One of the rarely discussed topics in British Mummy blogging is just how many of us aren’t actually British. There’s a thriving ex-pat blogging community, including Brits abroad and foreign bloggers who have now settled and are raising families in the UK.
Melaina, author of Transatlantic Blonde, is one of the most popular of the ex-pat bloggers, ranking in the top five of last month’s Tots100 index. Melaina lives in Glasgow with her British husband and their son, Blondie Boy. Here she explains why she took up blogging, and what makes ex-pat blogging such a special experience:
The easiest way to explain why I’m not your average Mummy blogger is the fact that – whisper it – I’m not actually a Mummy.
You see I’m a Mommy.
Not only am I a Mommy, but I am a Mommy who lives in Glasgow, Scotland: more than eight hours and 400 miles from London, where most blogging events seem to take place.
I’m American, and moved to Scotland six years ago to attend graduate school and be with my boyfriend (now my husband). I live more than 3,000 miles from my friends and family, which means the normal support mechanisms that you have around you as a new Mum aren’t available to me.
For me, blogging started as a way to share my life with friends and family back home. Then I used my blog to share my pregnancy and then my son’s development and milestones with them. Since then, though, my blog has grown and today my blog and Twitter are a great source of advice, support and friendship from bloggers around the world.
Sure, moving to Scotland from the States isn’t a HUGE culture shock, but after six and a half years there are still words I don’t know, celebrities I’ve never heard of and cultural things I just don’t understand. My mother never used Bonjela, SMA, Calpol or Sudocrem. I didn’t watch Mr Ben, Superted or Button Moon. Not only am I a first time Mom, but I’m a first time Mom in a surprisingly foreign land.
If you think about what products you use with your own child chances are they are something your parents used with you. I don’t have that history or brand loyalty because while some brands are international, a lot are not. That is part of the reason why I really like reviewing products – as an ex-pat Mummy blogger, I feel like it’s my chance to honestly tell people about something they could find useful in their lives.
One of my favourite things to do with my son is to go to our local “Bounce and Rhyme” session where we sing songs and read books. He loves music and I love to sing so it’s a perfect fit but the first few times I had to mouth the words. There are a whole host of nursery rhymes I’d never even heard of before (Wind the Bobbin Up?) and others where the words or tune are slightly different to the American version. You have an Incy Wincy Spider, we have an Itsy Bitsy Spider.
I could write a novel about things I just don’t understand. For example: why would anyone ever give tea to a baby? There are lots of cultural things I just don’t understand and probably never will. For now I do my best to make sure my son learns about both his Scottish and his American cultures. He loves the Itsy Bitsy Spider but already is somehow saying “aye” instead of “yes.”
I’ve been really lucky because a few very kind, very supportive bloggers have taken me under their wing and shown me the way.
So how can PR people work with ex-pat bloggers? First, I’d ask any PR exec to take the time to read the ‘about me’ section on a blog before getting in touch. I know mass emails are way easier, but if I’m in Glasgow, I’m not going to be able to pop down to London for the morning! Why not offer to send the same information to me, in the post, on the same day?
Those of us at the other end of the country appreciate treats and the opportunity to share our opinions north of the border just as much as those down south. I guess I could get upset that I get emails for events and opportunities in London even though my blog clearly states I’m in Glasgow but living an ocean away from my friends and family means I miss a lot of things: I’m used to it.