a-fabulous-night-at-the-mad-blog-awardsWarning: If you’re not a blogger, you will probably find this post a bit boring! 

Last night I attended the MAD Blog Awards. For those not in the know, the MADs is a parent blogging awards ceremony, put on by the lovely Tots100 team. I’ve been blogging for almost four years, and have looked on enviously at this do in the past. It always looked like so much fun, and now I’ve experienced it for myself, know that it indeed is.

So, I’m sat here writing this post, still wearing last nights dress. I’m ignoring my kids while they watch endless Paw Patrols on Netflix, and it’s far too early to think, let alone write, given the ridiculous amount of booze that I consumed. Oh, and I’m seriously in the dog house with my husband, for not coming home last night.

BUT…I did have a brilliant time, until passing the point of no return…  

mads-collageMy highlights from the MAD Blog Awards

Top of the list was that I finally got to meet lots of awesome bloggers who I’ve only chatted to online previously. Thankfully I had some good chats with Charlotte, Alison, Detrice, Julia, Emily, Sarah, Hannah, Prabs and Talya while I was still lucid enough to hold a conversation.    

Getting to hang out with my blogging besties Mel and Ting without the kids in tow. As awesome as they are, it’s near on impossible to talk for more than a few minutes without being interrupted when they are around. One of the best things about blogging for me has been the amazing new friends that it’s brought to my offline world. Love you ladies! 

Eating a delicious meal while it was still hot. Not an every day occurrence.

Genuinely laughing out loud at Helen Lederer while she was introducing the nominees. Very funny lady.

Realising that the people with the saddest stories are often the most wonderful folk you will meet. 

Thanks so much to Sally and co for putting on a great night, and congrats to everyone who won (and didn’t win). Hope you had as much fun as I did 😉

inspirationThe greatest compliment I get is when people tell me that I’m an inspiration to them.

A true inspiration

Strangers send me emails and leave comments on my social media feeds saying that my words make their pain a little less painful, and that sharing my life makes them feel less alone (see the comments on this post).

Close friends whom I have nothing but respect for, tell me that I’m the most inspirational person they know. A few have told me that my story was the catalyst for them writing a book, or setting up a business.

Some have confided that even though they’ve read my book, and know the facts, they still can’t quite believe how I managed to get from there to here. 

On a daily basis people say that they are astounded by how much I achieve on such little sleep, with so much additional crap on my plate that most have to deal with.

When you don’t feel very inspirational

I’ve had dark periods in life where I haven’t been able to accept these kind words. I didn’t feel that I deserved them, and I questioned how on earth wonderful, intelligent people could possibly find me inspirational when I’m so flawed.

Face the FearSome days, even now, I can’t see past these flaws, and it takes every ounce of strength I have to tune out to the self-doubt demons.

There are nights when my past haunts me in my sleep, and my days are so hard they make me weep. When the challenges have been non-stop, and I have barely scraped the bottom of the parenting barrel, I think ‘wow, if only you could see me now.’

Then there are the really dark days. The ones where loathe myself, and can hardly face looking in the mirror. When the flaws are the only things I can see, and I truly question how I will make it through another year.

But you are inspirational

Then on other days I realise how well I’m doing. That the hard work I put into turning my life around ten years ago has been paying me back ever since. I can see the progress that the kids are making, and even though we still have plenty of challenges to overcome, who doesn’t? 

write from the heartI can also see that I’m achieving far more than I ever dreamed I would with my writing. I am able to quash the monsters who tell me I’m rubbish, and get through the next round of edits for my book. I know, deep down, that I will get it published, however which way, and it will sell.

I’m proud of this blog, and the doors that it has opened for me and my family. I’ve written almost eight hundred posts now, and don’t look back at any of them and cringe. I’ve remained true to myself, I never collaborate with brands I don’t believe in, or write sponsored posts just for the money. I write from the heart, and only from the heart.

