Sunday, 9 April 2017

11 top tips | working from home during the school holidays


It's school holiday time again and although I LOVE it when the kids aren't at school, it can be a really difficult juggling act when you still have to work but have the added pressure of looking after children and keeping them entertained. I've been doing this for the last 5 years now and have a few tricks up my sleeve to make life a little easier:

11 top tips | working from home during the school holidays


1 - Get ahead

It's an obvious one but try and get ahead. I am always at my most productive in the fortnight before school holidays and double the amount of work I do. Obviously, you can't get ahead with everything but I tend to schedule more blog posts and work with brands to a tighter deadline so I can complete outstanding projects before the break.

2 - Schedule social media

I am not a fan of scheduling social media in general but I do like to do this during the holidays. I schedule 3 posts per day from my Facebook page (direct from Facebook) and use the free version of Buffer to schedule a few Tweets. It doesn't take too much time to schedule content in bulk and in advance (I can normally schedule a week's worth of content in one hour) but it takes a lot of the pressure off.

3 - Make packed lunches and have water on hand

I like to make the kids a packed lunch for the next day in the evening and pop it in the fridge in their lunchbox. It's one less thing to worry about and if we decide to head to the park we can just grab lunch and go. Making lunches in advance is a massive timesaver for me.

I don't know how often my kids ask me for a drink when they're at home but it's a lot! I always make sure I have bottles of water on the bottom shelf of our fridge that the kids can easily help themselves to when they're thirsty.

4 - Plan your day/week in advance

I use my classic Filofax to plan my week in advance. We usually have some full on days out but these are balanced with quieter 'chill days' at home where we stay local. I rarely plan two big day trips out in a row.  During our days at home, slower paced mornings work well for us and the kids will have their breakfast, play with their toys/watch cartoons for a few hours in the morning before boredom sets in. This is when I can get a good few hours work done. Then around lunch time, I normally switch off my laptop and we'll do something together such as going for a walk/take a bike ride/play outside/visit the park for the afternoon. This is normally when I can get a few chores done too. Then after dinner when the kids are tired again, it's time to resume working which leads me onto.....

5 - Work in the evening

I hate working in the evening but in the school holidays it really is a necessary evil. I would say I work from 6pm - 9pm most evenings during the holidays. During this time the kids are usually ready to relax in their rooms and play on their computer/watch TV for a few hours and they leave me in peace to get on with my work.

6 - The park is your friend

If the kids are in one of those moods where they just won't stop fighting or they are constantly interrupting you, the park is your friend. I am lucky that we have a park at the end of my street. I always have an 'outdoor adventure' bag packed and ready to go by the door. Packed with suncream, change, snacks, hats and bubbles, it's easy to add a bottle of water and go. Children can spend hours at the park and seem to behave much better there too. I take my laptop, a flask of coffee and use my phone as a WiFi hotspot. If I have a deadline and the kids aren't playing ball, a trip to the park always works a treat.

7 - Pay for childcare/summer holiday clubs

If you can afford childcare, use it. Even if it's just for one day a week or perhaps one full week out of the 6 weeks holidays. Here are a few options in the North East:



8 - Take grandparents/friends up on their babysitting offers

If grandparents offer to take the kids to the beach for a few hours, don't be polite and decline - take them up on their offer! The kids will have fun and you'll have the opportunity to be super productive and work for a few hours without interruption. Likewise, share the care with your friends. Plan a weekly playdate circle with your friends where one parent looks after a few children for a few hours in the afternoon. The kids will be happy to see their friends and everyone gets a break.

9 - Remember why you work from home

I think it's important to remember why you work from home - normally, it's so you can spend more time with your children. Don't feel guilty about spending time away from work during the holidays. You'll never get this time back.

10 - Extend deadlines

As the school holidays approach and I am negotiating new contracts, I always extend new client deadlines by a few weeks. This gives you a little breathing space. Sometimes, campaigns can be very time specific and if a client would like work to be completed fairly quickly, I normally charge a premium to do this.

