1 Year Blog-versary. Q&A


So I thought it would be fun to celebrate 1 year of Blogging with a Q&A, I have never done one before and I thought it may be a good way to save a few direct messages that I often receive. This year has possibly been one of the fastest yet, I put off starting a blog for so long due to lack of confidence, technical knowledge and fear that I would have no viewers and 12 moths in I can honestly say I was silly not to take the plunge sooner.

Below are all the questions that were asked on the Instagram post I put out a week or so ago, some questions I have merged together as they were similar, hope you enjoy reading my answers.

1. (Always knew this question would be asked) Anymore children and if so in how many years? I always pictured myself with 3 little ones, I am one of three so that may have something to do with it. I turn 30 next March so there will be no babies until after then (if we decide we want one more) Up until very recently I was certain that we needed another baby to add to our family but the older Oakley & Olive get the more I can imagine just enjoying them both to the max and giving them all of us. I will never say never though!

2. Any tips for delayed speech? There are so many things I could say here, I have written 2 blog posts about this topic following Oakleys delayed speech journey which I will link here and here. I would suggest that If you really think there is a problem then you should seek support from a health visitor, I pushed for Oakleys 2 year review to be bought forward and then following that he was offered a 6 week Speech therapy course at our local center. The classes taught me really simple techniques that I could implement into our everyday and I instantly saw a change in Oakley. I have shared these tips in the blog posts that are linked above. 

3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your long term goals with the blog and this platform you've created? I LOVE blogging but I'm not sure I could ever do it full time, I think the only time that could happen is when my children are a few years older and I have a little more time. I plan to keep blogging, creating content for both pleasure and business on Instagram, who knows where it could lead me this time in 5 years. I think that's the problem with this online world, its unpredictable but I know its only getting bigger and stronger so lets hope it takes me with it. I also want to plan more events and I'm hoping that I can expand on the Mama meet & Market concept over the next few years to grow it. Watch this space!

4. What made you start the blog, what do you love most about? I started the blog this time last year, but a few months prior and In my final stages of Olives pregnancy I started the planning. The idea was to have the blog live before her birth and use my Maternity leave to concentrate on sharing my Motherhood journey in depth, Instagram was suddenly becoming very successful for me and I was sharing such long captions that people would often tell me that they loved. Although I wouldn't say I was a good writer, sharing my honest captions about motherhood was leading me to so many mamas that could relate to my words, I wanted to elaborate on this. Its those connections Ive made that I have loved most!

5.How do you find the time to blog and get around Instagram to grow your following? This is something that I constantly struggle with, since going back to work I would go as far as saying I am NOT getting that balance that I thought I might find. I sometimes stay up until 2am (on non work nights) and I usually make a family day out revolve around certain locations I want to shoot in. I think sometimes I over think things, panic that I'm not doing the right thing by the kids but I ALWAYS make those 'work' related trips fun, I will usually find a National Trust or find a park on route, I think if I took it all too seriously then my content wouldn't be relatable, so Its important to me that all involved are happy! Got to keep my models smiling. I also think the more 'real' my content is the more my following grows, so I would say always be true to yourself If your trying to grow your following.

6. After the success of the Mama meet & Market will you be planning more? Is this a potential career change or just a hobby? Would you consider extending the Mama meet & Market further South? The Mama meet & Market was born from my love of shopping independently, working with local brands and just my urge to attend an event just like it. Instead of lusting after an event that showcased beautiful children's products but was family friendly and a chance for a day out I decided to just create one. The planning was hard and at times during the run up to the first event I told myself 'NEVER AGAIN' but the second those doors closed I was already planning the next one. The room just oozed the most electric atmosphere, people that attended were sharing amazing images and feedback online, brands were instantly asking about future dates and I knew there was the a place for Mama meet & Market to exists in Derbyshire, so I hope that although it is a hobby right now that it could potentially be a career in the future. I would love to take the event on the road but realistically I know it wouldn't work, I couldn't find the right venue that ticked all boxes without several visits, I couldn't hand pick all the right brands without building relationships, communication with local authorities and council would be harder and I know I wouldn't do it justice. The beauty of where I live is that I'm very central, if I am lucky enough to keep planning the events a few times a year It means that eventually the trip to Derbyshire might be possibly for you all.

