Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Blogging Needs Social Media...

...or at least it does if you want people besides your mom and best friend to read it.

I started blogging to just talk about my days.  And my family.  And whatever cool thing we did/are doing/or might be interesting.  Then I started reading about blogging.  About how to increase your readership, and how to make money.

What I was just enjoying doing suddenly had so much potential.  I could be read by people all over the world!  And I could make money while they're reading stuff!  So I delved further into the world of bloggers, affiliate links, sponsored posts, Google Analytics, and how to share everything that no one wants to read everywhere online.

I was quickly overwhelmed by all the things you can join for "monetizing" your blog.  I joined some, and put some ads up, and absolutely nothing happened.  I've since un-joined some programs, as if I'm not doing anything useful on a bunch of "make money" sites, I can make just as little if I'm only on a few.  Also I'm deathly afraid of cluttering up my words with a bunch of ads - I don't want to do that to my readers.

So then I looked into sponsored posts.  That's where someone gives you money, or free product, and then you blog about their stuff.  But I've discovered you don't just need to blog about it, you also need to Tweet about it, and pin it on Pinterest, and share pics of it on Instagram, as well as post a post on Facebook.  That seems like overkill to me.  I'd happily get some free product and then talk about it on my blog, or maybe on Facebook, but I'm not doing it on every platform available.  So none of that is panning out either.

I love blogging.  Putting my thoughts down, sharing my life experiences, hoping others can identify with my life in some aspect, it makes me feel good (and sometimes creative).  If I could find a way to make money doing this, that would be super-awesome-cool, but that's not my ultimate goal.  And I'm trying hard not to waste my time looking into all these money-making schemes, since it's not realistic to think that the 300 reads I get a month is really more than 10 people looking at my blog every day.  I'll leave up some of my click-through ads like Indigo and Amazon - people actually go to those sites - but I'm going to stop checking my sponsored posts sites I now belong to as often, since I know there won't often be things I'd like to talk about, and I don't belong to enough social media to even meet some of the requirements.

Twitter I am still exploring and trying to work out.  You can follow me there @modernmomslife.  I can see it's potential for reaching lots of people and sharing things quickly - but I'm still finding it hard sometimes to limit myself to 140 characters.  I need to find a link shortener so my blog links aren't so long.  Any suggestions?

I've been on Google+ for a while now.  Find me there.  I mostly only use G+ for sharing my posts and reading other people's.  It's well integrated with Gmail and the Blogger platform that it was a natural first place for me to start sharing posts.

I have a Facebook page here.  I share my posts and other relevant posts from mom bloggers (or whomever I find interesting).  I have a higher interaction rate with FB as I check my personal account often throughout the day.

And that's about it - I haven't joined Pinterest or Instagram as I feel like I waste enough of my life online as it is.  I don't know if I can handle more!  I need to be free to just be with my hubby and kids, and I work 30+ hours a week as well.

Comment below with your Twitter handles, Facebook pages or G+ pages.  I'm always looking for like-minded people to connect with!


Saturday, 25 July 2015

Culture Shock After Barely A Week At The Cottage?

We had a fabulous family week at a cottage in Sharbot Lake.  Our close friends and family came to visit.  I had a great time, but I do feel like I have more "work" to do there than at home.  Well maybe not more, but different work to do, for sure:

  • I had to hand-wash the dishes.  Not a big deal, but a time eater.
  • I hand washed clothes a few days and hung them outside.  Another time eater, as well as an arm workout from all the manual agitating of the stuff in the sink.
  • Being always on alert for the kids outside - I mean we were 5 big steps away from the water at all times there.
  • Making sure the kids had 3 meals plus snacks - as a working mom I only have to worry about this at most 2 days a week.

We arrived home late this morning and we lunched and sent the kids to a birthday party (otherwise we'd still be at the cottage tonight...)  We unpacked the truck, put the food away and I immediately started in on laundry and clean up.  I even indulged in a bath.

It's so nice to be home and have every comfort available.  But sometimes I wonder - if we can live at a cottage for a week with nothing to do, and I can stay off my phone for entire days at a time, why do I have to exist here, in this house full of stuff we don't really ever use, and constantly crave being online although I know nothing is going on there either?  It's such a strange life we live.  We have everything, but need so very little.

I think this is what's driving me crazy.  I long (already) to go back to the days where we eat, clean up, go outside and enjoy the day, eat, clean up, enjoy the day some more, eat again, clean up and then put the kids to bed.

