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Who's Watching The Kids?

By cecilyk |

There are a handful of things that mom bloggers are accused of on a regular basis. We’re exploiting our children. We’re selling out. We’re shallow, we’re catty – the list goes on and on. But one of the most popular accusations is that we are so busy blogging and traveling to blog conferences that we can’t possibly be taking care of our children in the “right” way.

This came up again recently when my friend Annie asked a group of mom bloggers who attend a fair number of social media conferences, “Who watches your kids while you’re away?”

I answered the question honestly at first, saying that my husband – who happens to be a full co-parent – watches my daughter while I attend conferences. But the question rankled me and I kept thinking about it. Finally I asked Annie, “Would you ask men that travel for business that same question?”

Annie admitted that was a good question; she’s planning on traveling for work at least three times next year and is worrying about it. This year I personally went to eight conferences that require more than two nights away from my family, with many additional long day trips that kept me out of the house from dawn until midnight.

I am totally okay with that.

In an informal survey on Twitter, I asked if folks had husbands that traveled for work, and got about a dozen fast responses. On average, the husbands traveled about once a month, and, when I asked if anyone wonders who is watching the mens children while they travel the answer was a resounding NO.

I think there are three things going on when this question is asked of mom bloggers.

First, there is the gender bias that is still a major part of human culture. Women raise the kids, and men do the “real” work of earning an income for the family. What happens in a family like mine, then? I earn about a third more than my husband does, and some months more than that. This pervasive sexism explains the vaguely judgmental (and this is not from Annie, but from other friends and aquaintances I have in “real life”) questions and observations about how my husband is watching our daughter and how hard that must be for him.

Secondly – and furthering these sexist ideals – there is a VERY intense cultural idea about the nature of Motherhood, and how important Motherhood is, and how critical it is to the welfare of children that mothers set aside the idea of being anything other than Motherhood. We are not women or writers or entrepreneurs once we are mothers; at that moment all other things should be set aside as trivial, as unworthy dalliances while we do the work of Motherhood. It’s also important to note that the work of Motherhood is unpaid, unappreciated, yet still the thing we women must set everything else aside for.

Lastly, and I think this is one of the key points: there is an extremely pervasive idea that mom blogging is NOT work. That we are really just getting together to play and party at conferences, and that we just hang out on the computer all day (sounds VERY similar to the old attitude toward homemakers lying around eating bons bons all the day long). So, with that basic assumption, we mothers that travel for work specifically related to mom blogging are committing multiple sins. We’re abandoning our sacred duties of Motherhood, neglecting our children and asking too much of our poor husbands, and doing this all for the amazingly trivial reason of mom blogging.

So, basically, we’re screwed six ways to Sunday – not to mention that our husbands and partners are considered both inept about raising kids and are forced into the uncomfortable role of HAVING to watch the kids by our trivial pursuits.

What do you think? Are we abandoning our children to travel for mom blogging business, or are we being savvy business professionals? One good point to mention, too, is on my Twitter survey many mom bloggers pointed out that it’s other women that ask about who is watching the kids, NOT men. So this problem starts, so to speak, in our own kitchens.

I think, personally, this tweet sums up my feelings about it perfectly.

Exactly. What say you?

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About cecilyk

cecilyk

cecilyk

Cecily Kellogg writes all over the web, including here at Babble for Voices and Tech. She neglects her own blog, Uppercase Woman. Read bio and latest posts → Read Cecily's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Who's Watching The Kids?

  1. Kimberly/Foodie City Mom says:

    Personally, I think each person should do what works for their particular family. Each family is different. On the flip-side though, it is concerning to me that many mom bloggers are told that they can not have a viable blogging business if they don’t travel to all of the conferences and events – which many can’t because they have set up their lives so that they are the ones who are primarily responsible for watching their kids.

    I guess (as with many things mom-related), you are judged if you do (watch the kids) and you’re judged if you don’t!

  2. Jules says:

    True, but most women attending blogger conferences aren’t making a full time income (or much income) off their blog. So, in this scenario, I’m not sure it’s accurate to compare the travel requirements of a full-time income earning parent (father OR mother) with someone who hopes to one day contribute the same.

    My husband and I have both traveled for work, and those experiences are nothing like what you see at blogging conferences. I know of attendees at BlogHer who attended one session. Some heard the keynote, skipped all the sessions, and spent the rest of the time socializing and networking. Never have my husband or I had the opportunity to skip sessions at a work conference. For me, my attendance was required to receive continuing education units, which I needed to maintain my license in active status. For my husband, he could lose his job.

