• All About Fern
  • Life as a YouTuber: It’s Lonely

    I posted this on Instagram the other day.

    I was tagged practically forever ago by @thingswhatilove to share #20thingsaboutme So. Here are 20 things. 1. I am lazy. Like really, really lazy. 2. I spend a ridiculous amount of time wishing for change instead of making changes. 3. I hate social media because it makes me feel needy and awkward; pointless posts that were clearly made just to try and "engage" people make me so angry. 4. I'm just a generally angry person tbh. 5. I hate losing. 6. I often feel like I'm losing. 7. I wish I could have more babies just because I love naming babies. 8. I would love to make a career out of YouTube, but I don't see it ever happening. 9. YouTube makes me feel lonely. 10. I have always been impulsive and I am equal parts grateful and resentful that my husband and kids prevent me from making impulsive decisions. 11. My grandparents passed away last year and I dream about them all the time. 12. My dreams are so vivid that I often wake up and don't know what's real and what's not. 13. The only times I've been able to sing without fear as an adult were the times I was high on drugs. 14. Yeah, I used to do a lot of drugs. 15. I love wearing glasses and feel naked without them. 16. I hate wearing glasses because they slip down my nose and my kids are constantly smearing them with their grubby kiddy fingers. 17. I'm too scared to find out how big my student loan is – it's interest free so I'm not even going to think about it until I start earning money. 18. I can't look at the horizon or the sky for too long or I start to freak out. Everything is so big and I am so small. 19. I swear way more than I should. 20. I fucking hate typing on my phone and I'm pretty surprised I stuck with this! Okay I'm done. I tag @myfavouriteshus @ivfmummavlogs @jesschillinabout @bigtinylife

    A post shared by Fern P (@the_fern_life) on

    Excuse the swears (if you’re a person who’s offended by swears), but it took me forever to type all that out on my stupid phone. Also I wasn’t in the best mood. Also, I wasn’t kidding when I shared that 19th thing. But anyway.

    Linda (who is a person I consider to be a friend despite the fact I’ve never actually met her) left a comment on that post on Instagram. The comment included a question that I found interesting. And because I am completely lacking in the blog ideas department of late, I figured I’d answer her in the wordiest way possible.

    Hello, new blog post.

    Okay, so here’s (some of) what she said:

    It’s so sad that youtube makes you feel lonely, is it because you talk to a screen? It’s quite trippy when I think about it; us viewers feel connected when we watch you, but you prob end up feeling disconnected?

    So here goes. These are the reasons why YouTube makes me feel lonely.

    1. Most of the time when I’m filming YouTube videos I am at home alone. Sometimes my kids are there, it’s true, but anyone with kids will tell you that being surrounded by children is not the same as being surrounded by other adults. For example, I have to try not to swear. And I can’t even laugh at the really funny things they do, because the funniest things they do are always the naughtiest things they do. So then I have to get all growly, and then everyone hates me, and then I feel lonely. Ahhh parenting.
      But yeah. What I was trying to get at is this: My YouTube videos are literally me, on my own, talking to an electronic device that fits in the palm of my hand.
    2. My videos aren’t live. They are pre-recorded; edited, uploaded, and scheduled to appear on my channel at 8:30pm. And that means that when my wonderful subscribers are watching and responding to my videos, they are commenting on past events.
      I’m the first to admit that my moods and emotions tend to be a bit up and down (the husband is probably snorting at that understatement). I feel things strongly, but I get over things quickly. Unless it’s a major event, something that upsets me is likely to be something I couldn’t give two craps about just a couple of days later. So although the supportive comments I receive are wonderful (really, they are, please don’t take this as me not appreciating the messages you guys leave me), they never actually come at the times I need them most.
    3. This is the biggest one:
      I don’t actually know who you are.
      You know me. You watch my videos and read my words and sometimes you even laugh at my jokes. You know what I look like, what I sound like, what I have for breakfast… But what do I know about you?
      Some of my viewers have teensy little profile pictures that assure me they are real people. Some of my viewers leave comments using their first and last names, which makes it easier to remember who says what. But most viewers have pseudonyms and generic avatars, and it’s just like, Okay, cool. Thanks, faceless stranger! No matter how kind the comments, no matter how sweet the sentiments, there’s always going to be a disconnect when the majority of my feedback comes in the form of semi-anonymous comments (and 100% of that feedback is nothing more than words on a screen).

    There are many things I love about YouTube, and there are many reasons I stick with it. But the fact remains that life as a YouTuber is lonely. Unless my husband suddenly decides he wants to stick his face in front of the camera with me (which is never going to happen, I can assure you), I’m almost certain that the feelings of isolation are set to be a permanent side effect of my vlogging life. It’s okay, because I’ve accepted it. But I do wish it was possible to interact more tangibly with you all.