7. What are your favourite brands that you've come into touch with because of the blog and Instagram? I love Instagram for its diversity, I am able to discover brands that cover all bases... furniture, clothing, toiletries, footwear, toys, food (I think you get the point) Most of my favourite brands have been the small ones, most of which have taken part in my events. Graze who created an amazing table of food at Olives first birthday, Sosatsuma who have been keeping my little ones heads warm for as long as I remember. I have to pinch myself sometimes when I am collaborating with the likes of Tesco or Gap, its amazing that the places I already shop with want to sponsor me.

8. Were your children both planned? Yes, both babies were completely planed. After starting the early stages of preparing to go back to Uni I had a moment of clarity and decided I could not wait 4-5 years to start a family, I'm pretty sure Oakley was conceived that very night. 3 weeks later on the way back from our holiday in Venice it hit me, I had been struggling with fatigue all trip and the Italian wine wasn't going down to well, I was thrilled to have gotten pregnant so quickly.

9. What would Olives name have been if she was a boy? We actually had several names for Olive if she was a boy, Olive was our only girl name, call it fate if you will. I liked names like 'Woody, Remy, Rudi, Felix' None of which begin with an 'O', Daniel wasn't that keen on any of those, I think if Olive had been a boy we would of gone for 'Chester' which I still LOVE!

10. If you could invite any three people (dead or alive) over for Sunday roast who would you choose and why? I've thought long and hard about this, wanting to make it sounds as exciting as possible but I think I have got to go with the 1st three people that popped into my mind. So firstly my beautiful Nan who passed away to Cancer very suddenly at Christmas time 2013, we found out the day before our honeymoon that she had only weeks to live and that time was not enough. She would be the first person I would cook a roast for if given the chance. Second would be Princess Dianna, I don't think I even need to explain why as shes an absolute beauty inside and out. Thirdly I would have to say Amy Winehouse, annoyingly its always the case that you don't truly understand someones talent until its too late and I would love to hear her live, so she could serenade our Sunday Roast. How Random was that!

11. Whats your everyday job? Would you consider giving up your job to do this full time? I am a Visual Merchandiser for Topshop, I essentially make things look pretty which makes you want to buy them. I have done this for over 5 years now and I love that it ticks a creative box, I couldn't imagine not having a creative job that allows me to be artistic and use my skills. I am not sure I will ever be in a position to give up my job, for the most part I really enjoy my role but who knows if the world of Instagram/Influencing/Blogging will take over one day!

12. How did you and Daniel meet? How did he propose? I was 14 & Daniel was 16 when we met back in October 2003, he lived next door to my best friends boyfriend and after him tagging along on a few outings with us he starting sending me messages via MSN (Yes, cringe!) Fast forward 3 months of being friends and after he asked me to be his girlfriend for the 17th time I said Yes, we have been inseparable since. He proposed Christmas eve of 2009, I had accidentally found a jewellery bag in our spare bedroom that morning when I was searching for a Christmas outfit, I didn't even consider it being a ring but Daniel was pretty upset that I had seen the bag and changed his plans. He was planning a Christmas day proposal, but instead he waited for us to be really drunk on Christmas Eve and had the DJ at the bar we were in stop the music to announce to the few hundred people now watching that Daniel had an important question. I woke up the next morning with a swollen finger having had Daniel force the ring that was too small onto my finger, I cried because I couldn't remember him even proposing. He later proposed again with my newly adjusted ring, which was so romantic and unexpected which I like to keep to myself. Lets just say he redeemed himself, thank goodness I can laugh about it now.

13. Whats been the biggest surprise about Motherhood? The Guilt, who knew that you could beat yourself up about the tiniest thing. That you could wish for bedtime all day and then sit watching videos of them or scrolling through pictures of them, because the guilt consumes you when they are actually asleep.