11 - Take a holiday

If you were in an employed role, you'd have to take 28 days paid annual leave per year. There is no reason why you shouldn't do this when you work from home. I try and take a few full weeks holiday throughout the year (2 weeks over Christmas and one week during our annual summer holiday) along with a few extended long weekends when I turn my out of office on, forget about work and focus on having fun. It's definitely worth doing this regularly to stop yourself from burning out and you'll return to work full of energy and raring to go.

Let me know if you have any tips and for more tips like this, don't forget to follow SamanthaRickelton.com on Facebook


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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Instagram | Is it all a game?


Instagram has over 600 million active users! WOW! I remember when the platform first launched, it was oh so simple. You posted a photo, maybe added a filter and that was it. I am not even sure if hashtags existed? But times have changed and now that influencers can make serious money from Instagram, it seems like a lot of bloggers are very focused on Instagram growth at the moment. This isn't a bad thing of course but I just wanted to share a few of my experiences.


As a blogger, it is SO easy to get sucked into the Instagram vortex. You see other bloggers increasing their followers at a higher rate than you are, you watch others with a similar following to yourself gain thousands of likes on every single photo where as you struggle to get past 40 likes. You see perfectly styled images that look like they belong in a glossy magazine and wonder how your iPhone photos will compare. You do worry that you'll get left behind and force yourself to try harder.  I have been there myself.

6 points to remember about other Instagram accounts:

1 - Instagram is just a tiny part of blogging. It doesn't have to be your niche. You may enjoy Facebook or Twitter more. If so, focus on that instead. Blogging is supposed to be fun remember.

2 - Some bloggers earn money through Instagram and it is therefore in their interests to spend a lot of time and some money investing in their feed. If you don't wish to monetise, there really is no point in comparing yourself to those who do. You have different goals.

3 - Using tools such as FollowCheck you can check for fake/spam/bought followers on any Instagram account and realise that actually, some of the 'big' Instagrammers, don't actually have many real followers after all.

4 - Social Blade is also a fantastic tool and spots patterns in any Instagram user's habits. So for example if a user normally loses 20 Instagram followers per day but then every 3rd day increases their following by exactly 150 followers and it is the same number every single time, you can be confident that they are buying their followers. Again, this is their choice but it's important to remember NOT to compare yourself to users who do this.

5 - Social Blade will also show you who is using Follow/Unfollow as it's easy to spot this behaviour in their stats. There's nothing wrong with using Follow/Unfollow but it's not for everyone (it's definitely not for me) but once you spot someone doing this, it is easier to get your head around it and not compare yourself and instead focus on your own goals.

6 - A quick google will show you that it's easy to buy likes for photographs too. If a blogger/influencer looks like they have an unnatural amount of likes, just click on their likes and scroll through. Once you get past the first 100 or so likes, if most of the likes are from eggs, accounts with random made up names or inactive accounts, you can bet that they are fake.

It's not against the law to use any of the techniques above, and those who do are probably very driven and really see Instagram as a platform to earn money. What I'm trying to say though, it that it's important not to compare yourself to people who use these techniques if it's a road you don't want to go down. It's better to let it go and focus on your own growth and account instead.

North East Family Fun's Instagram Feed


Techniques for Instagram growth that have not worked for me: 

1 - Follow for Follow

I have joined Instagram follow for follow threads in the past. They are good as you get an influx of followers, however my accounts mostly feature photographs based around the North East and I found that most bloggers who use follow for follow don't interact and engagement is what you should be looking for. Therefore this technique does not work for me.

2 - Instagram Instants

There are various groups where 'instant' threads take place at the same time every day. The idea is, everyone posts a photograph at say 8pm and then posts their link on the thread. Everyone in the thread then has to like your photo. This technique definitely does work (with 40 people taking part, a photograph would almost always receive over 100 likes) and it's slightly addictive. I ended up stopping though as I realised I didn't want to post a photograph unless it was part of an instants thread as it would receive a lot less likes than other photos. I had become reliant on these threads and I didn't like it so stopped.

