I can’t quite believe that it’s my half decade blogversary

This little space of mine has been going strong for five whole years, and I’ve packed quite a bit in during that time. I set the blog up on a whim one evening, for a multitude of reasons, and had a great response from my very first post. You can read it here if you like.

The blog served me largely for catharsis at first. It quickly became therapy – both writing the posts and interacting with the blogging community. If I had to choose my favourite thing that blogging has brought to my life, it would be the genuine friendships that I’ve made along the way. I have a handful of very close friends that I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for MummyTries.

Integrity is everything to me

When I took voluntary redundancy in 2015 I decided to take a leap of faith and monetised my blog. Whilst I’ve never earned enough to pay tax on it, the income has been invaluable. It’s meant that I can work around the children and my home education commitments, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted from a job.

I’m proud that I’ve never sold my soul for a collaboration. I only work with brands I genuinely love and turn down offers every week that aren’t right for me.

No plans to go anywhere anytime soon

The thing that’s taken me by surprise the most, is that five years on I still get a thrill from blogging. I’m excited about seeing my colleagues at a big event next weekend. I’m beside myself about going on a yoga retreat in France in September. I have absolutely loved working with the brands I’ve collaborated with this year. I still squeal with delight when a client says they’ve really enjoyed my work, and better still, want to work with me again.

I still have a love hate relationship with social media, but doesn’t everyone? I’m in a better place with it than ever before, and factor in whole days where I completely switch off. Occasionally things get chaotic, but mostly I have finally achieved the elusive balance between work and family.

Huge thanks to you!

I’m exceptionally grateful to you lovely lot for reading my musings. Nothing brings me greater pleasure (outside my family) than being told my words have made a difference. As a little thank you, and to celebrate my blogversary, I’ve got a giveaway running over on Instagram. Be sure to enter for your chance to win an Amazon Fire tablet. Best of luck 🤞

~Giveaway time~ ♥️ We all need an ace card from time to time, and having the tablet for the kids to watch a bit of telly or a film has been mine on numerous occasions. To celebrate five years of Mummy Tries, I’m giving one lucky reader the chance to win the fabulous Amazon Fire 7. ♥️ All you need to do to enter is like @mummytries and like this post. Please also tag any friends who you think would be interested to let them know. If you fancy having a nose at the rest of my feed feel free to also dish out the 💕 (although it’s not a requirement for this comp you could enjoy what you find). ♥️ T’s & C’s: – winner will be chosen randomly on April 29th, my official blogversary. – the prize for this giveaway has been paid for by myself, and was not given to me by Amazon or another brand – UK entries only please – winner will be notified by DM and asked for details of where to send the prize, and also tagged at the start of this post ♥️ Best of luck!

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introducing-michelle-reeves-aka-the-joy-chaserIt brings me pleasure to bring you a guest post from award winning blogger Michelle Reeves today. Michelle blogs at The Joy Chaser, and The Essex Barn, she is also a life coach, MIND charity ambassador, entrepreneur and busy mama of two. Michelle is passionate about helping busy mamas and bloggers become their most positive, powerful and productive selves. Over to you Michelle…

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?

When I think about the times I’ve felt completely overwhelmed I get all sweaty and uncomfortable – like I’m reliving the whole thing over again. Churning stomach, tumbling thoughts, rising panic… eurgh it’s a horrible place to be.

For example, in 2009 I hit rock bottom. After a successful career in the City I was struggling to get through each day. I was an expat in China, with a premature baby daughter who struggled to feed or sleep, and I didn’t really care what happened to me. Overwhelm hit me like a brick. On the day I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression my new start – my journey back to ME – began.

And step by step, day by day, I found myself again

I started blogging around this time and having a creative outlet was definitely an essential part of my therapy. But while I became a positive person on the outside – full of energy and busyness on the inside – my glass was still almost permanently half empty.

I strongly believe that negativity can become a habit – it was for me. Through therapy, time and support I recovered from postnatal depression but even so negativity was my first reaction to a situation, with negative words often tumbling out of my mouth before my brain had time to engage and stop them. And whenever I felt overwhelmed in a situation it would rear it’s head again.

hhr-sales-page-imageWhen I feel overwhelmed I want to run away, I want to escape, bury my head in the sand, or at least in a good book or an afternoon of trashy tv. But I know from experience that it really doesn’t help… the reasons I feel overwhelmed in the first place are still there lurking in the background ready to bubble back up to the surface again.

One of the questions I’ve been asked most since I launched The Joy Chaser is how I broke this habit of negativity and how I continue to stay positive and overcome that horrible feeling of overwhelm on a daily basis.

As a business owner, blogger, ambassador for the MIND mental health charity and a mum of two, it’s sometimes tough to find time in the day for ME, let alone anything else!

But I DO find the time for me. Every. Single. Day. And I feel passionately that every woman should try to do the same. As busy mamas, wives, sisters, daughters, colleagues so much of our daily routines revolve around everyone BUT ourselves, right? And I was in that exact, same place. Wanting to take a time-out (without feeling guilty about it) to discover my more positive, happier and successful self.

My default negativity took time to build up and become a part of my life. So if I wanted positivity and joy to be part of my every day, it followed that they needed to become habits too. To break the habit of negativity I realised I needed to create a new normal – a new routine that would intentionally create the space in my day to help me practice positive habits – my 8 happiness habits – every single day and help to overcome that feeling of overwhelm.

