Here’s a parental treat as Bridget Jones meets Peppa Pig. Gill Sims’ blog, Peter and Jane, became a cult sensation for her honest, sweary account of mummy, daddy and their two ‘precious moppets’ and ‘Judgy dog’.
She talks to us ahead of her date at Raworths Literature Festival.
When you first started posting on Facebook did you have any clue at how huge your musings would become?
I had no idea at all. It all really just started as a joke with a friend, who told me I should start a blog about sweary, grumpy mummies, so I did, to amuse her.
I never in a million years thought almost 400,000 people would end up following my witterings, rantings and photos of my dog (actually, it didn’t surprise Judgy Dog that so many people love him, as far as he is concerned, everybody loves him and human beings exist solely to worship him!)
Social media has been dubbed anti-social media by some – there’s huge risks to exposing life/views online – has your experience been wholly positive, or have you had to grow a thicker skin?
I’ve definitely had to grow a thicker skin – in the early day when Peter and Jane was taking off, it didn’t matter how many positive comments there were, I would be devastated by the negative ones.
Saying that, when you hear about some of the abuse people get on social media, the odd comment from people saying ‘I don’t think you’re very funny’ or ‘Who do you think you are, thinking anyone’s interested in what you have to say?’ or who miss the point that the blog is supposed to be satirical and think it is a serious parenting blog, is really very mild in the grand scheme of things, so it’s a case of keeping everything in perspective too!
Because mummies drink and mummies swear, even though society tries to convince us that we magically become serene and perfect and devote our lives to cupcakes as soon as a human head has exited our body by one route or another.
Or even if we haven’t become a mother through the whole ‘other human being coming out of your unmentionable bits’, either way, we are suddenly supposed to become completely different people and feel #soblessed and be #makingmemories and living in a pastel coloured Pinterest world.
And if that is your experience of motherhood, that is amazing, and you really are blessed, but for lots of women, they didn’t find it like that all, it was messier, and it was more complicated, and they didn’t #treasureeverymoment because some moments just involve too many bodily fluids to treasure and instead require a large gin and a few choicely chose words to get through!
What’s your favourite swear word?
And favourite tipple?
Gin, Rioja, Pink Sunshine Wine ... not all together though, I have some standards.
You’ve been dubbed as a ‘truth seeker’ in an age of filtered perfect Facebook posts, although fun, are you keen to make a serious point about how hard parenting is, and why it’s okay not to be okay?
I think women have always felt a lot of pressure to be perfect, especially when they become mothers, but the rise of social media means that more than ever we only seen a carefully curated ‘highlight reel’ of other people’s lives, and that can be incredibly demoralising when you are struggling and feel that all around everyone is coping better than you are.
So yes, I think it is important to say that it’s not always easy and it’s not always fun and it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to ask for help, and it’s okay to give your children fishfingers for tea sometimes and it’s okay to lock yourself in a cupboard with the good biscuits for five minutes peace.
In some ways, with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and the pressure to be perfect, your stance is quite revolutionary – do you see yourself as a feminist?
Yes, I think any woman who sees herself as the equal of man is a feminist, because there is still a long way to go before things are really equal- not just in terms of pay, but in how roles are defined etc. - after all, how often do you hear fathers with jobs described as ‘working dads’ or asked how they manage with being a ‘working dad’?
How has the success of the books changed your life?
Lots of people message me to say how much less alone they feel for sometimes finding parenting hard since they read the books, and the same is true for me- for a long time I really did think I was the only one who found it tough, so it’s been wonderful to discover how many of the very annoying things children do are common to lots of children, not just mine!
Finally, what would you say to the parents of Harrogate to convince them to come along to your talk?
It’s an excuse for a night out, you might have fun, and a bit of a laugh, and you can always go to the pub afterwards!
Gill Sims will be at the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival at the Crown Hotel on Thursday October 18 at 8pm. Tickets: £14.
Book online harrogateinternationalfestivals.com or Box Office: 01423 562 303.