Katie Kirby’s popular blog Hurrah for Gin offers a insightful and hilarious look at parenting, as depicted in stick figures. Mama chats to her about blogging, therapy and social media
Interview Pearl Boyd
Parenting definitely has a funny side. It might be easy to overlook it in the fug of sleepless nights and pointless negotiations over biscuits, or in the darkness of your kitchen at 5.30am when you are being bullied into starting a craft project involving glitter. But comedy moments are plentiful and anyone who needs to be reminded of them could turn to Katie Kirby. Her blog Hurrah for Gin is full of simple, deadpan stick people drawings, their succinct speech bubbles evoking in just a few words the enormous range of emotions that can be summoned by even the smallest of events. These sketches offer an antidote to any literature you may read offering advice on how to get your baby to sleep, or what you should be feeding your toddler, or how to master the tantrum, or any of the other areas in which your experience might not tally with the official line. Does your child’s terrible behaviour in the supermarket embarass you? Does she only eat Wotsits for breakfast? Will he only sleep if you lie on the floor of his room for an hour? You are not alone. Hurrah for gin, as Katie Kirby says.
Tell us how you started Hurrah For Gin.
I was on maternity leave after having my second son and, like many other mums, was struggling to see how I was going to make returning to work, work. What with childcare, drop-offs/pick-ups and the difficulty of finding flexible employment.
I was feeling a bit despondent about it all. So to give my brain something to focus on other than just the kids I decided to start a blog as a hobby really. I’d always liked reading them myself but hadn’t really found any that depicted my own experiences because most of them seemed to be full of sunshine, flowers and well-behaved impeccably dressed kids. So I was always keen that my own would show the real, raw and funny sides of parenthood.
You have said in the past that you find blogging therapeutic. Is it the act of writing it or the response you get?
Both I guess. It certainly helps me to write my experiences down as I love writing, but the fact that so many people comment that they are going through the same ones makes me realise I’m certainly not alone. The funny thing I think is that the vast majority of parents go through the exact same struggles but we pretend we are coping as that’s the British way. However being honest and open about our shortcomings is much healthier.
When did you first see the funny side of the chaos that is parenting?
I guess that’s just how I look at life in general, trying to see the humorous side to bleak situations. I really think that if you don’t laugh you’ll cry so you may as well laugh – and sharing tales of woe is part of that. For example my oldest woke up at 3am on Christmas Day – horrendous. But when I talked about it and asked other parents what time their kids got up and I heard some equally horrendous tales, and then suddenly it all just seemed quite comical.
How do you feel about the effect of social media on mothers?
I think it can be quite harmful if you aren’t careful. It’s very easy to look at other people’s facebook feeds and feel like they are making a much better job of things than you. But social media lies and we all edit our lives to make them look shiny and perfect on facebook. I guess my blog is in someway the antidote to that where I try and show the flip side of family life.
What do your children think about your blog?
Not much; they don’t really care. They live in their own little worlds so if we are not talking about football, Lego or Star Wars then they have little interest.
Do you ever feel under pressure to be funny at the expense of truthful?
No I’d never lie about something in order to make a better joke. It’s more to do with the way you tell a story, so getting the flow right is what usually takes time.
What’s next as your children get older?
That is the question! I’m not sure really. I think it’s harder to talk about your kids as they get older. Babies and toddlers are all very similar so when we joke about them it’s in a general sense but when they are school aged it becomes much more personal, so I’ve stopped blogging so much about our actual lives. I’d love to keep doing books though but perhaps different genres, children’s books maybe?