My First Year as a Blogger.

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Can you believe it’s been a little over a year since I started on this journey as a blogger? I can’t, that’s for sure. So much has happened in those twelve plus months. To say that the last six months or so have been manic (what with Zosia turning one, Mum being in hospital for nearly eight months, work and other general life stuff) would be something of an understatement. If you hadn’t noticed, I have been pretty MIA for a long time. Life has thrown some major curve balls at us so far this year, but we keep on batting them off into the distance. Sometimes you realise just how much a person can take before they break and what truly matters in life. But I guess that’s life for you.

So what’s been happening?

Well, firstly we had a lovely little party for Zosia’s first birthday. The night before was very busy. I spent all night cooking, cleaning and decorating but it was worth it in the end. Budget wise we did pretty well and I think that writing the blog post Six Simple Steps to Planning a First Birthday Party on a Budget before hand really helped. She was of course, spoiled by all of our friends and family and she loved playing with the other babies and toddlers which was so lovely to see. If you follow me on SM you would have seen some of the pictures from the weekend. I’ll go into more detail about this in another blog post later.

The biggest thing that has stopped me from doing pretty much everything has been my mum. In December she was admitted into hospital. She has only just been discharged. Growing up and as a teenager, my mum and I never really got on too well. I think that is because we’re too similar. We get on a lot better when we don’t live together. Seeing her in a coma, fighting for her life made me realise just how much time we had wasted over silly, petty arguments and dramas in the past. Being the eldest in situations like this does make you realise that being an adult can really suck at times. Seeing her fight so hard to get back to some kind of normal hasn’t been easy.  Now that she is home we just remind her of how proud and grateful we are that she didn’t give up. Every night I would come home and give Zosia an extra squeeze. She makes everything seem better.

On a lighter note

So after a year or so of blogging, what have I learnt? I have had to think about this quite a bit really. Especially as out of the twelve months, I’ve only been really active for about eight. I’ve condensed some of the biggest lessons that I have taken out of this whole experience so far into seven points. I think for anybody considering becoming a blogger or influencer you definitely need to consider some of these before you start.

1. Make sure you have time

Time has been one of the biggest issues for me. Being a working mum means a lot of things need to be juggled and often that meant something wasn’t getting done. It took me a while to work on the balance of life as a parent, a teacher and a blogger. Too often did the washing pile up higher than the Empire State Building or the toys on the floor make an assault course during the midnight feeds. Of course my husband helps where he can , but he works too and it is easy for us both to be tired at the end of the day. We’re currently in the process of trying to set up things so that we can be more organised. We have a meal and chore planner in place which were hoping will not only help with keeping up with the work around the house but also keeping our finances in check. It also helps keep an eye on who is doing what which should help with the silly arguments about washing up! I try to get blog related things done in the evenings or on the weekends so that the hubby can focus on his work. That way I can keep up with the housework on my days off too.

I was most productive when I had a plan in place. I used my bullet journal to make a note of blog post ideas to use for the future. I would track what I was posting to the blog and when so I could see how many things I had posted each month. I have to admit that since Mum was ill, I’ve not been keeping up with anything, not even my bullet journal. The plan will be to start integrating all of the things that worked slowly but surely so that I can get back in to regular blogging again. I think I might start making a digital tracker as I don’t have the time to manage the drawings and creative side of a paper bullet journal at the moment. Keeping a planner and a tracker is definitely a useful tool for bloggers.

2. Know your niche

It is important that you know what you want to write about. Have a clear idea about where you fit in the blogging world but also make sure you know and care about what it is you’re writing. There is absolutely no point in writing about make-up if you only wear it on special occasions. Keep your content down to a few subjects that you’re really passionate about. For me it is parenting first and foremost, with a dash of creativity and a hint of education. There may well be the odd post about other things from time to time and some may over lap into other areas and that is ok. The point is don’t try to write about ten different subjects at once. ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ kind of thing.

3. It’s okay to have a break

I think that this was one of the hardest lessons to learn. In the first year I have had at least six months off in total. Returning to work as full time cover teacher at my old school just sapped the life out of me. I was no longer enjoying teaching. I couldn’t wait to leave. Every evening I would come home exhausted and I would just want to snuggle my little girl on the settee all night. I wasn’t a very good house wife during this time. The blog went on hold as did most of my life and friendships. What was difficult to accept was that it is okay to take a break from the blogging world and I had only had about a month off. This time around I’ve had about five months off but I wasn’t worrying about the declining statistics or anything. I had a week or so where I was facing the possibility of losing my mum. The blog become nothing to me. I was just trying to get through each day as it came. Each day a gruelling trip into central London, through blizzards and cancelled trains. Each day clinging on to the tiniest bit of hope. It was sad to think something so unimportant had taken up so much of my time before now.