So I created one. A routine that gives me time back for ME. That boosts my positivity and self-esteem every day. That helps me reach what I call my ‘I’m-a-mama-but-still-me’ goals. That sets me on the right course, with purpose, every morning and puts me to bed with gratitude.

And it worked. People started noticing the new, more positive me and I knew that I had to share it with others. So I urge you, find a routine that works for YOU, make time in the day for YOU. Even just 15 minutes to yourself can make all the difference to your wellbeing.

You can sign up here for Michelle’s free 5-day email challenge How to Overcome Overwhelm

happiness-habits-routine-ecourse-logo

Michelle is also the creator of 8-week eCourse The Happiness Habits Routine™

The course was designed to help busy mamas create their own simple daily routine using eight happiness habits. Michelle is offering Mummy Tries readers a 10% discount on the course until 30 November 2016. Just use the code MUMMYTRIES at checkout. You can find out more about the course at HappinessHabitsRoutine.com

Thanks so much for chatting to us and sharing your story today Michelle. The course sounds wonderful, and I’m sure many busy mum’s will benefit from it! 

How to Achieve the Elusive LifeBlog BalanceI was under the illusion that I had it all under control. I thought my life/blog balance was a-okay, but last December it was rather off kilter.

When my husband and I sat down over the Xmas holidays to discuss our home education plans, he told me in no uncertain terms that the blog was distracting me. He said that if I wasn’t prepared to make some changes, and it prevented me from putting 100% into home ed, then I’d be losing him as my biggest cheerleader. Not only that but I would kick myself for it in the future.

As always he was right!  

I don’t think he was being out of line whatsoever. When we’re so close to a situation it can be difficult to look at it objectively, and once I took a step back and reflected on his words, I completely agreed with him. I have chosen to educate my children myself, which is a huge responsibility, and needs to be taken very seriously. Our chat was the wake up call I needed to put a few things into perspective. With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to share some of the things I do these days to ensure that my blog doesn’t interfere with my family life.

Don’t get sucked in to social media

I’ve written about this several times, and always come back to the same point. Present parenting and social media cannot co-exist, it really is as simple as that. Most bloggers can bash out a post quite quickly, and it’s easy to chuck it into a scheduling service to auto tweet, etc.

Promoting it to an ‘engaged audience’ is a whole other ball game. Many pride themselves on their follower numbers, and the amount of likes they get on FB and IG, but that takes up a truck load of my most precious commodity. Getting hundreds of likes isn’t on my priority list, and I’m comfortable with that.

Knowing when to say no

For a multitude of reasons, when I created Mummy Tries I did so anonymously, and blogged incognito for the first eighteen months. This naturally ruled out quite a lot of PR opportunities and event invitations. When I came out I started getting offers, mainly for reviews in exchange for products, and my first few paid collaborations were for peanuts. I made a pact with myself pretty early on that I’d only say yes to products we genuinely needed; and set myself a lowest fee I was prepared to work for.

I’ve mainly stuck to this like glue, but around Xmas had so many offers I ended up saying yes to way too much. It was exhausting, the work I produced was not my best by any stretch of the imagination, and it left me feeling meh. Since then I’ve completely stopped taking on reviews, and am only working on quality collaborations. I might not be making a ton of cash, but I am so much happier. 

Don’t get too distracted by the online community

Untitled designI consider myself privileged to have met as many lovely people as I have through this blog, and I chat to a sizeable amount of fellow bloggers when I can, online and offline. Towards the end of last year though I was spending all my allocated blog time either chatting, reading / commenting on other blogs or replying to the comments on my own.

Something had to give, so I made a bold move a few weeks ago and disabled my comments function. I’ve also completely stopped participating in linkies, and leaving comments for the sake of it. I subscribe by email to all my favourite blogs and still read tons of posts. If I feel compelled to and have the time to comment I will, if not I’ll give the post a like or I’ll share it. Far from alienating me from the bloggersphere, it has actually cemented my real friendships, and I cannot tell you how liberating it’s all been for me.  

Don’t compare your blog to others

It’s been said so much, but I really do feel that not comparing is absolutely vital for your own success. There are some big fish in our small pond, and they work tirelessly for all they have. Comparing my blog to theirs would be like comparing myself to my friend who teaches languages for a living, and getting upset because my Spanish isn’t as good as hers. Think about it for five seconds, and how utterly absurd that would be.

We all know how crap comparing ourselves to our friends and acquaintances can make us feel, but honestly folks, the grass is very rarely greener on the other side of the fence.

Never stop enjoying it

write from the heartMy first ever post was my life in a nutshell, and I think it was pretty obvious from the outset that my writing was all about the catharsis. This is still very much at the centre of my blog, but I also use my little piece of cyberspace to express bite sized chunks of creativity.

When I was writing Become the Best You, it was brilliant to be able to share snippets of it, and get feedback from my readers. I’m now writing a novel, and feel exactly the same. The day I stop enjoying my blog, or it starts feeling a bit too much like hard work, will be the day I hang up my blogging shoes for good!

Ultimately, it’s a blog, not a nobel peace prize. I genuinely try not to take it too seriously 🙂