Reviews

A super-flattering new swimsuit

After almost two years of stubbornly sticking to dry land, I’ve recently been brave and got back in the pool. As a youngster I always loved swimming but as an adult it started to feel like too much of a faff. I was always too nervous to swim while pregnant or with the children as newborns. Added to that was the fact I’ve always felt really self-conscious in swimwear. But I’m hoping all that will change now.

I really want my kids to develop their water confidence; I think it’s an important skill to have. So we’re starting to nurture a little weekend family swimming routine. No way am I brave enough to go on my own with two small charges just yet, especially given one of them can’t walk properly! But our trips as a foursome are going well and a key thing for me – hopefully without sounding hideously vain – has been the super-flattering new swimsuit I found, which has helped me feel that little bit more svelte as opposed to small beached whale!

Have I finally found The One of the swimsuit world?

F&F Magic Illusion swimsuitI think so. And here it is.

I spent a good few nights online agonising over researching the all-important swimwear decision and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the end result – a £17.00 bargain from Tesco’s F&F range. It’s called the Magic Illusion swimsuit and it really does live up to its name.

I ordered a very similar looking cossie from Next at the same time, but costing £8 more, and I definitely preferred the Tesco one.

Why is it so good?

I’m a seriously picky customer when it comes to swimwear and the shape of this is so, so flattering. I’m a curvy size 12 – smallish waist, biggish hips, a mum tum and an ample bosom!

The cut is perfect on my cleavage – a lovely sweetheart shape. It has lightly padded cups with elastic underneath, making it feel nicely supportive, and it has adjustable shoulder straps so you can organise your jiggly bits just so! So far, everything has stayed in place and it shows off my assets at their best (if I do say so myself) – which, hopefully, stops people paying any attention to my wobbly, white thighs.

While I’m on the subject of thighs, I’ve also been really pleased with the cut of the suit on the leg. It’s just right, not too high – I hate the feeling that my bum cheek could cut loose at any moment, urgh! – but not so low that it feels frumpy.

Moving on to the other all-important area, the dreaded tummy. It features ruching at the front, which does a fab job of hiding lumps and bumps, while the ‘powermesh’, as they call it, underneath sucks you in for an improved silhouette. It’s nicely taut without being at all uncomfortable.

Fabric wise, it looks and feels nice and has washed well so far. That’s the simple explanation. The website description sounds much more impressive. Apparently, it’s made with Xtra Life Lycra®, meaning it’s durable and should maintain its shape for longer. It also uses ‘CL RESIST technology by Lycra®’ which should give it long-term resistance to sunscreen, chlorine and skin oils. All sounds great and so far, so good in my experience (three swims!).

My only real complaint is that it currently appears to only be available in black and I would definitely buy another one had there been a choice of colours or patterns. There is another Magic Illusion style in magenta but looking at the picture it doesn’t look as flattering to me. So my one comment to the big designer bosses at Tesco (who, of course, I am certain are reading this blog, waiting for my words of wisdom) would be more please!

It does, however, already come in tall and plus-size versions, which may well be useful.

All in all, I have been delighted with this bargain buy. It’s so comfortable, I’ve been able to forget my body hang-ups and get on with enjoying our family time in the water without constantly fiddling with or pulling at my cossie every few minutes. I just wish I’d found it sooner!

You can buy it online here.

NB: I purchased this swimsuit myself. There is no PR jiggery pokery going on here, just my own thoughts.

Family Fever
The Girl Behind The Camera
Categories: Reviews, Style | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Guilt-free mum treats

I used to think nothing of heading into town in my lunch hour and spending a small fortune on stuff I didn’t really need. Two children and two stints of maternity leave later and I now have to seriously watch what I spend (and kind of wish I’d been a bit more careful in the past, the joys of youth!).

But I have found a few pain-free ways to still indulge in a treat or two. And boy do I need those little treats some days! So here’s how I’ve been rewarding myself lately without breaking the bank  – and some of these are totally free.

