Dear Instagram, did I do something to offend you?

instagram

Dear Instagram,

I am writing to you today as I am bit concerned that I may have done something to upset you? I am not sure what exactly but you seem to be punishing me for some reason. It hardly seems fair to me, considering the hours I spend with you every single day and the fact I have been in love with you since around about the summer of 2013. You definitely are not treating me as nice as you once did though so I need to ask you this question- have I done something to offend you?

Each day I open you up on my phone and I love nothing more than to browse all the little squares of beauty filling up my screen. Inspirational posts, motivational posts, stunning posts and (my favourite) oh so relatable posts. If I had more hours in my day I would happily let myself get lost down the rabbit hole that is my Instagram feed, I have responsibilities though so I have learnt to drag my eyes away from you.

I would be lying if I said I only use you for browsing other people’s beautiful photographs though. My relationship with you has always been a little bit of give and take, I am a blogger you see so that’s the way it needs to be.  As well as looking at everyone else’s little squares of pixels, I also regularly like to chuck some of my own photographs into the mix too: photos of my sons, a cake I have baked or a pretty beach scene. I love how you make me try and take better photos, how you have shown me the power of editing and how you have connected me to so many other people sharing similar interests to me. I will always love the communities that live within you Instagram but I am starting to fall out of love with you.

I just want to ask, why won’t you let me grow? Why are you stopping my little squares reaching the eyes of those who might be interested in what I have to say? For a long while my followers were growing nicely but the past 6 months or so they have pretty much been stagnant. Is it because I haven’t mastered creating that almost unachievable goal of the perfect Insta theme? Is it because my photographs aren’t all carefully composed flat lays or have a brilliant white background? Perhaps the photographs I am putting out there just aren’t good enough, maybe my captions are just not engaging and maybe my inability to grow has nothing to do with you at all. That might sometimes be the case, we all chuck out a photo that’s a little bit pants every now and then, but I think your evil algorithm is to blame.

instagram

Once upon a time I would get over 100 people pressing that little heart of yours and sharing the love on every single one of my photos. Those were the good days, when my followers actually got to see my photos and were able to engage with me. Not like now, when unless I behave like some kind of digital ninja to beat your algorithm my photos are only being seen by a handful of my followers. I know it’s not just me, that other people who use you also feel the same. There are so many bloggers like me, trying to grow but just can’t seem to do it. Some businesses and bloggers have you all figured out, I have tried following their secret tips though and so far none of their Insta magic is working for me. So I have to ask you again Instagram, have I done something to offend you?

You won’t let me grow even though I post a new photo almost every single day.  You won’t let me grow even though I like and comment on so many of the beautiful photos that flood my iPhone screen every hour of every day. Why won’t you let me grow even though I hashtag all my little squares to within an inch of their life and then search those hashtags, liking, commenting and following the feeds that spark my interest and make my eyes smile with their beauty? I ask questions, I write long captions, I write short captions and, hell, I chuck the odd emoji in there too. I use key words, I write about things my followers are interested in, I spend time trying to take photos that people will actually enjoy looking at. I post in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening and even in the middle of the night. Yet still you don’t let me grow.

I don’t know what more I can do Instagram. Do you want me to pay you, is that it? Do I need to sponsor all my own content if I want any hope of getting noticed in this cut throat platform of yours? Well, I am not willing to do that. I have had it with your torturous algorithm . If I lose out on blog work because I don’t have enough engagement or followers then so be it. I am fed up with seeing my likes drop with every photo I post and watching my followers go up by 2 every week only for 10 people to unfollow me the next. I’ve had enough.

No matter how much I wish I could, I am not leaving you for good Instagram. You are like that boyfriend I had as a teenager, you are so not good for me but for some reason I just can’t stop coming back to you for more. I am giving up checking my stats though, any theme I was trying to establish is being thrown in the bin and instead I will be posting whatever I fancy, whenever I fancy. I liked it when things were fun between us and I want to find that again, it got lost somewhere along my journey for more followers and your refusal to let me reach them.

I love you Instagram, I just don’t like you very much right now.

Best wishes (but not really),

@wendy_naptimenatterblog
**

Are you a blogger struggling to grow your Instagram following? Have you noticed a drop in engagement recently too? For those of you who have mastered the fine art of Instagramming, please share your secrets in the comments.