Be the change you want to see

In a confusing media-driven world we are up against it not to doubt ourselves. We are told what we should be doing, who we should be aspiring toward, and what constitutes inspiration. We are bombarded with Insta-perfection and Pinable lives, which quite frankly are so out of reach for most of us, that they make us feel awful not inspired. 

So I say screw the cliches. Instead we should be our own inspiration! Especially when we have children.

MotherhoodIf they can see us achieving and being proud of those achievements, they will want to mimic us. If they watch us being able to accept a compliment gracefully, they will learn to smile and say thank you when someone tells them how wonderful they are. 

If we aren’t setting our kids the biggest positive examples in their lives, then we are in trouble my friends.

So next time you feel bogged down, dig deep. Face those demons and challenges head on, and give yourself a high five.

If you care enough to read this blog, I can guarantee that you are doing much better than you give yourself credit for.

Be strong. Be proud. Be inspirational!

The things no one tells you about bloggingYesterday I put a plea on my Facebook page asking if my followers would help me do a little test. After finally getting round to making and photographing the Paleo Caramel Slice recipe that I’d been promising for over a week, and putting it up on the blog and sharing on Facebook, it was shown to just twenty two people between Friday and Monday, and had gathered just one like.

So I pinned the post to the top of the page, and asked if people could like it to show that they had seen the original message asking them for help. Once people started reacting to the recipe post, it was shown to more, and the post has now reached almost five hundred people. What I’ve noticed is that when I share a meme, news article or (sometimes) other people’s posts, Facebook will show it to hundreds, if not thousands. When I share my own blog posts, I’m lucky for them to reach fifty.

It’s left me feeling seriously despondent, and wondering for the millionth time, how on earth a small time blogger like me, with zero marketing budget, will ever ‘get out there’

I wrote my first post on this blog on April 29th 2013, and in the last three years I have written over a thousand posts, and published almost seven hundred. I have also written and published a non-fiction book, and am currently halfway through draft one (43k words written) of my first novel. That’s a whole lot of words that have been written – for my catharsis, to potentially inspire others and sometimes because I’m being paid to. 

I’ve been featured on the Huffington Post, The Mighty, She Knows, Autism Awareness.com and countless blogs across the web. I’ve had one post go properly viral, several go semi-viral, and had so many comments on my posts last year that I decided in January to switch off the comments function. 

I have made genuine friends through Mummy Tries, and have received love and support through tough times. If nothing else, this has been the greatest gift that blogging has brought me.  

The good, bad and ugly of blogging

Untitled design (3)BUT over the last couple of years I’ve also witnessed pettiness, spitefulness and bitchiness that would put most teenage school girls to shame. I’ve seen nepotism that beggars belief as well as selfish, shitty messages that spread like wildfire because they are ‘so hilarious’ (apparently). I’ve seen people sell their soul for a sponsored post, and spend so much time on social media there can be no way that they are properly looking after their children as well.

Right now my three kids are running riot because I’m ignoring them and writing this instead. I need to get it out though, otherwise it will drive me insane all day long, and if I wait until after I’ve put them to bed I will more than likely not be able to articulate what I want to say (because I am frazzled by that point). I don’t do this very much at all any more, but every now and then I do, and it is not okay.

Ultimately Facebook is one of many areas where I feel like I’m bashing my head against a brick wall. I’ve come to realise that almost every single aspect of blogging is about who you know and not how good you are. It’s about who your contacts are, and who is championing you. Blogging is a huge distraction that often takes time away from the things you should be doing.

I’ve come to the gloomy conclusion that unless every blog post you write goes viral, and you end up amassing a gigantic following, or you’re prepared to dedicate your entire life to the blogging cause, then you are very unlikely to properly succeed in this game.

Cards on the table: I don’t know what to do about this right now, so please feel free to send me your answers on a postcard…

whatimwriting

BritMums

Nominations for the Brit Mums Brilliance in Blogging Awards are now open, so I’d like to share with you my favourite blogs, all of whom (in my opinion) deserve a place on the BiBs Shortlist! Who would be on your list?

