Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The fuss about Gina Ford

Above: Two great friends, one of whom is on a Gina Ford routine, the other not. And I defy you to guess which is which!

The Art of Abundance has had its first celebrity endorsement. Actually I loathe the concept of celebrity and I can't bear the obsession our society places on fame. Despite having interviewed a fair few celebrities from sailor Ellen MacArthur to comedienne Catherine Tate, I couldn't care less whether Beyonce does or does not have cellulite, and I never ever watch Big Brother. Still, it's always nice to be appreciated and I was delighted when Gina Ford, parenting guru extraordinaire, told me that she loves this blog!

If you're not familiar with Gina Ford then she is known as the Queen of Routines. She writes 'The Contented Baby' parenting books that sell millions of copies and tell parents in great detail what to do with their children. The thing is, the advice works. Parents who reach the end of their tether and need a decent nights' sleep rave about her when she solves their problems. Innumerable celebrities and high powered working mothers take her advice. She doesn't stop you bonding with your baby; she gives detailed advice on how to get your child onto a routine which works. The parenting world is an odd one, with endless experts writing books which seem to be more about telling you that they are the uber parent than how to best look after your child. Personally I like to take any advice with a large pinch of salt: I'm the mother, any guru is just an adviser.

Anyway, the other day Gina Ford rang me up. I tried to explain the surprise of this to a great friend, priest Father Paul Keane. In the end I found myself saying, 'It's kind of like if the Pope rang you up. 'Ah, now I understand,' he said nodding enthusiastically. This is akin to buying a pair of shoes at Jimmy Choo's and then Jimmy Choo ringing you up to see if they fitted properly. Not that I'm saying Gina Ford, Jimmy Choo and the Pope are in any way alike, but you get the idea of how surprised I was.

She turned out to be wonderfully down to earth and entertaining, with that true grit that comes with years of hard graft and child rearing. Gina Ford has a broad Northern accent and can tell you in seconds where any given childcare problem lies. She comes across as a genius for childcare and passionately committed to supporting parents and children. I'm deeply grateful to her and thanked her for the advice I had gleaned from her website when my son decided to stop sleeping for a month. is a website set up by Gina Ford to support the people who follow her routines. You have to pay £40 to join, and then you get access to expert advice and a community of mothers. What delighted me most about this website was the wonderful balance and commitment that I found in the community. By contrast with the infamous, where Gina Ford was once rather bizarrely accused of sending babies on the rocket to the Lebanon, the mothers on ContentedBaby were polite and supportive. These are people who care deeply about every aspect of their children's well-being and want to have contented children. Contrary to popular belief, these are not people who are leaving their babies to cry. Every now and then Gina rings up mothers who post on her website saying that they have left their babies to cry and tells them not to!

Ford also has a terrific sense of humour. She declaimed the extraordinary amount of flak that she gets for her routines but told me she was mainly concerned at the moment with the finding of a toy boy to elope to the Bahamas with. And good luck to her.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see a bit of balanced reporting on the situation.
The Mumsnet media wagon is in overdrive and IMHO is more interested in publicity to drive up their site traffice and therefore advertising revenue, than anything else.

Friday, March 02, 2007 4:19:00 pm  
Anonymous Bunster said...

I'm very glad you had a positive experience with Gina Ford. After all, we all strive to do the best for children, and this works for you.
However, before you write off as "infamous", please be aware that it has been of great help and support to a large number of mothers. At this very moment, over 350 mumsnet members nationally are arranging a sponsored walk in memory of a friend's child. is in aid of cot death research, and will hopefully raise a lot of money for the charity, FSID. This would not have been possible without the FREE services of Mumsnet.

Sunday, March 04, 2007 4:21:00 pm  

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