 

 

 

The ultimate pregnancy guide

pregnancy guide

Pregnancy can be such a confusing time in a woman’s life. There is a list of all the things you should be doing to help your body through this magical yet challenging time and then an even bigger list of things you are definitely not supposed to do. In both my pregnancies I often found myself googling things like ‘foods to avoid when pregnant’ and ‘how much exercise can I do while pregnant?’. I had so many questions and seeking out all the answers to my pregnancy queries took a lot of time and Google often left me feeling more confused than I was to start with.

If you are trying to conceive or have a baby on the way, the people at Hartmann Direct have put together this really useful infographic to help you know what to expect when you’re expecting. This handy pregnancy guide helps answer so many pregnancy related questions, starting with ‘am I really pregnant?’ right up to ‘how much caffeine can I drink whilst pregnant?’ and ‘how do I avoid incontinence during pregnancy?’.  So, pregnant mamas go pop the kettle on, have a read of this ultimate pregnancy guide and save it on your phone for the next time you are in a restaurant and are not sure what you are allowed to order from the menu! View Post

Everything you need to know about becoming a mum of 2

becoming mum of 2

My baby boy Alex is nearly one whole year old now. That means I have almost made it through 12 months as a mum of two. Making the leap from no babies to one baby was difficult, life changing, don’t get me wrong but taking the plunge and having a second baby? Well, that’s just a whole different ball game. When you announce the news you have another bun in the oven people will tell you things like: ‘the second baby just slots right in’ , ‘it’s so much easier the second time around’ and ‘you will know what you are doing this time’. While all these bits of advice are said with nothing but good intentions most of the time, I kind of wish people would stop telling pregnant mums what they want to hear and instead start dishing out the cold hard facts. I love being a mum of two but I was a bit naïve to how much life would change all over again when we had our second baby. If you are currently expecting your second baby or are considering trying for another baby, here is an insight into what life with two small children is really like. View Post

Looking back on the summer holidays

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It has finally arrived..the start of school! My baby boy is off to big school on Monday. His uniform is bought, washed, ironed and his name is stuck to everything. We are prepared but I don’t know if we are exactly ready, well not mentally anyway. I have no idea what tomorrow morning will bring, I am sure the rush to get out the house will be nothing but stressful and we will both have nervous butterflies in our tummies as we make our way to the school. Will there be tears? Will he cling to me, afraid of what waits in the classroom? More than likely Leo will be over excited to see his play school friends after a long summer apart and will rush off without me, ready to start this new adventure together. There is no knowing how tomorrow is going to go, all I can do is tell Leo it will all be fine, hold his hand as we go in and promise him I will be there waiting for him at the end of the day.

With the start of school just one sleep away, I thought I would take some time to reflect on the past 8 weeks. When play school ended way back in July I was kind of dreading the holidays, how the hell was I going to keep 2 children happy for 8 whole weeks? I am not going to pretend the holidays have been perfect, there have been days where I have shouted too much, Leo has cried too much and we have all got on each others nerves. I really wanted to make these holidays special though, to not turn to the TV babysitter too often and instead get out and go on lots of fun adventures with the boys. Once Leo starts school our weekdays are going to be forced back into a routine, a schedule stricter than any we have known before, all I wanted from our last 8 weeks was to have lots of fun and make loads of happy memoires. So, while there have been times I have been pulling my hair out and Leo has moaned about being boooored , I think I have succeeded and we have all had a lovely time together. Here is what we have got up to, I am sure I will be holding on to these beautiful days together forever.

Looking back on the summer holidays

Soft play party –

On the very last day of term Leo had an early birthday party. We booked the local soft play and Leo loved running around with his play school friends and having a Batman themed party. It was a great way to kick start the summer holidays.

SandyBalls holiday –

At the very beginning of the summer holidays the kids and I went and stayed with my parents for a few nights at Sandballs Holiday Village in the New Forest. We had such a lovely time together, there was swimming in the pool, beach days, bbqs and lots of exploring. It was really special to have some time with my parents and Leo had a fantastic time.

