Annette is French, married to an Irish man, and they live in Wicklow, on the east coast of Ireland, with their four bilingual children. She blogs in English and French at Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne to inspire families to unplug, go outside and reconnect with nature and with each other.
I love all the different blog names out there in the blogosphere and the meanings behind them. Can you tell me how you decided on your blog name?
I wanted a name that spoke of nature, of growing up, and of the fact that I have 4 kids. I also wanted it fairly generic, to fit all of my blogging into it – travelling, photography, parenting, etc. It also had to translate well into French! I had been toying with a couple of ideas when I came across my daughter’s Naturama book. It randomly opened on the page about acorns. I had found my blog’s name!
Can you tell me a little bit about the focus/vision/ethos behind your blog?
My blog inspires families to unplug, go outside, and reconnect with nature and with each other. No need to go far or spend lots of money! Getting outdoors is easy, cheap, and a lot of fun. With tips on where to go and what to pack and/or wear, I encourage families to enjoy the natural world around them, whatever the weather. Let the kids play, let them get messy, let them fall in love with the Earth before asking them to save it. For nature-smart children have the power to save the world. No less.
Who, or what inspired you to start out on your blogging adventure and how has the journey been so far?
My kids are the reason I got into blogging. I started my first blog just after my daughter was born (at the time we lived in Denmark) as a way of keeping family and friends in the loop. As a stay-at-home mum, this first blog was my much-needed creative outlet. But as our family grew bigger and the children older, as my photography got better and our adventures took us further, I launched Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne, a blog that is less family journal ( you won’t read about the kids’ reaching milestones for instance) and more lifestyle inspiration (I hope!). It was the beginning of 2016, and it took me nearly a year before I became aware of the blogosphere! Blogging involves a steep learning curve and many (many!) hours of work. But few things make me happier than a parent saying that they “took a leaf out of my book” and took their kids outside for an adventure.
How challenging is it to find the time to write good content with work and family commitments? Do you have a set time or day that you set aside specifically for blogging?
It is a daily struggle. Blogging means creating good content (writing in English and French, taking photos and editing them, etc.), but also a strong social media presence and the odd spot IT maintenance. I only began blogging professionally (so to speak) when my youngest started in his outdoor kindergarten, and I still try to fit in as much work as possible in the few hours I have to myself every morning. That said, I also work nearly every afternoon after collecting them all from school – which means I am not immune to the occasional bout of mum guilt!
Which of your blog posts has attracted the most readers?
This quick guide to 10 family escapes in Wicklow remains my most read post, by some distance.
If a reader only has time to click on one blog post of yours which one would you recommend?
Without hesitation, Adventures R Us. I see it as my blog’s defining post, a family mission statement of sorts, that explains why we do what we do.
Adventures R Us is now the name of a new Facebook group I created for outdoor-loving families to connect and inspire each other.
How is 2018 unfolding so far and do you have any exciting plans or adventures planned?
My blogging word for 2018 is Growth, and it feels like my blog has just done that so far this year. My mailing list has doubled, my Facebook following is growing apace, and I started collaborating with brands and getting paid for it! Just after Easter, we went on a 5-day road trip around Ireland’s Ancient East in a campervan – it was a fabulous family holiday of course, but it also was my first major collaboration (with Camping Ireland) as a blogger.
We have several other adventures planned, not least a summer in France, like every year. There won’t be enough weekends in the year to fit in all we’d like to do!
What would you say to anyone thinking about starting their own blog?
Go for it and give it your all. There is a lot to learn and huge amounts of work required, but the blogosphere is really quite a friendly place, with bloggers helping each other out, rather than competing and tearing each other down. However, if you’re in it to make a quick buck, blogging is NOT the way to go.
What keeps you motivated in everyday life and in the blogging world?
The thought of our next family adventure. When everyday life grinds me down, time outside with the family is usually enough to recharge my batteries. Also, I invariably come back with a story to tell and a batch of photos to share, which keeps my blogging ticking over.
How has blogging impacted your life? Has your outlook on the world changed? Has the way you live changed?
Blogging keeps me very busy, even awake at night sometimes. Some would argue that with four kids, I didn’t need that, but it feels great to not be just a mum anymore. As a trained journalist, blogging lets me go back to what I love doing, i.e. writing and photography, only this time, it’s on my terms. Has it changed the way we live? Not quite yet, but soon hopefully!
If you had to recommend one other blog that inspires or encourages you what would it be?
There are so many fabulous blogs to choose from! Backwoods Mama is the first one that springs to mind, as Josée is also a bilingual mum of 4, from Canada, blogging about her family’s outdoor adventures and raising outdoor kids.
Where can we find you on social media?