Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Star Blogger, Alicia Steffann

Alicia Steffann is best known for her blog, Naps Happen, which features a massive collection of photos of kids who have fallen asleep in unbelievable places, including over a hundred pictures submitted by fans.

Since starting Naps Happen in 2010, her sleepy escapades have been featured online in Parade, The Huffington Post, NBC Today Moms, Hollywood Life by Bonnie Fuller, Nickmom, and the blogs at Babble, Parentables and Babycenter. She was also voted a Circle of Moms Top 25 Funny Mom blogger in both 2011 and 2012. This summer, she launched the new blog Dastardly ‘Do, featuring pictures of crazy baby bedhead. She maintains a lively conversation with fans on Facebook and tweets as @napshappen.

When she’s not blogging, she is teaching college writing and wrangling her two small and soporifically talented boys. She lives in the D.C. area.

Prior to her life as a mom and a blogger, Alicia spent nearly a decade in the advertising industry.

How old are your children?  Boys?  Girls?
I have two boys ages 3 and 5.

Balancing motherhood and work can feel like having a long board on your head with an elephant on one end and a crystal vase on the other.  How did what you’d envisioned about motherhood career-wise square with reality?
When I became a mom, I had already been working full-time for 13 years. Having watched other moms struggle to balance full-time work and child-rearing, I knew I wanted to avoid a full-time job as long as it was feasible for us. 

As a result, I spent four years getting my master's degree while my kids were being born so that I could work part-time teaching college afterwards. That has worked out really well, schedule-wise. The only problem is that I have to do a lot of my behind-the-scenes teaching work while also watching the kids and managing their school and activity schedules...and then I have to gear myself up to go teach at night when all I want to do is put on my pajamas and collapse!

photo: Abbie Redmon
Why did you decide to enter the glittery muck known as the blogosphere?
It was a complete accident. I had this growing Facebook album featuring pictures of my oldest son asleep in crazy places and positions. It got really popular among my friends and they sometimes asked me to friend people just so they could see my album. One day I showed it to Brenna from Suburban Snapshots and she said "How is this not a blog?" So I decided to make the leap to being public and started up a free wordpress blog so that more people could access the pictures. It grew pretty organically from there and I started to get guest nappers submissions. Two years later, the naps just keep coming! It's a privilege for me to share the funny family memories of so many families.

Parents would kill for quality sleep, for themselves and for their kids. Your blog is called Naps Happen.  Let’s talk about sleep, ba-bee.
Ha! Well, I do think that my kids have naturally flexible sleep patterns. My father-in-law tells me my husband was the same as a child. However, their random napping also has to to do with my just giving up on the naptime battles with my oldest son and letting him start to I like to say..."organically." I just began to let him crash out wherever he felt moved to do so and he got much better sleep! 

People are sometimes critical of the fact that I don't impose structured napping on my kids. I assure you, it's not an attempt to be subversive. I just think it's easier this way and my kids enjoy many a peaceful snooze at the time and location of their choice.

The disadvantage is that I can't always plan my day around a set naptime, and once in awhile it goes horribly wrong - like no nap at all or a crash at 6pm. Still, I prefer my method to the stricter routines that work for some parents. It's just our speed. In fact, right this very minute, my youngest is asleep in a sunbeam on the living room carpet. 

Maintaining an even moderately successful blog seems to require being glued to one’s computer or I-thingie at all times.  Please, please share your time management secrets!
Between my teaching job, which requires lots of online interaction between class meetings, and the blogging and the social networking, well...I spend too much time online. I hardly use my smartphone because I'm such an idiot about it! It takes me so long to compose anything and I'm so dogged by auto correct that I gave up long ago. 

Mostly, I think I'm a master of getting small tasks done in whatever time is available. Like I'll do a blog post, then clean the bathroom. Then run a kid to school. Then check my student e-mails...and so on. In between, I have my social networks open all the time. I am pretty sure I don't do enough crafts with my kids. I am shamed by craft blogs. 

