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Guest Post: 5 Tips for Super-Busy Bloggers – Especially Mums and Dads

Photo by Nicola Baird

“Why do so many people drive cars?” asks 10-year-old Nell as she wheezily roller-blades her way to school. As I try to answer this puzzler, I realize she’s given me a fascinating blog topic about fitness and asthma. I used to think childcare distracted me from blogging, but now I find my kids a rich source of material for posts – especially if I can find a universal theme in what they did or said.

Looking after children is no small task: lots of cleaning and cooking is involved. But this mix of love and drudgery unites millions of us – working and stay-at-home mums (or a combo) world-over. Wits say that when raising children “the minutes drag and the years fly,” so allow yourself to enjoy being offline and distracted by your little distractors. It’s sure to lead to a blog post other parents will value, even if it’s just what to do when you serve up a slug in the lettuce to an already fussy eater! Here are some tips:

  1. Jot down ideas in a notebook. To avoid forgetting post gems, and to spark ideas about what to photograph, carry a notebook everywhere.  I dodge writer’s block by ear-wigging conversations (easy on public transport or at the shops), working out a solution to a problem that makes me angry, or sharing my feelings about the hot parenting news topic (e.g., tiger mums, education, alcohol).
  2. Post lists. Ever wonder why so many blog posts offer the top 3, 5, or 7 ways to do something? Perhaps it’s because most time-starved parents get interrupted before reaching #10! Luckily, readers love lists (well, I do).
  3. Establish once-a-week themes. If photos are your thing, try offering a regular Silent Sunday where you just post a great photo, no need for a caption. Confident cooks could run a Foodie Tuesday with your take on a seasonal recipe, or a food diary of what your child ate (or rejected) that day. Mummy bloggers love posts about thrifty and time-saving tips, such as making and sourcing Christmas gifts, Diwali decorations, or Thanksgiving dinner. Linking to other blogs diarying the same festive countdown can grow your blog’s followers and may make you blogger friends.
  4. Keep it positive, please. Only moan if it’s funny. Every rule can be broken, so it’s OK to post a raw moan of despair occasionally – but ideally less than one a month. On the other hand, we could get sick of your faultless family, so write about your mistakes, too. For instance if you’d left your eight-year-old daughter behind in a pub as British PM David Cameron did. Mistakes are the posts readers empathize with…or get outraged about. They make the comments flow.
  5. Be super flexible. Some people manage to run babies and children on schedules – but most of us don’t. If you want to post or add tags, but your child is awake and cannot be distracted by food or Angry Birds, re-schedule.

Oops, no time for more. Doorbell rang, wet laundry needs hanging up, job deadline … you see, it’s hard for mums to get to #10.

What blogging tips have you got for the super-busy?

Nicola Baird lives in London with three hens, a dog, veg garden and two daughters. She is author of seven books and an eco-specialist. See her blogs at http://homemadekids.wordpress.com and http://aroundbritainnoplane.blogspot.com

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  1. As a mom and writer, I appreciate this so much! Children have always inspired me, and my son is a very active two-year-old. Thank you!

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  2. As your son starts talking more – and making more friends – hopefully you’ll have even more action-packed child caring times to inspire your writing. Nicola

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  3. I could not agree more. I have notebacks stashed strategically around my life: purse, office, kitchen, car, bedroom… Given that my blog is basically an annotated version of her musings, it is absolutely essential to be prepared.

    Cheers!

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    1. I have no idea what a “noteback” is. Notebooks, however, those I have in multiples… forgive me for posting a comment without proofreading. It is all The Kidling’s fault: she was looking for carrots to feed the dog. Really.

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    2. Hi Christine, and you’re creating a gorgeous memory book about what life with children is like. It’s not long before you are looking back at old posts with nostalgia, and amazement. Nicola

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      1. Thanks, Nicola. It is a source of endless amusement. I’ve been taking notes since her vocabulary expanded beyond “Mama,” “Dada,” and “Uh Oh,” so I am already looking back with nostalgia… and she is only four. But when a kid is as prolific (and ridiculous) as mine is, it is hard not to be amazed.

        Cheers!

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  4. Enjoyed reading the post! Made a mental note “no more blogs with lists of more than 5″… You see I tend to ramble. I used to carry a notebook around too , then realized I was wasting too much time retrieving it (fumbling in the purse while taking a call or driving) Let’s say, we had a few accidents!! 🙂 Then i started to use the notes feature on my phone. Works like magic, Its always handy, and I can copy and paste….. and mail!!!

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  5. All of this is great advice!

    One request though… You do mention Dads in your headline, but only “Mommy bloggers” in the text. Don’t forget the Dads, we blog too!

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    1. Yes, sorry, sorry, sorry. Of course it’s for dads too (especially if you blog and do loads of childcare). The techniques works pretty well for anyone who’s busy, eg, uni students coping with studying and part-time jobs (or internships), and also determined to keep their blog alive.

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      1. Oh, i know , I’m just being a nudge!

        I kept trying to remember to write things down but then I got an iPhone which has a notebook feature, much easier!

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  6. Loved the weekly theme idea, which will certainly help my over active, jump around mind. Doing the list thing.

    My contrarian point of view. While I know positive sells, I think when it distorts reality it damages. So many kids have been hurt by the mantra “You can be anything you want.” Watch American Idols auditions for the counter proof. I do see that mantra shifting a bit and am grateful.