As I am ready to process such events now, I can begin to focus on rebuilding what I have lost but also remember that it is not the end of the world if I am not present online. Family must always come first. This blog is about an outlet for me to process a great many things that I have, I am and I will have to experience in the future. That is what I must remember.

4. Try to make friends with other bloggers

This is one of the hardest things to do when you can be a bit of an introvert like me but having someone who knows what things you go through to keep your blog going is good for your well-being. Having a blogging friend can help you when motivation is low, being able to sound off ideas and someone to share your content is a massive bonus. Plus you get a cool new friend.

5. Social Media is a must

Having accounts on the big four social media sites is an absolute must. There are so many positives to having them all set up as your blog. Depending on your niche, you might also want to set them up as business accounts. Instagram is great for sharing the images you create for your blog but sharing links is a massive pain. Facebook is great for supportive blogging groups and setting up a page for your blog content should be on your to do list if you’ve not got one set up already. Twitter is has a great community amongst the bloggers but watch out for some sneaky, bitchy trolls. It is also great for sharing your content. Pinterest is one of my favourites and I have been working really hard on making sure this site reflects my brand. You can pin your content images and link them straight back to your blog. You can join group boards as well as pin lots of inspiration things to come back to later. Social media is your ally when it comes to getting people to your blog so make the most of it and although it can take up a lot of your time, it is such a valuable tool.

6. Don’t expect to become famous over night

I am sure at some point, we have all sat staring at our statistics expecting fame and glory to appear in a the blink of an eye. One of the hardest things I found was checking my stats almost constantly meaning I was always glued to my phone. Statistics are not everything. I know it is important keep an eye on them but they are not the only thing that is important about your blog. Not everyone’s blog is about becoming famous either. Sometimes I need to remind myself why I started this blog in the first place and if one day I can make any money on the side then that would be amazing. Sure when I started this blogging journey I thought it would be an easy way to make some money on the side but in fact it hasn’t been like that at all. It is incredibly hard work. It requires a lot of effort for little outcome and that’s where my last point comes in.

7. Don’t Give Up!

Sounds so simple right? Don’t let yourself get down hearted when a post isn’t as popular as you were expecting. Analyse it. Look at post similar to yours. See if you can spot what went well with their post that you may have missed in yours. Do some research. Have other bloggers had the same problems as you? You may well find that somebody has written a blog post about how to get more traffic to your site or ways to improve your content. The biggest lesson to learn of all, is to keep learning lessons. Make progress, no matter how slow. We learn best from our mistakes so of course, it is okay to make a few along the way.

What’s Next?

Well we are expecting more challenges throughout this year including a major move with a one year old but I hope to be able to get back into something more regular in terms of the blog. Change is not something we shy from in this household so we will try to keep a positive outlook on life. There are more posts in the line up and with the summer holidays coming up, I should have plenty of time to get through the back log of unfinished blog posts. I also have quite a few creative ideas that I am beginning to process as well, including learning to build and creating my own website for the blog, so keep an eye out for those updates.

I think that’s about it really. What would you add? What lessons were hardest for you to learn in your first year of blogging? Drop me a comment below and don’t forget to follow me on the four big social media sites for more regular updates.

Thanks for reading guys.

Peace and Love,

Monsterful Mama.

JakiJellz
3 Little Buttons

Goals for 2018

As we all know, a new year means new goals, or rather refreshed goals that we may not have achieved last year, or the year before. For the last ten years at least my New Years resolutions have featured weight loss of some kind. Some years have been more successful than others, but nevertheless my weight has increased. Most recently I had lost 2 stone in the run up to our wedding. Naturally, having a baby has impacted my ever increasing waistline and here I sit, writing this blog post at my heaviest. So what’s to be done? Do I repeat the same old goal of weight loss as I do every year, no matter how much I’ve failed? Or do I mask it as something else? ‘Stop eating takeaway food!’?