14. Any tips for newbie bloggers who are building up the courage to hit 'publish' for the first time? I did lots of reading before hand, I had a small collection of blogs that I all loved for different reasons and I tried to pluck an aspect from each to inspire my own. I have a notepad that I often jot things down in, although most of the time I completely wing it I think its nice to sometimes bullet point topics you want to discuss so you don't forget them. Be open, honest and just follow your heart (I know that sounds a little cheesy) Most of the time if your heart is telling you something then you should listen to it, no good living with regret. Also reach out to the bloggers that you admire, yes sometimes its scary asking advice or questions but what I have found is a real sense of community in the blogging world most of the time.

15. How did you know you were ready for 2 under 2? How did you prepare Oakley for Olives arrival? Looking back I had no idea I was ready really, I was blessed with Oakley as he was genuinely the most textbook baby. He slept, was pleasant all the time and I would often be mocked for 'pretending' that we had the most perfect time but we honestly did (for the first year anyway) So when he turned one I was so adamant that I wanted to grow our family so soon, something that I don't regret now as seeing them together now Olives one is just magical, but I would lying if I said the past year was easy, it was miles away to my experience first time round. Oakley was very young when my bump started to grow but everyday I would talk about my belly, explain that there was a baby inside and he totally got it! We talked about being gentle to mummies tummy, he would cuddle it and lift my top up. When Olive was born Oakley's speech was very behind but one of the first things he said was 'Baby Gentle' and It confirmed for me that all the chats we had really worked.

16. What are your pet hates? Ooohh, people with no manners! Lack of manners gets my back up massively. Bus drivers that don't stop for people running for the bus, I may have even stopped a bus pulling out once so that an old chap could catch the number 45.

17. Whats your favourite meal and the worst thing you've ate? I think my favourite food ever is PIZZA and Thia food, when I was younger I had a very boring taste pallet and It wasn't until my mother in law started feeding me that I began to love all kinds of food. Daniels dad used to work in Malaysia so Daniel would often be there for long lengths of time and that inspired what kind of food they used to cook for me. I'm thankful for that because now I love to try new things. Funnily enough the worst thing I've ever eaten are Olives (I know that's pretty ridiculous considering my daughters named Olive)

18. How old are you? I am 28, 29 In March. Last year in my 20s, Boooooo! I'm really hoping that that saying 'Life begins at 30!' is true.

19. Is this your forever home or do you plan to move? I will definitely be moving at some point because sadly we don't own this house, although if we did it would look nothing like it currently does. The owner lives in France and we are so fortunate that we are able to make it feel like home, we have lived here for a good 5-6 years which is probably why it seems so homely. Our plan post wedding was to save save save, work hard and qualify as a teacher but I think our decision to start a family changed all of that. I don't think anyone reading this should be ashamed of not owning their home, I use the word 'home' because as long as you feel at home then that's the most important thing.

20. Recently on your story you shared you hope to complete your teacher training one day, have you considered how you will cope if you do so? I think If I was to ever go on to complete my teacher training it would be when both (or more) children are at school and I can concentrate on the course fully knowing they are in a routine and are in safe hands all day. I imagine it will be 10x tougher attempting a teaching career as a mum of 2 plus and I may even consider going into support teaching instead if eventually the time comes and its what I want. I think its important to say that there is no 'perfect' order, who says you cant follow your dreams post babies.




Thank you so much for the constant support guys, Its been a really interesting year for me. At times I have put way to much pressure on myself, compared myself and the blog to others but I'm learning that Its OK to just do me. Share about topics that I want too, work with the brands that I want too and It doesn't matter how big or small my platform is as long as I'm being true to myself. What good would It be if I wasn't happy, so thank you for making it all possible. I hope that reading this has given you a better insight into me and my family, I hope its answered any burning questions you may have had. As always feel free to pop a comment below if you wish too.

Instagram, MeAinsley GrayComment