3 - Instagram Comment Pods

Comment Pods are set up in the messenger part of the Instagram app. 12 like-minded people who share similar photos join forces and every time they post a photograph they share it to the group. Everyone in the group must then like and comment on the photograph. Again this works (although not as well as an instant) but for me it sucked all of the life out of Instagram and Instagram ended up feeling like a chore. I dreaded being forced to like and comment on photographs and it was something that was added to my daily to-do list that I ended up resenting. These pods are nice for creating a small community and will definitely work for some people, just not me.

4 - Automation

Programmes like Archie (sign up here for a free trial) can automate likes, comments and followers. I tried this for a while and loved it. During the trial I received over 100 new genuine followers through setting up automated liking when users posted various North East hashtags. However it is expensive (29 USD) and for me, I can't justify the cost. Instaplus is another tool that can automate likes, comments and follows but again, it costs money and as I don't wish to monetise my Instagram, I think my cash is better off spent elsewhere. I would never recommend automating comments - you can spot them a mile off!

North East Family Fun's Instagram Feed


What Has Worked for Me? 

It sounds boring but if you'd like your Instagram to grow, you need to put time and effort into engaging. Regularly like & comment on accounts and photographs that you're interested in and that you feel would be interested in your account and the rest will come. It takes time but it does work.

It's All About the Hashtag

Another way to get discovered on Instagram is to aim to get into their 'top 9' photographs for certain hashtags. My account has 4500 followers and I look to use niche hashtags with around 70,000 or less users (if you type a hashtag into Instagram, it will tell you how many users the hashtag has). Using hashtags that have millions of followers are pointless in my opinion as they are never going to make it into the top 9 or even most recent photographs when other users search the hashtag as so many users are using it at the same time - so what's the point in adding a hashtag like this if it's not going to lead to users finding your photograph? The only thing it results in is spam bots or followers using automated comments leaving a fake comment.

You can use up to 30 Instagram hashtags and it's important to use all 30. Imagine you made it into the top 9 photographs for every single hashtag you use - that's a lot of ways people can discover you. If you are serious about growing Instagram, look at every single hashtag as a way for another user to find your photograph and don't waste the opportunity!

I will be honest and say I am often lazy and don't follow this advice myself, but when I do put the effort in and research and use all 30 niche hashtags with around 70,000 users or less, I always achieve over 100 organic likes on my photograph. It is worth the effort.

Select a Niche and Stick to it

If you post a wide range of photographs from what you had for dinner to 3 photographs of your cat followed by a selfie on a night out and then a close-up of a flower, other users aren't going to know what your account is all about and don't have a reason to follow. If you have a clear theme and explain in your bio what your accounts about, other users are far more likely to understand and stick around.

Rafflecopter giveaways

My accounts mainly post photographs from around the North East - I actively look for followers who are in the North East. If I'm running a blog giveaway with a local prize (eg local theatre tickets or a meal at a local restaurant), I want these people to follow me on Instagram too as they are my ideal follower. I therefore always include an option to 'follow me on Instagram' as part of my rafflecopter giveaway (see here for how to create a clickable link).


Phew! This was a bit of a ramble. Let me know what has worked for you and remember, if you aren't interested in monetising your Instagram, it's time to stop worrying about what others are up to and just concentrate on posting photographs you love and would like to share. It's time to bring the fun back to Instagram! 


If you are interested, you can follow North East Family Fun | Travel 

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

I need to spend more time with my friends!


In my twenties it felt like I spent a lot of time with my friends. Despite having three children myself, most of my friends didn't have children and nights out, girly spa days, shopping trips and cheeky weekends away were pretty common. Now I'm in my thirties and most of my friends have caught up and have families of their own. Trying to negotiate child care for multiple families can be an absolute nightmare at times. Add to that shift patterns, caring & work commitments and it's no wonder I only get to grab a coffee with my friends every couple of months.

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights | Friends at a wedding

Recently, I've noticed that gaps between meet-ups with my friends have been getting longer and longer and I am determined for us to all make the effort and see each other more often and I mean proper quality time and not a quick coffee here and there. Every month I am going to make a determined and conscious effort to organise some proper quality time with my friends. Spending time with the girls is good for my soul and something I definitely need to do more of!