One of the goals that I have already set myself is positive thinking. So I’ll take a more positive spin on things, I’ll make my goals steps toward positive thoughts rather than remarking on the negative. Having glanced around google, I’ll try to make my goals SMART. They will be Significant steps broken down to be Meaningful and Measurable steps that are easily Attainable. These steps will be Rewarding and kept Relevant and of course I will find ways to make them Trackable in my bullet journal so I can measure the time it takes to achieve them.

To begin with, I’ve spent some time thinking about what is truly important to me this year. Determined not to get stuck in the monotony of the seemingly unachievable ‘lose weight’, I looked for ways to make my goals much more positive. I think this year will be more focused on breaking bad habits. Changing how I think about my goals and how I feel when I don’t achieve them. I’ll need to break down each goal into smaller steps that are easier to achieve. I will need to review the goals regularly to see how I am getting on.  The plan is to review once a month. I will also be looking at ways to incorporate mindfulness into the everyday, a kind of ‘Practice What You Preach’ sort of thing. I will need to think about how I can be mindful of the things I am doing or thinking that will have a negative impact on my progress.

What Next?

As I’ve said already, I plan on using my bullet journal a lot more this year to help me stay on track (keep an eye out for a post on how to utilise your bullet journal for goal tracking later this month). I am in the process of creating spreads to help me manage this. I recently read somewhere that writing your goals down will help to make you more accountable for them. As if having them written down makes you more aware of them, less likely to forget them. I also read that sharing them with people helps with this too. I always share my goals with my husband so that he can help to keep me on track and of course, I am now sharing them with you. I should also mention that my word of the year is discipline and I aim to remind myself of this every time I slip up.

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New Year Goals in Bullet Journal. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So with all that being said, what are my goals for this year? To start, I’ve broken my goals down into six categories. I’ve chosen these categories as I feel they are areas that need the most work.

Body

Mind

Creativity

Home

Finances

Blog

Hopefully this will make it easier to keep organised, to visualise each goal and each step within each goal. So let’s begin.

Body:

I know my problem with food stems from my mindset. I see food as a comfort so I need to break the habit of binge eating, and reaching for the snacks when I am bored or tired. Just looking at the scales is upsetting enough yet still I reach. However, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t want to set a ‘lose weight’ goal. Instead I want to focus on how I can lose weight by changing some bad habits. I began to compile a list of things that needed to change. I thought about the poor food choices I was making, the lack of water I was drinking, the lack of exercise I was doing and how often we rely on take away food. Then I thought about how to make it positive and achievable.

  • Fewer Take Aways

– No more than one takeaway a month

(Can I make a tracker for this…?)

  • Make better food choices

– Start cooking meals from scratch again

– Make time to cook

  • Make sure you eat all three meals, no skipping lunch

– Stop making excuses, get up and do it.

  • Drink more water

– Get a glass of water (or squash at the very least) when you make your first coffee

  • Start Yoga at home

– Get a yoga app

– Make a yoga tracker in my bullet journal

– Use yoga at least 3 or 4 times a week

– Get up early to do it (even if you’re working)

  • Exercise More Frequently

– Create a tracker to monitor exercise

– Go for walks with Zosia

– Complete a ‘fun’ run for charity

  • Remember why you are doing this!

– Zosia

– Hubby

YOU

Mind:

How can I begin to change my habits? Habits I have had for most of my life. I think first of all I need to start thinking about my triggers. I already know all too well that my bad eating habits stem from three things; a lack of discipline, boredom and negative moods. Focusing on negative moods is where my mind goals will coming from.

  • Avoid drama

– Don’t create unnecessary drama

– Don’t get sucked into other peoples drama

– Remain calm in difficult situations.

– Try not to over react to the little things

  • Be thankful

– Remind yourself of the things that keep you going every day

– Help others in need more

  • Meditate

– Regular meditation time

– Spend less time plugged in. Step away from social media for at least 10 minutes a day (to start with)

  • Be more positive

– Think happy thoughts

– Keep a list of all the things that make you happy in your bullet journal

  • Learn to love yourself

– Accept the little slips and move on

– Remind yourself that nobody is perfect

– Stop making negative comments about yourself

– Be kinder to yourself, you know if you’re doing the best you can do or not

Creativity:

Last year my goal was to get creative more often and for the most part I was successful in this. I have improved my hand lettering and been braver using water colours more often. This year I want to take this a step further and hopefully start making some money out of it.