Guilt-free mum treats

Coffee – Free from Waitrose
I know it’s a ploy to get me through their doors and spending, but I’m strong, I can resist. Waitrose free coffee is decent, I can always use a caffeine boost and by-passing Costa and the likes easily saves me a good few quid each time I’m out. It’s better for my waistline too as it keeps me both on my feet and away from coffee shop cake. Which also saves yet more money. So far I’m winning!

Glossy mags – Free using library emagazine service

This has been an absolute revelation for a girl who used to be a total magazine addict. I used to buy several magazines every week, starting in my teens. Then by my late twenties there were the wedding mags, followed by the baby ones. Of course, these days having the time to sit down with a glossy is a luxury in itself but given that you can easily blow three or four quid on popping that extra reading material into the shopping trolley, it’s a habit I’ve seriously reined in.

I had weaned myself down to just a single money-saving subscription. But now I’ve discovered I can borrow digital versions via my local library website for free. Many of my old guilty pleasures are there – Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan (I feel so old looking at that now though. Still Good Housekeeping is also available!). And then there’s the celeb tittle tattle titles for a bit of escapism – Hello! OK. And grown-up home decor and food stuff. You get the picture. These can all be read FOR FREE on my laptop, tablet or smartphone (and on eBook readers if you have one). There is no limit on the number of titles I can access and no time limit – it’s amazing!

I’m not sure if all local libraries are now doing this – ours is West Sussex. You can also borrow certain books in this way now too.

Chocolate – Money-saving multi-packs

My desk drawer at work hides a multitude of sins, not least my stationery confectionery stash! Given that most days require a chocolate-coated sugar boost at some point, it dawned on me that buying single bars from our sandwich lady or the corner shop was costing a small fortune. A trip to Sainsbury’s (or your supermarket of choice!) and you can almost always pick up a multi-pack of something for about a quid and it will last you a week. Given that most single bars now cost at least 70-80p, that adds up to a nifty little saving. Does nothing for the waistline but you can’t have it all. And at least at work I’m not expected to share it, or find it smeared down the walls later.

A beauty boost – 3 for 2 deals and a DIY facial

Now I know this isn’t exactly a revelation, everyone knows about these deals. But I did make the most of one of these offers this week when I was badly flagging and feeling decidedly knackered and dowdy. Desperate to indulge in a bit of budget me-time, I bought myself tubes of Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask and the accompanying Refining Scrub and, for a real treat, a bottle of Argan Oil Perfecting Facial Oil, all from the Good Things range. Buying on a deal meant I got one of the tubes free and was able to justify buying the oil – facial oil being something I’ve wanted to try for a while now. That said, even without the deal the products are reasonably priced for what you get – £4.99 for the scrub, £5.99 for the mask and £6.99 for the oil,

They all smell gorgeous – so good I keep taking the odd sniff when I’m not using them – and it felt fabulous taking the time to wallow with a face mask on for the first time in absolutely ages. I almost forgot it was there and ended up leaving it on a good half hour!

Afterwards, I felt refreshed and I’m sure my skin looked brighter and felt smoother. I really like the way the oil makes my skin feel – super soft and pampered but without being too greasy, which had been something that has put me off trying oil previously. It claims to help treat signs of aging, so fingers crossed it lives up to that promise! So far, so good.

I’d gone for the Good Things range on a whim after seeing an other mum recommend them in Mother and Baby magazine. She was a make-up artist so I assumed she must know her stuff! And I later realised the range itself had been developed by an award-winning beauty writer (Alice Hart-Davis) so, again, I’m happy to bow to this greater knowledge! The fact that the products are made with natural ingredients and contain no parabens, sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl suplhate (SLS) and no mineral oils or other petrochemicals, also really appealed to me.

So, those are the cheap and cheerful treats that have been helping make my days that little bit brighter. I’m always on the look out for more so please share yours with me!

NB: Everything mentioned in this post has been bought or obtained by me, for me. There is no PR jiggery pokery going on here, just my own thoughts, in case anyone wondered.

A couple more posts for anyone needing a positivity boost…

Remember this day… a note to myself

The importance of a little bit of head space

I was delighted that this post was a #FamilyTested Review of the week.