Holiday in Wales –

Oli took some annual leave in August and we went and stayed in my parents caravan for a few nights at the beginning of August, It was actually really fun staying in the caravan just the four of us and we spent lots of time playing on the beaches I used to visit regularly as a child. Leo had his first ever experience of flying a kite and Alex enjoyed playing in the sand. We made so many beautiful memories from just a very simple holiday. While in Wales we also visited mine and Oli’s home town and spent some time with our parents. My mother in law and I took the boys to Borth Animalarium one day and Leo loved it – he even kissed a snake!

National Trust –

We have really made the most of our National Trust passes this summer and have visited Mottisfont (our local) almost every week. They were running a Gruffalo trail all over the summer and showcasing the work of Axel Scheffler in the gallery. Leo loved seeing all the illustrations from his favourite books and the trail was really fun, there were props and characters to find from lots of Julia Donaldson’s books all over the grounds. We visited just the four of us but have also been up there with family and their children too so it has been lots of fun. (Don’t have a national trust pass? Here are 5 reasons why you need one).

Peppa Pig World –

At the beginning of August my friend from back home came to stay with her little girl and her sister. We took the kids on a day trip to Peppa Pig World and they loved it. Leo has been to Peppa Pig World before (here’s our tips if you’re planning a visit) but this time he was a whole year older so he was a bit braver on all the rides. It did pour it down with rain though but we just bought some ponchos and did lots of jumping in muddy puddles.

Birthday party –

On the 15th August Leo turned 4 years old! We had a little tea party for him at home with his cousins, grandparents and some of his Uncles too. It was lovely and Batman themed again! There were games of pass the parcel and musical statues and lots of cake. It was nice to have something a bit more low key after the crazy soft play he had with his friends at the start of the summer.

Marwell Zoo –

For Leo’s birthday we went to Marwell Zoo. We met up with one of his pre school friends and it was lovely to see how happy the boys were to see each other. I don’t feel like we saw that many animals as the zoo were hosting a Lego trail of animals made of Lego bricks and the boys were much more interested in that than the actual animals.

Durdle door –

There was a day where Oli had to travel to Dorset for a work meeting. The boys and I decided to tag along and after Oli’s work was done we decided to spend the afternoon on the beach. We headed to Durdle Door and I was blown away with how beautiful it was. Leo had so much fun playing in the sea and I sat watching him play and soaking up the sunshine. It was one of those perfect days that I hope I never forget.

Corfe Castle –

On the bank holiday weekend we visited Dorset again but this time we headed to Corfe Castle. It was a gloriously sunny day and we had lots of fun exploring the castle grounds before visiting another beautiful Dorset beach in the afternoon.

Winchester Science Museum –

Last weekend we visited Winchester Science Museum. It is only 20 minutes from our house so I have no idea why we have never been before – it was so cool! Leo really enjoyed looking at all the different exhibits and everything is really interactive, Alex had a great time too. We watched a short animation film in the planetarium and it was so amazing, I wish every cinema was like that.

Play dates and playgrounds –

Amongst all the big days out there have also been lots of trips to the play ground, some toddler groups, the library and meeting up with some friends. We have really embraced ‘the playdate’ this summer holidays and it has been lovely for both Leo and me to meet up and chat to other people.

The ordinary moments –

We have had lots of days at home this holiday, days where we have just watched TV all day and just spent quality time together. We have played imagination games with Lego, baked biscuits, danced around to the Lego Batman soundtrack and just had fun at home. These days have also been a bit testing as it can be hard to not start getting on each others nerves when we don’t leave the house all day. It has been hard at times, the relentless noise and need for attention, but I am going to miss having my little shadow around when he goes to school.

I feel all emotional after writing this post. We really have had an amazing summer, an amazing 4 years and I am sad to be sending my baby off to school tomorrow. I know he is going to have a fantastic time though and it is the start of his next big adventure. You go get ’em Leo boy, Mummy and Daddy are so very proud of you already.

Has your baby just started school this September too? Have you found the end of the summer holidays emotional as well? I hope everyone’s little ones settle in to school life ok and that you parents out there don’t sob into your hot-for-once cuppa for too long!

#BlogCrush – week 30

#BlogCrush

Welcome to the #BlogCrush linky , week 30 already! Thank you everyone for joining us last week, I loved reading all your posts and seeing what blogs everyone has been crushing on.

It has been a crazy busy week this week, we are moving house over the weekend so I have been busy packing and getting stuff sorted. Leo starts school on Monday so I have been stressing and trying to get organised for that too!

