The Boy and Me
One of the potential downsides of blogging is that you can end up losing some of your privacy. Many parents who write will know the feeling of starting to tell a friend a hilarious story, only for them to reply, "Yeah, I know, I read it on your blog."
That's not going to happen to Joanne, a primary school teacher and mum of one who has been writing an anonymous blog, The Boy and Me, for almost two years.
Joanne lives in a small town in South Wales, the sort of place where everyone recognises the local teacher. "I was intrigued by blogging, but I hated the idea that the parents of children in my class would be reading about my family, or that I might inadvertently write something that embarrassed someone," says Joanne.
Not that Joanne was an instant convert to blogging, she admits. "I thought blogging was people just putting their daily routine on the internet like a diary, and it would be boring," she says. "But I got into Twitter and a couple of people I followed wrote blogs, and I started reading them, and realised they could be really funny, and cathartic."
Having made the decision to keep her identity private, Joanne simply created a new online identity – The Boy and Me – and made the decision never to use her name, or the names of any of her family – on the blog. She also set up a Facebook and Twitter account using the blog name, which she uses to promote her blog, and chat with blogging friends online.
"I have to be a bit careful about who I reveal my 'real' identity to, and I never have people as friends on both my Facebook accounts, which helps," Joanne says. "My family know I blog, but they don't know the name of my blog, and they don't read it."
The Boy and Me
Being an anonymous blogger gives Joanne a lot more freedom in what she writes about, and it doesn't mean she misses out on the fun of blogging. "I feel I'm blogging fully, and I like being able to talk about what I want to, and having a place to remember all those little moments and changes that my son goes through," she says.
Joanne's blog is filled with stories about raising a toddler, alongside great ideas for learning through play. As a qualified teacher and nursery nurse, Joanne is a passionate believer in children learning best when they're having fun.
After blogging for a year, Joanne was thrilled to be asked to become a 'toyologist', testing boxes of toys with her son, and writing about the results on her blog, for Toys R Us. Every couple of weeks, the postman would arrive with another box of the latest toys, for Joanne and her son to play with. "I absolutely loved being part of the programme, and it led to a lot of other opportunities," says Joanne.
Alongside reviews of toys and other parenting products, Joanne's blog is a place where she explores her new hobby of photography, through the '366 project' which involves taking and publishing a photo every day, for a year. This has proved a great way of capturing the tiny changes Joanne's son goes through, and after successfully completing the challenge in 2011, Joanne is now encouraging other bloggers to take part, and publishes a post each week inviting other bloggers to join in and share their photos.
One of Joanne's most popular posts is about the Things They Don't Tell You When You're Pregnant, which attracted lots of comments, and debate. Posts about potty training have also proved popular!
Best website for shopping for The Boy: www.toyjeanius.co.uk
Best website for home shopping: www.ikea.co.uk because we have a store five minutes away and I'm forever browsing!
Finding blogging inspiration: www.pinterest.com which is a brilliant site where people share inspiring images, ideas and recipes.
Something that makes me laugh: misslexywoo.wordpress.com is my favourite other blog, and always makes me laugh. Lexy is one of the people who inspired me to start my blog.
Click on the banner below to read previous previous blogs of the week....