Next month, I have organised an actual night out in Newcastle with my oldest school friends. I have been wracking my brain trying to remember when the last time this was and I honestly don't know.I think it was as long as 5-6 years ago. Maybe even longer? (I have just checked and Facebook tells me it was actually March 2010) Granted we're going out on a Thursday rather than a Saturday and we'll be looking for quiet bars with quality cocktails and a place we can sit down and chat rather than a wild night out in the Gate - but a night out is still a night out right? and I am really looking forward to it.  Please let me know if you have any bar recommendations that suit our requirements.

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights | Girls night out in Newcastle
Our last 'girls' night out in town was in March 2010

I have grand plans to book something new every month and my ideas so far include a shopping trip (I actually think it's been 10 years since my last girly shopping trip), an Easter day trip with the kids somewhere, dinner at a nice restaurant and a trip to the theatre. I can't wait to get planning! In April I have booked a dinner with my oldest friend Joanne so I'm already sticking to my new resolution!

It seems I'm not alone in my thinking and last week, Chloe invited me along to her house for a girly get together with Afternoon Tea (she was testing it out for blog purposes - you can read more over on New Girl in Toon). I don't need an excuse to say yes to Afternoon Tea but this invite was to try Afternoon Tea with a difference.

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights - homemade scones

Provided by Mrs Dellows Delights, this Afternoon Tea is delivered directly to your home or venue of choice (delivery is free within 10 miles of Chester le Street and chargeable after this). You honestly will not believe their prices! Afternoon Tea can be delivered from just £9.95 per person! This includes everything from coffee to table linen, vintage teacups and of course delicious homemade food. You can check out Mrs Dellows various Afternoon Tea packages here.

If you want to get together with friends but are too skint for a proper night out (or are supposed to be sticking to Frugal 2017 like me) or you can't find any childcare (let the kids join in or send them upstairs), I honestly can't think of a better way to get together.

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights - coffee and sugar

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights - homemade cakes, prosecco and teacups

We spent a glorious few hours in our slippers, sipping Prosecco, helping ourselves to one too many cakes and having a good old catch up. I think this Afternoon Tea would be PERFECT for a hassle-free baby shower/ hen party/ christening/ birthday celebration but at these prices I honestly don't think you need an excuse and should just book Afternoon Tea to be delivered to your home so you can have a good catch up with your mates.

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights - Afternoon tea at Chloes

 Afternoon Tea delivered in Newcastle with Mrs Dellows Delights - homemade cake stand

The food was all homemade and delicious - I am still dreaming about that white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake! There was far too much for the three of us so we all packed up goody bags to take home which I shared with Steve and the kids for supper who now all now think I should head out without them on a Saturday afternoon more often! haha!

The service we received from Mrs Dellows was absolutely spot on too - they set everything up, provided us with every single item possible (including napkins and cutlery) and delivered and set up the afternoon tea for us and then arrived back a few hours later to take all of the crockery back to Mrs Dellows HQ - lucky Chloe didn't even need to tidy up!

I aim to start a bit of a mini series with a few different ideas featuring places to visit/activities to enjoy with your friends across the North East. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or if you fancy guest posting for us if you try something fun with your friends.



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Monday, 20 February 2017

Social Media & Blog Post Content Ideas | March 2017


Whether you're a blogger or a small business owner, it's always a good idea to plan ahead. I like to plan key blog posts 6-8 weeks in advance and this list of key events in March is a fantastic base for planning your social media - you can schedule a few Facebook posts of Tweets in advance NOW and that's one less thing for you to worry about.

Social Media & Blog Post Content Ideas | March 2017

March is a busy month and there is a lot going on. I know that my audience loves posts about food so I'll definitely be planning a post for British Pie Week with my favourite pie recipe or restaurant review. I'll also probably post a debate around school dinners on my Facebook page for International School Meals Day and something about encouraging science in our children for British Science Week. I might plan a science-themed giveaway too!

For National Butcher's Week I'll make an effort to connect, mention and RT our local butchers on Twitter and on World Oral Health Day I'll make sure I re-share any blog posts I have around the subject. Same goes for National Forest Week - I'll re-share my blog posts featuring forests.