If you had a little one starting or retuning to school this week I hope it all went well.

Now let’s all pop the kettle on, link up some fabulous posts and enjoy some brilliant blog reading to finish off a busy week. View Post

We need to talk about infant colic

colic

Having a baby is wonderful there is no doubt about it but those newborn days can be really difficult. Two of the main things that make those early days with a baby so difficult are sleep deprivation and excessive crying. Babies cry for loads of different reasons, it is their only form of communication after all, but when you are dealing with a screaming baby for hours on end the stress can really start to take its toll. Infant colic is a condition affecting 1 in 5 babies and it can cause both excessive crying for babies and extreme sleep deprivation for parents. This September, Infacol and Cry-sis have teamed up for the first ever Infant Colic Awareness Month. With 1 in 3 new parents admitting they had never heard of it before, it is time that we started talking about infant colic.. View Post

How to care for your baby’s teeth – Brush-Baby review

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At 10 months old Alex now has four little teeth. The bottom two pearly whites popped through around the age of 6 months and in the past couple weeks two shiny top teeth have decided to make an appearance too. Teething is horrible but following all the crying and all the dribble, tiny teeth do eventually appear and it is important to know how to care for your little one’s teeth once they have sprouted through. Alex has got beautiful white teeth but I know they won’t stay that way without a really good dental hygiene routine; he may not be eating sugar or drinking things like coffee that can stain his teeth but oral hygiene is still really important. We have recently teamed up with baby dental care brand Brush-Baby to review some of their innovative baby toothbrushes and to share with you some tips on how to look after your little one’s toothy pegs. Got a little one with some teeny tiny first teeth coming through? I hope you find this post useful. View Post

#BlogCrush – week 29

#BlogCrush

Hooray for Friday! It’s time for #BlogCrush linky week 29, I hope you’ve all found some fab posts to share with us this week and written some amazing content of your own. The weather is telling me that we will be having a few days stuck in the house so I’m looking forward to having some brilliant posts to read and get me through the days we are stuck at home.

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Weaning with HiPP Organic – review and #giveaway

hipp organic

Introducing solid foods to your baby for the first time can be both exciting and a bit stressful. Alex has been weaning since he was almost 6 months old and he loves his food. When you start weaning it can be difficult to know what foods to give your baby and when; I found introducing Alex to solid food pretty confusing. If you decide to start with purees and not go down the baby led weaning route then HiPP organic have introduced a brand new range of baby food perfect for baby’s first tastes. We were recently sent a hamper of the new Pure Vegetable jars and stage 1 savoury jars from HiPP to try, here is what Alex and I thought.. View Post

How to get body confident after pregnancy – tips from a personal trainer

body-confidence-after-pregnancy

The pressure to spring back into shape after having a baby is a very real thing for new mums. We are bombarded with images in the media of celebrity mums easily fitting back into their skinny jeans 2 weeks post birth and not to mention the disgusting magazine articles you see where mums ‘imperfections’ are photographed, zoomed in on and then given a big red circle of shame around them for added insult. There is a reason mums all over the country breathed a huge sigh of relief when Kate Middleton stepped out of hospital a day after having baby George back in 2013 with a very visible (and very real) mummy tummy. These are the images we need to see more of, new mums need to know that bouncing back into our pre pregnancy wardrobe in just a matter of weeks is not only unrealistic but it is unhealthy too.

It can be hard to feel confident in your skin after having a baby, pregnancy changes our body so much and sometimes the body we are left with feels nothing like our own. If you are a mum and feel like you are ready to start trying to get fitter and learn to love your new mummy body (and you should love it, it grew a human!) then I have just the post for you.  Over the past 6 months or so I have been  (loosely) following a brilliant new fitness program designed just for new mums, to help them get healthier and fitter and to love the new body their children have given them. Lean Mums has completely changed my attitude towards my postpartum body, I am now the fittest I have ever been and I feel amazing (you can read all about my experience using the Lean Mums programme here). Today I have an interview with Lean Mums founder and personal trainer Robbie, he is sharing all his expert tips and advice on how to love your body after pregnancy and shows us all that silly faddy diets are so not the way to go if you want to be fit, healthy and – most importantly – happy.  View Post