Half-year blog identity crisis: YOUR turn to give ME advice

Woods As you may have noticed, this little blog has been chugging along for a while now (6 months actually), but the posts have become less frequent. In part, that had to do with a crazy summer vacation and work schedule for me. But as I reflect a little more about it, I also feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads, a juncture, a diverging path, if you will… So, I'm wondering if you guys could help me out by giving me your input.

On the one hand, I've really loved writing this blog. Your comments have kept me sustained and your emails have made this labour of love so fulfilling. When you write a book, there's a weird feeling of emptiness for some of us after the whole thing is done. The ideas get thrown out there and it's very rare to get much input from "real" people, the intended audience, people who have actually READ your work (unless you become rich and famous because THAT'S how good your book was, but, you know, that's not where I imagined this little book would go). Sure, the first month of the "book tour" (which is SO not as glamorous as that sounds in Canada) you get to talk to people that may have read a chapter or two (sales and marketing folks generally) and you get a sense of sales once in a while, but otherwise, there's this disquieting aftermath of… not much. No feedback. This blog has completely changed that for me. It's been really amazing emailing with some of you, chatting through the comments section, and feeling like the ideas in the book have actually reached some people that found the information useful and interesting.

But now, as I said, I find myself at a crossroads. I think that the majority of what I have to say on the topic of how developmental stages apply to children's sleep has been said. Yes, there are nuances that can still be covered through specific readers' questions (and YES!  I'm getting to the last batch of them very, very soon… I'm so sorry for the delay.), but there's nothing too novel that still needs to be said. Interestingly, the number of emails I've been receiving has recently started to wane and I suspect that's part of the reason: most of what I've got to say on this particular topic has been said, over there, in one of those categories on the left… 

So… what to do? Maybe you guys can help me think about this? Here are a few options:

  1. Retire the blog (I would leave all the content up, just stop putting up new posts).
  2. Broaden the focus of the blog. I'm a developmental psychologist and sleep isn't even my primary area of expertise. I could yack on and on about loads of stuff. But would that be interesting to anyone? I have a few hesitations with this option, although it appeals to me in many ways as well. Some of my concerns are: (a) overlapping too much with already fabulous blog content out there on similar issues and (b) being unsure about whether there really is an audience for an "advice" blog on different child development issues. Isn't Dr. Google enough? I don't know…
  3. If I WAS to broaden the topics that would be covered on this blog, I would most definitely want it to be more participatory. As much as I enjoy listening to myself ramble on and on at times, I DO bore myself to pieces after a while. I could try to figure out ways to construct this space that would facilitate more interactions among readers, but I'd need some help thinking that through. Any thoughts?
  4. I could just take a "sabbatical" and postpone making any hard and fast decisions. I don't need to decide anything right away, I'm still enjoying the blog writing and responding to your emails, so I can just wait and see…

I'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to be as honest as you'd like. I really do want to hear any and all feedback, including: oy, enough already. THANKS!

17 thoughts on “Half-year blog identity crisis: YOUR turn to give ME advice

  1. My vote is to do 4 then 2. Things sometimes organically happen and it’s usually better than you planned anyway. I enjoy your blog and loved your book so much. Your book now goes into every ‘Baby 101′ gift pack that I give my friends. I love your writing style and would be very interested in any broader develoopment issues you would be willing to discuss. My Kate has somehow figured out how to sleep (at 11 weeks something magical happened and I’m only feeding once in the night)and I am so happy but it was your book that got me through the previous weeks alive. Thank you.

  2. Ditto Miranda!! Please don’t go away! I’d be very interested in reading about babies’ developmental psychology and how it impacts areas of life, etc. Sure, some things may overlap with the other blog you linked to, but I read you both and love you both for different reasons.
    ***IF*** for some reason you go, please know that I love you book and without it, wouldn’t have had the courage to re-sleep train my daughter. She’s 15 months and doing well (knock on wood) sleep wise. This is one appreciative mama!

