This post is something different from my usual interview posts – as an atheist I found very quickly that much of the home school ‘blogosphere’ was predominantly Christian bloggers. I don’t have a problem with that, but it is unusual to find someone blogging about their experience that doesn’t profess a Christian faith. It is even more unusual to find someone in the English language writing about home school from a Muslim perspective . Shannen, who blogs as Middle Way Mom, writes about home educating from a Muslim perspective but much of what she shares is relevant to home schoolers of all faiths, including the atheists amongst us.
When did you first start your blog? What was your motivation?
I first started Middle Way Mom in 2012 because I saw a need for Muslim homeschoolers to hear more about homeschooling in middle school and high school. Most of the bloggers at the time that talked about older kids were Christian, so I wanted to be a resource to share what we use in our homeschool, both for secular and religious education. Additionally, I felt so passionately about homeschooling that I wanted an outlet to talk about it without annoying my husband and friends.
Is your reason for writing your blog the same as when you first started?
I still aim to be a voice for Muslims, but yes, it has changed. When I started the blog I had two kids; I now have 4, and three of them are all quite young. How I use my days has changed drastically, and my blog reflects that. At this time, I hope to be a voice of a simple mom who struggles and strives, sharing both sides of the story, not just the Pinterest perfect parts. What remains from the early days of the blog is that I also want to share resources that I’ve found valuable in our homeschooling experience to help other homeschooling moms wade through the flood of options available.
Do you write for a specific audience? If so, who are they?
I’ve always pictured my reader as a mom just like myself: generally an ordinary person, trying to raise her kids with faith and strong family and community values. I am a Muslim, and I speak to my own experience and motivations, but I don’t expect that everyone who reads my blog matches me in all these ways. I think there are many things that can connect people, and that may be religion, homeschooling methods, parenting values, and the like.
How do you keep motivated to keep writing? Do you find it easy? Do you have any tricks or tips for other bloggers?
Honestly, it’s been hard to keep writing about preschool or Kindergarten. I feel like we’re not doing much that’s extraordinary, or much that other people aren’t doing, so it feels like there’s not much to write about. In the teen years, there are so many questions people have about homeschooling those years, so it felt easy to answer those typical questions. For Kindergarten, well, we just do what we do. We read, we explore, we learn.
As for advice, especially those with young children at home, find a way to have some quiet space. Coffee shops in my area know me. The vast majority of my blog posts have been written from coffee shops because the interruptions at home are unending. I also think the change of scenery helps to get in a different mindset than one might have at home.
Name one way that having a blog has changed your life.
Changed my life? Well, that’s a big statement. I’m thankful for the opportunities my blog has opened up to me. From speaking at a convention to writing for sites far bigger than my own. One thing I’ve learned about myself as a blogger is how energizing writing can be. The intellectual stimulation my blog brought me in a time of never ending diaper changes, nighttime feedings, and Mom Taxi service was downright therapeutic.
Do you use any social media such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc.?
What are some of the things that make you decide to follow (or not follow) another blog?
I’ll follow another blog if it answers a question I have, or if they share information I’m looking for. Does it add value to my life? If so, then I follow.
Care to name another blog that you find inspiring/interesting/an example of what a really good blog can be?
Our Muslim Homeschool and Confessions of a Muslim Mom are both great accounts to follow on Instagram, and Traditional Muslimah Homemaker on Facebook. They all have different angles and focuses, but I think their appeal is that they give you a peek into their life and their passions, making them relate-able.
The blogs that I actually follow their website are places like Little House Living and Handbook of Nature Study. Both of them have recipes or printables and instructions that are valuable to me in my day to day life.
Can you name something else, other than a blog, that inspires you? (a book, an Instagram account, a course you took, a person – anything!)
I like books as inspiration. It feels like a different part of my brain that’s engaged versus using technology. So, with that, some books to recommend: Gift from the Sea. I can’t recommend it enough as a way to feed your tired nights and busy days that seem never ending. Also, Ameera Rahim’s Journey of a Muslimah Homemaker. Her passion for serving her family radiates from the pages.
Share one thing about yourself that is completely un-related to your blog – it can be anything about you!
Wow, huh. I feel like I’m a pretty boring person! My husband and I do like to take motorcycle trips together, obviously that happens far less often than it did before having three young kids at home, but it was one thing we could afford when we got married and soon after both lost our jobs. I like to call our 7 month unemployment stint our second honeymoon. LOL!