Finally, for Mother's Day, I will probably plan a recipe blog post with the kids featuring something you can make - maybe Mother's Day cupcakes? and before World Book Day I'll be sharing some easy costume ideas I've found on Pinterest or you can order with next day delivery from Amazon.

Let me know if you have any content ideas for March and I hope you find this list useful.

1-31 March | The Great Daffodil Appeal with Marie Curie Cancer Care

1-31 March | National Bed Month with The National Sleep Council

1-31 March | Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

1-31 March | Prostate Awareness March

1 March | St David's Day

2 March | World Book Day

6 - 10 March | National Apprenticeships Week

6-12 March | British Pie Week

8 March | International Women's Day

8 March |  National No Smoking Day

9 March | International School Meals Day

9 March | World Kidney Day

9-12 March | Crufts

10-12 March | Disabled Access Day

10-19 March | British Science Week

13-19 March | National Butchers Week

17 March | St Patrick's Day

20 March | World Oral Health Day

20 March | International Day of Happiness

20-26 March | National Salt Awareness Week

21 March | International Day of Forests

21 March | World Down Syndrome Day

22 March | World Water Day

24 March | Red Nose Day

25 March | International Waffle Day

25 March - 2 April | English Tourism Week

26 March | Mother's Day

27 March - 2 April | World Autism Awareness Week

30 March | World Bipolar Day


For more posts like this, you can follow SamanthaRickelton.com on Facebook here. 


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Monday, 13 February 2017

How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links)


Rafflecopter is a FREE tool available to run giveaways on your blog/social media. I have been using it for a few years now and have to say, I love it! The possibilities are endless. Here is my step-by-step for how to run a giveaway.

How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links)

1 - Visit www.Rafflecopter.com and click 'new giveaway'.

2 - Click 'Add Prize' and describe your prize. The title needs to be as catchy as possible. I always add the prize value - eg 4 x tickets to Lightwater Valley Theme Park worth £100+

3 - Viral Sharing is only available for the paid-for version of rafflecopter so skip this part.

4 - Click 'Add an entry option'

5 - I don't usually include 'Visit a FB page' as there is no guarantee the entrant will go on the page so it feels like a bit of a waste (plus Facebook isn't a focus for me at the moment). It is easy to do though, just click 'Visit a fan page' and type the page name in the top box and the page URL in the second box. Then hit save.


How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) - Visit a Facebook Page



6 - I always use 'follow an account on Twitter' and usually add both the brand and my own Twitter accounts as two separate entries. I give each entry 2 points.


How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) - follow on Twitter


7 - I ALWAYS include Tweeting a message as an entry option and I tick the box that allows entrants to do this daily. You only have 120 characters so it can be tough to fit everything in but generally, I try to include a little about the brand's message (eg if there are discounted tickets this summer or that they have a lovely shop with beautiful items for sale for Mother's Day). I will always tag the brand who may wish to interact with the giveaway Tweets and I tag my own Twitter handle too as this helps with Klout. Rafflecopter will automatically add you blog link to the end of the Tweet.

How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) - Tweeting a message


8 - There are other options which are pretty self-explanatory. In the past, I've had people complain that they don't have any social media other than Facebook so I think adding the option to comment on the blog post is always nice so you don't alienate anyone and maximise your entries. I always try and think of a question related to the brand and that will give different and varied answers - eg What is your favourite ride at Lightwater Valley?

9 - The 'invent your own option' is fantastic and in my opinion, underused. I usually use this option for entrants to subscribe to my Youtube channel or follow me on Instagram. Other options could be to like and comment on a particular Facebook post (then you can invite them to like your page - I think this is a better option than the standard 'visit our Facebook page). If you can add a link, it can be verified and doesn't break any rules, you can be as creative as you like.

How to add a clickable link for the 'invent your own' option:

1 - Complete the first box with the instructions eg 'Follow North East Family Fun on Instagram' and 'Follow Here' in the Second Box. The third box should be 'Leave Your Instagram User Name'. Change these details depending on your preference eg Follow on YouTube, Like and Comment on this Facebook Post....

