I love all the different blog names out there in the biosphere and the meanings behind them. Can you tell me how you decided on your blog name?
In 2016 I was commended in The Green Parent magazine writing competition. This was the first blog post I’d ever written and it appeared on their website. I wanted people who enjoyed reading it to be able to link back to me so I set up a Facebook page one evening, with very little time to think of a name! Rhubarb and Runner Beans came from the fact that we always have this growing in our allotment each year (usually in abundance).
Somehow it seemed like a good name as I planned to write more about natural childhoods and eco-friendly living and basing this name around growing our own fruit and veg, with the eco-friendly credentials and natural experiences that surround it, seemed quite apt. I know a blog name is often deliberated over for ages but my quick decision approach has worked for me as 18 months on I still think Rhubarb and Runner Beans embodies much of what I write about.
Can you tell me a little bit about the focus/vision/ethos behind your blog?
It’s about living a fairly normal life, in a normal house, in a town with my children attending school, but how nature and a care for the environment can be entwined with the everyday things. It’s about my learning and my adventure towards a more eco-friendly approach whilst also raising my children. I am trying to be a gentle parent (and tread gently on the planet), interacting in a respectful way and carving out a natural childhood for them. But it’s also about honesty and not just portraying those perfect images you see so often online. I write about the difficulties I face being a parent, I write about zero-waste fails and I touch on mental health.
Who or what inspired you to start out on your blogging adventure and how has the journey been so far?
Reading The Green Parent magazine for many years now has inspired me to want to write (although I think there has always been a part of me that wanted to be a writer). Many of the articles have links to blogs and as I read them I dreamt of having my own one day.
Blogging has been a fantastic journey so far. I love the creative side, I love the fact I can draw on and document things we are doing; that helps me to feel positive about life. I have been surprised at how healing it can be and how the power of reflecting on something and writing it down can bring such clarity of thought. It has also been scary and I have felt vulnerable at times. It can be hard to share thoughts, feelings and ideas. Sometimes people’s comments can be difficult to take. However, mostly I feel so grateful for people’s support and I have a lovely bunch of people who follow my posts and spur me on to challenge myself. Without my readers I would not have grown and achieved so much.
How challenging is it to find the time to write good content with work and family commitments? Do you have a set time or day that you set aside specifically for blogging?
Very challenging! I have two children, aged 8 and 9 and I try to blog when they’re not around as I need time to focus and when in full writing flow I find it’s important to continue writing, without interruptions, as I tend to write a whole blog post in one go.
I work as a Primary School Teacher, mostly on a supply basis so I don’t always know which days I will be working. So I don’t have a set day each week for blogging but I might look ahead at the week and try to set aside a blogging day, but this can often change.
If inspiration strikes, I will try and write. This means I often start writing on scrap paper (as I am now!) or when I am out and about, for example one of my best (in my opinion!) blog posts was written on a train 30 minutes before arriving at Paddington, with the rest written after I’d crossed London and boarded my next train from Kings Cross!
Which of your blog posts has attracted the most readers?
Since January 2017 I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of rubbish our family throws away. I was doing quite well so in October I decided not to put our bin out until it was full, hoping to last until May 2018. I wrote a guest blog post on The Plastic Free Portal about how we got on:
If a reader only has time to click on one blog post of yours which one would you recommend?
The one I wrote on the train! It’s about how I have struggled with parenthood. I hope it might help others who have or are feeling the same and it might raise awareness generally about how hard parenting is. Anyone with kids knows it’s hard work but there’s still a stigma attached to saying you are finding it so hard that it is impacting on your mental health, I want to chip away at this feeling of shame.
Read it here: My world is so small!
How is 2018 unfolding so far and do you have any exciting plans or adventures planned?
We have just had our wheelie bin emptied for the first time in 6 months. This has generated quite a lot of interest on my social media platforms and I appeared on the front page of our local newspaper. I am continuing this journey but I am also focusing more and more on plastic-free living. The plastic pollution crisis is really worrying and I want to find more ways of reducing reliance on it. There is a lot of media attention and campaigns happening at the moment (which is fantastic) but I think I am going to focus on the international Plastic Free July campaign. I am thinking of challenging myself to go completely plastic-free for a short time during July as well as posting tips and ideas to reduce plastic consumption.
I have mostly concentrated, so far, on lessening my negative impact on the planet but I want to focus a bit more on actually having a positive impact by making the planet a better place. I have made a start on this with litter picks, re-wilding areas in and around my garden and planting trees.
My blog has naturally evolved, so having said all that, I will also just see what happens…
What would you say to anyone thinking about starting their own blog?
I’d say start. Don’t wait a moment longer. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you write, fit it into your life, once you have a blog you have a platform for your creativity and ideas and can connect with other like-minded people.
What keeps you motivated in everyday life and in the blogging world?
Connecting with nature on a daily basis and finding ways to lessen my negative impact on the living planet. Alongside this, connecting with children both as a parent and a teacher; finding out more about each child and how to inspire them to learn and grow.
How has blogging impacted your life? Has your outlook on the world changed? Has the way you live changed?
It has given me the ‘hobby’, the ‘me time’ that my life was so desperately lacking before but I didn’t know what or how to find something that inspired me. That is life-changing in itself!
My outlook has totally changed. When you write something down you give it more thought, it becomes clear in your mind. When you have that sort of clarity it can help in terms of both parenting and eco-friendly living, you know what to focus on. When I am feeling muddled, I have even been known to re-read a blog post I have written and then think ‘ahh that’s what I am supposed to be doing’! In turn this then has led me to make changes quicker. I’ve often publicly announced I have a specific intent, such as my wheelie bin challenge, so this is a great motivator. I’ve said I’m going to do it so I better just get on with it! I don’t think I would have made so many changes if I didn’t blog about them.
If you could mention one other blog that inspires or encourages you what would it be?
Definitely Lulastic written by Lucy AitkenRead from her yurt in New Zealand. It is about her life, parenting, her strong stance on children’s rights and their unschooling journey. It’s so inspiring I can’t possibly do it justice in this paragraph, click on the link and see for yourself!
Where can we find you on social media?