The Real Cost of Motoring

I need a new car.

In fact, that's an understatement. I am DESPERATE for a new car and have been wanting one seriously for at least a year! My current car was an executive model and in mint condition when we bought it... and it was perfect for when my twins came along. We needed a 7 seater. But fast forward 7 years and with four kids crashing in and out of it most days... it's fair to say it's pretty hammered now! And unfortunately, it simply costs too much to run.

Researchers found the typical driver will spend nearly seventy thousand pounds on fuel and rack up a bill of forty grand on MOTs, servicing and repairs in a lifetime! Crazy or what? 

Petrol is my big bugbear. I spend an absolute fortune each week to get the huge 3.8litre engine going, and I don't need to! I need to downsize I think.

Parking alone sees the typical driver spend just £12.15 on parking charges, but over a driving lifetime of 64 and a half years, this will mount up to an incredible £9404.

The research, by affordable car hire company autoeurope.co.uk reveals that British motorists will drive over half a million miles in a lifetime - the equivalent of 22 times round the earth! They will also fork out £168,880, on running costs of vehicle ownership, have 1,935 rows – and 2,709 episodes of road rage in a lifetime.

Its seems that the burden of car ownership is hitting drivers hard and AutoEurope research suggests that running a car is a huge financial commitment. What motorists will spend on repairs and fuel costs alone could buy a home in most parts of the UK, not to mention tax and insurance.

A spokesman for autoeurope.co.uk said: “The burden of car ownership is hitting drivers hard and our research proves that running a car is a huge financial commitment. Renting a car instead is miles cheaper in comparison - whether that’s just for one day, or a long-term rental – we offer affordable rates on car hire without the added worry of depreciation and the additional running costs that often comes with owning your own vehicle.”

Hmm... so could this be the answer I'm looking for? I spend an absolute fortune on petrol and insurance at the moment.... would I really be paying more if I went for this option? I won't have insurance to think about and the petrol is obviously going to be a fraction of the price, especially if I was to go for a much smaller car. It's certainly worth looking into.

In the meantime, check out this fun infographic which shows some lighthearted driving stats!

The cost of motoring

 

*Collaborative post

So sad that my daughter has left Primary School

The last photo of my Girl in her Primary school uniform (sob)

I knew I'd be like this. I'm such an emotional wreck when it comes to things like this!

This year I had two emotional 'Leavers Assemblys' to attend.

My twins finished Year 2, which means they'll be moving on to the Junior school. It's separate to the Infants so it feels like a big deal. And it is. It means my boys are growing up.

I cried the whole way through their assembly. Yes, because of all the feelings that stir with the realisation that this is the end of their time at the Infants, but for me, also, it was because my shy twins stood right at the front and sang their little hearts out!

In any kind of sharing assembly they've done in the past, they've hidden. They've been so shy that they would literally go to pieces and crumble before my eyes.... they'd curl up and cringe and want to be invisible. It was always painful to watch. They hate any sort of attention. To them, they would've felt as though every parent was looking at THEM. No matter what I said, or how their teacher's tried to help, nothing worked.

So to see them standing there with their fellow Year 2 peers, singing away, my heart was puffing out and bursting with pride! It was amazing. That in itself signified a massive milestone for my tiny boys.

The 'Leaver's Song' is incredibly heart wrenching, describing how they are moving on and loving the friendships they've formed.... how they're proud of things they've learned and about the new path they're about to take in the world. I can't understand how anyone would fail to be moved to tears by it!

My daughter sang it too.

She's in Year 6 and it was even more poignant for her as she's leaving the school for good.

The school where she's been incredibly happy and made some lovely friends. She doesn't remember a time when she didn't go to that school. It's been somewhere she went every day for seven years!

My Girl's very first day at school in Reception.. aged 4!

I knew I would find it difficult but I haven't been prepared for how hard it would hit me once she had left.

The last few weeks of term were crazy manically busy, accumulating in the Year 6 Leaver's Party!

