A single Facebook post about becoming a new father changed Matt Coyne’s life. Now he is on a mission to bring a smile to the faces of stressed-out parents. Chris Burn chats to him.
Becoming a father is a life-changing moment for anyone but for Matt Coyne it has been a uniquely transformative experience. The Sheffielder was a struggling freelance graphic designer when his son Charlie was born in 2015 – now he is a best-selling comic author with a worldwide online following and a regular guest on television and radio shows; all thanks to a heartfelt Facebook post he made when Charlie was three months old.
Coyne’s hilarious, sweary and self-effacing post ran through all the unexpected things he had learnt from his first few months of parenthood – from the “conspiracy of silence about how horrendous labour is… like being in ‘Nam” to his newfound belief that all babies “look like Ross Kemp”.
Meeting The Yorkshire Post in the cafe of The Hepworth gallery in Wakefield accompanied by a now three-year-old (and very well-behaved) Charlie, Coyne explains how his 1,000-word message that was intended as an amusing update for family and friends to let them know how they were getting on ended up being seen by 15 million people after being shared by the likes of Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher. It also led directly to a book deal and him setting up the Man Vs Baby Facebook page, which now has almost 236,000 followers.
“It was the longest thing I had written in about 20 years at that point,” he says of his original post. “After about 24 hours, there was about 20 likes on it. I thought I’ve nailed that because no one ever listens to a word I say, so 20 likes is quite a big deal. But I started getting messages from people I didn’t know to say can you make this post public so I can share it more widely? I did and by the end of the week, it had got about 30,000 likes on it. It got bigger and bigger and bigger. By the last count it had been seen by 15 million people.
“It was in the moment. I was writing about it as it was happening so people could easily think back to when they had kids and think, ‘I can remember that’, or people who were about to have kids could think ‘Oh my God, is that what it is like?’
“People say it was brutally honest but I think of it more as a love letter. It was about how much life changes and how phenomenally happy I was that Charlie was in our lives even though all this stuff was incredibly difficult and much harder than I thought it would be. It just seemed to resonate.”