    Unless a blogger is contributing significantly to the combined income of the family, I think you are comparing apples and oranges.

    p.s. This isn’t to say bloggers shouldn’t attend conferences. (I do.) They offer value in spades to the small percentage of bloggers who will one day support their families through online media. I’m just not sure the heat a blogger receives for attending a conference can be accurately contrasted with the ease in which a co-parent travels for work related events.

  3. jennifer says:

    I do ask this question but for a different reason — (1) When my husband is traveling for work, he is getting paid for the work. My guess is that the majority of bloggers who attend blogher and such are not being paid for their work, and in fact are spending more money to go to the conference than their blog would ever make in a year and (2) for my husband to stay home from work, our family would lose money (plus what it would cost for me to go to the conference) and burn his vacation days, which I would rather spend as a family.

    These trips do make sense for the “savvy” mom bloggers, but what percentage of blogs actually turn a profit, or can turn a profit in the foreseeable future? Most of the people I meet haven’t made more than $50 or $100 per month on their blog.

  4. Donna says:

    I know you don’t mean it that way at all, and I don’t take offense to this. But I find it funny that when dads are with the kids they are “watching” the kids. They aren’t babysitters, they are parents. So they are parenting, not watching. Some dads really hate to be equated to nannies.

  5. Elle says:

    You make very excellent points in this article and not just for Mom Bloggers – this hits very close to home for me, as I’m a freelance graphic designer and work out of my home office. Too often I get lady-friends who just assume that since I work from home I can schedule play-dates for our kids during the week. Or the shocking reaction I get when I tell them that one of my kids attends a daycare/preschool part-time is classic… “But aren’t you home all day?” they ask. Yes, indeed I am, and now that my husband is back in the work-force and no longer a stay-at-home-Dad, we need part-time preschool for our youngest so I can continue working.
    As with you, I’m the breadwinner. I make in one week what my husband makes in a month. My job is very important to our family and our income, but there is still so my stereotype out there that it really blows my mind.
    And no slight against my husband, but he still has the stereotypes in his head even though he was a stay-at-home dad for 5 years. Although I was completely supporting the family, all the at-home stuff had to be equal. I was expected to cook dinner half the week. I was still expected to mow the lawn, bathe the kids, help get them to bed, I’d spend every weekend cleaning and vacuuming, etc. There was none of the Ward-gone-Jude Cleaver roll reversal — I wasn’t allowed to kick back and relax with a glass of Brandy when I finished work, even if it was a 12-hour workday. I was still expected to be super-Mom. I expect if I were the stay-at-home Mom and he were bringing home the big income, he would not be so helpful as I have been.
    Eek, sorry for the long comment!

  6. @chambanalaura says:

    This is not a question just asked by non-bloggers. I was recently at a conference where mom bloggers were asking each other who was watching the kids. This was a one-day event and it was on a weekend, but did involve travel for many attendees. I don’t think that men who go on weekend golf trips ever ask each other who is watching their kids.

  7. Kristin says:

    In reference to the above comments I think it’s all too easy to slip into the trap of equating income potential with value. Just because a blogger isn’t making a lot of money doesn’t mean that there isn’t value to her blogging, both for her and for her readers and family. Attending a conference where you get to meet other bloggers is a great opportunity to connect with others, not just a good place to find ways to make more cash.

    Writing isn’t just about making money for your family, it’s about doing something that gives you a greater sense of fulfillment and community. Two things that provide great benefit for both you as a person and as a mother. If my kid sees me managing to be a good mom and following my other interests then she knows that she can do the same one day.

    Besides which, I’d like to ask you this: If dad goes away for a weekend with the boys, does anyone ask him who’s watching the kids? Not likely.

  8. Christina Gleason @ Cutest Kid Ever says:

    I travel to 2-3 blogging conferences a year. Until now, my MIL has been doing the daytime babysitting – which she does even when I’m home, because I’m home working – and my husband does the dad thing when he gets out of work – just like he always does. Just without me there.

    Tom is a good dad. He’s the one who makes dinner and most often does bathtime and bedtime duty. He and TJ do some “special” things when I’m out of town, like go to the Chinese buffet that I don’t like.

    TJ starts full-day school in first grade this year, so my MIL will no longer be watching him during the day while I work. I’ll get my work done while he’s in school, and then I’ll get him off the bus. When I go away next time, I’m sure my MIL will take afterschool duty until Tom gets out of work, but it will no longer be the usual routine.