    – Fern xxx

    If for some reason you’re not subscribed to my channel yet, you should go and do that now. If you want to, I mean…
    Here’s the link: Subscribe to The Fern Life 

  • All About Fern
  • Let’s (Not) Talk About Sex

    It was a while ago now that the email came through: The beauty editor of a nationwide parenting magazine had found my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in being featured in a piece she was putting together. Would I mind answering a few questions about beauty products and routines? Of course not! In fact, typing out my replies was an absolute pleasure.

    This morning I got my hands on a copy of the actual, real magazine that actually, really has my name and my face and my words printed in actual, real colour on page 98. It was exciting. It was cool. But when I saw that I’m considered a “well-known Kiwi mum who blogs” I almost exploded. I’m well-known? Me? Most of the time I feel like I’m just talking to myself!

    It’s confronting, to say the least, to suddenly realise that anybody, everybody, has free access to my life. For the most part I ignore the fact that there are people watching my videos and reading my posts, but when you see your picture in a magazine, or (true story) one of the school mums approaches you and says, “Oh I enjoyed your vlog about your daughter’s birthday gifts!” it all starts to feel very real, and very, very public.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’ve signed up for, and for the most part it’s exhilarating. Over on YouTube I can literally watch my numbers, both in terms of subscribers and actual viewers, grow. Here on my blog I’ve been enjoying reading through the comments you leave me. But every now and then I feel the need to pause and reevaluate my choices. Are blogging and vlogging in my family’s best interests? Am I disrespecting their privacy? Will my kids grow up to resent my decision to share my life, and theirs, on the internet? I mean, I’ve already spoken about the fact that I fear I’ve been inadvertently putting my children in danger. Am I really doing enough to keep them safe now?

    Whatever the answers to my questions may be, I’m not really willing to stop what I’m doing. I feel like I’m onto a good thing here, that these “hobbies” of mine can and will take me in the direction I want to be heading in. I do, however, have every intention of stopping and thinking before I post, before I vlog, before I share my innermost thoughts and feelings. The thing is, I know what sells. I know that there are many parenting bloggers out there who’ve made a name for themselves by discussing their sex lives, or their relationship issues, or what their vagina is like now they’ve given birth. And while those topics may result in a huge increase in traffic, discussing that sort of thing is a path I flatly refuse to head down. My kids will grow up and they’ll use the internet. No doubt they’ll check up on me at some point. I would hate for them to ever feel embarrassed or disturbed by the stories I’ve told. I just can’t do that to them. Ever.

    So far I think I’m doing okay. A few months ago I went through and privatised a whole bunch of videos I’d uploaded to my channel due to safety concerns, but I think I’m on the right track now. Though the kids’ faces have slowly started appearing in my vlogs again, though I have definitely been sharing some of their experiences, I do feel like the stories I’ve been telling are my own. And I’d like to think that I’ve been sharing them with care and respect. Sure, all parents embarrass their kids at some point, it’s inevitable. But if I can manage to limit that shame to in-person experiences only, then I’ll feel like I’ve done something right. Fingers crossed I can actually pull it off…

    – Fern xxx

    I’m featured in the latest issue of Little Treasures magazine. Look out for me!
    Or, if you don’t yet have a copy, stay tuned for a giveaway over on my YouTube channel.
    It’s coming very soon!

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  • All About Fern
  • Authentically Me

    I am a person who feels. I feel things without understanding what it is I’m feeling. I feel things without knowing what I’m even thinking about. On a damn-near daily basis I’m forced to stop what I’m doing so I can search through the many layers of thoughts and feelings coursing through my body, just to figure out what the hell is bothering me. Often it’s silly little things like, Oh no, I forgot to post that letter today! But other times it’s horrible things like, I’m the worst person in the world and I totally embarrassed myself by that thing I did. Why did I do that thing? *

    Lately I’ve been having a lot of feelings about social media.

    It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Facebook. But I have yet to admit that I also dislike Instagram. Twitter I can handle, YouTube I love, but Facebook and Instagram? No. Any time I log into either platform, I end up with feelings. They sit in the pit of my stomach, heavy yet fluid, and eat away at my core until I confront them. Sometimes even that isn’t enough. As I write this, the social media induced feelings have been with me for days. In fact, this blog post is nothing more than an attempt to get these feelings out of my system.

    When it comes down to it, Facebook and Instagram make me feel inferior. I see how many friends and fans the people I follow have and I feel small. I see images of happy families and beautiful homes and I feel inadequate. I see links to other people’s blog posts and I feel worthless. I do not have the biggest following, the happiest family, or the most shareable blog. I am just a woman behind a computer, typing and editing in my living room, while my pantsless son plays with his trains on the crumb-covered floor. I am not special. I’m just another bloody Mummy Blogger, trying to get your attention… Or am I?

    I’ve lost count of how many people have commented on my blog posts commending my honesty. It’s a statement that surprises me every time. Why would I bother writing things that are untrue? Why would I pretend to be anything other than what (or who) I am? But the more I think about it, the more I realise that there are a lot of people out there who only present one side of themselves. The best side. They curate their Instagram feeds, showing only the most impressive images of their beautiful, well-mannered children. They update their Facebook pages with sweet stories about ice-creams and walks on the beach. They rave about products they’ve been sent for free, using them as props in their perfectly framed snapshots. Very rarely do they admit that their kids are driving them insane, they’re sick of being at home wiping bottoms, or that they haven’t cleaned their bathroom in two weeks. And while none of this is dishonest – we all pick and choose what we want to share with the world – I don’t find it particularly authentic.