The Giggles Family
Family Fever
Categories: Mind matters, Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Potette Plus 2-in-1 travel potty review

Potette Plus travel potty reviewI have to admit I approached potty training with a certain amount of dread. Actually, make that a huge amount of dread! All I could see ahead was weeks of mess and mountains of extra laundry. Plus our sanity-saving trips out of the house looked set to become an even bigger logistical nightmare than they already were with a feisty toddler and small baby in tow.

As you may have already read, potty training Little Miss, once we really put our minds to it, actually went surprisingly well. But using the potty or toilet at home is only one part of the process and, if you’re anything like us, any more than two days stuck inside the house is enough to drive everyone crazy. So by day three we had to get out.

Now I haven’t written many reviews on this site to date. I’m still waiting for all those lovely PR opportunities and perks that all honest parent bloggers dream of to come flooding my way – and yes, in case anyone was wondering, I am totally up for a few of these! But this is one review I felt compelled to write off my own steam. This particular product, the Potette Plus 2-in travel potty, has proved so useful I had share it here. It’s become an essential item that comes everywhere with us and I’m sure will be used for many years to come with it being handed on to Little Mister when the time comes (sob!) for him to also leave nappies behind.

All hail ‘the original folding potty’

I bought our Potette Plus back in September for about £14 – this seems to be the average price, although at the moment you can pick them up online for a bit cheaper. Prior to purchase I’d spent several hours pouring over the various travel potty options on Amazon – oh the glamour of parenthood! This one seemed popular and, while not the cheapest option, customer ratings were generally very good. And since it is both a travel potty and a toilet seat, hence the 2-in-1, you’re effectively getting two products for your money. Pennies well spent I’d say (sorry, I really couldn’t resist the pun).

It’s described as ‘the original folding potty’ and boasts a string of awards from various parenting publications. The original Potette was, apparently, invented by a grandad who couldn’t believe the amount of paraphernalia his daughter had to take with her when going out with her little one.

What a cool grandad? And yes, like his daughter, the sheer amount of stuff that leaves the house with us these days meant I was desperate to find the smallest option possible. I’ve seen parents cart a full-size potty in a carrier bag around the park but it’s not a look I wanted to go for.

Small but perfectly formed

Potette Plus foldedWhen it arrived, I was quite amazed by how compact and lightweight the Potette Plus looked and felt. It really does fold down very small, as you can see from the picture, but at the same time it doesn’t feel at all flimsy. The plastic is satisfyingly solid and there are rubberised grips on the legs to hold it steady when in use.

It is fantastically portable and so easy to discreetly stash under the buggy – we have a fairly compact Babyjogger City Mini – without hogging all the space for our other gubbins. I usually leave it under there and can actually fold the buggy with it still in situ, meaning it never gets forgotten.

So how does it work?

Potette Plus as pottyWhen the call panic of nature comes the legs unfold and click into place to make a surprisingly sturdy little potty which you use with an absorbent, disposable liner, AKA a really posh bin bag, to collect whatever your little darling has been brewing. The beauty is that once they’re done you can just tie the bag up and go! It’s just like getting rid of a dirty nappy. Everything is nicely clean and hygienically contained, no yucky used potty to sort out or stash somehow.

The liners cost around £10 for 30, which may be a bit pricey for some but I’m willing to pay for the convenience. And since we try to encourage Little Miss to use the toilet wherever possible we’re still only on our second pack of bags.They have an absorbent, fragranced pad that turns liquid to gel. It’s claimed the bags, which do feel thicker than your standard plastic bag, are leak-proof and I’ve yet to have proof to the contrary. Apparently they also make good travel sickness bags should you need them! And they are biodegradable so they are not as bad for the environment as you might think.

‘Get the frogs wet’

Perhaps the most important thing about the liners is the frog holding an umbrella print! We use this as encouragement… Little Miss loves to ‘get the frogs wet’! Overall she has never once complained about using the Potette Plus so I’m, assuming it’s fairly comfortable – she’s used it for plenty of alfresco wee wees! Thankfully the girl has had the good manners to have never needed to poo on it! But in general it’s been a really useful thing to have, especially for trips to the park and long car journeys.

