I love a good Parenting and Lifestyle blog : the crisp, clutter-free interiors provide snippets of inspiration and the photography skills of these Mamas (especially when their subject is often rather mobile) have got to be admired.
But 'good' Parenting and Lifestyle blogs to me, personally, are the authentic ones. The bloggers who write and post about the beautiful things in life but are also happy to be honest about that pile of plastic crap that is hidden out of shot.
One such blogger is the fabulous Lauren Shepherd - aka Hunters and Heels - and I was so pleased to receive her responses to our Mama Squad Meets questions because she answered them with the sincerity with which I have come to expect...
You know you're a mama when...
...your iPhone storage is constantly full due to a ridiculous amount of photos and videos of your tiny people.
Spotlight on 'Hunters and Heels':
You officially kicked off Hunters and Heels during your first maternity leave and of course, now find yourself commencing your second… How are your thoughts leading up to the birth different this time round?
I knoooooow!! A whopping 18 months of blogging now, I should be a pro!
I feel a lot more relaxed this time around, about the birth, work and really just motherhood in general. The second time around I suppose you know a little more of what to expect, and that includes knowing that whatever happens, he/she is worth every single thing that will be required of you, for the rest of your life.
I’m sure many of your followers, like me, admire your photography skills and your ability to capture such clean, fresh and beautifully composed shots. What is the best piece of advice you can give to those of looking to hone our skills?
Awww that's really kind. One of the many brilliant things about Instagram is that it encourages you to keep taking better and better pictures. There are so many super talented Mamas out there who's feeds I admire, I always try to push myself to get better.
A few tips on taking good iPhone pictures:
- As much natural daylight as you can get, but not direct sunlight as this might give you loads of shadows. I find a bright cloudy sky around midday gives the best light.
- Don't turn the light on, or use the flash, both give a weird grainy yellow tinge. Just take the picture and brighten it up by lifting the exposure afterwards.
- Hold the camera as still as you can, or rest on something. You can get the most incredibly crisp detailed photographs with an iPhone if you hold the camera really really still.
- Finally, take a selection of pictures. Then you can choose your favourites and delete the rest - particularly when kids are involved and move so quickly, it's better to take a few to ensure you caught the moment.
And I have to ask the question… How do you manage to keep your house so immaculately clean and tidy ;o) ?
Haha! I wish it was THAT clean and tidy! The truth is, we're all guilty of comparing our real life to the perfection we see on Instagram. Just remember it's only a little square and therefore very easy to crop out a pile of ironing or a lego explosion on the floor.
I do have a few very simple tips though that have really helped us keep on top of things...
- Don't go to bed with a messy house. No matter how much you 'don't feel like it', give yourself 20-30mins before bed to straighten up the sofa, fluff the cushions, load the dishwasher... you'll feel so much better starting the day fresh the next morning.
- Collection Baskets. We have them in almost every room. We used to carry all the boys toys back upstairs each night or throughout the day. It's just exhausting. Instead they all get thrown into the baskets ready for the next day. So much easier and the baskets look quite pretty scattered about.
- Less stuff, less mess. We try to keep clutter to a minimum when decorating our house. Amazing how much easier it is to keep things clean organised and dust free when there's less about!
Spotlight on Mamahood:
What do you know today about Mamahood that you didn't know a month ago?
Goodness, so so much! These boys, they teach me things every single day. The main thing I've learned so far, is that time just gets quicker! That you actually need to make the most of every single day you have together because the time just keeps going faster. The days are long, but the years are short.
Do you have a Mama ‘truth’ you keep secret in case of being judged by other parents and if so, would you care to share it today?
I honestly try to be as open and honest with everyone about motherhood as I possibly can. I think we all need the truth to know we're not alone. You want an honest answer...ask me anything! :-)
What about your little person makes them so easy to love?
Gosh what a cliché answer I'm about to give...but honestly every single tiny little inch of his tiny little being make him so easy to love. He's not perfect, who is, but he's more than I could ever have wished for, a real gift that I treasure with all my heart.
When was the last time you felt 'Mama Guilt' and how do you deal with it?
I feel that guilt every day. Sometimes trying to do the right thing, is not the easy thing. Trying to raise a happy, confident, well mannered little person, it can be be exhausting and I forever question if I said that in the right way, or could I have handled that better. I suppose the only way to deal with it is to remind yourself that you're doing the best you can, and that will always be enough for your baby.
What is your Mama Mantra?
"You got this!"
Maybe it's a mantra for females not just Mamas as I also find myself dishing this out to women in all walks of life. Self doubt can be crippling, confidence is everything. In moments of worry, stress, "should I? shouldn't I?" I remind myself that I have got this....and in most cases...I have!
Spotlight on Lauren:
What is currently on your nightstand?
Bobbi Brown Soothing Balm (for my bump, nails, lips etc...)
My "One line a day" 5 year diary that I've been using for over a year now. It was a gift from my gorgeous friend Jules and is still one of the most thoughtful gifts I've received. Perfect for a new mum.
An almost finished Jo Malone Candle in Peony and Blush Suede - because I'm OVER winter already!
When you manage to find that elusive 'me-time', what do you do with it?
Undoubtedly bath and blog! That's what I say to Colin after we've finished up dinner, and he says "great, see you in 3 hours!". Lovely patient man that he is!
What are the last three items on your bank statement?
A gift for one of my best friends who just found out she's having a beautiful baby girl. I have to admit it was fun looking at girls clothes for a change!
Dinner at The Pig on Wednesday night. We were on our baby moon is Devon, it was absolute heaven!
£20 worth of tea lights from Amazon. I have an unhealthy obsession with both Amazon and Tea Lights!
Who inspires you and why?
So many people inspire me, my boys, my mum, my grandma, my friends, my colleagues at work, sometimes even those I've never met can have a huge influence on my perspective. But to answer completely honestly, and I know it's not the coolest answer, it would be by partner, Colin. He is my rock, and he sees something in me that I can't always see in myself. His confidence and belief in me has inspired me since the day I met him, and I wouldn't be where I am or who I am without his love. Gaaaaahhhh cheesy...I'm sorry!
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
That I hate having my picture taken!! Haha! How ridiculous is that? I'm sure my blog and Instagram tell another story, but I promise you I really push myself to be more present in my pictures. As soon as the camera is on me I feel my face and body tighten up and I just feel so awkward, that's why I'm rarely looking at the camera because it's just too embarrassing. I'm getting much better, and I feel almost totally relaxed when I'm in a picture with someone else, but yeah...hate it!!