(I would apologize for being a full 3 days late posting this, but one of you actually said I should stop apologizing and just “jump right in” in the comments section of the survey so… I’m kind-of doing that. Also, if you missed the announcement yesterday, check here to see if you won my giveaway.)
As of 3:30PM Friday, 201 of you had filled out my Fall 2015 Reader Survey. Most days, Sam & Scout sees 1,000+ readers; but, I warmly consider the 200(+) of you that took the time to give me some honest feedback “my blog people.” Many of you (66%) have been reading since I moved here from E, Myself, and I in March of 2014. Like old friends, you’ve seen me through lots of different life stages and continued to read, comment, send emails. Your surveys were anonymous, but I know who you are (figuratively, of course, not in a creepy way). I read your blogs and follow you on Instagram. I know we have babies close to the same age. That your littlest had colic too. That you are pumping from a storage closet at work like me. That you are up late grading papers and haven’t done laundry in a week either. Truly, you are my friends.
I’ve said it already, but one more time won’t hurt anyone: THANK YOU for taking my survey / entering my giveaway / reading my blog / caring about my life / etc. etc. etc. This space is so special to me. I’m glad we’re juggling (and dropping) allthethings together. 😉
SO… Here’s what the survey revealed:
- 80% of you are between 25 and 35 years old (80%)
- 84% of you are married
- 63% of you have at least one child at home, and 10 of you are actually expecting your first baby (CONGRATS!)
- That means 30% of you don’t have kids but still put up with all my “mom-talk”
- Of those with kids, the most popular number was 2 and the vast majority are between the ages of 0-2 and 3-5
- 45% of you work full time out of the home, and – of that number – 37% are teachers (not surprising, but pretty cool)
Basically, we have TONS in common, and we could have one heck of a play-date/ lesson-planning party if we ever were in the same place at the same time!
- 30% of you said your favorite thing to read about here is Teaching, Motherhood and Working Motherhood made up a close-second with a combined 28%, and Confessions/Real Life came in right behind that with 25% of the votes
- The topics you’d like to see more of were pretty well spread out across the board, but the topic with the most checks (49%) was Confessions/Real Life. (Your in luck: Mid-Month Confessions is TOMORROW!) Behind that was Teaching and then Favorite Finds.
- Your least favorite topic/ what you’d like to see less of was Giveaways and Reviews (22%) and then Teaching.
- 55% of you said you pretty much never comment, which I hate, but I totally get it – I honestly rarely comment on other blogs myself.
- And the most popular blogs listed under “What other blogs do you read regularly?” were The Small Things Blog, Mix & Match Mama, Notes from the Nelsens, Modern Mrs. Darcy, Catholic All Year, A Cup of Jo, Momastery, Love,Teach, Eat Write Teach, Kelly’s Korner, and Something Beautiful (I read ALL of those and love them too! Plus, I added a bunch of new ones to my Bloglovin’ feed thanks to your recommendations!)
According to your comments, the best things about this blog are the honesty/realness (definitely the most common theme in your responses here), the humor, writing style, teaching/classroom tips, and the fact that we have so much in common. You guys really made me feel good here. THANKS. <<blushing>>
I asked for it, but there were plenty of “worst” things listed too. By far the most frequent response was the lack of posting/ inconsistency/ dry spells/ etc. (I’d say I’m working on that, but clearly I haven’t done that great this week either… I will continue try, but I appreciate all of you that gave the disclaimers about understanding this season of life, etc. #maybeoneday.) I also heard that the layout can be confusing in mobile format (hoping to get that fixed soon), that there aren’t enough photos (totally fair), that I don’t respond to comments (I’ll own this one too. I really try, but I admit I’m always about ten posts behind), that I take things too seriously, and that there’s too much or too little fashion/teaching/motherhood/etc. (A couple of people also said that I made them “miss teaching” which made me smile.)
Here are some other constructive criticisms* I received and wanted to respond to specifically:
- “Sometimes your honesty is a little too self-deprecating, like trying too hard to rag on yourself.”
- This has been something I’ve struggled with in the past – my confessions becoming a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy – but I really made an effort to be better about it when I left E, Myself, and I and started this blog over a year ago. (That’s a big reason why I only do confession posts once a month instead of once a week now.) That said, most of my self-deprecation is all in good humor. I think it’s important to laugh at yourself, and it’s one of my “strengths” if you will. 🙂
- “Declining posts, which coincided with you making your Instagram private, so I feel like I don’t know anything about your life anymore… Half of your blog is supposed to be about your role as a mother, but you rarely post anything about that. If it’s a privacy choice like Instagram, that’s fine, but then redefine the mission of the blog.”
- I think that this comment was referring to the fact that I’ve missed a couple of months of Mid-Month Confessions since Nora was born in addition to making my Instagram account private back in April. You can read about my reasons for that decision here; but, ultimately, I really do try to share about my experience as a mom without necessarily sharing about my kids. Does that make any sense? I’m sure some times I accomplish that better than others, and I make no claim of being “good” at striking that balance, but it’s where I feel like I need to be with my blog and personal life right now. I LOVE the idea of being a completely “open book,” but I also want to guard some things as sacred and protect the privacy of my family members that may not have the same feelings about it as me. I know I might sacrifice some readers who want more details about the personal lives of the bloggers they follow, but I don’t think it means I have to redefine the mission of my blog. The vein of motherhood runs through everything in my life and, thus, everything I write here.
- BTW, I heard from a few of you that you wished I would set up an Instagram account specifically for the blog, and I am working on that – so stay tuned! 🙂
- “I generally like your approach to most subjects; however, the we-are-all-good-mommas posts always START like they’re going to be encouraging to all moms who choose whatever is best for their families while including an air of superiority about knowing what is actually best for children in general… Since Nora has been born, a few of your mom posts have really put me (and a few others I know who read) on the defensive as though our choices might have been due to a lack of effort or education regarding XYZ.”