How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) - include instagram

2 - Highlight 'Follow Here' in the second box and click the small link button (next to the B and I )


How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) - add instagram
3 - Change the 'Http://' part to the link you'd like. This could be your Instagram Link, YouTube Channel of a link to a specific Facebook post. 

How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) - add a clickable link

4 - When you save this link, 'Follow Here' will be changed to a clickable link. 


10 - Now you need to change your giveaway start and end dates. With the free version, you can only start/end a giveaway at midnight. I always end my giveaway on a Sunday night (at midnight) and to do this you actually need to click the following Monday's date.

11 - Don't forget to complete your giveaway Terms and Conditions. These need to be carefully completed. Rafflecopter has a fantastic guide to terms and conditions here.

12 - Now at the bottom of the page, you are ready to 'preview and install'. Here you can check that your giveaway actually looks ok and that the links are all ok. To embed the giveaway into your blog post, simply copy and paste the code into the HTML of your blog post. The giveaway won't show up until you hit post preview. When adding to a blog post, it is best practice to have the giveaway terms and conditions in plain text as part of the blog post too.


How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) | Embed in a blog

You can also add the giveaway directly to your Facebook page using the 'Run on a Facebook page'. This is nice and easy to install and will give you a 'giveaway tab' on your Facebook page.


How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) | Run on a Facebook Fan Page


13 - Almost done! Now it's time to promote your giveaway. I normally promote my blog post in the normal ways and then add a link to the post to the SuperluckyMe linky, Loquax and Prize Finder.

14 - Once your giveaway has ended, you simply need to head to the 'entries section' and select 'pick a winner'. Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner and let you know how the winner entered - I always manualy verify this (eg if it says they follow me on Twitter, I check this is the case) and then if all is ok, I 'announce winner on widget' so anyone who comes back to the giveaway can see that a winner has been selected.

I then copy the winner's email address and send them and email congratulating them & reminding them of them of their prize. I copy the brand PR into the email and explain something along the lines of  'Jane from Lightwater Valley will be in touch in the next few days to organise your prize'. This is easier than sending multiple emails I find.

How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) | Pick a winner


How to run a successful giveaway with Rafflecopter (including how to add clickable links) | Announce a winner


15 - You can export your giveaway data to excel if needed, Rafflecopter will email you the entries in a nice spreadsheet. If a brand asks for this, you need to make it very clear in your terms and conditions that your data will be used this year. You can also add to the terms and conditions that by entering the giveaway, the entrant agrees to sign up to your own mailing list but can opt out at any time. Handy feature if you wish to gain subscribers - I can't stress enough though that this needs to be made very clear in your terms and conditions before the giveaway begins.

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Friday, 3 February 2017

Life Lately | Pet Shop Boys, Lettuce Tacos & Frugal 2017 | #LittleLoves


I'm linking up with #LittleLoves again this week, Here's a peek into life lately:

Life Lately | Pet Shop Boys, Lettuce Tacos & Frugal 2017 | #LittleLoves

Read


I've been reading lots of blog posts this week and have particularly enjoyed 'Edinburgh with a toddler' by Rock and Roll Pussycat and this post by Mandy Charlton about dating in 1998 (and how much easier it was). I love Edinburgh and I'm well overdue a visit with my three and Mandy's post really took me back to my dating days with Steve.


Watched


I was super excited to be invited to my first ever press conference! It was held on Northside farm in the middle of Northumberland to announce the first acts that will be appearing at Festival on the Wall this year. Take a peek at our video, live from the conference here. I think Steve and I make quite the double act.

Heard


It was announced that the Pet Shop Boys are going to be one of the headline acts at Festival on the wall and I LOVE the Pet Shop Boys so spent the whole afternoon listening to their back catalogue. Always On My Mind is my favourite although I've never noticed this weird intro to the song before! Let me know your favourite Pet Shop Boys song in the comments.



Made


So we're trying to lose a few lbs before Cuba later this year. I can't compromise on my drinking (parents of multiple children will understand the need for Friday night wine!) and I don't want to cut down on ordering treats when we head out for blog reviews so we've decided that our weeknight dinners need to be healthier. We love Mexican food and I tried making spicy Quorn mince with lettuce tacos a while ago but really wasn't a fan. I tried again this week though with pork mince and it was actually really nice.