But first on Friday we had the Leaver's assembly. It was very emotional. We were taken on a journey of their time at the school. Lots of photo's lit up on the big screen in the hall from the projector. Stories were told and quite early on, some of the girls were in tears. One of my daughter's friends stood up to sing a song but she couldn't get the words out.

This set me off.

Within moments, my daughter was crying and it was all I could do to stop myself running to the stage to comfort her. There were a few songs, then the Leaver's song again.

I sat there looking at her through tears in my eyes. The words cutting through me like a knife.

I didn't want this to be it. I didn't want this to be the last time she would be at her school or sit there with those children. I didn't want this to be the last time she would ever wear that uniform and look this young. I wanted it all to stop, for time to go back so she could stay here a bit longer.

The girls all clung to each other afterwards. It was so so sad.

But the day ahead for them was a busy one. They had all the fun shirt signing to do before heading off on the traditional London bus ride around our local town, then finally ending up at their Leaver's Disco organised by us parents! Their families were invited down for a BBQ later where we stayed until around 10pm when it finished.

My daughter and some friends from Year 6 enjoying their party.

It was a great evening. The kids had so much fun and it was lovely for us Mum's to have this last evening all together. Many of the kids are going to different high schools so it was the end of an era for us too and we all got a bit emotional.

My daughter was tearful in the car on the way home bless her. But they have all vowed to stay in touch and I guess it will be much easier than it used to be, with everyone having smart phones. They already have lots of Whatsapp groups that they're all in so really they will still feel close!

For me though, it really hit me the next day.

The full on craziness of the past few weeks had given way to an eerie, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I picked up her uniform and stared at it for a while. She would never wear it again. Ever.

I glanced over at her sitting on the sofa, absorbed in her phone. My baby girl. No longer at our beloved primary school.

It seemed so final.

Everything is about to change. So much more than she could ever realise.

I've got a 17 yr old so I know only too well how much she will change in the next year. High school does that do a child and I'm not ready to go through that with her just yet.

I don't want to.

I want to keep her like this for a little bit longer please if I may?

She is on the cusp of growing into a young lady but right now she is still so young in her mind, still so childlike and so much fun. She still loves cuddles and to play with her little twin brothers.... In another year that might not be the case.

We spent a lazy day together. I watched her play in the garden... she's grown so much recently. Not so little anymore.

When I tucked her up in bed that night, I kissed her, squeezed her hard then went into my own bedroom and sobbed.

I sobbed and sobbed. Uncontrollably.

I want to stall time. It's going way too fast and I can't stop it. I don't want her to grow up and I don't want things to change.

I love her so much. I love the way she is right now and even though I know there'll be lots of fun ahead.... I'm not ready for that.

I was thinking about the school run. We've always gone together. Me, her and the twins. All three of them have always worn the same uniform and they've always been together. Not any more.

The last time all together in school uniform! (*sobs again!)

In September, my twins won't have their big sister with them when we leave for school. We will go without her. She will walk to her new school.

After school when the twins come out first, we won't walk across to her classroom to wait for her. She won't be there.

Everything will change and I don't want it to.

I know I should embrace it and I will of course. I'll have to.

But it all makes me so sad.

Time is passing way too fast. In the blink of an eye my children will be all grown up and it's hard to accept.

This summer I want to spend every second with my beautiful Girl and breathe in her young loveliness while it's still there.

Then in September, I will watch with pride (albeit choking back the tears) as she puts on her new uniform and heads out the door, ready for the next new chapter in her life.

How Mum’s can have a positive impact on a childs’ future

A mother is one of the most important people in a child’s life. Your actions can have far reaching consequences for your son or daughter in years to come. The people they hang around with, the lifestyle they lead and the work they do are just some things you may have an influence on. Below are some of the most important ways a mum can ensure that they have a positive impact on their child’s life.

Help Develop Your Child's Skills and Talent

If your child has a keen interest in a particular activity, you should look at ways to help them. For some people, it’s a sporting activity, for others it’s music and others may have developed an interest in something else altogether.

