Blog Toast Tuesday: 20 September 2016

Welcome back to #blogtoast Tuesday, my weekly feature where I offer a congratulatory toast to two blogs that I like. Virtual booze does not have the same effect as real booze, but perhaps my modest praise can take the edge off your day in much the same way.

The Unsung Mum: For the underestimated and unacknowledged rad mum

I’m realising that my very favourite blogs are funny and poignant ones that highlight the hard bits of parenting with a self-deprecating sense of humour, and try to make us all feel better about ourselves. The Unsung Mum is doing this right.

Her posts are written in the third person and feature hilarious illustrations that appear to have been drawn in Microsoft Paint or suchlike. They are usefully labelled in case you are in any doubt about (for example) which bits of a picture are shit and which bits are chocolate.

I particularly enjoyed “How to rid yourself of the mothers’ group Twatty McTroll Face“, about those women both online and IRL who make you feel bad because you use disposable nappies and don’t make your own hummus – and how we can defeat them.

Her most recent post, “The Unsung Mum and the PND disaster” describes the things that went through her head when she suffered with PND. I relate to a lot of it, but also appreciate her very wise statement that PND comes in many different shapes and sizes. The most important bit is how she says it was a friend that helped her the most, telling her “it’s okay not to be okay”. It’s a good reminder of what we should all tell our friends sometimes when we think they might need it.

Our Rach Blogs

In a Twitter conversation recently, Rach told me that people don’t like her (her exact words: “I’m like thrush”). Based on how interesting her blog is, I find this hard to believe. But then again, people don’t like me either. And I only sometimes like people.

There are lots of things I like about this blog, and as one of its features is Top 10 lists, I’m going to be all thematic & shit and list the reasons I like her blog. I’m only doing 5 though (I don’t have time/too lazy to do 10).

  1. She writes feminist stuff. Her recent post, “What do you mean you don’t want kids?” was brilliant. Nobody thinks being childless or choosing childlessness makes a man less of a person, so why are people always implying that about women?
  2. She questions everyday bullshit. I like this one where she wonders why we always say sorry to each other for stupid things like pressing the same lift button at the same time. I’m not British-born so I work harder than anyone to say sorry all the time (to prove my Britishness), but maybe I should stop that.
  3. She writes about mental health and PND awareness, a topic that is also close to my heart.
  4. She is a good writer. Every post unfolds just like you’re reading a really good column in a really good newspaper.
  5. She covers an eclectic range of topics. I’ve read a lot of advice in the blogging world that says you need to make sure you stick to a niche, but I’m sceptical about that. It’s my blog and I’m going to write what I want. I’m glad she does that too.

Please do join me in toasting the best blogs by tweeting your favourite this week with the hashtag: #blogtoast (and if you mention @themumreviews I will retweet you – it’s win/win!) – or let me know just what you think of me in the comments!

Behind the Blogging Scenes

I’m having a bit of a blog tag week. Earlier this week, I interviewed my husband for #TheDaddyTag challenge. Now I’m trying out ‘Behind the Blogging Scenes’. This one gives bloggers a chance to give their readers a glimpse at how they work behind the scenes.

Claire at The Pramshed did a great post answering the questions below, and she very kindly tagged me when I asked her to. I love answering questions about myself, lol. So here goes…

Where do you blog?

Usually sat on my sofa with my laptop while my husband watches some sport on the television, after the kids are in bed. Actually, since I’ve started blogging, I watch very little TV anymore as I’d always rather be doing something blog related! I’m trying to get some posts queued up ahead of time so I have more time when Strictly Come Dancing is on.

Where do you find inspiration for your blog posts?

Everywhere I can! I started the blog because I like writing my opinions of days out and holidays, along with tips for other people who want to do the same thing. Usually, I think of ways I might have organised a day out differently in order to make it more fun, and try to share those tips with my readers. I also get inspiration from other blogs, and I like sharing stories about my own life. My blog has ended up being more personal than I thought it would be before I started!

How long does it take you to write your blog posts?

Anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours. If it’s just me writing about my feelings or my past, it usually spills out pretty quickly. But if I’m trying to write something more factual, like this post on maternity rights, it takes me a lot longer to do the research. It also takes me longer if there are a lot of photos to sort out.

Do you plan your blog posts? How?

I’m still experimenting with how to schedule my posts across the week. I’m finding I like to post around 4 times a week. On Tuesday, I always post in my #blogtoast series, where I highlight a few other blogs that I really like. On Friday, my blogging partner “The Mum Recipes” always posts an easy family recipe. For the other two posts, I like one to be useful like a review or advice about something, and the other to be personal. But, if I fancy doing something different one week, I will – I don’t want to get too weighed down by routine.

What kind of camera do you use? What editing programme?

I’m not much of a photographer. I use my mobile phone to take photos. For editing, if it’s just cropping, I use Preview on my Mac. If the colours are wonky/it needs brightening up a bit, I use the auto touch-up on Google Photos. If some serious work needs to be done or an image created from scratch, I use Photoshop. I’m not great at Photoshop but I’m learning new bits of it all the time. I also like using the Prisma app for filters.

Do you use a notebook to track your ideas?