    Authenticity has become more and more important to me as I have aged. Being my authentic self is my number one goal when it comes to both blogging and vlogging. In my mind, if I’m not keeping it real I’m doing everybody an incredible disservice. Too many parents sit at home beating themselves up because they think they’re the only ones struggling to keep their kids happy and their house tidy. Too many mums feel alone and lonely because they find parenting not only difficult, but frustrating too. I’m not willing to contribute to those feelings. I’m not here to make my life as a full-time mother of four look or sound any better (or worse) than it actually is. And, though I’m not big-time enough to be featuring products or services on my blog, I can promise that if I ever do write a sponsored post, I’ll do so as authentically as possible.

    As much as I hate to tell you this, when I first started this self-hosted blog I was trying to be like other parenting bloggers. I wrote a terrible post about how to find yourself again if you feel like you’re lost in motherhood. I numbered it and everything. I tried to make myself sound like an expert. Like, Oh yes, I am a wise and experienced mother and I have all the answers. Ugh. Who was I kidding? At the time I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel proud of my work, but now I know. That wasn’t me. That was me trying to be a blogger. And you know what’s stupid about that? I’m not just a blogger. I’m a writer. I write things. And I like to write about things that are real.

    So whether or not it’s in my best interests in terms of becoming a successful (*cough* paid *cough*) blogger, I am resolving to only write about the things that are close to my authentic heart. I’m not going to share photos and videos of my kids, because I don’t feel right about using them to attract attention. Nor will I share a meaningless 100-word post just because I haven’t blogged in a while and I need to drive traffic to my site. I’m not criticising anyone who chooses to do those things because I get it. Any attention is good attention, traffic equals money, and people love looking at pictures of cute babies and kids. But that’s just not who I am, and that’s not who I want to be. I mean, I chose to blog under my name rather than a generic Mummy Blog title for a reason.

    Before I sign off, here’s a little reminder for those of you who battle with feelings after scrolling through Facebook or Instagram myself: The photo your friend posted of her kids playing happily on the floor does not mean she’s a better mother than you. It just means she chose to snap a quick picture while the kids were quiet and their pants were dry. And she’s probably spent a good chunk of her day ignoring them so she can get things done too. That blogger/businesswoman/creative-type you follow has thousands of fans because she’s worked hard to network herself and build up a following. That doesn’t mean she’s more talented than you. That doesn’t mean you’ll never succeed. The fact that she’s doing well for herself just proves that you can too.

    Yes, the things you see on Facebook and Instagram are real. They are honest and true. But, when you really think about it, they are other people’s highlights. The best bits of their lives. Don’t beat yourself up, and don’t let the feelings get you down. Even if they are few and far between, you have highlights too.

    – Fern xxx

    *Yes, I am aware that the feelings I’m talking about are caused by and/or are anxiety. No, you do not need to worry about me. 

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  • All About Fern
  • Back on the Book

    I feel a bit like a dog with its tail between its legs right now. I’ve done something I vowed never to do. I’ve gone and signed back up to Facebook.

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    I don’t have anything against Facebook. I understand why people like it. Hell, I used to love it! But when I realised how much time I was wasting checking my newsfeed over and over like a mad woman, and worse, that Facebook was making me anxious, I knew it was time to call it quits. I deactivated my account, and I didn’t look back. I was free!

    So why, after a year of Facebook-free life, have I decided to return? Honestly, it’s because I’m missing out. There are hundreds of networking groups on Facebook for bloggers and vloggers, which I have been unable to access. There are millions of people who wouldn’t bother to subscribe to a blog or a YouTube channel, but who would quite happily Like a page and then read (or watch) every post that pops up in their newsfeed. And then there are the awkward moments where I’m approached by other creative types who want to collaborate with me, who say, “Can we have this conversation over on Facebook?” Argh! Some days I feel like the universe has been conspiring against me.

    My plan was to ease myself back onto The Book slowly. I reactivated my personal account and deleted almost everyone off my friends list. I figured I’d be less likely to suffer (virtual) social anxiety that way. Then I quietly began re-working my old Facebook page. Over 100 people had signed up to it as fans back when I was blogging on blogspot, and I figured they’d probably (hopefully!) still be interested in my posts. Facebook told me my page was still offline, and that no one would see anything until I publicised it… But I changed my page’s profile picture and next thing I knew someone had liked and commented on it! Damn! I then had to throw together a spiel about why I was back, and it all felt too rushed, and now I’m writing this blog post, which also feels rushed, and my heart is beating harder than it should be. Why am I even nervous?!

    Anyway, that’s that. I’m back on Facebook for purely selfish reasons. But maybe you’d like to connect with me there anyway? I’m really very friendly. Promise.

    – Fern xxx