In the case of parents who realize their child may be a gifted athlete, there are scholarships and organizations available such as Athletes-USA who help parents and young athletes to progress to the next level and introduce them to professionals in their chosen sport. The organizations that offer these services are worth researching and contacting, so that you can find out if your child could be a suitable match for their requirements.

Always Be Positive at Home

If a child is surrounded by positive people from a young age, they are more likely to grow up always looking on the bright side of life. The opposite is true if a parent is too demanding of their child, reprimands them a lot or continually bullies them.

Encourage Communication

Developing proper communication skills at a young age is vital. These skills will be used many times in the future to build relationships, deal with other people and ensure that your child develops to their full potential. If this communication is not encouraged and fostered when an individual is younger, they may miss out on a lot of the opportunities life has to offer them.

Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy diet is essential when a child is growing up. If they are accustomed to eating healthy meals on a regular basis and avoid eating junk food, they are more likely to be more health conscious later in life. The same is true for the drinks we drink when we are younger. Kids should be made aware of the importance of always staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water rather than soft drinks or other drinks that have a negative effect on our well-being.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is not confined to the food and drink we consume. The activities we take part in are also important. If a child is used to taking part in outdoor activities, group activities and activities that benefit their physical and mental health, they will be more likely to continue to take part in these activities later in life.

Mums play a huge role in their child’s life. Unfortunately, many parents don’t understand just how important their actions are when their child is young. Following the tips above will ensure that you build the best foundations possible for your child, so that they live a happier, more fulfilling life as they get older.

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Insure with Max

When we think about life insurance, it's usually about OUR lives. In case the unthinkable happens to US and we can't work to pay the mortgage, rent and bills.

But what if the unthinkable happens to one of our children? I know it's almost too difficult to even contemplate, but what if it did?

What if THEY are suddenly (God forbid) struck down with a rare illness that needs round the clock care?

Who is going to provide that care?

Chances are, YOU will be the one who wants to be there for your child in these most agonising circumstances.

You will want AND need to be a tower of strength for your child and do all you can for them. What you DON'T want is to be riddled with worry about how you can possibly do that when you need to work to pay the bills. Even if your partner is still working full time, you still might not be able to makes ends meet and then what do you do?

This is a real, frightening situation that many families have found themselves in and it's precisely this reason why Insure with Max was founded, to at least help with your financial worries so you can concentrate on giving the care your child needs and deserves.

Insure with Max

For as little as 95p per week (depending on family size and salary and subject to a minimum £49.50 premium), Insure With Max will bring you peace of mind, enabling you to get on with the important task of caring for your precious child.

Child Max, as the policy is known, will reimburse your take home salary for 12 months while you’re on unpaid leave. It's also flexible to suit your needs. If you want to continue to work part time, the insurers will pay the shortfall between your take home salary and your new lower salary.

It's very simple...

Insure With Max ChildMax

Child Max is the brainchild of Max, an insurance man by trade whose own half sister passed away when she was 12 years old from a very rare illness. Max saw how financially difficult it was for his Dad and Step-mum, on top of the devastation of their child being poorly. His Dad asked him to come up with a form of insurance because when they wanted to be with their daughter and not have to think about anything else, they had to think about finances. 

I know this isn't easy to think about, but if the worst was to happen, if you have Child Max, you will have one less thing to worry about.

If you want to know more, take a little look at the video below which explains...

We will be holding a Twitter Chat this Friday at 11.15am-12pm where we'll be talking all things #ChildMax.. we'd love for you to join us and hear your thoughts on this. There'll be prizes too so don't miss out!

ChildMax

Driving Lesson Stress

So my Teenager is learning to drive.

It's something he's been excited about for a very long time... I think, like most teenagers, he thought he'd literally be driving the minute he turned 17 but the reality of course is very different!

We did say he could have driving lessons for his birthday but before that could happen, he needed his provisional license. I'd picked a form up at the local post office because his passport has expired, otherwise he would've been able to apply for the licence online.

I left him to fill it out. Which he didn't. It sat on the side in his bedroom for weeks. I reminded him that he needed to get photo's done for the licence but of course he didn't get round to doing that either. He's not a baby and I was refusing to do everything for him. This meant that it didn't get done!