One thing I would say is that in the early days, when the toddler is new to toilet training and you’re still getting to grips with how the Potette Plus works, it’s easiest to have the potty set up ready to go before it’s actually needed. That way you’re not having to fiddle around unfolding it and sorting the liner at the crucial moment.

2-in-1 greatness

Potette Plus as toilet seatThe big bonus with the Potette Plus is that it can also be used as a toddler toilet seat, which is how we’ve used it most. It’s made the transition to using ‘big’ loos out very easy. Little Miss feels secure and the sides make a handle of sorts giving her something to hold on to. It does also mean that if the loos look a bit dubious she barely has to touch anything other than her own seat, which feels more pleasant to me.

Minor niggles

The only negatives, and these are little niggles that aren’t enough to diminish my love for it, have been that the ‘travel carry bag’ that came with it lasted only a couple of months before splitting. It was, essentially, just a thick, plastic draw-stringed carrier bag. Ours is now fashionably stowed in an M&S carrier! Not a big deal but something more durable would have been better.

And I would say there is a knack to clicking the legs in and out that some people pick up quicker than others. Annoyingly, my husband got it straight away. I found it a bit of a fiddle to start with and some of the less favourable reviews I’ve read were because of this. I will admit there have been a few occasions when I’ve cursed the legs for not immediately complying as I’d like but we’re talking a few seconds of faff and the pros of the potty far outweigh any momentary strops I might have with it!

I do also wonder if bigger children might find it a tad on the small side. Little Miss is quite petite so this hasn’t been an issue for us but we’ll see with Little Mister as he will definitely be much taller and more sturdy when he reaches her age – he’s on the 91st percentile for weight and 98th for height.

But so far the Potette Plus 2-in-1 travel potty gets a firm thumbs up from us. It’s proved a very sound investment, if toddler toilet gadgets can be described as such! I would definitely recommend it. It certainly made getting out and about during those earliest nappy-free days feel far less stressful than it could have been.

For those who like to co-ordinate, it’s available in several different colour combos: light blue/dark blue (we have this one), pink/purple, green/blue, white/light blue.

You can find out more and watch a video of how it works on the Potette website.

For more on how potty training went in our house the following posts might be of interest:

A relieved mum’s top 10 potty training essentials…

A tale of two potty triumphs!

Fanfare for a poo!

FamilyTested Badge
Family Fever
Categories: Reviews, Toddlerdom | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Our bargain, toddler-friendly mini-break in Southampton

Bank Holiday Monday saw us embark on a one-night mini-break in Southampton. Perhaps a bit of a random choice but a few months ago hubby spotted some great deals on the Premier Inn website, meaning we were able to get a room for the three of us for just £25. Good Friday had been our fifth wedding anniversary and we both had this week booked off work so it felt like an ideal time for a night away, even if it was with the toddler in tow!

We chose Southampton as it’s a relatively easy drive for us – just an hour-and-a-half and Little Miss slept most of the way. There are also plenty of family-friendly attractions nearby – not least the famous Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park – and the city also has the big West Quay Shopping Centre, with a huge flagship John Lewis store that I’d been wanting to check out for ages!

Premier Inn West QuayWe stayed at Premier Inn West Quay, which as the name suggests, is perfectly situated next to the shopping centre – dangerously close some might say! It opened in the summer of 2011 so everything still felt very fresh and new. In fact it felt much more like a proper hotel than your average Premier Inn. That said, I’ve never stayed in a bad one. You generally know what you’re going to get, that the standard will be decent and everything clean and functional. But this one really was a cut above the rest.

A warm welcome…

The staff on reception were very friendly and welcoming. Even though we arrived a little early we were allowed up to our room straight away. This had a comfy double bed and a smaller, lower single which given a few months would have been fine for Little Miss but we brought her travel cot this time as she’s yet to make the transition to a ‘big girl’s bed’. That said, she did still love pretending the bed was hers!