Fresh Voice
Inside the Rainbow
The Comeback Mum
The Filling Glass
The Joy Chaser
The Joy of Five

Food
Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen
Free From Fairy
Intolerant Gourmand
Julie’s Family Kitchen
Le Coin de Mel

Inspire
Headspace Perspective
Little Hearts Big Love
Mama Mim
The Comeback Mum
The Filling Glass

Social Media
Coombe Mill
Honest Mum
Mums Days

Writer
Mothering Mushroom
Mum Turned Mom
Slouching Toward Thatcham
Sophie Is
Unmumsy Mum
Writing Bubble

Photo
Le Coin de Mel
VeViVos

Video
Rosalilium
VeViVos

Travel
My Travel Monkey
Zena’s Suitcase

Beauty and Fashion
Honest Mum
Mr and Mrs T Plus Three
Pouting in Heels

Art, Craft and Design
The Only Free Range Chick
Le Coin de Mel
Spirited Puddle Jumper
The Essex Barn

Family
3 Children and It
Dad Blog UK
The Only Free Range Chick
Mum in a Nutshell
Papa Tont

Readers Choice
Absolutely Prabulous
And Then the Fun Began
Reprobate Mum
Tea Cup Toria

Of course if you’d like to vote for me, that would be much appreciated 🙂

BritMums

More Ups and Downs than a Theme Park“How are you?”

It’s such a small sentence, but the potential power that the answer can contain is monumental. If all is rosy then great, but when things aren’t so fabulous we have a choice. Do we pretend all is well, or do we open up and let the asker of the question know how we really are?

When I was asked this question by a friend earlier in the week, I didn’t have the capacity or inclination to gloss over the facts. I answered honestly, and told her that life was as challenging as ever, and that we experience more ups and downs than a theme park in my house.

None of this is new of course. I’ve been writing about navigating our way through the minefield known as autism for a year now. This is no mean feat in itself, but chuck home education to the mix, illness after illness and sleep deprived exhaustion, and it doesn’t make for a very cheerful reply. There’s been a sense of just-needing-to-get-through-the-day going on for far too long! 

This week has been one of ‘those’ weeks

You know the ones that lead you to question everything. As a blogger and author, I have put myself ‘out there’, and I’ve been questioning why I do this recently, which has led to me being on a massive downer about it all. Does anyone even give a shit about what I have to say? Am I just getting on people’s nerves with my opinions? Are my friends bored senseless of me promoting myself on their Facebook feed?

Yesterday wasn’t great, and when the email about the Mad Blog Awards landed in my inbox, I couldn’t think of anything worse than going around begging for votes.

Today started far too early with far too much screaming from the get go. I sat with my coffee at just gone half five and stared into space for all of two minutes before needing to jump to attention and start making breakfast for everyone.

When I checked into Twitter whilst escaping to the loo (all parents do this btw!) I saw that my lovely friend, and fab blogger Mel, had nominated me for Best Writer in the MADs. I made a decision there and then to not shy away from the awards, and put myself out there once again and ask for votes.

You’ve got to be in it to win it my friends. Will you help me make the short list?

Click here to vote for Mummy Tries as best blog and best writer.

Thanks so much in advance for your support!

Tots 100 Awards


Here’s the list of bloggers who have my vote

Best Blog: The Comeback Mum
Best pregnancy: Budding Smiles
Best baby blog: The Unmumsy Mum
Best pre-school blog: Dad Blog UK
Best school days: Slouching Towards Thatcham
Best travel blog: My Travel Monkey
Best craft blog: Spirited Puddle Jumper
Best thrifty blog: The Only Free Range Chick 
Best food blog: Free From Fairy
Best lifestyle blog: The Joy Chaser
Best use of photography: Le Coin de Mel
Best use of video: Honest Mum
Best new blog: Intolerant Gourmand

Best writer: very cheekily nominated myself, because if I don’t believe in me, how can I expect anyone else to? My blog is never going to be super glossy or polished. BUT, I am good with the words, that much I do know!