It's only occurred to me, this December, that I'm responsible for educating my son. I know that sounds like a strange sentence to write, but he's 18 months-old very soon, and he really is like a sponge. But why December?
Well, Christmas of course.
I can teach him about Christmas trees. Father Christmas. Presents. Carol singing. Snow. But there is, obviously, a story behind all of that.
In terms of what I believe, I believe in lots of things, and while I'm not a devout Christian, I don't believe in celebrating a special day without taking the time to at least nod to the story behind it.
I want William to be free to make up his own choices about his life and his beliefs. I don't push opinion on people - I make my own known, sure, but I would never want anyone to change for me.
But, as a parent, it is our job to teach our babies about the world and everything in it. Why is the grass green? Why does the sun shine? Why is the sea blue?
Who is baby Jesus, Mummy?
So I'm trying my best to teach him.
In the only way that you can with an 18 month-old. Through fun.
When I was a little girl, I remember, very vividly, my grandparents' nativity scene. This one, in particular, sings a carol and reads out a verse from the Bible. It's very retro and very Christmas. And my brother and I, cousins too, would take turns in pressing the button that set it off, much to the annoyance of our parents and grandparents. "Not again Charlotte!"
I don't have anything like that yet, and I really want one. So far, I've managed to find a nativity book, which tells the story of baby Jesus in a fun way, with fluffy sheep, shiny Wise Men cloaks and colourful illustrations.
But I've got my eye set on this little set too, with the beautiful stable and the little crib figurines....
How do you share the story of Christmas with your littles? Or do you prefer not to?
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Then I started several blogs, over time, that came and went, until this one.
I'm so proud of what I've achieved over the years. I remember when I first featured on Fleur De Force's blog as a guest blogger, while she was on holiday, and I found my first followers outside of my mum. And when I became a member of More's (RIP) Blogger Boudoir. And now I've been able to work with some brilliant brands, earn some pennies here and there, and benefit from some amazing opportunities. But most of all I've made some brilliant friends and met some amazing people.
But I've made some mistakes too. And I wish I'd prepared a bit better in the long run. So here are my tips, or at least what I'd do if I had the chance to start over:
- Test out all of the blogging platforms properly. I went with Blogger, which just seemed easier at the time, but I wish, in hindsight, I'd gone with Wordpress. I could port over now, but I just don't want the hassle! Wordpress seems to have more customisable options and I know it's a favourite with the developers where I work too.
- Be clever with your blog name. I'm always complimented on my blog name but I hate it. It's too long and it doesn't exactly link to my blog's topic very well and it's so long! Think hard about your blog name, because changing it is a nightmare.
- Buy your blog domain straight away. If you are going to work really hard on your blog and hope to get some steady traffic, make sure you do it with your actual blog name and a domain that will last a lifetime. You are just starting a blog, you're creating a website that people will read and enjoy for years to come hopefully!
- Set up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools as soon as you can. This ensures that you track what works and what doesn't on your blog and makes sure you have a correct site map too.
- Make your social media accounts consistent. I'm pretty much found by @CharlTaylor or my blog name and I'm quite grateful I didn't go with a silly nickname instead.
- Invest in a good design. I swear by Gillian, who blogs at Elevator Musik. She designed my blog and The Motherhood too and her work is brilliant and good value too. It speaks volumes to brands and makes you feel a little bit more professional too.
- Network and give back. Try and say yes to opportunities - BritMums Live was possibly the best thing I ever did blog-wise. I always try and give back too - I comment on other people's blogs that I love and I offer guest posts from time-to-time too, as well as sharing links I love on social media. Support other people and they will support you.
- Think about photography. I always make sure my images are large and bright. I do have a DSLR, but I also use my iPhone too. I edit using PicMonkey and I'm also enjoying trialling Canva as well. I can't stand small photographs because I want to see those lovely pictures properly! I'd definitely suggest adding I Heart Snapping to your Favourites for inspiration.
- Be professional. Little things like business cards, a nice email signature and good grammar make you stand out a little bit more.
- Remember why you blog. You shouldn't be blogging for anyone other than yourself. I love to write, which is why I do what I do. Any reviews, or sponsored posts, are ones I have been approached for. I'd never ask for them and I will enjoy these opportunities while they last. A lot of PRs and SEOs that I work with express their frustration with the 'blagger' community, and I always try and remember that, yes, my time is worth money, but I'm also very lucky to have what I do, especially in a world where some people have nothing.
Have you any tips for anyone starting from scratch?
Sometimes I have days where things get a little much and I end up having a strop, or just wallowing a little. Yesterday was a bit like that. Things got on top of me and the usually wonderful reunion with William after work resulted in him having his first, full-on, toddler tantrum.
Apparently the terrible twos start at 18 months – no one warned me!
I sat there and considered staying inside that evening.
I was due to go to Poynton’s special Christmas night, where the main lane is closed off for everyone to get together and celebrate Christmas.
I considered calling my mum and saying I best not bother, but then I decided I would force myself to have a good time. And I’m so glad I did.
There were lights, everywhere. Ice carvings. Drums. Food. Dancing. Music. Bratwurst. BBQ pork. Mulled wine and cider. Family. Friends. Men dressed as elves dancing to Mariah Carey. A craft fair. Stalls galore. Shops open late. Crisp air. And a lot of happiness.
These photographs are more for me than anything else, but I hope you enjoy them too.