Blogger Behind the Blog {Over 40 and a Mum to One}

Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One.

Here’s Mary with more about her blogging life:

Where did your blog name come from?

Someone suggested that I should make the blog name a true reflection of what the blog would be, I’ve probably taken that advice too literally, but no-one forgets Over 40 and a Mum to One, it is exactly what I am and I’ll remain forever in my 40’s, which is no bad thing.

When did you start your blog and why?What did you do before you blogged?

I gave up a career in Export Sales when my son was born, and hadn’t spent the time before I started the blog, just being Mum and getting used to everything that that entails.

What was your first post?

My first real post was Our Crafty Afternoon where I showed a 3 year old Monkey (my son) making a picture for his Granny in Spain.  I’d written a couple of mini posts before this, but I class this as post from January 2013 as when the blog really began.

What inspires you to blog?

My son, pure and simple.  I want him to be able to look back on all of our adventures, and be able to remember moments that might otherwise have got lost along the way.

What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?

Such a hard question to answer regarding the post I’m most proud of.  I’ve written so many about my son’s achievements in the last 7 years.  He takes everything at his own pace, which isn’t always easy when you join the school system.  But I guess the most personal posts I’ve written are about my miscarriage, I’ve written a couple of posts about that, and Miscarriage 4 Years On, struck a cord with my readership. Receiving emails from others who have experienced the pain is always humbling.

It will come as no great surprise that my most read post involves trains!  The review for the Shipwreck Rails set is still a big hitter now, 2 years later

My son has always been extremely shy, he’s struggled with social situations and is risk averse.  Things that other little boys find easy, he find stressful and scary.  But over the last year we’ve seen so many changes in him, both at school and at home.  His confidence is growing, he’s maturing and trying new things.  Taking steps outside of his comfort zone and it’s been wonderful to watch.  I’ve enjoyed writing each an every one of those magic moments type of posts.  Being 7 has totally rocked.

I also wrote a post about James Hunt, my childhood hero.  His son actually read my post and left a comment.  I was amazed, and showed me how wonderful the internet can be.

Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?

I’m not great at promoting myself or the blog, so I guess there are posts I’d have like to have reached a wider audience, but none that have really had an unexpected response really.

Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?

I’m really not sure.  My son will be in Year 3 come September and may be it’s time for me to think about returning to work outside of blogging.  If that does happen, then the blog will certainly concentrate more on our weekend adventures and less on some of the other reviews we currently look at. I love what I do and the flexibility that the blog gives me, but outside issues might make the decision for me. Time will tell, so at the moment, I’m honestly not sure where the blog will be next year.

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

Without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite thing about blogging has been the opportunities it’s given me and son.  We’ve had so many wonderful experience.  Also friendships, we’ve both made friends through blogging, something I’d never expected when I started.

…and your least favourite?

It can take over your life.  It did in fact.  I found I was spending every waking hour blogging, commenting, tweeting, and had no time for anything else.  Not what life should be about.  So a year ago I took a step back and realised that I needed time out.  I now have set days that I work, and I rarely work in the evenings.  It does mean I’m not so involved with networking, but it’s a change I needed to make.  I don’t think new bloggers realise just how time consuming it is.

What’s the best blog post you have ever read?

The one’s that have touched me most are those that Jenny from The Brick Castle has written about the loss of her daughter Elspeth and how her family have lived with her loss since.  I’ve known Jenny from the moment I started blogging, she is a lovely, warm hearted lady and a total inspiration.  I can’t pick just one post to be honest.  Also she is the fountain of all knowledge when it comes to Lego and has answered so many of my ‘dumb’ questions over the years.

What blog do you love to read and why?

I love reading PODcast and reading about Charly’s adventures with her daughter.  I also adore her photography, one day I will take photo’s like Charly does (hopefully!).  I’ve watched POD growing up over the last few years and her personality always shows through in Charly’s posts.

Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?