Hubby declared the posh rainforest-style shower the best he’d ever had! It was fab but if you’re not planning on getting your hair wet you definitely need a shower cap – there’s no way of adjusting it to save your locks from the full force of its impressive flow! I had a bath in the evening and saved the shower for the morning, when it was great to wake up with.

Of course a new hotel room is always going to provide an endless source of amusement for a busy toddler. Thankfully there wasn’t much she could damage or hurt herself on but we did have to grab the kettle and tea-making kit as soon as we got in the room and the toilet tissue dispenser proved highly fascinating (she thought it was a soap dispenser and kept pretending to wash her hands under it!). We also had to stop her climbing in the drawers!

A toddler-related ’emergency’… 

Outside of the room, Little Miss got a taste for pressing the lift button, which initially was fine. What we didn’t notice, until it was too late, was how low down the emergency alarm button inside the lift was! Naturally Little Miss found it and set it off! Luckily we were the only ones around and the reception staff were quickly able to turn it off before anyone tried to rescue us! And we didn’t get told off either. In fact despite her general cheekiness and the lift incident, Little Miss proved a very popular guest with the hotel staff, who always waved and said hello to her.

Lunch at John Lewis… John Lewis Southampton

Our first port of call in Southampton (excuse the sailing pun!) was, of course, a visit to John Lewis, where we had a lovely relaxed lunch in the cafe – cunningly called the Place to Eat! Here we found plenty of choice – hot and cold meals, delicious sarnies and baguettes, seriously tempting cakes, a good children’s choice and a decent cup of tea or coffee – and views out across Southampton Water where a big cruise ship was docked. It was perhaps a little bit pricier than usual but worth it we thought. Little Miss loved picking things for her children’s meal bag (and we saved money by sharing some of these as it was much more than she’d usually have), which also came with crayons, pictures to colour in, a finger puppet to make and stickers.

Afterwards we had a quick look around the baby and children’s department, which had some lovely things, but unfortunately this quickly descended into toddler mayhem so I, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to leave the shopping centre! My days of leisurely browsing are apparently long gone! But if the toddler had been asleep there was loads to look at – and that was only in John Lewis. There are also plenty of other shops and a huge Ikea across the road. Alas, I tore myself away and we headed out for a stroll through the older part of the city.

Ship spotting in SouthamptonA little walk and some big ships…

There’s plenty of history to see here – it’s not called Old Town for nothing! And much of it is completely free as you walk past. If you have more time, there are some self-guided walks you can do for which you can download the following maps – Old Town WalkTitanic Trail and QE2 Mile. We passed through the Bargate, the medieval walled town’s grand entrance, and also stumbled across the Titanic Crew Memorial. I hadn’t realised that the doomed ship had set sail from here in April 1912. Since the anniversary of its sinking had only recently passed there were fresh floral tributes here, one of which was to someone’s grandad who had worked on the liner.

We then headed down to the waterside, where the Red Funnel Isle of Wight ferries dock. These hold happy childhood memories for me as we had many family holidays there when I was growing up. We all enjoyed watching the boats coming in and out for a while. Then we found a handy little playground in Mayflower Park (named after the historic sailing from Southampton to America by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620). It was ship-themed, of course, and Little Miss had great fun letting off a bit of steam here.

Play time collage

Back at the hotel we decided to eat in the attached restaurant, called Thyme. The menu offered a wide range of freshly cooked meals with something for everyone – a range of starters, gourmet burgers and steaks, pizza, pasta, salads. Prices were reasonable and if you’re happy to stick to a more restricted menu there’s also a meal deal offer of a three-course dinner and drink plus all-you-can-eat Premier Breakfast the next day for £22. The children’s menu offered an equally good choice that should suit even the fussiest of little eaters and a three-course meal was a bargain £5.25 (for children aged 12 and under).

Dinner Thyme!

We arrived at 5.30pm, not realising it didn’t open until 6pm. No bother, we thought, we’ll just have a drink in the bar area. Little Miss, however, was on top form. Thankfully she wasn’t too distressed by the delay but by 5.50pm had taken to loudly shouting ‘highchair’ every few minutes, just in case the staff weren’t aware we were waiting!

