5 reasons why all mums (& dads) should use social media

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I love social media.

Born in 1980 I only just make it into the ‘Generation X’ category so didn’t grow up with social media and mobile phones – I was 26 when Facebook become popular in the UK, with Twitter & Instagram following a few years later (yes, I am old).

Initially social media was just a fun way to pass time and tag your mates in embarrassing photos after a drunken night out, but since becoming pregnant in 2011 it is so much more than just a pastime for me. Aside from being something that I get paid to do for work, social media has been an amazing resource of information, and at times a sanity saver since becoming a mummy.

Here’s why I think all mums (and dads) should use social media…

1. Information – When you’re pregnant or have a new baby there’s all sorts of weird and (not-so)wonderful parenting questions that you desperately need answers to. Some of them far too intimate or embarrassing to ask your friends about. Asking Google is of course great and you get lots of answers from the “experts”. However, asking the same question on Twitter gets honest answers from real mums and definitely makes you feel a lot more normal!

2. Making new friends – It might sound a bit like online dating for mums, but if you regularly talk to other mums on social media you will make new friends. Some of these will live in other countries, but others may live down the road and you can meet up with the kids. When Little H was 3 months old we attended a “Bournemouth Tweetup” with some lovely local mums, all of who we still speak to regularly and have met up with lots over the last 4 years. You will all share experiences as your children reach the same milestones and you’ll watch their kids grow up through Facebook updates and Instagram photos. Most of these online friends will know more about your life and your children than your ‘real’ friends, and will probably be more interested!

3. Emotional support – If you have a good network of fellow mummies then you are guaranteed to receive sympathetic comments if you’re feeling a bit down or stressed out. If you post a photo of a tantruming toddler, an emotional post about your child starting school or a status update that you’re breaking open the wine as soon as the kids are in bed, you will immediately receive a ton of responses from people who feel exactly the same. Very rarely do you get any judgemental comments – unlike some real life friends or family on Facebook!

4. Product reviews – There are so many different products to buy when you have a baby and it doesn’t stop as they get older. Website reviews are great but it’s always much better to have a friend recommend something that they have found invaluable. When I was pregnant I asked Twitter which was the best baby monitor and was inundated with replies. The majority recommended exactly the same product which we bought as figured that many mums couldn’t be wrong (and they weren’t!).

5. Time waster – Whether confined to the sofa with swollen ankles or trapped under a sleeping baby, having social media in the palm of your hand is sometimes a great way to pass the time and not feel so alone when everyone else you know is at work. You can catch up with your mummy friends, read blog posts and share your own updates, which has got to be better than watching Loose Women.

There are plenty more reasons why social media has been an important part of being a mummy, but the above should be enough to get you using it more if you aren’t already!

In my experience Instagram and Twitter are the best social networks if you want to talk to other mums, mainly because you can say what you like without worrying what your family or work colleagues on Facebook think of you. If you don’t currently use social media to chat to other parents but would like to, feel free to use the buttons on the right to follow me and I can recommend some fab mums & dads for you to start chatting to.

If you have any other top reasons for using social media please comment below so that other mums can see!

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Why I don’t feel guilty about my child using smartphones and tablets

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I recently read an article about the use of smartphones ‘killing children’s ability to communicate’. On the basis that I have an Android tablet using 4 year old who never stops talking I don’t agree with this.

Of course there’s going to be the extreme cases where parents let their kids use an iPhone all day while they sit and watch re-runs of Jeremy Kyle, but if you’re sensible about it there are many advantages to allowing children to use smartphones and tablets.

Here are my top 5:

  1. Additional learning resources – via educational apps and games there are so many things that children can learn that they wouldn’t necessarily have the access to offline. My daughter’s favourite games include robot building and train driving – where would a 4 year old get to learn about this normally!
  2. Problem solving – there are so many problem solving games that help kids to think logically and give their brain a workout without them realising that they’re not just playing. Making sense of clues and finding solutions are key skills that children need to learn, Where’s My Mickey? is a favourite of ours.
  3. Access to information – gone are the days where you have to wait until the weekend to go to the library to find a book on your child’s latest favourite subject. If, like mine, they’re full of questions such as “what do gorillas eat?” or “how do trees breathe?” they can just ask Siri or Google Voice Search. (Also great for parents who don’t know ALL the answers!)
  4. Staying Connected – one of the main ways we all use technology these days is to keep in touch with friends and family. Facetime and Skype are brilliant, easy to use resources that allow kids to speak ‘face to face’ with grandparents or friends who live far away.
  5. Playing – let’s not forget that the best bit about childhood is playing. There’s no reason that having fun and being imaginative needs to be restricted to traditional toys and books. We all want our kids to learn as much as possible and playing is the best way to learn whether on or offline.