  3. 2 and 3. I am agnostic on 4. :-)
    Off the top of my head, here are some ideas on increasing participation -
    * Use Twitter and FB more (comment on and reply to others).
    * Go to the websites of your readers (if they have them) and comment there.
    * Ask even more specific questions in your own posts to get readers to respond in comments
    I wish you would not think in terms of whether you’ve said everything you have to say, although I TOTALLY understand this perspective as a scientist myself. Think of it more in terms of those wedding or parenting magazines that repeat (with different words/titles/images) the same articles on a quarterly or yearly cycle, because every quarter/year is a new batch of people who want to hear about it.
    The more you write and keep talking about these things, the more people will come to read and discuss – it can take much longer than 6 months to build up a good readership on a blog, but you could make yourself the go-to spot for discussions of kid-sleep (if you wanted). In addition, I predict that revisiting topics may actually provoke fresh insights either from readers or in your own mind, and potential fodder for more research and/or the next book.
    I only *just* got around to linking here from my own site (because I’m way behind on blogging, given that I have a 15-month-old and a job), and would hate to think that you’re done when from my perspective you’ve barely got started! :)

  4. Don’t retire the blog!! Maybe I’m a nerd but I’d love to hear more about child development not necessarily related to sleep ( perhaps ‘cos my kids are a little older and the ‘sleep’ issue isn’t such a major thing anymore). I loved the discussion about temperament for example.
    Hey, If you need more inspiration I can send you a bunch of e-mails that might get you started. I have a million questions re development to ask but have only asked your advice on the sleep related issues as I thought that’s what this blog was about.

  5. Ditto Paola!
    I vote for 2 as well. Please don’t go away – take a break if you need to, but I love the way you explain the scientific stuff to my completely unscientific brain :-)
    I’d love to read your take on other child development issues – I don’t think I’m alone in thinking about my children and wondering “is that normal?!”

  6. I also vote for #2. Especially discipline, god! It seems like a lot of the books oriented toward discipline (or communication, which is closely related) are geared toward children who are past the toddler stage. My son is a normal 2.5-er, I think, but some days we just aren’t sure if we’re taking the right tack with him. And, although if you need a hiatus, you need one, I’d love to hear what you said sooner rather than later…!
    However, also what Lyn said. And there are sleep issues that are more tangentially connected to development, and kind of overlap with discipline. For instance: the transition to the big boy/girl bed. We’re going through that right now and, although I think we should have just left him in the crib (he wasn’t climbing out), it’s too late now. So–what should we be doing when he pops out of there at night? We’ve left the crib in the room for a gentler transition–should we have?
    Whatever you write, I’d love to hear it! I could even see that you might find a new book topic emerging out of reader questions here.
    Finally, no disrespect intended to Moxie, but she is not formally trained in developmental psychology. (Heck, she even makes that point in a prominently featured blurb.) She’s insightful and has formed a wonderful community, but I think she’d be the first to say that that doesn’t mean you can’t form your own, do your own Q & As, etc. Your work will naturally take a different shape than hers.

  7. I would be terribly disappointed if you stopped writing and would actually love to hear you give voice to the other topics you might cover; potty training, discipline, you name it! I have a very, very busy job, a husband who works nights (and thus I’m a single mom most days of the week), and a busy, busy 8 month old. I don’t talk to my friends for weeks on end. But you have the one site I check every day.
    As other posters have commented – I like your writing style and (with no offense to Moxie, who I also read and is great)you’re a trained psychologist AND a mom. That offers a very unique perspective that I’d love to continue to hear – and I think the blogsphere has room for you both.
    So – take some time if you need it…but please consider continue the blog and broadening the subject matter.

