Simon Ragoonanan decided to leave his career as a TV producer to become a stay at home dad to his 6-month-old daughter in 2012. Simon created the blog, Man Vs Pink to document his experience and to show that you can raise a girl ‘outside the gender stereotypes of the pink aisle’, Simon writes about strong female characters in comics, toys, and films and promotes the teachings of female empowerment and how to identify and combat gender inequality. In this spotlight, Simon, who appears on our Daddy blog ranking, chats to us about how he helps his readers who are parents, how he manages his blogging career and how he likes to work with PRs.
Tell us about your blog? Man vs. Pink is a parenting blog that seeks to highlight and subvert negative gender stereotypes, mostly in terms of girls but also dads.
What prompted you to document your life as a father in a blog? I was a stay-at-home dad of a daughter, and growing increasingly frustrated at the way certain toys and brands were classified as either for boys or girls. I was also frustrated at the way anything parenting related was labelled or assumed to be for mothers, and wanted write about that too.
How do you help your readers in their journey as a parent? All I can say about that is that I have been contacted by many parents who have been inspired by our daughter’s interests and outfits – one that springs to mind is a mother whose daughter was upset that some boys had told her that Star Wars is for boys only. After seeing photos of our daughter, the girl was was happy again that her love of Star Wars didn’t make her any less of a girl.
Many fathers have also contacted me, who feel more confident about undertaking the role of being a stay-at-home dad after finding and reading my blog.
What is a typical day in the life of you as a dad? I’m the one who generally gets breakfast for our daughter and gets her ready for school. I also do the school run, and look after her after school. In between, I mostly do chores and blogging, but I have also started helping out at our daughter’s school. When my wife gets home, she does bed & bath while I get dinner ready. Evenings generally involve wine and Netflix.
How do you manage your blogging career and being a father? It’s been a lot easier since our daughter started school, so I do my best to fit it all in during school hours. Before that it was evenings, stolen moments at weekends, or naps. Later, when she attended 15 hrs of preschool, it got a little easier.
More hours has enabled me to really make a big effort on working with brands as well as my own pieces – but without it encroaching on family time anymore.
How has fatherhood changed you? What did you learn about yourself after becoming a parent? The most obvious one is thinking properly about the challenges faced by girls in our society, and the systemic bias ruling against them in many areas. The shocking state of marketing to kids by gender and the assumptions associated with that was what inspired me to start blogging about it.
How do you like to work with PRs? And how can they improve their blogger outreach? We work best in collaboration when we’re clear what each other expects and we’re both happy with that. Outreach can be improved by PRs doing a little homework about my blog, as I get many pitches that are clearly not relevant. On a personal level, one of the things I can’t stand is when we are offered a product, my daughter excitedly chooses one, and then there is radio silence from the PR. Disappointing me is one thing, but disappointing my kid is shameful.
Over the past year or so, I have also started working with a group of other top UK dad bloggers in a collective we have called DigiDads. We founded it so we could work with brands in a far more coordinated and collaborative way. The response from PRs has been great, who can really see the value in this type of approach.
What are the main challenges that fathers face? I always find these questions difficult to answer. “Won’t somebody think about the men?” is how it reads in my head. Do we have challenges? Sure. It’s frustrating having to push back when ‘parenting’ seems to equal ‘mothering’ to many, whether in media, school, or society in general. But to me, the challenges facing women and girls are far greater, and that is reflected in my blogging activity.
What advice would you give to a new dad or dad-to-be? It’ll be fine. And don’t forget to eat.
What’s your secret tool; what is it that helps you to cope when the going gets tough? Early mornings. The chance to get time to myself at the start of the day can make the difference between a good and bad day. I would be rather up at 5am and get that time, than have a lie in and be launched straight away headlong into a day of parenting.