Turning Five, Finally.

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“Who are important people?” Freya asked the other day.

It was ridiculously hot and we were sat on deckchairs on our balcony, trying to cool down. As her question was a bit out of the blue I thought for a few seconds and then said: “The prime minister, doctors and nurses, suffragettes…erm….”

“What about Barry Scott?”

The name was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t quite place him. I frowned.

“Who?”

“The man on tv?”

“Wait, the cleaning man. Cillet Bang?”

At that moment we both said: “Bang! And the stain is gone.”

After we had finished chuckling I added: “Well, I guess he’s important to people who like cleaning?”

“I like a clean house,” she said, with what I thought was more than a hint of criticism.

We don’t use any of those products (I’m more a white vinegar type of girl) but I’ve seen the advert on the children’s channel that is sometimes on in the background. I’ve never seen Freya really pay attention to it, she’s not one for tv or sitting still in general, but he’s loud and enthusiastic – a bit like a children’s tv presenter. Maybe that’s what grabbed her attention?

What I’m learning about just turned five years olds is that they take in much more than we (I) give them credit for.

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That realisation has come in little sharp shocks.

No more having conversations in front of her, especially ones where you try and spell out the word you don’t want her to know.

“Ooooh park, yes I would really like to go.” She looks up, expectantly.

Then there are the deep questions, it started off with the odd one here and there but now most things she asks require proper thought – especially as I realise what she is asking often seems to be unrelated to what she actually wants to know.

If my brain was a television it would have been on standby mode for most of the last five years but it’s like someone has just accidentally sat on the remote and it has come back to life at full volume, making everyone jump.

She’s not going easy, we’ve had many of the big ones. Death, God, crime, homelessness, racism, how did she get in my tummy?

As difficult as I sometimes find them, it’s these random conversations that I’m going to miss now she’s back at school.

Year 1.

How did that happen?

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It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was looking down at the calendar I had just made -and still can’t quite bring myself to take down – wondering how I was going to fill the six-week summer holiday.

While it wasn’t without its days that seemed neverending (and not in a good way), on the whole I’d give it a thumbs up.

We were lucky enough to spend some time away from home, which I think helped break things up – for me at least. Freya would probably have been just as happy going to the local park every day (where we made some lovely new friends). I had one of those moments, watching her dance in and out of the water at the splash park, squealing with delight, where I thought: ‘Yes, this could be one of those perfect childhood memories.’

And, of course, at the end of the holidays, she finally, FINALLY had her birthday. I’m not sure why it seems such a landmark, probably because she’s made it so by counting down from January.

As, one by one, all of her school friends started blowing out their candles, Freya grew impatient for her own celebration. She had a long wait. We all did.

Finally five.

I really hope it’s as good as she thinks it’s going to be.

Little Hearts, Big Love

 

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Five Tips For Helping Young Children Enjoy The Great Outdoors.

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As much as I like the lifestyle living in a flat gives us as a family, it was lovely being able to open the backdoor, while we were staying at my parents’ house last week, and let Freya play in garden – and so easy.

I’m grateful to have lots of green spaces around us and we generally spend a lot of time outside but, even when we go to our patch of shared grass downstairs, it’s something of an expedition. Mostly Freya loves nothing more than jumping in muddy puddles or hunting butterflies but sometimes the extra effort of always having to go somewhere means she does need a little bit of convincing.

While I’m more than happy to let her have quiet days at home when she needs them, I firmly believe that for children to care about the environment, they need to feel part of it – and she can’t do that if she’s sat inside all the time.

In a way, because we can’t just pop outside, I think it’s even more important to encourage her to have that connection with nature, which is obviously good for her both mentally and physically too. As a result, over the last couple of years we have come up with a few tricks for getting her excited about being in the great outdoors which I thought I’d share.

1. Bug/nature hunt.

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Just like her mum, Freya loves a list. Suggesting a bug hunt is the most successful one for us, especially now she’s learning to read and write. When she was younger, I had a go at drawing the bugs or different leaves but now, with her help, we make a list. I just fold two sheets of A4 paper in half and then tie them with string (or ribbon, if I’m feeling fancy). She loves to tick things off.

2. Explorer’s kit.

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Every explorer needs equipment, which in our case is things we already had but were just randomly scattered about the flat. Now they live in their own bag (an Elsa lunchbox, of course).

We have a magnifying glass, binoculars (which I found in a charity shop), a pond sampler (which we were given at an event), pens and paper (if we don’t have a bug hunt book) and mini Collins gem guides to birds and bugs. If we spot something and we don’t know what it is, we look it up. Like this little fellow.

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We think its a cinnamon bug. One to add to the list next time.

3. Art scavenger.

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Generally I’m a ‘take only pictures’ type person – I certainly never let her pick flowers -but if we go to one of our local parks, which were are very lucky to have nearby, we will occasionally collect some leaves and twigs to make into ‘art’. We’ve also made them at the park and left everything behind too. If you’re like me and lack any sort of imagination for this type of thing, Pinterest is your new best friend.

Sometimes we also take paints or colouring pens outside on nice days. Leaves make good paint brushes or shapes to print around.

4. Bike ride/race.

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One of the main reasons we like to get Freya outside is because she has SO much energy. In the flat I’m always having to say “don’t lump around” (our poor neighbours) whereas when we are outside she can run, jump and generally race about as much as she likes. As she’s got older, we’ve added the bike/scooter into things. Also, one of the things we’ve found is that, if she starts moaning about having to walk, if you offer her a race to a certain tree or bench she will soon perk up. So competitive! She doesn’t get that from me.

5. Picnic.

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We usually go out fairly early so we can end up eating our picnic anywhere from 10am. Even though I’m not a fan of fending off assorted bugs, if it makes Freya happy, I’ll give it a go (I do jump about quite a lot though). It’s nice for her to sit for a while too (although she’s quite often looking at things through her binoculars in between bites).