Life Lately | Pet Shop Boys, Lettuce Tacos & Frugal 2017 | #LittleLoves


Wore


We enjoyed a lovely date at Dobson & Parnell this week and I wore an oldie but a goodie. I just love a wrap dress! I can't even remember where this dress is from but it's so easy to wear. I even wore my hair down too which is rare!

Life Lately | Pet Shop Boys, Lettuce Tacos & Frugal 2017 | #LittleLoves


Lastly - Frugal 2017 Update


Frugal 2017 is still on track - I have been meal planning and haven't bought anything other than food/drinks/petrol this week. We're planning a 'low spend' weekend this weekend with a trip to the coast with our bikes. Sometimes the free days out are the most fun! After chatting with my brother about fish n chips yesterday I have been craving them ever since so I'll be treating us - we haven't had a takeaway in 6 weeks so I feel like we deserve it :D

Oh and before I go - I uploaded a mini Primark Haul to Youtube this week - how annoying is it when you go out shopping for yourself, end up coming home with nothing but your hubby bags a few bargains he wasn't even looking for!



Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Should Bloggers Write About Politics?


Everyone who knows me (and a fair few of my readers) probably know that I'm a left-wing Green Party member. The events that have been going on in the world - Brexit, Trump......they don't sit well with me and they aren't what I personally want for myself or my family.  In the last week or so, I have felt a kind of deep sadness and sitting here writing about a meal I've eaten in a restaurant or a place we've visited with the kids has kind of felt trivial and I can't really explain how I feel but I just don't seem to be in the right frame of mind to write my usual blog articles and I feel like I have this huge shadow cast over me.

Should Bloggers Write About Politics?


I do want to do more. I want to change the world I live in. I don't like the place my children are growing up in, but what can I do?

Should I blog about my Political feelings? 25,000+ people read North East Family Fun every month and I reach over 500,000 people on Twitter - surely if I have a platform, I should use it? I should express my views as that's what blogs are for right?  But then it's not my job to try and persuade people to think like me. Who is to say my way is the right way? I am also sure that one blog post isn't going to change the world.

Is a family travel blog the place to write about politics? Probably not.

One of my good friends has completely opposing Political views to me. She asked my advice recently - should she write about her reasons for opposing the recent women's march? I was outraged, of course she shouldn't - she would experience backlash and it would damage her reputation I said. But now I am thinking - why shouldn't she? Did I say this just to stop her Political agenda as I didn't agree with it?  I want to do the same thing and just because my friend doesn't share the same views as me, it doesn't give her less of a right to blog about her cause. We are both equally passionate about our views so if  I don't think she should publish a post, what gives me the right to do the same?

Then there is the fact that my blog is my full time job. Everyone knows that writing about Politics can be inflammatory and can be frowned upon by some PRs and brands. I rely on my blog work to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads and would be silly to damage this. But then I feel selfish - why does this matter when a lot more people aren't as privileged as me and don't even have a voice? If I can talk for them and help them in any way, shape or form - I should right?

There are of course other brands who will welcome bloggers who have their own opinion and are passionate. It's a really tricky thing to get right though.

I think all things considered, I'm not going to write about Politics. One blogger can absolutely not change the world and it might actually do more harm than good. Writing about my views and how I think the world should change will probably only work in that it will make me feel better but it won't actually change a thing.

My good friend Kelly (from Cygnet Careers - go check her out if you need advice) gave me some excellent advice recently when she said what we need to focus on is being kind to those around us. It's like a ripple effect and will eventually ripple out across the world. So this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to carry on writing about the fun I have with my family and make a conscious effort to be as kind as I can in everyday life.

Writing this post has been kind of therapeutic - I know that I can move on now and focus on what I do best - writing about family life and how to make the most of it. Regardless of what is going on in the world around us, it is going to be my job to still bring some sort of joy to our weekends, time off and holidays and that's what I'm going to re-focus my efforts on. I'll leave the Politics of the world to those who actually can make a difference.

What do you think? Should bloggers write about Politics? 

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Should Bloggers Write About Politics?

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