Last weekend, as I may have already mentioned once or twice, the geekdaddy and I packed our bags, abandoned the kids and headed off to London for a
bit of a jolly serious blogging conference. It was a packed day and a half, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It also had the effect of sparking all sorts of creative ideas for us both, in particular a desire to work together more on this stuff. I’d like to introduce you all to a new feature for this blog – the side by side post. We’ve decided that when a topic comes up that we both have an opinion on we will present both opinions next to each other. We are kicking off this new feature with a post capturing our thoughts about the conference.
I attended Britmums Live with the geekmummy last weekend. I did that because I wanted a jolly and it looked like it might be fun. It was!
Being a guy in that huge crowd of women was an interesting experience. I’m pretty good at talking to people I don’t know but I did find myself gravitating towards the other men there. And talking to them really set me thinking about what makes daddy bloggers different. This was galvanised further when I attended the “meet the daddy bloggers” panel. Almost immediately it was put to the panel that they shouldn’t be called daddy bloggers at all and that daddy and mummy bloggers should be considered to be the same. That perhaps they should all be considered “parent bloggers”. Honestly I was a little disappointed that the guys on stage didn’t argue this point. I think perhaps they felt it might be un-PC to disagree and I’m wishing now that I’d raised my hand and spoken up. But I didn’t because I’m not a proper daddy blogger and I’ve got no profile in that area.
Perhaps that should change. Maybe I should start writing some of my thoughts down. One of the things I’ve always found interesting about parenting is the different ways women and men look at it. The different challenges they face. The different roles they play with their children. And the different feelings they have about what happens. Guys are often coming from a very different head-space when it comes to having kids and I think a parent blog told from the point of view of a dad offers something different and distinct from that of a mum.
I’ve occasionally made videos with the geekmummy talking together about parenting issues. Before the geekmummy blog was started she and I made an audio podcast for a couple of years called Just Relax, It’ll Happen where we talked together about our experiences with parenting. So I’m not a complete newbie to the area. Maybe it’s time I got more involved again. I can’t promise always to say stuff you’ll like but I will always be honest with my opinions. And more than anything else I’ll be writing in the hope that what I have to say is useful to other dads who might be feeling the same way as me and to other mums struggling with understanding their men.
I must confess, I was a little nervous about the BritMums Live conference. I’ve already attended a couple of other blogging conferences this year, and I was beginning to feel a little “conferenced out”. I was wondering if there was anything new I could learn from another conference. I was also nervous about running my own session, which although not my public speaking debut was definitely the longest I’ve spoken for before. Would anyone turn up? Would they enjoy it? Or would they all just go to the Google+ session that was running at the same time in another room? I was also worried about the geekdaddy, who had insisted on coming along with me, despite not really knowing what the whole thing was about. What would he think of it all?
I need not have worried. From the opening keynote by the very funny Ruby Wax, via the amazing Brilliance in Blogging awards ceremony, all the way through to the closing “Bloggers Keynote” where a selection of bloggers read their own amazingly powerful blog posts it was a completely brilliant day and a half. I laughed, I cried, I learnt and I socialised. And I got to watch as the geekdaddy got gradually sucked into this community that I have been part of for almost two years. I got to enjoy 48 hours without the kids, which was much appreciated even though I missed them both like crazy.
So here, in no particular order, is a list of the things I learned at BritMums Live:
1. I love speaking in front of an audience. The “Introduction to Video Blogging” session seemed to go well, and it was great to get the opportunity to share some of the things I have learned. I certainly had enough content to fill the time, despite some earlier concerns, in fact almost too much – I felt like I was hitting the audience with loads of information, and I didn’t have as much time at the end for my live editing demo. Not that this was a bad thing, as a straw poll early on in the session had revealed that about three quarters of my audience were Mac users, and I was demonstrating a Windows product! To those that attended, thank you very much for coming, I hope you found it useful. The slides are now available to view online.
2. I am an apple. Not just in my choice of mobile devices, but also in terms of body shape. I had a style consultation with the TK Maxx team and found it extremely useful. With just a few changes of clothes my consultant had me considering styles I wouldn’t have looked at twice before, and I learned how to dress for my body shape. Not sure how much of it I will put into practice, but it was definitely food for thought.
3. I love sharing things that matter to me with my husband. It was great to get a couple of days away from the kids, doing something we both enjoyed. We attended different sessions to each other a lot of time time, but both ended up being inspired to do more in terms of blogging. After the conference we went out for dinner, just the two of us, and spent the whole time plotting and planning. On the train home he wrote two blog posts. I’m hoping he’ll be a bit more visible around here from now on.
4. I am as uncomfortable with scantily-clad men being used to market to a predominantly female audience as I am with “booth babes” being used to market anything to a predominantly male audience. The free wine at the Brilliance in Blogging awards ceremony party was lovely, but it was served by topless male waiters, who I found entirely unnecessary.
5. Speakers who are not part of the community will get a much better reception if they’ve done their research first. The worst session for me was the the one about the state of blogging in Britain today, due to the fact that most of the panel didn’t appear to read any British blogs! Thank goodness for Sarah from Times School Gate for showing that she knew her stuff. I was very impressed with Katy Hill who made a great job of presenting the Brilliance in Blogging awards – entertaining us with anecdotes and keeping the evening moving along at a great pace. Then she came back to the conference the next day and just hung out. I didn’t get to meet her, but I can tell from the comments of those who did that she was friendly, approachable and down to earth.
6. High quality freebies will always make a great impression – huge kudos to Lego, Warner Brothers and the BritMums team themselves for some great goodie bags. I was also lucky enough to win one of the prize draws for a Butlins goodie bag, which explains why we headed home with at least 4 more bags than we arrived with, despite my insistence that we “pack light” and make sure there was some space in each bag!
7. I have AMAZING friends and family. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the friends who looked after our kids for the 48 hours we were away. I am looking forward to returning the favour and taking their boys off their hands for a weekend to make up for it. I also loved spending some quality time with my good friend Ruth from the Minibreakmummy blog. And when I got home I discovered that my Mum had popped in whilst we were away and had finished my washing up and done two loads of washing for me. Wonderful
8. No matter how much you resolve to meet up and talk to everyone at one of these things, you will come away and spend the next few days discovering all the lovely bloggers that you just didn’t see. It’s like waking up the morning after your wedding day and realising that you never spoke to half the guests. I am still discovering people who were there who I simply didn’t see at all.
9. That old cliche about it not being the winning or losing but the taking part that matters – it really does hold true. I didn’t win the “video” category at the Brilliance in Blogging awards, which is exactly what I expected because the videos I produce at the moment are very simple and very infrequent. The winner of the category was the very lovely Penny from Alexander Residence who has produced some excellent videos and is a very talented lady. I was delighted when her name was called! The whole attitude at the awards ceremony was excellent, with huge cheers for all the winners – a real celebration of blogging.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our first side by side post – we’ve got some more planned, and this is just the first of the ideas we had whilst at the conference so watch out for other interesting developments too!