Thanks to last minute sponsorship by the very lovely Wendy from Kids One Stop Shop I was lucky enough to attend BritMums Live over the weekend. BritMums Live is a blogging conference organised by BritMums, one of the umbrella organisations in the UK for parent bloggers.

I made the mistake of attending this conference in its previous incarnation as Cybermummy last year when I had only been back from Mozambique for a few days! I was totally shell shocked and found the whole experience overwhelming, particularly the contrast between abject poverty and overt consumerism in the form of back breaking ‘goodie bags’ and commercial sponsorship.

The Good Bits of BritMums Live 2012

This year’s event wasn’t so traumatic and I enjoyed catching up with old friends, touching base with new ones and attending a few interesting sessions.I thought there was a better balance this year between beginner workshops and sessions offering advice for those of us who have been at it for a while (HOW can I be a VETERAN after two years?!)

I particularly enjoyed chatting to Sarah Ebner from The Times after her session, it’s always good to find out that people you chat to online and who seem to be ‘goodies’ really are exactly that. I also managed to grab Claire Burdett after her whistle stop tour ‘Creating a Social Media Plan’, she has some top tips for managing your time online effectively (I had my work hat on rather than my personal blogger hat on for this one!). Julie Hall‘s session for advanced WordPress also gave me some food for thought.

When I wasn’t absorbing advice like the blogging junkie I am, I had a lovely time getting my nails done (yes, really!) and getting a massage (the poor woman who took  me on was very alarmed by the knotty lumps in my shoulders!) and chilling with friends.

The Not So Good Bits

Friday night’s awards party was spoilt for me by the appearance of semi naked male waiters. I was under the impression that I was attending a conference not a hen party and I was deeply uncomfortable with this development. I was not the only one. I am proud to call myself a feminist and am totally opposed to the objectifying of people (men or women) in this way. If the situation had been reversed and there had been a small group of ‘Mum’ bloggers in a room full of ‘Dad’ bloggers all being served by topless women in their knickers making inappropriate comments, there would have been outrage. I was ashamed to be seen to be a part of this.

While I was delighted that last year’s ‘passport scheme’ (when you were expected to visit every brand’s stand and have a card stamped by them in order to be in with a chance of winning a prize) had been scrubbed, I still found ‘The Hub’ overwhelming. The brands were less ‘in your face’ than last year and I enjoyed chatting to those I already work with on occasion but I still find the commercialism a bit much.

I NEED people’s avatars on their name badges, that is how I see people in my Twitter stream and how I recognise them. It would make the whole peering at people’s name badges easier, I would only need a glance to know who I was talking to! I managed to not link Actually Mummy‘s name with who she Actually was and I am face-palming as a result! I worry so much about recognising people and/or getting it wrong and offending people and with so many people all in one place confusion is inevitable.

Will I Be Back Next Year?

I enjoyed Cybher a few weeks ago and BlogCamp Bristol last year because they seem, to me, to be more about blogging itself than the ‘lifestyle’ which surrounds it. Both were more relaxed and less intimidating, both are aimed at people who blog whether they are Mums or not. It seems to me that BritMums appeals to women who are fairly new to blogging and I’m not anymore, I am also happier in places where men and women feel equally welcome – ‘BritMums’ name by its very nature is exclusive and, now even more so after the waiter thing, I’m not happy with that.

So – In Conclusion!

I take my hat off to the organisers and their dedicated team for pulling off what was clearly a mammoth operation!

I enjoyed the opportunity to laugh with Gemma

and Jane

There was an inevitability about what happened next!

Hello It's Gemma gets 'caked' by Northern Mum

I got to go on a ‘date’ with Victoria after the awards finals on Friday night (and sleep on her sofa again, thanks V!). Neither of us came away with a trophy unfortunately but we didn’t mind (very much!)

I also got to spend time with Emma and to be silly, which was nice!

I was very glad to have Circus Queen and Transatlantic Mom to wander around London with as we attempted to fight the uncooperative tube network and get home (an hour and a half to make the 20 minute journey to Paddington!)

And I was VERY glad to get home, where I belong.

Were you at BritMums Live? How did your experience compare to mine?

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