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These things work well at the moment but she’s only four.  I do wonder how much longer we’ll be able to encourage her using these methods.

Have you got any tips for inspiring reluctant children outside?

A Look Behind The Book With Aby Moore.

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An undisputed star of the blogging world, Aby Moore could quite easily sit back and revel in the success her hard work has brought her. Instead, this Mamapreneur wants to inspire others to turn their hobby into a thriving business  – and she’s happy to show them how.

Among many other things, she writes articles offering tips on ways to make money from blogging on her own popular site, You Baby, Me Mummy, runs mentoring courses, workshops and has a busy Facebook community.  As if that wasn’t enough, Aby has just released her first book, Blogs Change Lives, to make it even easier for those wanting to take things to the next level.

Her daughter, Ava, is the same age as Freya and I first started reading Aby’s blog when she was focussed on parenting but, even at the start, she was always willing to offer help and encouragement. To see the way her blogging empire has grown and evolved over the years has been amazing but the best thing is, Aby has remained the same friendly, helpful person she always was.

I was thrilled when she agreed to be my latest Behind The Book interviewee.

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I can’t think of anyone better to write a book about blogging but what made you want to do it? What are you hoping people get from it?

Thanks so much, that’s very kind of you to say that. Growing up I longed to write a book. As a lover of a good project, the idea appealed to me, but I could never think of a suitable topic. I wanted it to be something I felt passionately about. Something that I could pour my heart into.

Years (and years!) passed and still no book. Then in 2013 I had my daughter and later that year was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. My life totally and utterly changed, as it turned out eventually for the better! I wanted to capture the magic which had led to so many wonderful things happening in my life and so I wrote this book.

My blog fixed me and continues to do so every day. I’ve worked with international brands, had amazing opportunities and have also been able to support my family. Then it struck me! My story could help others. My story could show people who have never considered blogging just how powerful it is. While providing people who already have blogs with a clear roadmap for them to follow and succeed. I started writing mid way through November and just three months later the book was finished!

I’m so incredibly proud of Blogs Change Lives. I wrote it to show all the mamas out there that they do not have to put their dreams on hold. Nor do they have to leave their children to go out to work for someone else (if this is not what they want). They can create their own empires.

BlogschangelivesHow exactly has your blog changed your life?

My blog has always given me somewhere to escape to when I’ve needed it. Which over the years has proved invaluable.

However, the best thing that blogging has given me are some amazing friendships with beautiful, courageous and driven women that I have the pleasure of calling my friends.

My blog turned into a business which has supported my family, but also been a springboard to other things, such as starting a podcast, running an online summit, oh and writing a book!

You’ve carried your chatty and friendly but confident blog style through to your book. It’s almost like you’re our best friend and we’ve asked you for help. Did it just naturally happen that way? 

That’s so lovely to hear. I think it’s so important to show up with authenticity and so I had to write this book as me. It’s my story and I wanted to tell it in my own voice and make a connection with my readers that was genuine and would be cohesive with my voice across my other platforms.

Blogging has changed so much over the years. What’s one good thing and one bad thing you think has happened

I’m seeing more and more bloggers go on to achieve awesome things outside the blogging niche. This is so wonderful and is a testament to their creativity and hard work. More and more people are expanding and diversifying their work and subsequently their income streams. This is all so positive for bloggers.

However, I think there has been an influx of newer bloggers who think monetising a blog is easy (which we all know it isn’t!). They are expecting to work for a couple of hours a week and earn decent money in return.

Your own blog has also evolved. Did you make a conscious decision to write less about parenting Ava? Do you miss a more therapeutic style of blogging?

It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision. I absolutely love helping people with their blogs and so as my experience grew my niche changed. I would much rather talk about blogging and business, than potty training and weaning, so it’s a better fit for me. I still write about my family when it’s relevant and I really want to show people that I still walk the walk. I’m a working mum, who has to juggle her child with the demands of a business. I still work with brands and do all the things I’m training them to do, which I feel makes me authentic.

What’s your favourite part of your blogging life now (including things such as giving inspirational talks at blog meet ups etc)?

I love doing Facebook lives and helping my community. I also really enjoy creating videos for YouTube.

What about the actual task of writing the book. How did you fit that it around work and parenting?

I’m quite driven, so when I decided I wanted to start writing it I did. I’d just got on the Eurostar in London andy the time I reached Paris I had 3,000 words written. I repurposed some content too. Writing my book just became a daily priority. Even if you write 2,000 words a day you can create a decent room in around 3 months.

Can we talk self-publishing? Was it natural, as a blogger who has been self- publishing for years, to go down that route?

It is difficult, as I think there tends to be a certain degree of ‘extra’ status. However, I was seeing more and more entrepreneurs who I look up to self-publishing their own books successful. I also create my business so I’m not reliant on other people. I’m not tied to brand work. If that goes quiet, I have other products.

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This is your first book, have you thought about writing any more? Maybe fiction?

I think it was a one time thing! To be honest I’m not the world’s most creative person. If you gave me a topic, I could write a book!

What is your top writing tip?

Break it down into a daily writing word count. My book is 75k words, so if you have a rough word count in mind and then always write your daily allocation your book will be finished before you know it.

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I love Aby’s attitude to self-publishing, it makes complete sense when she says it like that.

I can’t thank her enough for answering my questions and wish her every success with her book, which, at the time of writing, has ALL five star reviews on Amazon.

Want to find out more? You can visit Aby’s site here, follow her on TwitterInstragram and Facebook, watch her YouTube videos and, of couse, you can buy Blogs Change Lives via Amazon here.

Are you a blogger? Have you thought about trying to take your blog to the next level?