Celebrating One Year of Blogging!

How It All Got Started
In January 2016 my sister-in-law asked me if I would write a post for her new health and wellness blog. I happily accepted and provided her with a blog post sharing a healthy recipe my family often enjoys. Not only was it the first blog post I had ever written, it was also the first piece of writing I had done in years, and it was the kick in the butt I needed to start my own blog, an idea I had considered for over a year at the time.
Within the same week of writing that blog post for her I found my mind swirling with ideas again of creating my own blog and decided to take an afternoon one weekend to go to a coffee shop with my laptop to sit and brainstorm. I was there for a couple of hours and in that time came up with what my blog would be about, a list of topics I wanted to write about, a bio piece written and one blog post started. I left that coffee shop feeling excited and nervous, but ready to finally take the leap and start my own blog. From there I took time to start building and designing my web page, get posts and artwork ready to go and most importantly pick a name for the blog (I struggled with that one for quite some time!) In a few short weeks Mama @ Heart was launched and my life has changed.

Three Key Things I Learned in My First Year of Blogging
Blogging takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It also involves a lot of planning and learning. It is so much more than writing a post and putting it up on your website. It can be very time consuming. I’m a mother to two kids and I have a full time job, so working on my blog has been in my spare time. Before starting Mama @ Heart I already felt managing my time to be fairly difficult, between work, family time, one-on-one time with my kids, quality time with my husband, cooking, laundry, cleaning and having any sort of social time with friends. This was one reason I held off doing a blog sooner. How was I going to fit this in? But writing is something I really love and I felt like making an effort to add this to my busy life was worth it. And I was right! I really love doing my blog! I love that I can get creative and I love that it challenges me. Working on Mama @ Heart has involved some late nights, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to do something that makes me happy!

There’s a lot to learn in the world of blogging! Design, SEO, what drives traffic to your blog, headlines and topics that grab viewer’s attention, knowing what people are talking about and what they want to read about in the world of parenting, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Hootsuite, analytics, media kits, guest posts, infographics, advertorials, website management, domain names – these are all things I have learned about or am in the process of learning. See what I mean about blogging being time consuming?The parenting blogging community is large, but tight-knit. There are so many parent bloggers out there, from all over the world and different walks of life. But there is one thing that we all have in common; one thing that seems to connect and unite us in a meaningful way – we are moms and dads who love our kids. Sure, they may drive us crazy sometimes, but we love our children deeply and it is the kind of love only another parent can understand.

A Look Back at Some of My Favourite Blog Posts
I have written a lot of blog posts in the past year, and this one is my 60th! While I mostly share my experiences as a mother I also like to share recipes and write reviews (can you tell I love children’s books?) Here are some of my favourite blog posts from my first year:
The one that got it started: This recipe for Cheesy Meatloaf Bites is the guest blog post I did for my sister-in-law and then later posted on my web page. It’s a favourite in our household!
Something I didn’t expect to write about: My son had his appendix removed at four-years-old!
My favourite rant: A blog post I saw about children’s birthday parties really got me thinking about the obnoxious lengths gone to these days to throw elaborate celebrations for kids.
My first guest blog post on The Baby Spot: I shared this piece about why sometimes I love and hate motherhood.
My favourite headline so far (I also really loved writing this post!): Why I’m Going on Dates with My Kids (And Why You Should Too!)
The blog post that I had the most fun with (and had a lot of people comment about): Playing board games as a family is still quite popular, and that makes me really happy!
My favourite kid’s book review so far: I love children’s books and reading with my kids is very important to me. We have quite a collection! When I came across author and illustrator Renee Galvin on Facebook I contacted her immediately to find out how I could get her books. I ended up getting two of them from her and did a review on her latest book titled Teal. It’s a wonderful story! (P.S. stay tuned as I will review the other book I got from Renee. My daughter loves it!)
My most emotional blog post so far: This would be the one I shared last week about being bullied as a child. It’s also the most personal piece I’ve written and the one I am most proud of.
What Inspires Me
Most of my writing comes from inspiration from my own life; my own motherhood moments and experiences with my kids or as a family. But over the past year I have found a lot of other parent bloggers who inspire me. I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to parent bloggers that I have grown to love reading their blogs:
Momma Braga: I love how honest you are in your writing, and I especially love how you shine a light on other moms and dads through your blog. I’m also happy to now call you a friend!
Guilty Chocoholic Mama: I enjoy reading about your motherhood journey with your daughters. Your words of wisdom will be a good resource to use when my daughter reaches her pre-teen and teen years. Plus, you have a love of chocolate that matches mine!
Drooling Daddy: I like that you cover some of the tough and thought-provoking topics, like your daughter’s struggle with anxiety and depression, sexism and what it means to be independent. I love that your blog gets parents talking in a very real and open way.
Write Away, Mommy: I was drawn to your site because I loved how your blog posts read like short stories! You’ve also given me a bit of a push to get back in touch with my creative side!
Happiest Mama: I love how uplifting your blog is! You often provide useful tips and blog posts with positive messages.
The Milk Leech: You are open, honest and tell it like it is. I find your writing refreshing!
There are so many other parent bloggers that I love, so here is my honourable mentions list: The Honest Father, BabyPixieAndBeauty, Daddy Poppins, It’s Crazy Wonderful, The DADgum Blog, Puzzling Posts, Sincerely Anchored, Love & Live It and Bound For Somewhere. If you are not already checking out these amazing bloggers you really should! There are many more wonderful parent bloggers that I am continuing to discover all the time. One site that you can find such bloggers, all in one awesome parent blogging community, is The Baby Spot. I could not complete this post without mentioning this phenomenal site and the talented woman behind it. Grace, you have become a wonderful mentor and friend! What you and The Baby Spot has to offer parents everywhere is truly special – a place where we can go to find useful information, similar parenting experiences and a platform to share our voice and our own parenting journey. Through The Baby Spot I have found something quite extraordinary – a global parenting community that unites us near and far. Thank you for your support! The Baby Spot has been a great source of inspiration for me, as I imagine it is for many other parent bloggers.
One Final Note
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge my readers. Thank you for going along on this journey with me, and I appreciate the kind words and support that I get from you! And a special thank you to my family and friends who have been so supportive of me and encouraging me, especially at times that I’ve felt overwhelmed by this blogging journey. It means so very much to me.
Love to you all! Mama @ Heart

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