  • Write a children’s picture book

– Start with a book for Zosia this year, then go from there

– Work out how you want it to look

– Think about what the moral of the story is

– Make time to get this done

  • Start Zosia’s scrapbook

– Enlist the help from bestie

– Don’t be afraid to commit to it

– Make note of all the important milestones

  • Keep going with the bullet journal

– utilise the blog journal more

– Make sure it is as practical as it is pretty

  • Create more things to sell on Etsy

– Scan in work you have already

– Create a calendar for 2019

+ Scan it in to make a digital copy of it

– Finish setting up Etsy shop

– Share the s**t out of it on social media

– Create digital planners for bloggers to use

– Write more blog posts about my creative side

  • Believe in yourself more

– Remind yourself that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to.

– Remind yourself that if people get paid millions for calling stuffed sheep and upside down urinals ‘art’ then your few pounds for a hand made print is reasonable enough

Home:

There are a lot of things that need sorting at home. With the arrival of a tiny human chaos has ensued. So these goals feature a lot of tidying up and organising rooms.

  • De-clutter the house

– Go room by room and clear out stuff that either hasn’t been unpacked since we moved in or hasn’t been used in the last 6 months

– SPRING CLEAN THE S**T OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!

  • Sort Zosia’s room

– Go through the boxes and clear out the rubbish

– Buy and assemble new furniture

– Move crib in after 1st birthday

– Put up wall decorations

  • Buy better storage and new furniture

– Book shelf for under the stairs

– Organise kitchen cupboards better

  • Create a cleaning schedule for the house and put it up in the kitchen

– Try not to use the word ROTA

  • Start washing up after every meal. Make this a habit not a chore

  • Stop only tidying up or cleaning when people are due to visit

Finances:

With money, things are always tricky. Even more so when you have a child. Working part time is proving challenging so I need to think of other ways to save or make money.

  • Spend less on the things you don’t need

– If you do go shopping take your time to think about the necessity of the purchase.

  • Look for cheaper alternatives to the expensive brands

  • Start putting more aside for Zosia’s future

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Inspired by Little Coffee Fox at https://littlecoffeefox.com.

Blog:

My numbers are picking up again after a few months off due to work commitments. However they are still quite low. I will need to work on raising numbers before I can approach brands but I am hopeful.

  • Start seeing this as a business, not just a hobby

– Think about why you started this

– Think about a plan of action for 2018

– Be a full time blogger by 2019

  • Raise viewer and visitor numbers

– Promote more often

– Join more Linkies

  • Start writing content to cover busy periods so that you always have something to post

– Compile a list of potential blog posts

  • Create a list on brands that you would like to work with

– Create assets to promote yourself to brands

  • Work with Hubby to begin migration to self-hosting

– Learn how to create your own subscription emails

– Set up email list

– Add ‘Subscribe Now’ pop up

– Learn more about SEO

– Get Hubby to teach you how to code for yourself

  • Keep working on your ‘Mummy Rants’ Series

– Open it up to guest bloggers??

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Motivational Quote.  Copyright of Monsterful Mama

So, I know this makes your goals seem harder to reach as there are so many little things to worry about but trust me when I say that breaking them down into smaller more achievable goals as I have done above really does help. I still have the big goals in mind but I know that I will be able to complete them by creating little ‘To Do’ lists within each one. You will feel a sense of achievement if you are able to tick a box every now and then which ultimately will help with some of the other goals. Setting yourself goals is vital to stay proactive and productive in life and business. You don’t need to wait for the new to set or evaluate them either, it just feels good to start a new year with a fresh head on your shoulders.

What goals have you set yourself this year? More importantly how are you going to achieve them?

Thanks for listening,

Love and Peace,

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

2017 – a review

First of all, let me start by wishing you all a very happy new year. I hope that, regardless of how 2017 has treated you, 2018 will be amazing.

For us, 2017 was an amazing year. In February I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing. She has guided our life in a new direction and although some days it feels like we’re holding on for dear life, other days we’re thoroughly enjoying the ride. Every day with her is a gift. She is growing up so fast and I’m sure she learns something new every day! She keeps us in our toes now that she can crawl. She’s quite speedy too when she gets going. Her turning 10 months on Boxing Day means that we are about to begin the frantic process of baby proofing the whole house. She can now wave and can even say ‘bye’. That takes her word count up to four (Mumma, Dadda, Bubba and bye). If you make a gesture to kiss, she’ll lean in so you can kiss her forehead. She laughs at everything! She has 7/8 teeth. She walks when you hold her hands and easily climbs up furniture and toys so that she’s standing. She talks to her toys/herself a lot. She can recognise herself in a mirror or camera and laughs when we play back videos of herself. She’s beginning to throw tantrums too. Little strops if you take something off her or won’t let her roam freely. Soon she will be walking and we expect all hell to break loose. In a few months she will be one and that’s a very scary thought. It’s such a cute stage in her development though. Time is just going by too quickly and if I blink I fear I may miss it all!