  8. I SO appreciate all your feedback! First off, thanks so much for all your kind words. I literally teared up to read some of these comments (yes, I’m a HUGE suck).
    Second, some of your ideas are very helpful, practically. I think I’m going to seriously consider broadening the topics. I’d like to take some time to think about how that could be done so that it makes the most sense. One idea might be to cover a different issue every month (potty training, discipline, feeding, transitions to daycare/grade school, etc), with Q&As interspersed between posts about the research out there. I’d also be interested in getting more into some developmental theory (but obviously I would make it accessible to parents NOT in academia). I really enjoyed the temperament discussions and there’s SO MUCH more we can get into like that (different learning styles, social development, empathy, etc.). It would be nice to get into some of the more POSITIVE issues that go along with development as well as the more “challenging” issues.
    The idea of thinking of this blog as being on more of a quarterly publication cycle where issues can be revisited is VERY helpful (thanks @Lyn!). I’m always afraid of repeating myself or being redundant with other posts, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
    I’ll take this week to think more about all your thoughts and get back to you. I think it would be helpful to get a roundup of some of the questions you all have already percolating (@paola, please DO send along any questions you have). When I’m ready for that, I’ll put up a post requesting ideas.
    Also, keep in mind, I’m not an expert on ALL issues of child development. But what I CAN offer is some access to the research and my own take, sometimes more, sometimes less informed by a thorough understanding of everything that’s been studied empirically. I think part of what may be really fun for me to do with this blog is to put out some of the developmental ideas that I’ve thought about for years, some with which I align myself and some that I think are more or less unfounded or questionable, and then get YOUR perspective. Because as much as I may be able to offer you, I think I might be able to gain just as much insight from you all: academic psychologists SO RARELY get the chance to connect with the real people they’re trying to study and that’s a real incentive for me.
    More later… THANKS AGAIN!

  9. Please please please don’t stop writing! It will make us (okay, me) cry. So I vote “no” to option number 1.
    I love the idea of broadening the focus of the blog. Sure, sleep is a big issue for all of us, but there’s a million other things. And they all somehow impact sleep, don’t they? It never occured to me until recently how the baby’s solid diet is impacting his naps. So branching out to other topics in child development sounds great, and occassionally revisiting sleep, either directly or tangentially.
    One of my saddest days on the Web is when Dr. P over at WebMD’s Healthy Children blog passed away. Sure, there are plenty of blogs for advice, but very few written by experts that I feel like I trust. So don’t feel like you are encroaching or overlapping with all the other advice sites. Sometimes, it’s not the message that people react to, but the messenger.
    I actually do have an email sitting here that I’ve been meaning to ask for a while, so you will get some participation from me!
    For me particularly, this blog has been particularly wonderful (and Moxie is the only other parenting blog I read) because I have an academic background in child development. I never did anything with that background professionally, but I have a lot of interest in the field, so this has been the perfect juxtaposition of parenting and personal interest.
    No need to make a decision right away, but please do consider continuing to write.

  10. I vote for #2 also. I’d love to hear more about things we can do with our daughter as she gets older and goes through these developmental stages. We loved your book and still use it for reference about what’s going on in her head at different ages. I think your site has a different spin on the topics at hand, so I really don’t think you are saying what’s already been said.

  11. I vote for #2. I could see that you might be concerned about duplicating or maybe encroaching on Moxie, but I think you approach the questions from a different perspective which would complement any postings that Moxie may have done/might do on similar topics. I think if the blog was officially broadened to cover more than just sleep the participation would follow naturally. The sleep info is GREAT, and as a parent when you need it you *really* need it, but when sleeping is going OK it is nice to come and read about other development topics.

  12. Count me in for #2. Your blog has kept me optimistic and sane during the rough times. While I love Moxie and I can understand your concern, she has seemed to move away from younger child related issues as her children have grown older. Your take on development comes from a scientific standpoint (yes, as well as a mom) so it resonates differently even if you have the same opinion on a certain topic. Don’t go away, please!

  13. Please, please do NOT go away!! I agree with the above comments, PLEASE DO #2!! So many topics to cover:
    -Sibling relationships – (as I referee my toddler from my 6-week old infant…OY!)
    -Hitting (toddler)
    -How to support your child through transitions (new preschool/school, etc)
    I mean I could do on and on!
    Although I also read Moxie, your CIO blog a few months ago was incredibly helpful (your blogs are different because you includ the academic/research support) – and I posted the link on my Mother’s Club Forum and I received many emails thanking me for doing that!
    Please, please don’t go away!!

  14. I also vote for #2. Although sleep is still an issue at our home, I would also love to hear your perspective on other parenting issues, like the ones already suggested–discipline, potty-training (is infant potty-training a good idea or bad idea?), figuring out the balance between developing a child’s natural gifts/talents versus “forcing” them to do things they don’t want to pursue (i.e. musical instruments, sports, etc). I feel like there are an endless number of subjects you could cover. I don’t always have time to comment on every post, but I’m still reading!

Leave a Reply