Once she was safely sat in the eagerly anticipated highchair Little Miss continued to excitedly shout ‘lady got highchair’ every few minutes and loudly point out every ‘lady’ or ‘man’ who happened to walk past. When offered a table fairly near to ours, one man eating on his own opted for the peace and quiet of the opposite side of the restaurant!

Thyme restaurantWe all thoroughly enjoyed our food – and I can be quite a picky customer! Everything was very tasty and beautifully presented. Hubby and I shared a garlic flatbread between us as a starter, which was more than enough, then I had freshly hand-battered fish and chips with garden peas and chunky chips. The fish was lovely and the batter very tasty and light.

Little Miss had a freshly-baked dough stick served with garlic and parsley dip for her starter, which went down very well – yes we all went for garlic! She followed up with hand-battered fish goujons, which were essentially the same as my meal just smaller, served with her favourite baked beans and a mini garlic flatbread – there was a good of choice of side dishes/accompaniments and much more food than she could eat.

Hubby went somewhat off-piste and had the rather epic Smoky Full House Hot Dog. We were both so full we didn’t need pudding, though Little Miss saved room for her Yummy Organic Yoghurt. We paid just over £27 for all our food, excluding drinks.

A big breakfast…

After a decent night’s sleep – spoilt only by Little Miss snuffling around her cot on and off from 5am onwards but we can’t blame the Premier Inn for that – we returned to Thyme for our breakfast. Hubby had the full Premier Inn Breakfast (£8.75) which means you can pretty much eat as much as you like of everything on offer, including the bacon and eggs. I had the Continental Breakfast (£6.25), which included cereals, fresh fruits, toast, crumpets and plenty of yummy baked goods. Both options also included unlimited Costa Coffee and Twinnings Tea and kids eat free when accompanied by a paying adult. It was more than enough to fuel us until lunch. The friendly staff even encouraged you to take a few bits, like yoghurts and muffins, for later if you wanted!

With breakfast done we checked out and headed off for the day… but that’s a whole new blog post. We had a lovely stay in Southampton and we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes open for any similar deals at Premier Inn West Quay in the future. Maybe next time we’d stay another night or two. It makes a great base from which to visit some of the many family-friendly attractions nearby. Or *she says wistfully* maybe one day I’ll get a proper look around the shops!

Parking for the Premier Inn is in the main West Quay car park next to the hotel, which was a bargain £5 for our overnight stay (you need to get your ticket stamped by the Premier Inn staff to get this deal). There is a small pick-up/drop-off area outside the hotel where you can leave your car for half hour while you get yourselves sorted.

Family-friendly attractions in and around Southampton…

I’ll let you know what we did on our second day in another post but options for activities in or near Southampton, include… Peppa Pig World logo

Paulton’s Family Theme Park and Peppa Pig World

Children’s Pleasure Park

Solent Sky Museum

Manor Farm Country Park

Beaulieu National Motor Museum, House and Gardens

The New Forest

Or you could even hop over to the Isle of Wight, either on the Red Funnel car ferry or the high-speed Red Jet passenger service.

I’m already thinking about planning our next trip!

Super Busy Mum
Categories: Out and about, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Ten tips I learnt from reading I Don’t Have Time to Write

I Don't Have Time to Write by Nadine Hill front coverThe title of this book instantly grabbed me when I spotted it on Amazon a few months ago. I Don’t Have Time to Write – or at least enough time – is a phrase that’s constantly popping into my head, if not being uttered out loud at least a few times a week. Luckily my clever husband checked my Amazon Wishlist and the book turned up among my presents on Christmas Day. It’s a very quick and worthwhile read but if you’re even more strapped for time then I am then just take a look below at the top ten things I took away from it.

I Don’t Have Time to Write is written by mum-of-two Nadine Hill, who’s also a business owner, writer, blogger and speaker – you can see why she’s so busy! As I said, it’s a whizz to read and as a result can feel a bit rushed in places. But that’s partly the point. The book is written using the author’s time-efficient ways of working. It shows that a busy working mum can put the advice given into practice. It’s clearly not meant to be War and Peace. What it does do is offer useful tips and ideas and, if you want added depth, you can go away and build on these.