- This was one of the first comments that came in on the survey and, I’ll be honest, it stung. I have SUCH a heart for moms and really feel like one of the “mottos” of this blog is that we are all doing the best we can and are all in this together. It makes me genuinely sad that even one person (or more as this comment implied) would hear otherwise from me. It is NEVER my intention to make anyone feel like I think less of them for their parenting decisions, and it truly isn’t the way I feel about any of the decisions I’ve made as a mom. That said, I went back and read every single motherhood post since Nora was born and really had a hard time finding where these feelings could have come from. (That’s not to say they don’t exist, I just really couldn’t recognize what might have spurred them.) I do think I’ve had more confidence in myself as a mom the second time around, but my goal is to champion that – because I was so insecure when Sam was a baby – not to make anyone else feel less. I’m always careful about the way that I present controversial topics – with the focus almost always on my own weaknesses instead of someone else’s choice or judgement – but I will, certainly, continue to guard the way I talk about these things and how my words might be interpreted. (If you left this comment, I would really love to talk more with you about specifics etc. If you’re willing, please email me!)
- Claiming that “working mothers are the best thing for their kids.”
- Another stinger. Most of my thoughts on this are stated in the response above, but I will add this: I DO think that having a working mother is what is best for MY kids. If I felt differently, I would’t be a working mother. Period. I won’t make any apologies for that. BUT, beyond my own experience, I really don’t have a strong opinion about this and would never try to make a blanket statement that any one choice is “best.” It is different for every family, every season, every situation. I’m SO sorry that something I have written/said ever came across as otherwise.
- On that note, in my life, I often feel like the minority as a working mom, and I think of this blog as a platform for speaking encouragement to other moms who might find themselves in a similar situation as me. I can see how some of my “cheerleading” for working moms could be perceived as thinking that’s the only way to go. But, please know, I have many close friends/moms that I respect SO much that stay at home full time with their kids – and several of them actually struggle with feeling like the only SAHM out of their circle of working mom friends. I know my experience is only ONE, but it’s the only one I know, so it is what I write about.
- Sponsored posts / “I totally get why bloggers do product reviews & sponsored posts, but I DO NOT LIKE them.”
- Fair enough. This comment actually went on to say that I did a pretty good job of keeping this fairly infrequent, mixing them with actual content, and only representing brands/products I truly believe in. I know people don’t love sponsored content (I don’t either), but I really do make every effort to make them sparse, relevant, and real when I do include them. Those things are REALLY important to me, and I run everything I post/write/etc. through that filter when it comes to sponsorship and monetizing. I don’t make a lot of money off of this blog, but I am very thankful for the little bit it does generate. Two sponsored posts this summer paid for Sam’s birthday party, his new bike, and a family trip to Kings Dominion. If you are someone that gags a little every time you see a post with a *sponsored* disclaimer, rest assured that – at least here – that money is going to a real person with a real family, and I am incredibly grateful for the little “bonuses” it provides. I will write more about making money from blogging etc. later, but – in the meantime – check out my FAQ page for a little more of my reasoning behind including ads and sponsored content on Sam & Scout.
And, in an effort to not make this the longest post in the history of man (ok, it already is, I know), I will stop with a list of some of the (great) post suggestions/questions you all left for me. Expect to see content on these topics in the near future:
- Tips for friendships after motherhood. How do you find time to tend to friendships given the busyness of being a wife/mom/teacher? (Here’s a preview: My best friend left a question on my survey asking “When do we get to hang out?” Haha! So… Clearly, not great.)
- Maternity leave
- How on earth do you manage your time? (Spoiler Alert: Not very well.)
- When you were a first year teacher, how did you balance the line between school and your personal life? What was life as a teacher like when you were married but before you had kids?
- Tips for starting a blog. How did you establish a blog following / land sponsored stuff?
- Have you ever thought about blogging full time?
- Are you going to YA’ll Fest this year? (Sadly, no.)
- How do you budget/ handle finances in your family?
- What job (other than motherhood) could woo you away from teaching?
- How do you feel about homeschooling?
- What’s on your fall trend radar (mom style)?
- Tips for hosting a shower.
- What are some ways you try to keep your teaching “fresh” when you’ve taught the same content for a while?
- How did you and your husband meet? (In high school. Ninth grade. I’ll share more near our 14th “anniversary” in October.)
- Who’s your favorite bachelor/bachelorette? (Sean Lowe. No question.)
- Did your friend on the Match Maker link-up find his one true love? (I did several of those posts on my old blog and I *think* all but two are married now. My friend Seth is still single but now living in Africa and being called “dad” by eight teenage boys. True story. And my friend Lee is a professor in Ohio. *Email me if you want contact info for either of them – they are total catches!*)
- Would love to know more about how you practice your faith — mostly, how you do quiet time? how you connect with friends in prayer and bible studies, etc.?
- Tell us more about your nanny and how you found her. (See this post)
As you can see, I think I have plenty of content to keep me blogging for a while… Now, if I could just find an extra couple of hours every day. 😉
Did I forget anything?!? Please leave additional questions for me (or thoughts on any of this) in the comments. ALSO, tell me: What kind of content would you like to see in my blog newsletter?
Have a great week!
*EVERYONE was genuinely kind and respectful in offering their feedback. I sincerely appreciated the honest commentary even when it was a little hard to read. No need to get upset about anything anyone said or defend me at all. I’m only sharing because I wanted to respond and thought maybe others could relate to some of the same sentiments.