    I think every child can STAR in their lives, but not by trying to be a media star, it is by finding their talents and living a kind life.

    Think my on-gong themes is challenging comforting but damaging beliefs. That goes with aging I think and is one thing that makes the wisdom of the past hard to sell.

    Keep up the good work.

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    1. Really like the way you argued that point out with yourself. Bet you’ll do some fantastic weekly themes challenging comfort zones.

      I was thinking about “keep it positive” in a slightly different way though – which is that misery posts can be very tiring to read especially when we are all just doing our best, often on too little sleep/cash/time.Nicola

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  7. Loved this and could not wait to respond here! 🙂 You asked for tips and I have zillions on my site, but before I donate one, here, I must begin with a slight variance to your post.
    You have made the nearly universal mistake of misusing the word “work”.
    As in “working or stay-at-home moms”.

    Repeat after me:
    Moms work. Moms work. Moms work.
    They work at home. They work at home. They work at home.
    They stay at home because they want to because that is their workplace. They stay at home because they want to because that is their workplace. They stay at home because they want to because that is their workplace.
    🙂

    Okay.
    Now.
    Once we realize that about our selves, we realize another liberating truth about our vocation:
    We absolutely must clock out, occasionally. And when we do, then we can do whatever recharges us. For the writers among us, that activity is writing. Mmm. Lets off so much tension. Ah-h-h! 😉

    Whenever it is that I am clocked out (usually after everyone else is asleep 😉 ) that is the sparkling hour of blog tending. Another good time is when I get childcare during shopping and accidentally end up somewhere that allows me to live stream (although McDonald’s without children is scary.)
    The last resort is the bathroom, if the door locks. Kids do NOT have to know what you are doing in there, although they WILL ask! 😉 The bathroom idea is not a joke. There truly is a “plunger” silver charm for a charm bracelet that some writers award to each other for “Service above and beyond the call of dury”!
    Hey, it’s a great day to be at home! Home’s Cool!

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    1. I think you might enjoy the cartoon of a mum “relaxing” – ie, sitting down with something to read/or posting a blog – and the caption says “This is a guaranteed way to get your child’s attention”. Nicola

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      1. Yes! That’s cute! Thanks for it. I forgot to add, above, that using the Internet in the bathtub is probably unsafe. However, running the shower while sitting on a lounge chair, so they will think you cannot hear them, while maybe unfair, is quite effective. Just remember to wet your hair before you exit. 😉

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  8. Great tips! I especially agree with the first one–I keep a running list of future blog posts in my Gmail task list and save every interesting link I find in individual blog post drafts. That way, I can just open and write them up whenever I have time!

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  9. Great list, though I would suggest that you take full advantage of the tools that make it easier (and quicker) to blog. I personally love using the plugin called Zemanta.

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    1. Tools are only as good as the user (guess I’m confessing something here). Good writing has to be simple too, and that can be hard to write if you are under lots of time pressure – hence my suggestion to follow your child’s lead. But if plugins help, fantastic. Nicola

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  10. The “Notes” tool on my iPhone is a perfect way for me to capture blogging ideas. As events happen throughout the day, I type a brief phrase or two there; at the end of the day when I’m ready to blog, I have a whole list of ideas to help get me started. (And I find that beginning from a list of prompts is much easier than trying to write from a blank screen.)

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  11. Great Post, I thought I was the only one with so much going on, especially what you said about cooking and cleaning, trying to keep things in order. I have found something that I am really enjoying and would like to share it with all my word press bloggers. I am now a representative for Avon, and this is keeping me busy, however, I find it can be relaxing. If you would like to view my website at YourAvon.com/WandaGriffith, to shop and get away from the hussle and bussle. Check it out! Feel free to order, and have a good time, just for yourself. It have really good buys. Let me know what you think, I would love the feedback. Thanks again.

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  12. Hi I have also 2 daughters 1 of 5 and one of 11 and it’s sometimes hard to be behind the cp don’t forgetting them so I can use these tips very good, thanks a lot !

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  13. I try to incorporate what I’m already doing in my life into my blogging. For instance, my son just finished travel baseball, so I wrote a blog post inspired by that. There’s one about track season too. My other son went to Bible camp, so we posted notes from what he learned there. Much of what I write comes from what I’m learning & teaching at church too. I’m sure this is no different than most other bloggers, but it just helps me tremendously to connect what I’m already doing to my blog articles. Sort of gets the research done for me since it’s something I’d do whether I’m blogging or not.

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  14. I have two suggestions: (1) Get set up with voice recognition software. It comes with Windows 7 and, I believe, the iPhone. I have been using Dragon Naturally Speaking for ten years now. (2) Take a speed reading course. I can highly recommend either Evelyn Wood’s Reading Dynamics or EyeQ.

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    1. What an interesting set of suggestions Russel. I laughed when I saw speed reading – it’s a great idea, but what I really need is the ability to simultaneously keep an eye on the kids,wash-up and read a book. Maybe the essential gadgets would be a mirror (to see what’s going on on the other side of the room), a washing up rack (drier) that lets you balance a book on it, and food that doesn’t stick to the plates (so you can concentrate on the story rather than the scrubbing!)? Nicola

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