Days before his birthday he was kicking off that he didn't have his provisional and that meant no driving lessons! My fault of course.

This was the first 'stress' I experienced on my son's learning to drive journey and apparently, according to research by Carfused.com, learning to drive isn’t always as straightforward as we'd like - They report that while getting on the road comes with a financial price-tag, it can also come with an emotional cost too. I think I would agree with this!

Eventually of course, Teen got his photo's done for the licence, I got them signed off and it was eventually posted to the DVLA. It cost me £43! The first of many payments.... another annoyance!

Finding an instructor wasn't the easiest task either.

Teen wanted a female driving instructor. I think he thought that a male wouldn't have the same patience with him, or might become angry if he did something wrong! I've no idea where this notion came from but I can appreciate his thought process... he was obviously looking for an easy, gentle, less pressurised time during his lessons and in his mind, a female was more likely to provide this environment!

After finding an instructor, we found out she charged £25 a lesson, which is average, if not slightly cheaper than many, so I was pleased. The first two for £40. Teen had a double lesson to kick off with and afterwards he came back buzzing, full of excitement and enthusiasm. He LOVED it!

driving lessonsTeen in the car with his driving instructor

But then came the pestering. The next stage of stress!

He was continually begging to let him have a 'go' in my car! The thing is though, my car is a huge seven seater with a 3.8ltr engine... A bit scary for me to let him behind the wheel of that monster! Plus it's automatic, so he wouldn't be gaining that much from driving it.

However, he didn't give up.... every time we got in the car he asked.... "Please, I'll just drive it down the road there... I'll go slow.... I'll be really careful" etc etc.. He bugged the life out of me!

After a couple more lessons and Teen declaring himself to be amazing at driving (he's always been so full of confidence), I very nervously allowed him to get into the drivers seat of my car and take it for a spin! Just to shut him up!

Nervous just doesn't cover it. We were only on our road which is very quiet and we agreed he would literally just be driving in a straight line.. maybe a slight bend, but that's all. Still, I sat there rigid... terrified he would do something stupid! And of course, he did. Nothing serious, but he did put his foot down harder for a second and in a car like mine... we shot forward so fast, much faster than the little car he's used to which he takes his lessons in! I'm sure it took him by surprise but he thought it was great! I on the other hand, freaked out and screamed at him to slow down.... at which point he laughed, but stopped!

"Chill out" he told me.

"Get out" I shouted back!

I jumped back into my drivers seat, my heart pounding! Teenagers seem to find it hard to follow simple instructions, they just do whatever they want, regardless. He scared me. I have since taken Teen out a couple of times in my Dad's car, which is a little Fiesta manual and although I was still nervous, I knew this was a much less powerful car which meant Teen couldn't get carried away!

I don't think I could teach Teen how to drive fully though, like many parents do these days... to save money. I can obviously see the advantages but I don't have the patience. His Dad has taken him out once or twice and actually, Teen is pretty good now. But to do it from scratch? I don't think so!

The new study by Carfused.com reveals that almost half of learner drivers (49%) opted to take driving lessons with a parent or family member. Though these lessons might have been free, learners paid in increased stress levels as one in seven (15%) say they were yelled at repeatedly.

I totally get that!

The combination of an inexperienced driver and an over-bearing parent can be an interesting mix with stressful and potentially dangerous consequences. In fact, it lead to one in 10 (10%) parents grabbing the wheel during lessons and one in 20 (5%) learners say they almost had an accident. More than two thirds described the experience as too stressful and one in seven (15%) say they found the process scary. A similar number (15%) described learning with a parent as ‘annoying’. And while the learners take the brunt of the stress, almost a quarter (24%) admit that it was a nerve-wracking experience for their parents.

To test this out, Carfused.com set out to monitor the stress levels of a father and daughter as they set out on driving practice. Georgia (17) and her father Kenneth took the road in a vehicle with special cameras installed to film the whole process – so no angry look or yell went unseen.

Watch the full video below....