What do you do for yourself?
I really consider all the blogging and social networking to be a "me" thing, because what other purpose does it serve? I have moved around a lot in my life and I long ago accepted that most of my friends wouldn't necessarily be people who lived near me. 

Back in 2007, social networking revolutionized by social life just in time to cope with the relative isolation of early motherhood. Thanks to the Internet, I get wonderful support and daily laughs from an incredible range of friends, some dating back to high school, many from college and my ensuing professional life, and now the blogiverse. I love my friends! I need that time to stay sane.

Within the family context, my husband and I just love to cook and do things around our house. We're nesters, really. That makes us happy.

photo: Abbie Redmon

What’s your best “I am standing at the gates of Mommy Hell” story?
Ooooh, if only I didn't feel it necessary to protect the innocent from future digital humiliation! I have some great stories (and by that, I mean disgusting, because I have two boys). It would trouble me to preserve the worst of them for public posterity, unfortunately. 

In general, though, I have to say that I think Mommy Hell is that room full of people who never had a sense of humor and acted like parenthood is a state of constant bliss. I simply cannot relate to those folks. I couldn't make it through the week without ruefully or tearfully laughing about the worst parenting jobs it has foisted upon me. Human waste management. Exhaustion. Lack of privacy in the bathroom. 

Personally, I'll go with lamenting it and laughing about it. I love and adore my children and I take my job very seriously. I think the fact that good parenting is so important to us means we have to try extra hard not to be hard on ourselves. Where's the harm in admitting you had a rough day? It's just being human.

What would blogging pay dirt be for you? 
To be honest, I'm not sure what I want from my blog. Is that wrong to say? I keep doing it because it's funny and it helps me make great friends. Sure, I'd like to make some money off it, but I'm not sure how realistic it is for me to strive for that with all the obligations I already have in my life. With the kids, the teaching job, and the sincere desire to spend my weekends in my pajamas cooking and drinking wine...well...sometimes I think the blog never needs to be more than it is now! 

What’s your advice for newbie bloggers, or for that matter bloggers who might need a pick-me up, ahem, ahem?
 think I would say that you can't go into blogging expecting that, if you just work hard enough, your blog will turn into a career or a large sum of money. There are so many great bloggers out there writing their hearts out, and many of them will never really turn a profit at it. Additionally, media coverage and posts that go viral are often simply a function of kismet. You write a great post and it goes nowhere - and then, one day, an unassuming post gets a thousand page views. But even after a big "event" of that sort, you will often suffer the depression of going back to your previous traffic and feel like you've been forgotten and let down. So blog because you love your topic. Blog because you love the people who blog with you. Don't blog for fame and fortune, because you are more likely to be disappointed than not.

photo: Abbie Redmon


  1. Yay, Alicia and Keesha, AT THE SAME TIME! What a fun sneak peek behind the scenes, and I love the pics!

    1. Awwww, shucks, Robyn! Thanks so much for the visit! Isn't Alicia beauts with a gorgeous family?!

  2. Love this. Love you both. Love, love, love.

  3. Blog because you love your subject... this is great advice!

    My kids have fallen asleep in some pretty funny places, I may have to submit a guest napper too.

  4. Ah! Love this. Great interview (both the interviewer and the interviewee!)

  5. " because you love your topic. Blog because you love the people who blog with you. Don't blog for fame and fortune, because you are more likely to be disappointed than not."

    YES. Exactly. Perfect advice!

    Love the pics! Alicia, you totally dressed your husband for that photo shoot, didn't you? Can you dress my husband, too?

    1. Well, it was our holiday photo shoot. But of course he realized years ago that it's better to let me choose most of his clothes. ;)

  6. "In general, though, I have to say that I think Mommy Hell is that room full of people who never had a sense of humor and acted like parenthood is a state of constant bliss." You summed up my own personal Hell perfectly. I knew I liked you for a reason! Great interview.


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