Nope. I usually write down my ideas and save them on draft status on WordPress. I started using the WordPress app to do this when I’m out and about – but I got burned doing that the other day. I was in the pub and had some (obviously incredibly brilliant) post ideas after a couple of pints. I accidentally published just the ideas with no content, which immediately went out to all my subscribers. From now on, I’ll use a simple notes app to track my ideas so I don’t accidentally publish too soon!

How do you take your pictures?

I just shoot from the hip, to be honest. I know that I should have brilliant photos to get the best engagement, but they’re just not the most important thing to me. I’m a words person. And I feel like if I take too many photos, it ruins my enjoyment of whatever I’m doing. I want to look through my eyes instead of the lens.

What’s your favourite type of blog post to write?

Ones that have the perfect intersection of something I’m passionate about with something I think other people will find useful.

Who knows about your blog?

I haven’t kept it a secret. I’m not good at keeping my own secrets. I probably bore most of my friends talking about it. But I haven’t shouted about it to some members of my extended family whom I think will disapprove. One of my posts got chosen for blog of the day on Mumsnet this week. I haven’t told my dad that more than a thousand people have read that story now!

Are you an organised or messy blogger?

I’m usually a super organised person, but I do tend to just do whatever I want with blogging. Whatever topic strikes my fancy, different linkys every week, different social media outlets. I just bounce around. I’ve read some great stuff about how to blog more productively, but I don’t want it to feel too much like a job.

Biggest blogging pet peeve?

Well obviously a big part of blogging is sharing stuff on social media. I dislike people (usually companies) that follow you only to get a follow back, and then unfollow soon after. You should follow people only if you’re interested in what they’re saying! I usually follow people back unless they are obvious spammers or have no profile info so I don’t know who they are. I also don’t understand why so many porn ladies follow me! They’re all like “hey come see my naked pics on Snapchat”. Does my twitter profile make me look like I like porn?

Please let me know in the comments if you want me to tag you to tell your own blogging behind the scenes story – I’ll invite you on Twitter and retweet you if you mention me in your post.

Diary of an imperfect mum

Reasons my mum is crying

A child’s musing on those moments when mum loses her sh*t.

I’m sure pretty much everyone knows and loves the famous blog, ‘Reasons my son is crying‘. It pokes fun of the very many things a typical young child might have a bit of a tantrum over. An example from my own 4-year-old today:

4yo (observing as I begin to apply sunscreen to  his 1yo brother): The sunscreen says “kids” on it.

Me: That’s right. Good reading.

4yo: But my brother’s a toddler. Not a kid.

Me (continuing with sunscreen application): Not all kids are toddlers. But all toddlers are kids.

4yo (high-pitched; distressed): NOOOOOOO! My brother needs TODDLER SUNSCREEN! I’m the kid. The kids sunscreen is only for meeeeee!

So, yeah, that happens. And it’s pretty funny when viewed in hindsight. But what about when you’re right there in the moment? Sometimes, don’t you just feel like lying down on the floor, going stiff as a board and refusing to move, a la toddler? Or just having a good old cry? Well, I do. And it got me thinking of what my sons must think of me, when I’ve lost it and cried in front of them. Some examples from my own experiences:

Newborn baby be all like:

My mum keeps shoving her boobs in my face. They are all hard and huge. And she is DOING IT WRONG. I am not having any of that milk until she ups her game a bit.

Wait? Now she’s crying? WTF, I’m the one who’s starving here!

Six month old be all like:

Mum has been IGNORING me all day. She keeps going into the kitchen and turning on some machine that’s really noisy. Now, she puts me in this highchair and starts waving a spoon full of orange mush at me. I don’t think so! I’m going to wave my hands wildly and knock the spoon of mush down her shirt.

She’s crying again. She tried to poison me and SHE’S the one who’s crying!

Nine month old be all like:

I’m tired of this sleeping at nighttime stuff. It is so last month. I’m going to just rest for short 45 minute intervals and then wake up and scream for mum. She loves giving me cuddles in the middle of the night.

3 hours later…

I just had to scream for TEN WHOLE MINUTES before Mum came to cuddle me this time. She’s biting her lower lip and begging me to go to sleep, tears streaming down her face. I don’t know what her problem is. I thought we were having fun, seeing each other all night.

18-month-old be all like:

I’m finished eating and no longer require this plate in front of me, still half-full of food. I shall toss it across the room in the manner of a medieval king.

Hey, why is mum shouting just because there are some baked beans in her hair? I put baked beans in my hair all the time!

2-year-old be all like:

These playgroups are kind of cool. Hey, wait a minute! Some kid is trying to play with the same plastic kitchen as me! I’m going to hit him repeatedly with this small metal pan until he goes away. What? Now mum is trying to drag me away from this usurper. I will go stiff as a board so she can’t move me until I’m ready to go. Uh oh, woman is tearing up again. Maybe if I scream a little louder in this public place she will learn to respect my boundaries.

4-year-old be all like:

It’s getting late and I’m actually quite tired. I’m going to give Mummy a big cuddle and tell her that I love her before I go to sleep. Wait…is she crying again?

Is it just me or have you experienced these sorts of moments? What are the reasons your kids’ mum is crying?

The Diary of an 'Ordinary' Mum

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