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2017 also brought about a change of direction in my career. Unfortunately, many employers won’t make space for mums who are returning to work after maternity leave and who are in need of more flexibility. If I have one regret for last year. It would only be that I didn’t take more time off, even if it meant less or no money. In May I made the hard decision to leave my full-time job because as many will know, full time work (especially as a teacher) and motherhood do not bond well together. Whilst I fully appreciate family’s that can make it work for them, I think I’ve always known that I couldn’t commit to full time work. The decision was made with a tear in my eye. I had made friends, worked with some great people, made it through my NQT with grit, determination and a lot of bloody hard work. As well as all that I think it’s fair to say that I owe my teaching career to a couple of amazing teachers/HLTA’s who, without their support and guidance I would have easily given up in that first year. Naturally I was sad to go but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t lose contact with these ladies. I also promised that I wouldn’t allow myself to be over worked and under paid anymore so in November (after having finished late October) I became a supply teacher. The money is good, the hours are massively better, I can choose when and for how many days I want to work. The positives far outweigh the negatives in that sense. Yes, there are some really hard days and some days I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but being able to leave at a reasonable time and get home to my family before dark is a real bonus. Knowing that I don’t have to continue work when I get home is good. It’s such a relief to enjoy teaching again.

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October. We went to Greenwich Park as it was somewhere we used to visit a lot when we first started our relationship. I’ve always loved Greenwich so it seemed only right that we took Zosia out for her first adventure there too. She celebrated her eighth month a few days later so we made it a double celebration. We wanted to go back to a restaurant we often went to but it had been closed down. It was sad to see it gone but it was going down hill in our last visit. Instead we went to Jamie’s Italian a little down the road. Zosia joined us at the dinner table in her own high chair for her first proper restaurant experience. She was so cute holding her dads hand across the table. It will always be a fond memory.

Being married has been the easy part. Trying to change my name has been the difficult bit. You forget how many loyalty cards you’ve got until you try to change your name on them all! Now don’t get me wrong, my husband is as much a pain in the arse as he was before we were married but he is now, as he always has been, my biggest support. He is by my side through every tough decision, when I hit the 24hr+ marker of labour and the Doctors we’re trying to make me take some form of pain relief, he stayed true to my prior decision and reminded them that it was my body and thus my decision if I took their offer or not. He held my hand through every contraction, every push, every moment of my exhaustion and my sheer jubilation at having finally, 51 hours later, given birth to our beautiful little girl! We stood together by her incubator, hand in hand. He dried my tears as I blamed myself. He held me up just as I felt the initial weight of motherhood pushing me down and helped me push back. He is and will always be my pillar of strength.

We have also just celebrated our first Christmas together as a family and it was just so magical. Zosia made a trip to another of our old haunts (Bluewater) to visit Santa and his elves. Although she didn’t seem too fussed about the whole thing, we will treasure the memories. We took her Christmas shopping and to have her first lunch at Ed’s Dinner. She only had a salad of course!

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Our Christmas Elf. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

We had our first Christmas Day to ourselves in a very long time. We got dressed before presents – something I’ve never done before. I wanted to make sure the photos were good for the future rather than a messy Mum. I know that sounds daft but when I also love to share pictures with our families so I was not going to share barless, unwashed and undressed pictures of me with anyone! Zosia was spoilt over the two days of celebrations. Families were visited on Boxing Day. She now has a mountain of toys and books. My house is awash with toys. My living room is an obstacle course. Luckily I got some nice storage boxes from the MiL so we can at least store some away. She enjoyed her Christmas dinner with us too. There was lots of love and laughter all day. It was perfect.

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First Christmas. Copyright of Monsterful Mama

It’s been difficult to keep up with the blog. Trying to find time between working and being a Mum and a wife is hard work. I’m trying to remain creative too, using my bullet journal more again and trying to make some prints to sell. I guess we’ll just have to see how the year will pan out as it goes. I’ve got plans in mind to help keep up the posts. Keep your eyes posted for a post about goals for the new year both personal and blog.

Thanks for listening

Peace and love

Monsterful Mama

Midwife and Life

 

JakiJellz