Interview with Mum blogger extraordinaire: The Unmumsy Mum
When I moved to Exeter I found myself a Devon blogger squad, a bunch of amazing new friends to go out with and share precious child free time (and a cocktail or two). On one of these occasions at the Cosy Club, I had the privilege of meeting arguably Devon’s most successful blogger; Sarah Turner AKA The Unmumsy Mum.
Sarah’s blog and completely honest approach, has resonated with many a parent across the globe and annoyed the hell out of a few Daily Mail journalists in the process.
I chatted to The Unmumsy Mum about her meteoric rise to fame, her feelings about having a third baby, how much she loves Exeter and sucking Ben Bradshaw’s toes.
On the blog.
When you began your blog did you have plans for a complete career change & did you think you would be this successful? Do you know, when I started the blog I honestly didn’t have any aims or objectives. I certainly never expected that it would take off in the way that it did! I already had a job (at The University of Exeter) and more than anything else writing was just my way of letting off some steam.
With two best sellers under your belt what keeps you grounded? Oh that’s easy – the kids! My two are largely unimpressed by the fact that Mummy writes books. I remember coming home from a meeting in London about the second book, excited to share the news, only to find the boys obsessing over the fact that we’d run out of oven chips (which was my fault, obviously).
When was the moment / what was the post that made your blog explode? I don’t think there was one defining moment but there was one month, March 2015, when I started freaking out about page views and shares. It was the first time that blog posts of mine had been picked up by the newspapers and following two or three ‘viral’ posts my Facebook followers trebled in a matter of days. It was exciting but also a little bit terrifying – I hadn’t told many people at work that I even had a blog and it suddenly got to the stage where I felt like I had to ‘come out’ as a blogger.
You must get SO many messages and requests, you can’t possibly answer them all! How do you manage them? The honest answer is that I manage my messages and requests extremely badly! I can no longer keep up with all my social media messages and I do sometimes feel terrible that all too often people take the time to make contact and I just cannot respond. My husband, James, does help me out now by managing my website enquiries/requests (I think he got stressed watching me get stressed!)
What was the best message you have ever received? There have been a great many special messages but the one that really sticks in my mind. was from a mum who had been battling with severe postnatal depression. She messaged me in the middle of the night to tell me that reading my book (the first one) was the ‘single best non-prescribed therapy’ she could have asked for and that it had ‘changed the way she saw herself as a parent, for the better.’ I cried when I read it (and yes I did reply to that one!)
And the worst? I could probably compile a book of mean ones! Generally, they are all variations of the same theme – I shouldn’t have had kids if I was only going to moan about them. I used to get very upset by any such negativity towards me but after you’ve been below the line of the Mail Online comments several times you become quite hardened to it!
What’s next for the Unmumsy Mum, will you be taking any maternity leave, will we see you on TV? Yes, baby Turner the third is due in December so I will definitely be taking some maternity leave though now that I am self-employed it’s all a little bit trickier. Whatever happens I’ll be splitting the leave with James who will be having at least three months off when I go back to work. No, I don’t have any plans for TV work!
What is the best thing that has come out of your work? I think the very fact that I am doing something I love, for a living, is a pretty good result.
Which are your favourite blogs to read? Exploring Exeter, obviously 😉 Actually it may sound odd but I don’t actually read very many blogs, despite following lots of bloggers on social media. The chief reason for this is that I developed a fear when writing books one and two that I would read a parenting blog and, if I really related to it, somehow accidentally end up plagiarising it after believing the ideas in my head were my own to start with! Just reading that back makes me sound a bit crazy but it always felt safer not to read other parenting literature just in case!
What advice would you give an aspiring writer about how to progress in the industry? My advice would be to trust your gut feeling about what feels right/doesn’t feel right and stick to it. When I first started blogging I read all sorts of articles all the things I ‘had’ to do if I wanted to make a success of my blog and for many reasons they were things I chose not to do. In the end, doing things my way proved the right thing to do.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? (why / why not?) I do! For me, there is nothing radical about being a feminist – if you believe in women’s rights based on equality of the sexes then you are a feminist.
Congratulations on baby number three, how are you feeling about having three to look after? At this stage (five months’ pregnant) I am a mixture of excited and hysterical. I’m not sure I’ve quite got my head around the impending madness of three boys but we’re looking forward to it.
Got any names? Might have 😉 Actually, we don’t have a firm Top 3 yet. I always like to go into the delivery suite with a Top 3. Suggestions welcome …
You seem to have a very supportive husband, how often does he ask you to turn everything off? I do think it must be annoying to have a wife who is constantly updating social media and/or thinking ‘this would make a great blog post’ but he’s only had a stern word once or twice. He is also very understanding of the fact that social media (and therefore time spent on my phone!) really is part of my job, so it’s not just a case of me being antisocial.
Is there a point / age when you will stop sharing pics of your kids? Yes. I haven’t worked out exactly what that point or age is yet but I think Henry might be approaching it in the next few years. It’s something we are certainly giving thought to.
Are you worried about the impact internet and social media will have on your kids when they are older? Yes and no. I think both social media and the internet more generally can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use them (and where you look!) so although the thought of my boys surfing the net (do people still say that anymore?!) fills me with some dread I also hope they will learn the positives of life online.
You must get recognised a lot on the school run, we all have those mornings where we just don’t want to talk to anyone, how do you handle them? Funnily enough the school run is one place I generally don’t get asked about ‘unmumsy’ stuff at all! I generally get approached more when we are out and about as a family at the weekend – it’s never not odd (in a nice odd way!)
What do you love most about the city? There is so much to love. I love the vibe, the Quay, the Cathedral, Gandy Street and the fact that we are so close to the coast while also being just off the M5. The location is pretty perfect.
If you could do one thing to make the city better what would it be? Tricky one! No real bugbears but if I had a magic wand I’d sort out the traffic congestion on a Friday evening, particularly around Exe Bridges and Alphington Road. That said, I spend an increasing amount of time in London for work nowadays and it makes our ‘rush hour’ look tame. It’s always a relief to get home.
Where is your favourite place to eat? We rarely go out for dinner but Cote is a firm favourite for the Cathedral view. For coffee or at lunchtime I like the Glorious Art House or the Exploding Bakery.
What is your favourite thing to do with the family? Walks on Dartmoor are a firm fave. We also go to Haldon a lot. Basically, we try to head to wherever the boys can have a run around!
Do you think you’ll stay here forever? Yes. Unless I win the Euro millions and we all move to Monaco.
I know you moved here from Essex, when was that and would you ever go back? I was very little, around five or six, when my family made the move down from Essex – originally to Launceston, where I went to school – and the love affair with Exeter started when I came here to University in 2005. I can’t ever see myself moving back that way, I love life in Devon too much.
Lastly, would you rather lick Ben Bradshaw’s feet or be stuck in a lift for two hours with Katie Hopkins? Hahaha! That’s easy. Whip the socks off, Bradders.
More from Sarah.
Sarah has not one but TWO best selling books that I can personally recommend (see below), you can read more from Sarah here.
If you enjoyed this interview you might enjoy my interview with Karime Hassan, CEO of Exeter City Council.
The profile shot Rosie Parsons Photography.
Sarah Turner carrying a laughing Jude GRW Photography.
HUGE props to Sarah & thanks for agreeing to the interview!
PS, I think you should consider Ben as a baby name 😉
Tags: ben bradshaw, bloggers, blogging, cosy club, cote, Devon, Exeter, katie hopkins, sarah turner, unmumsy mum