The book is aimed at all writers but includes separate chapters for bloggers and infopreneurs.

So here are the top time-taming tips I will be focusing on:

Ten tips learnt from I Don't Have Time to Write

1. Always have an end goal in sight.

It’s pretty hard to move forward without knowing where you want to get! Knowing why you are writing – whatever that might be – gives you focus and purpose.

2. Just get started! Get something written down. Create the skeleton and you can flesh it out later.

On a bad day, I can be a big procrastinator but as Nadine says: “It doesn’t matter where you decide to start first, start somewhere and it becomes easier to see where the next logical place is.” It’s true and I do this all the time now – getting the basics of a post written down first then coming back later to finesse.

3. Be careful with multitasking.

Save the juggling act for the low level tasks you can do without thinking, like basic household chores. Don’t fry your brain trying to concentrate on too many different things at once, you won’t do the big stuff as well as you could and it takes so much longer to get anything finished. This may mean you need to prioritise how much you take on.

4. Keep day-to-day life as organised as possible.

Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but by streamlining the everyday stuff you can create extra ‘pockets of time that are spare’. It’s common sense I suppose. Super-organised Nadine suggests simple things like batching tasks together to avoid duplicating effort, using  a diary and to-do list (aha!) to keep track of it all and spending ten minutes at night planning and getting stuff ready for the following day.

5. Consider batch writing posts.

Initially this felt a bit contrived but actually it makes sense to take advantage when your creative juices are in full flow and get several posts written at once. It takes the pressure off and these can then be scheduled, meaning if events conspire to prevent you from writing further posts – and a busy mum they often do – you’ve still got something to publish.

6. Capture ideas as they happen.

Keep a notebook (I have one by my bed for midnight flashes of inspiration), save them on your phone, email yourself if you’re at work, try using Microsoft One Note or a similar programme or app on your tablet or laptop. I do all of these. I can vouch for it saving a lot of time (and mental torment) later on when you can’t quite think what that earlier brainwave was! Store up all your ideas then you’ll never be stuck for a post.

7. Keep a rolling list for blogger outreach and prioritise.

“Blogging is a marathon!” says Nadine and unlike a book there is no natural end to a blog. “It evolves, transforms, grows and develops”. As any blogger will know, they also need a lot of nurturing, promotion and outreach. This all takes time – so big blogger pats on the back all round! I always regret that I’m not able to do as much of this as I’d like. At the same time, when I’m online I often find myself distracted by the first thing I see and head off in all kinds of directions (Twitter can be a killer for this!), meaning I run out of time to look at and engage with those blogs that are actually most important to me. So I’m going to give Nadine’s suggestion of a rolling weekly list a go and make sure I spend more time regularly connecting with my favourite sites.

8. Don’t waste time overthinking post comments.

I used to do this a lot before realising it’s always better to go with my gut instinct, that initial response, rather than trying to be too witty or clever. After all it’s meant to be a natural online conversation, not a rehearsed speech. As Nadine suggests, if you have that much to say you’d be better off creating a new post and linking back to the original. Not wasting time also creates more time to visit other blogs, make more comments and generally spread the blog love!

9. If something is hard to write it may well be hard to read too.

So take a break from it. If it’s still not working for you then it’s probably not the right approach or subject matter in the first place so move on. Simple.

10. Have realistic expectations of yourself.

An obvious one but always worth remembering. I often compare myself to others and lament the fact that I’m not the kind of blogger who can turn out several posts a day, or even just one every day. At the moment, with my other commitments, I simply don’t have the time. I’m not superwoman, so I need to learn to relax and recognise the good stuff I can get done. The end!

You can visit Nadine’s blog Juggle Mum and buy I Don’t Have Time to Write (paperback or Kindle) here on Amazon.

And if you’ve got any other tips that help you to manage your blogging time I’d love to know what they are.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Categories: Blogging, Reviews, Things I've learnt..., Working mum | Tags: , , , , , | 24 Comments

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