If any of you have ever thought being a parent was hard, you need to meet our latest spotlight blogger, Harriet Shearsmith. With a touch of sharp wit, Harriet delves into the tougher subjects on her blog, Toby & Roo, tackling controversial topics like feminism, equality and what it takes to raise children to be genuine, thoughtful people in a world that tries to knock you down. Having previously worked in children’s retail merchandising, she also knows a thing or two about what makes durable children’s products – a topic she often covers on her blog and in speaking events. Read on for a taste of what Harriet offers over at Toby & Roo.

1. What inspired you to start Toby & Roo?

I fell in love with a blog called Babyccino Kids and thought, oh I can share my lovely finds and tips too! Slowly it developed more into the blog that it is now. I share everything on there; it really is a piece of me and of our lives.

2. Which post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?

Geez, I don’t think I can answer that. I love the “I am not a divisive blogger” one I did because I’m not. It really came off the back of an experience that made me feel a bit cringy, and I wanted to say that you can be successful and true to yourself without feeling like you have to divide people or be unkind. There is a trend in the media lately to divide and attack, especially with mums, and I hate that.

3. Which post do you wish received more love and why?

Oh, these questions! Hmm, I don’t really know the answer to that. I often find that when I write something that really means something to me, something that is written from a place within and with passion, it has the response that I hope for. I do love my post about The Walking Dead and parenting – that does rather well and I loved writing it.

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4. What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?

I think time and remembering to enjoy it. I really struggle with remembering that I started this to spend more time with my kids and to ultimately benefit them – I get so busy and sometimes rather overwhelmed that I forget the reason behind Toby & Roo.

5. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?

That it really is true that everyone has an opinion and some like to voice theirs differently! I think the best lesson I’ve learnt is that there is an immense power in the tribe that mothers, parents and indeed people can create online. We have the ability to extend our arms around the world and – corny it may sound – give it a little squeeze and say “hey, I get you, and I’m going through this too.” Mums especially don’t have to feel so lonely anymore if they can make those life-saving connections.

6. Share a couple of your favourite blogs. Why do you like them?

I adore Hannah from Hi Baby Blog;, she is straight talking and her Instagram is a beaut! I am also a huge fan of Fiona from A Mum Track Mind and her honest approach to being a working mum; her posts on parenthood from outside of the home and in the office/9-5 slog are wonderful. Also, Hayley from Sparkles and Stretchmarks has really been giving me something to sink my teeth into lately.

7. Can you tell us about a product you’ve owned forever and why it’s important to you?

Other than my teddy which is mangled and practically 30? I have a very loyal cardigan that I have had for over 17 years… it’s a beaut!

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8. What is important to you when you’re buying children’s clothes or toys?

That they last! I can’t abide buying stuff for kids that doesn’t last – if I buy it for Reuben, I want to have the option of passing it to Edith (so three kids’ worth!), and I don’t really think that is unreasonable. Unless it’s Reuben’s trousers or shoes because he just demolishes EVERY pair no matter how fab the brand!

9. Can you tell us about the last time something broke and disappointed you?

My Sky broadband router! It’s been a rotten run of luck with it actually and I get full out load rage! As for with the kids’ things, I was really disappointed with their IKEA drawers not holding up to more pressure, but then they had them so full of crap it’s probably no wonder…

10. What vision do you have for Toby & Roo over the next 10 years?

I don’t know really. I want to get more into video content, but I find it quite tough, so we will see! I would like to keep growing and growing, developing the brand and moving more towards food as it becomes less appropriate to share about the kids.

11. What do you love most about being a blogger and what drives you to keep going at it?

Flexibility, meeting new and inspiring people, earning a living whilst being with my kids, never having to answer to a boss if my child is sick… there is a lot I love about it, to be honest!

Images courtesy of Harriet Shearsmith and tobyandroo.com.