I say no, a lot.  When I started I, like a lot of newbie’s said yes to pretty much everything.  Now I look at opportunities and make a more considered opinion on the value to my family.  That’s not to say that I don’t review low value items anymore, I will never say no to books. But if we really don’t need something, then I’m happier to say no, and know that I will still get work.  I’ve sorted out my work/life balance and stick to it.  I take school half term holidays off, I put my out of office on and leave it on.  Sometimes I don’t even post every day ……. and the world didn’t stop turning.

Is blogging what you expected it to be?

Not at all.  I’m not sure I really thought about it, when I started I just wanted a space to restart my brain, something to call my own. I had no idea of the work involved, that I would make such good friendships or have such a wonderful journey.  I’m so blessed to have experienced what I have over the last 4 years.

What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?

Eek, there have been so many.  For my son I think it has to be either our trip to Diggerland where he was in absolute heaven, or working with JCB Kids or Tractor Ted, both brands he adores and a perfect fit for us.

For me, I’ve worked closely with Orchard Toys from the beginning of the blog.  It’s a brand I love and it been wonderful to work with them for 4 years.

Are there any brands you would love to work with, why?

For my son, I’d love to work with Playmobil and Lego, as he loves both brands so much.  He lives in a world of imaginary play and they both feature heavily.  I keep meaning to write about the sets I’ve bought over the last couple of years.  I’m a big fan of classic toys and both brands are favourites from my own childhood.

For myself, I’d love to work with motor sport companies promoting the sport for families.  I’m a big motor racing fan, a Ferrari F1 fanatic and it’s a passion I share with my son.  We recently worked with the Donington Historic Festival which was a real treat. A Spa company such as Champneys would be wonderful too.  I rarely ever get time away from home by myself, and just to have that treat and share the benefits with others would be lovely.

Have you had any blogging fails so far?

I’ve certainly had my fair share of rejections.  Pitches that didn’t get a response which I’d thought were good ideas and a good fit between the brand and my family. I’ve applied for campaigns and ambassadorships which we would have loved to be involved in and got nowhere. But that’s part of life and another door always opens.

What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?

If I can help others with timid children, who don’t fit the ‘standard’ expectation that school places on them, that their children can shine, then I’d be happy with that.  I’d love to show my son more of the world both at home and abroad and share more of our experiences. I’d love to continue to learn and just enjoy the experiences that come our way.  I probably should be more proactive with brands but I’m just not very good at self promotion – so may be that should be my ambition – shout about myself more!

What do you do when you’re not blogging?

I’m pretty much a single parent in reality, so my 7 year old son takes up most of my time.  But I have 2 hours a week that are mine, and since last September I’ve been enrolled in a Beginners DSLR Adult Education course.  I love it.  I’ve made new friends, gone out of my comfort zone, learned what the buttons do on my Canon 70D and had so much fun.  This term we’ve been out on location and I’m sharing a few of my favourite shots on the blog along the way.

A random fact about myself

James Hunt (google him if you’re younger than me!!) drove me around the Brands Hatch circuit when I was a child.  He was my first hero and I’ve loved motor racing ever since.

Now that you know all about Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One, make sure you go and read her blog. You can follow her on TwitterFacebook and Instagram – thanks so much Mary for being involved!

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5 Comments

  1. October 26, 2017 / 11:23 am

    Oh I love this Donna, what a great insight into Mary and her fabulous blog. I love her honesty. I was going to say you always find out new things about bloggers reading these and I have! I never knew Mary had been driven round Brands Hatch by James Hunt – how incredible must that have been! Thank you so much Mary for the wonderful mention xxx

  2. October 26, 2017 / 11:57 am

    Oh Mary – you say such lovely things about me. I don’t know how to respond. I’m so touched xx
    It’s been great to know Mary since the very beginning when we were toy reviewers who didn’t even have blogs! She’s done wonderful things since then and really grown as a person – and definitely chose a memorable name! 😀

    • October 26, 2017 / 7:37 pm

      Oh those heady days when we had to do our videos to get selected right at the beginning and then realised, oops, better have a blog to go with it. You’ve always been there to rationalise and help when I’ve got in a total tech panic. Thank you for always helping even when you’ve had way more important things to be dealing with xx

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