Brit Mums Live 2015

Last weekend was the much anticipated Brit Mums Live. Bloggers all over the country booked their event tickets and train tickets months in advance. Outfits were bought for the occasion, business cards designed and excited tweets tweeted.

It was my first Britmums event and my second blogging event. To say I was excited was an understatement but I also had a few nerves. I agreed to meet my friend Anupa outside the Brewery and on the way there Amie messaged me and said she was outside as well. I was so glad I had these two for the event!

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I need to be really honest here…I thought Britmums was extremely well organised and I came away with a lot of knowledge and inspiration. However, I did feel let down by some fellow bloggers. I can honestly say I went up to almost everyone I recognised and while it was amazing to meet lot’s of new people, I guess some people find it a lot easier to be friendly/inclusive online than they do in person. And apparently I’m not the only one who felt that way.

The event itself was pretty amazing! Friday got us all mingling with a Guinness World Records Ice breaker. What was it you ask? How many “mummies” (get it? ;-)) can you wrap in 3 minutes? We broke the record by 1 and are now all proud holders of actual Guinness World Record medals. How cool is that?!

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I also took part in their “fastest nib” contest. You had to run a marker nib around a track, staying within the narrow lines, in the fastest time possible!

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In the second half of the afternoon I went to the “Turning pitches into profits” session by Emily Leary and “How successful bloggers do it” by Helen McGinn, Vicki Psarias and Becky Wiggins. Helen and Becky were new to me but it was so great to meet Vicki in person. I’m a big fan of her blog, she’ll always respond if you tweet/message her and it was nice to put a voice to her name. She’s one of those bloggers who is as friendly in person as she is online.

I had to leave early on Friday because S had a bit of a false alarm at A&E (I think he was having too much fun with the toys they had in the children’s waiting area!).

On Saturday I got there nice and early (unlike Friday when my Google maps app had me walking in circles) and got a chance to chat to some of the brands. Anna Barcelo from Costa Brava, Sarah Keeble from Boots, Rosie Stoddart from Beattie Communications and Amir Nezemi from RealTimes (which have a new video feature on their app which is pretty damn awesome! I can’t wait to try it out).

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My favourite session on the Saturday was the one about travel blogging. I always thought of myself as a parenting and lifestyle blogger but after this session I realised that I actually write quite a bit about our travels/local adventures. I’ve since gone on to set up a specific travelling with kids page where I’ll be adding all the links to our travelling adventures.

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Cupcake decorating with Emily Leary.

Britmums taught me to think outside of what I’m doing and to put myself out there. I came away with tools to confidently speak to brands and PR people, to improve my writing and to make the most of SEO.

The day ended with 13 bloggers’ keynote, some of which had us all in tears! Hayley’s (Downs Side Up) letter to Mr. Richard Dawkins really pulled on my heart strings. It was so beautiful to listen to a post read out in the writer’s voice. To hear their emotion come through as they write on topics they feel passionate about.

Being a blogger has given me confidence, a voice I never really used before and the opportunity to be a part of a huge community of some pretty kick ass people! Britmums left me exhausted, inspired, determined, educated and truly humbled! I can’t wait to go again next year!

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The ParentCast goes live!

At the start of this year, Amie contacted me saying she had an idea she wanted to run by me. I was all ears (I thought it was a linky) but turns out it was even more fun…a Podcast!!

After a few weeks of brain storming, recording, re-recording and a whole load of editing and techie stuff on her end, we’re finally live!!

In my teens and early 20s I always disliked the sound of my own voice (when I heard it back) so this is a big deal for me but talking about parenting and S in particular brings me such joy, I think I can overlook how I sound šŸ˜‰

So without further ado, we present The ParentCast. We promise you fabulous tips, advice from various experts and lot’s of laughs…don’t miss it!

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Blogfest 2014

WOW, what a day!! Today was the much awaited Blogfest 2014. I bought my early bird ticket back in August and have been looking forward to it since.

To say I was nervous is an understatement. While most friends can’t shut me up think I’m a chatterbox, I’m actually extremely shy, until I get to know you. I walked into King’s Place on York Way feeling like I did my first day of university. Looking for a friendly face, wandering if everyone around me was as nervous as I was and hoping someone would come over and talk to me while I stood in the corner quietly drinking my cappuccino and pretending to take in my surroundings.

The morning started off with a keynote panel discussion between Sarah Vine, Beeban Kidron, Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, Susie Boniface, Tim Dowling and Anita Anand as the chair. The topic of discussion was “How does technology shape the way we think?” and inadvertently it moved on to how the internet and technology affects our kids.

Children born today don’t have a “before” social media/internet life. It’s all they will ever know. My 2 1/2 year old knows how to log onto my Skype and call my best friend in Ireland when he fancies a chat. Yes, 2 1/2!!

The concern that was raised was “Will our children struggle with their identities and self worth without their online lives?” Beeban Kidron mentioned a girl who decided to put her phone outside the house in a rubbish bin to stop herself from checking it when she woke at night as it was affecting her sleep (and probably her sanity!!) But one night in and she found herself outside, in the pouring rain, rummaging about in the bin looking for her phone (yeah, insanity!). Sleep disorders are on the rise because of our phones.

And when it comes to children, how do we police their time spent on the internet? It’s important for parents to make it their business to understand what their children are doing online. Although Sarah Vine has given her 11 year old a mobile phone, she’s installed apps that let her see what her daughter is doing on her phone as well as track her every move. While that may sound a tad overprotective, it’s an issue of knowing more rather than less when it comes to our children and the huge world wide web.

Some classic quotes from the session were:

“The internet doesn’t come to you, you go to it.” Tim Dowling

“A rat in the lab of Google” Beeban Kidron on being a young person surrounded by technology.

“If you don’t learn how to be alone, you can end up very lonely.” Beeban Kidron

We then had a coffee break before we divided into groups for a breakout session. I went to the “How to make money from your blog” session which was very informative. This was followed by 5 minute “think bombs” from Suzanne Moore, Camila Batmanghelidjh (who’s speech was so thought provoking) and Francesca Martinez who delivered a moving speech about what we call normal.

During the lunch break I met the lovely Amy Duthie in the line in the loo (as you do) just when I was starting to think I was going to be “natasha no mates” all afternoon. She introduced me to fellow third culture kid and mummy blogger Amie Caitlin.

Right after lunch I got to say hello and have a quick chat with Kate Sutton who’s blog I love and read regularly. I felt like a bit of a stalker knowing so much about her life but I guess that’s the whole point of the blogging community?!

I then attended Paul Armstrong’s Advanced social media master class. To be perfectly honest, a lot of the terms went over my head, I’m still quite a newbie when it comes to social media. But, I’m glad I went because I now have a head full of new ideas to get myself out there more (in the blogging community ofcourse).

There was another breakout session before the day started to wind down with a keynote panel discussion titled “The power of writing”. The speakers included Nick Hornby, Harriet Lane, Lynn Barber, Rachel Joyce, Lisa Jarmin and Erica Wagner as the chair. What an amazing line up!! I feel so inspired to keep writing after that session.

The closing talk was by the amazing comedian Lucy Porter who had the whole room in hysterics. The perfect end to what was an absolutely mind blowing day!

After a quick drink and chat with some of the bloggers I met today I headed home (in the pouring rain). But not before I collected my goody bag!!

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So, full of inspiration and lots to think about, you can expect more from me this month. Stay tuned for the perfect Christmas gift lists for those little boys and girls in your life…coming this week!