Enjoying the day consisted of:

  • Lake play - swimming, paddleboating, fishing
  • Reading or sitting quietly (while always "watching" the kids)
  • Feeding the wildlife
  • Reading
  • Sitting quietly (wait, did I say these already?)

Yes, there was tv, and yes, we let the kids watch a movie, or spend a little time with our phones, but we were mostly unplugged and just with each other, and with nature.  It was awesome.  No one even asked to go home (this has happened in the past.)

I'm trying to relax back into home life (we had Kraft Dinner for supper today) and not let it not get me down that the kids have no interest in going outside tonight, and that's all I want to do - pour a glass of wine and go sit outside.  After all that's what I've been doing for the last week!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

How Can You Gauge Your Kids?

Don't you wish kids came with gauges?  I'm talking about dials or thermometers that show you their moods and basic needs.  You know, hunger, sleepiness, happiness and all that jazz.

Just when you think you've got your kid(s) figured out, they suddenly change all their habits - am I right?  The picky eater who has recently become a bit more adventurous suddenly regresses, the full of energy girl suddenly needs a nap or an earlier bedtime because she's "so TIRED!", and the kid that is always entertained by the screen can't find anything to watch.

Sometimes there just no winning with kids.  I've had many days where I've missed the "actual" hungry time, and no eats anything for dinner (but then wakes up at 5am because their tummy is growling); and the fun days where you miss the ideal bedtime by about 15 minutes and, because of that, it's now an hour long bedtime, AND the kid won't stay in their room.  I'm sure we've all had those days.

I would love a little cheat like a dial or gauge that has a nice green window for when your kid is perfectly hungry (and will eat most anything), and adequately tired (without being suddenly unreasonable about everything - I mean really, how hard is it to put on a pair of pajamas?!), and a mood indicator wouldn't be too bad either: happy. sad, grumpy, and totally unapproachable!

I sometimes think communication is key, but my oldest totally shuts down when her world is not going how she thinks it should be.  And I mean she refuses to speak.  About anything.  To anyone.  Especially if she thinks she's going to get in trouble.  I know I perhaps enable this behaviour by just asking more questions (sometimes more loudly as I lose what was left of my temper) instead of finding an alternate way to approach the scenario.  This is, again, where the gauges would come in handy!  I am amazed, sometimes, at my ability to not actually throttle my children when they resort to this non-speaking state.  Often I have to leave the room and take 3 breaths so I can re-approach with a clear head and (hopefully!) get to the bottom of whatever we're trying to do/fix/talk about.

Kids are confusing - do any of you readers have tips on keeping things on an even keel at home?  I find now that the girls are older it's not nearly the same as the toddler timeframe, but nothing is a straightforward as it should be.  Please, share your comments!


Monday, 13 July 2015

Things I've Learned Vacationing With Small Children

Next week we are going to a cottage for the week.  I'm very much looking forward to it.  The forecast (so far) looks great, the cottage is old hat now - this is our 3rd year going, and the girls just get older and better every year.

We've gone many places in the last few years, with and without the kids.  Here's a run down of some of the things I've learned when we drag the small children along with us:

  • I always pack too much stuff.  Even just for me.  This year I'm going to be more ruthless and bring less clothes and toys.  It will work out.
  • Kids can eat the same food for a week.  There are really no short-term negativities to this. When we were in the Dominican my youngest ate only pizza and spaghetti, while the oldest really only ate breakfast (pancakes and bacon) and did not succumb to hunger for the rest of the day.  Yes, my kids are weird.
  • Staying up late does NOT equal sleeping in the next day.  I've tried this tactic many times over the years - vacations or not.  My youngest, who is now 4 and just starting to realize sleep is a good thing, still does not sleep in.  EVER.  The almost-7-year-old has, within the last year, started staying in bed longer in the mornings.  I guess she's figuring it out.  At the cottage they share a bed, so this year will be interesting.  I'm sure eldest daughter will just tell youngest daughter to go away when she wakes up early.
  • TV is a great occupier when you are somewhere with constant water access.  Making lunch (or dinner, or anything) inside while children are outside can (obviously) have the potential for disaster.  We've been lucky that there have only been scrapes and cuts at the cottage in the past years, no water-related incidences.  But when you're the only adult at the moment you need to keep those kids where you can see them!
  • Invite as many people to visit over the week as you can.  This is great entertainment for the kids, and the adults too.  Also they can bring you fresh food/drinks/toys etc so you don't have to pay twice as much at the close-by small grocery store.  Bonus points if they'll take away your bag of garbage and your recyclables when they leave!
  • Never underestimate the power of a pen (or pencil) and a pad of paper.  My eldest loves carrying around notebooks and a pen so she can just draw whatever, whenever.  She even has a clipboard so she can sit on the ground and create art on a whim.  I'm going to be sure there is lots of plain paper with us this year.
  • Lastly, take time for yourself, moms and dads.  Sit down, outside, with a drink.  Let the kids run wild (after sharing all the rules and regulations for your location).  Unless they're screaming and fighting, leave them alone.  I know your parent-radar is always on - at least mine is - but I have learned to let it run in the background.  Sometimes I'll move my chair so I can at least see where the kids are, but I can still sit with my book and my drink, and trust that my kids are finally old enough and responsible enough to know if what they're doing is safe, and tattle on each other if they know it's not!  It's your vacation too.  Enjoy it!