So if your child regularly uses a smartphone or tablet don’t let the press make you feel guilty about it – embrace it and use it to teach your kids new skills.

And the odd episode of Peppa Pig on YouTube while you do the housework won’t cause any harm 😉

10 free ideas to keep kids entertained this summer

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Love them or loathe them, the summer holidays can be a stressful time for most parents. You either need a foolproof childcare plan or 1001 ideas to keep them entertained, or more likely a bit of both.

Now I’m by no means a “Pinterest Mum” but I after 4 years of raising child with the attention span of a flea, I have got a few favourite activities up my sleeve for keeping kids occupied, and not having to spend any money.

So as my first blog post I thought I’d put together a handy little list of free summer holiday activities for when you need to drag them away from the iPad or TV…and I promise, no coloured spaghetti in sight!

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1. Collecting “treasure” – sticks, stones, pine cones, bits of fluff, whatever your child thinks is valuable – if they’re like mine you’ll have handbags/pockets full of it! Collecting treasure can be done on a walk through the woods, at the beach, at the park, pretty much anywhere and is guaranteed to keep them amused for hours.

2. Make a treasure chest – following on from the above, we’ve made a treasure chest from an old shoe box covered in brown paper where we can keep all of my daughter’s special finds. This a great plan as collecting the treasure and then making the chest can take up a whole day – plus it means you don’t have to have their rubbish treasure scattered around the house!

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3. Library – Unfortunately there’s bound to be plenty of rainy days during school holidays in the UK but we’ve found the library is great entertainment for an hour or so. I get to sit down while she pulls the books off someone else’s shelves, and even better she has to be fairly quiet as otherwise “the library lady will tell you off”. What’s not to like.

4. Museums – another rainy day favourite is the local museum. I read recently that the average 4 year old asks over 400 questions a day, it definitely seems more like 4000 in our house! Museums are great because they encourage questions about all sorts of educational things rather than the constant “why?” and it’s interesting for the grown ups too.

5. Bug hunting – I have to admit to a complete phobia of bugs! Unfortunately we now have a bug-phobic child as well so we’ve been trying to encourage her to go on bug hunts. Armed with a little plastic magnifying glass from the pound shop and an empty jam jar we head off to the woods and see what we can find…or what she can find while I stand a sensible distance away.

6. Al fresco painting – Perfect for those of us who don’t fancy hand prints all over the sofa or up the walls. Paper scattered on the grass, a few different colours of paint and a brush allows the kids to unleash their creativity while the grass ends up multi-coloured rather than your carpet – and you can sit down and sunbathe supervise.

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7. Water fight – Probably not my smartest idea but I bought a water pistol in the supermarket at the weekend. I suggested my child use it to water the plants but obviously it was much more fun to squirt mummy. This turned into a bit of a water fight and I think I had as much fun as she did! I will be going to buy a second water pistol this weekend, but I think it might have to be us vs. Daddy!

8. Make a scrapbook – Credit has to go to my mum for this one as I can remember doing this in the school holidays. Argos catalogue (other high street catalogues are available!) + paper/scrapbook + glue = hours of fun. Little ones can just randomly stick pictures to their heart’s content and the bigger kids can create a story. Or like my younger brother, they could just make a birthday/christmas list!

9. Make a den – Another really easy one, all you need is a blanket, a couple of chairs and maybe the sofa cushions. Add their favourite toys, a torch and a couple of biscuits and I bet you get at least half an hour’s peace.

10. Pet shop – who needs the zoo when you can go to the local pet shop and see the bunnies, guinea pigs and fish? We have spent quite some time naming every single moving thing in the shop before. The only problem is getting out without having to buy an animal, so far I have been lucky but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

Welcome to my blog!

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Firstly, thank you for visiting my new blog!

I decided a few months ago that I wanted to start a blog but it’s taken me ages to come up with a name! I settled on “Life of a Digital Mum” as it pretty much sums up what my blog is going to be about – I’m a mum, I work in Digital Marketing / Social Media, and I’ll be blogging about all sorts of things going on in my family’s life.

I’ve been employed by someone else for my whole working life, but have recently taken the step into Freelance work. I’m still currently employed, but what with needing to reduce my hours to do the school run in September I’m looking into my options to achieve a better “work/life balance” that will suit our little family.

I’m going to blog about this journey, plus anything else that takes my fancy. This could cover anything to do with parenting, kids, family, social media, marketing, design, lifestyle, travel, days out and who knows what else!

I hope that you’ll bookmark this blog and I promise to try my best to write lots of interesting and entertaining articles for you to come back and read. You can also follow me on various social media channels using the icons to the right.