with Law. I have depression and social anxiety, and university was a very difficult time for me. I attended hardly any lectures for Law and next to no tutorial groups, because I just couldn't face it. The atmosphere was so stuffy and judgy. Creative writing was ok, because everyone was so much more laid back. But yes, I don't know how I managed to pass, let alone get the grades I did. Definitely my biggest achievment to date.
From your own experiences, what do you find the hardest part of parenting and what is the easiest/most rewarding part?
For me, the hardest part of parenting is the postnatal depression and OCD that comes with it. I'm still battling it daily, although it has got a lot easier to manage. I have days where I feel the need to be on my own, which of course is impossible when I have a toddler to look after. Thankfully he is quite independent, and is often happy to sit and play on his own while I chill out on the sofa. It does make me feel guilty though, especially when he brings over toys so I will play with him. I just have to remind myself that it's just for a very brief period, and it will pass. And then it does, and we have lots of great fun together.
The most rewarding part is watching him grow. He is becoming such a character – cheeky, but so loving. Seeing him try to master new skills and new words just fills me with pride. The excitement and pride on his own face when he finally achieves something just makes all the tears and tantrums of frustration worthwhile.
Parenting in itself is no mean feat; how do you juggle everything you need to in order to get everything done on a daily basis?
I've always been bad at juggling! My house is a mess most of the time, and we have a near constant queue of dishes waiting by the sink. I work part time too, so that's three days where I don't really have the energy to do anything after parenting and working. The main thing I try to do is not sit down straight away. It's so easy to do…come down from putting your child to bed, and you just want to sit on the sofa and relax. The likelihood though is that you won't get up again! So every time I put him down for a nap or down to bed, I try to get at least one thing done before sitting. It could be laundry, washing up, or even just clearing the table from whatever meal we last had. It makes it so much easier to do little bits at a time, as it helps to prevent you from getting totally overwhelmed! I am now trying to fit my blogging into that too, wish me luck!
Why did you decide to start blogging?
I had a blog a few years ago, that I started when I was at university. Being on a creative writing course, it was actively encouraged to keep some sort of journal. I used to be a freelance writer too, until a few years ago. I took on a day job to cover my bills, and then the day job took over. I had planned to start up again on maternity leave (HA!), and then got stuck thinking of ways to get back into it. The trouble I had was I wanted to continue where I left off…the blog, the type or writing I did etc. I'm just not the same person any more though, which is why I decided to start fresh. I've never been good at talking, but always been pretty decent with the written word. I'm the kind of person who would rather write you a letter to express my feelings, rather than tell you to your face. That's probably just the social anxiety speaking. Writing is theraputic for me though, for that very reason. It helps me to unload.
Tell me a bit about your blog?
I actually have two blogs – Prose and Progeny, and Parenting and PND. Prose and Progeny is more of a personal blog. I am still experimenting with it, trying to find what works best for me, so it's a bit of everything at the moment. Mainly my thoughts and feelings, and experiences as a parent. As I learn to take more time for myself and get back to the things I used to love, I am hoping to broaden my content spectrum a bit.
Parenting and PND is pretty much what it says on the tin – it's a blog about Postnatal Depression and other mental health issues. It saddens me that there is still so much stigma about postnatal mental health, and everything that surrounds it. It also saddens me how little help there is out there for people who are going through it. So my blog is aimed at parents – dads as well as mums – in the hope that I can help them the way that I've been helped myself.
What do you want your blog to achieve and where do you hope to see it go as it grows? I'd be lying if I said it was purely for pleasure and a hobby. I would ultimately like to be able to monetise it to supplement my income. I would also like to use my blogs as a way to showcase my skills in the hope of gaining a career in writing – either freelance, or in a company. That's not the sole reason though. When I blogged before, it was just for myself. This time round I am learning to network a bit better, and I am enjoying meeting people I wouldn't have otherwise met. I am learning new skills, which is really what I need at the moment – I miss education so much. I also feel a sense of achievement when I hear that something I have written (particularly on Parenting and PND) has actually helped someone.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting a blog?
Do it. Don't think too much about it, just start one up. You don't need to jump straight into the deep end and set up a whole website etc for yourself, just join one of the blogging platforms. Mine are both still with wordpress.com, although I intend to convert to WordPress selfhosted in the future. There is no rush though. When you start, write for yourself. Write something that makes you feel. Readers can always tell when something is forced, because it's not easy to read…it doesn't flow. Even if you think nobody out there will be interested in what you think, it doesn't matter. There is an audience for everyone, and an audience for everything.
A little bit of fun If you could have dinner with three people (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
1. Stephen Fry – He is a legend. He is all-knowing, ridiculously witty, and someone I have admired for a long time. His openness about his mental health is something I have great respect for, and I would love to be able to sit down and just chat with him.
2. My Grandad – I have never had the strongest relationship with my family. We all get on well, but I don't have the kind of bond with them where we open up and have heart to hearts. My Grandad passed away 2.5 years ago, and I wish I could have asked him about his experiences in the war. WWII has always fascinated me, but for some reason I never really asked him about it. I know I could get the stories from someone else, but it just wouldn't be the same.
3. Gerard Butler – Come on, who wouldn't?!
Tell me three random facts about you
1. I have a fear of being over water. I can swim, and I love being in the water, so this fear is completely irrational. It just scares me!
2. I have two house bunnies – Flopsy (yes, she's a lop but that's not where her name came from!) and Bonzai who is a little male Netherland Dwarf.
3. I still play Pokemon Go!