Now that the time is drawing nigh to start organizing and packing up to go, I'm realizing I don't need to take all the same things as we've taken in the past.  We're over diapers and pull ups (YAY!!), the girls love playing together, so only a few toys will be necessary.  And I'm pretty much tired of making them separate meals, so as long as there's bread and peanut butter they can just eat that all week.  This is my vacation too!

I am very much looking forward to this week off.  I love having the family come around and not have to really do anything. Meals start off half prepared and no one expects gourmet at the cottage. There's no real cleaning needed - it's clean when we get there and we sweep up when we need to.  And we just hang out.  It's great.

What do you do for summer vacations?  Do you have any other tips we can share with the readers?  Post your comments and tips below!  Thanks for reading.


Friday, 3 July 2015

Don't Sick Kids Break Your Heart?

Eldest daughter was sick on Canada Day.  Bummer, eh?  Weird thing - she was sick on Canada Day last year too.  That's not a trend I'd like to continue.

Her day started out ok, although she didn't eat much breakfast.  That's weird because she'll eat half her day's calories at breakfast most mornings.  By lunch time she was laying around - like too exhausted to keep her head up.  And she was flushed, all not a good sign.

I gave her some acetaminophen since she told me her throat hurt.  I think modern medicine is fabulous.  She perked back up, her fever settled a bit and we managed to move through some more of the day.

As you may know, we were having family over and there was fence building going on for our Canada Day celebrations.  We ladies took the kids downtown to an Art Festival/Sale which they were very keen to go to, but tired of in about 20 minutes.  Especially Eldest who was starting to flag again by this time.  I love wandering through these things, and we saw some people we knew - also fun.  But we quickened our pace as I was afraid we may be moving toward Eldest being "actually" sick.

Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home.  Then they both went to bed for naps for the rest of the afternoon.  There is something so peaceful about sleeping children - especially when you know they aren't feeling well.  You can just picture their little cells all at war inside their little bodies while they sleep.  But after 2 hours of nap I knew they needed to get up.  It was after 5pm by this time.

Younger daughter got up with just a bit of protest - Eldest needed to be removed from our bed and carried downstairs.  She was not feeling well at all.  I gave her more acetaminophen but even that didn't perk her up.  Then I suggested a bath.  Well, after 5 minutes in the tub she yells out at me (because her ears were under water), "I guess all I needed was a bath!  I feel better!!"  So she relaxed in there for 20 minutes and then came back downstairs all pepped back up.

It's so nice to see them perk up after all the lethargy of being sick.  Both the girls stayed up well past their bedtimes, but went to bed alright when I finally got them there.  And they slept in somewhat the next morning.

Eldest was not in a good way the following morning again.  She stayed home with Dad while I had to go to work.  I took Youngest to Day Care then returned to get my stuff in order to go to work.  Eldest was very sad I could not stay home with her.  I know most of it was the fever talking, but it broke my heart when she let loose with the tears.

However, when I returned home in the evening (after a few messages back and forth with Dad during the day) I found Eldest sitting at the end of the driveway just waiting for me to get home.  She seemed to be doing pretty good, and told me she wasn't sick at all!  But she also needed a giant hug because she hadn't seen me all day.  Boy kids sometimes can be super cute!

There's nothing quite like the Mom Guilt of leaving a kid sick at home, even though you know full well whomever is there (Dad, Grandma, Auntie) will take extra special care of them while you can't be there.  Looks like I had nothing to worry about in this case.  After some morning quiet time (tv and couch resting) she was fine.  They went out to do some stuff, then I guess she rested a bit more in the afternoon but then was up and peppy and we haven't looked back since.

In my view, it was a long 2 days, but now things are on the up and up.  I'd better get Eldest to bed before much longer.  She should still have the chance to get some extra rest if she needs it.  And I'm feeling like I could use some extra rest myself!