    Addressing the “bloggers don’t make enough money to justify the trip” comments, it can take time to build a business. Most new small businesses fail. Does that make it wrong to try to succeed? And for hobby bloggers, well, there are plenty of people (men and women) who take trips for golf weekends, craft shows, classic car shows, Comic Con, etc. that don’t get ragged on over the ROI of a trip that takes them away from their families without helping turn a profit.

    That being said, my mommy blog has not turned me a profit in all the years of its existence. However, I do run a successful copywriting business that helped me dwarf my husband’s earnings for the better part of last year. The mom blogger conferences I’ve attended have helped me hone my skills and build valuable relationships that help my other business succeed. I’ve started a new business, too, thanks to the information and inspiration my partner and I got from attending conferences with other bloggers.

    But back to the mom thing. If attending conferences helps a mom become a whole person – someone with an identity as more than just mother and wife – then it’s worth it. Moms who are experiencing life, and the dads who are doing the job of a Real Dad while they’re away, should not be subject to the sort of judgmental attitudes they are currently experiencing. I think Tom would be offended if anyone expressed surprise at his “unusual” ability to take care of his own child.

  9. Cheryl says:

    While I do blog and have a full-time job, I’ve only had to travel for it on very rare occasions. Instead, my story is of attending a Sisterhood retreat through my synagogue. At 33, I was the youngest participant there, and there were only a handful of us with young children still at home (mine were 3 and 7 at the time). All weekend long I got the questions, starting with who was watching them (my husband) and then how well were they holding up without me. It was a weekend devoted to SISTERHOOD of all things, women supporting each other, and I had really been looking forward to those two nights away. I had fun with the one friend I’d already had who came with me, but it was really difficult to be questioned by virtually everyone else in attendance, and it really dampened the experience for me. Now when I see these women again, it’s often in the company of my children, and they dote on and compliment them. But they still have nothing more to say to me personally, since most didn’t bother to spend those two precious days actually getting to know who I am.

  10. Katherine Stone says:

    Yes, yes, yes. “Mom blogging is not work.” I get that all the time.

  11. Anyabeth says:

    This is really a work thing not a blog thing. When I go on business trips this is the first question anyone asks me (and I work in an office so it isn’t like my daughter is with me all day). My husband has never once been asked about our childcare.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Some of it may be getting ideas for how *I* could do it, I think. I’m home, my husband works, and we have no family close by. So if I ask “Who’s wtching the kids?” It’s because I want to know how you’re doing it, to get ideas for how I could do it too! I also think it’s a bit of the female equivalent of “Did you see the game lady night?”. For better or worse, discussing the kids is something women have bonded over for generations. For men, not so much. They assume they already know. No real topic for discussion, so….moving on :-) . Maybe we need a better game equivalent :-)

  13. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

    My husband travels frequently, often for extended periods of time and has been doing so for fifteen years. Nobody has EVER asked him who watches the kids while he is away. I’d love to get to more conferences but can’t due to the cost and conflicts with his travel schedule. Fortunately, when the stars align, my husband is the first to encourage me to go.

  14. 5MinutesForMom says:

    I love this post Cecily!
    As you know, I travel very often as well – I am at about eight conferences a year too with other trips as well.
    While I get asked this question, and it kind of can irk me, I feel like it is also asked our of curiosity, and I like Stephanie noted above, other women want to know cause they may want to do it as well.. Also, as Stephanie said, talking about our kids is a common subject that many women fall back onto for conversation.
    Basically – I am ALL for women doing what they want and need to do to make them the best women they can be for themselves and their families. I love attending conferences because I am an extremely social person and it feeds my soul to be with women who understand me.
    Fortunately, blogging is also my work. But if it weren’t, I would still attend some, but not eight. Because I wouldn’t be able to afford it or justify that amount of time and money from our limited budget.
    And as for who looks after my kids – I have paid childcare and my husband is home after work each night.

  15. Amy says:

    If dads had it as their profession to share the personal details of their young childrens’ lives then yes, I would object to that whether they were paid for it or not. It is an exploitative way to make money, entertain yourself, or seek fulfillment. The objection to “Mommy Blogging” isn’t that it is done by women. I’d be equally appalled by “Daddy Blogging” or “Parent blogging.” It is fundamentally a violation of your child’s privacy to reveal embarrassing moments on their lives for the entertainment of people on the Internet. It should be seen as on par with Toddlers and Tiaras.

  16. Nolie says:

    I hate when I hear men saying “Babysitting the kids tonight”. Really? babysitting? They are your kids to. You are being a parent that is what you are doing. Drives me insane. Yes I am a stay at home mom but when I go to a conference or even out for the night no one is “baby sitting” my kids. My kids are at home with their father and it is perfectly normal.

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