And it’s not just the emotional stress that learners are sharing with their parents with nearly a quarter of drivers (23%) saying their first driving lessons were bought for them as a gift by their parents. A lucky one in five (20%) say their parents funded every single lesson they took with an instructor. With the cost of learning to drive so high, it’s no wonder that parents are stepping in to help.

Teens' driving instructor told him that the average number of lessons it usually takes is around 22-25, with teenage boys normally coming in under this amount. Probably because they're so eager! But still, that's a lot of lessons to fund.... it makes sense to learn as much as you can with a family member! If you can stomach it and have the patience!

Then there's the cost of the tests... two these days with the separate Theory test to take.

Most teenagers think it's their rite of passage to learn to drive as soon as they can but the cost of it all can make it impossible for a lot of families. Many teenagers do have little part time jobs at this age, which means they can help out themselves. But the whole shebang is a lot more stressful than you imagine it to be!

Carfused.com is a great resource for everything car related and it's perfect for parents and new drivers alike.  It's a one-stop shop that brings you insurance, finance and a huge range of cars for sale together all in one place... there's also plenty of information about the 'black box' insurance scheme whereby the black box is have fitted into your Teenager's car. This records their driving, ensuring they drive safely and consequently cuts down insurance costs which is sky high for young drivers. Finding a website like this that gives so much advice and information is a godsend.

Teen is preparing to take his theory test now.

I am excited myself about Teen being able to drive and having his own little car. How great that will be for him... and me.... no more ferrying him round or being called upon late at night for some taxiing home, although I will miss that if I'm being honest (not the late night lifts). Giving him a lift here and there always gave us a bit of one to one time and I enjoyed our little chats in those moments.

Still, I'll have to get in HIS car instead, let him take ME somewhere! Or I can ask him to collect his siblings from various places if I'm stuck..... yes, I can see the advantages!

Maybe i'll even ring him for a lift home if I've been out partying late at night....

See if HE likes it! 😉

Collaborative post

Big teeth growing behind baby teeth & losing teeth!

So my twins are in Year 2 at school and were the only kids in their class not to lose a tooth yet.

Until this week.

Fair enough, they're the youngest in the year group so it probably makes sense that they would lose their teeth last, but it doesn't work like that. And anyway, quite a number of their classmates had lost a good few teeth in Reception, TWO years ago!

I was glad though. It meant my boys were still officially (well to me) my babies. I don't want them to grow up fast, they're my last children of four and to say I'm savouring every millisecond I spend with them would be an understatement.

I absolutely worship my little boys and it terrifies me how times flies, I hate it. I have a 17 yr old boy so I'm acutely aware of the speed in which they grow up. It seems like yesterday that he himself was losing his first tooth... and now he's almost a man, towering above me!

My twins have had a wobbly tooth for ages now! H's little bottom tooth first (I think it's always this one that comes out first isn't it?), then O's. But because they are them, little worriers, they didn't want to 'wobble' their wobbly teeth manically like most kids. My daughter doesn't leave her teeth alone and they're usually out in no time from the constant interference! But the twins were playing it very cautiously, barely touching their wobbly teeth, which meant they didn't really get any wobblier!

Then a strange thing happened!

We noticed that H had a new tooth growing BEHIND the loose one! This was a first for me, I hadn't seen anything like this happen before. My older two kids' teeth didn't do that and I panicked slightly!

This can't be normal I thought. He can't have a tooth growing there surely? The 'big' tooth looked massive compared to his tiny wobbly tooth, as though it didn't belong there at all! It's further back in his mouth and it's not inline with the others! Eww.... it looked weird to me, abnormal. This should not be happening I was sure of it!

Of course, I tried to force H to wobble that wobbly tooth and MAKE it come out! I was convinced that his lack of wobbling and subsequent prolonging of the tooth being in his mouth, was the reason for this new tooth to be growing at the back. It simply had no room!

H was in no rush though. I think he was concerned about it coming out. It must seem a little scary though to a youngster.. the thought of a tooth literally falling out. He hadn't gone through it before so he didn't know what to expect!

Fast forward a few weeks and the tooth was still there and the big tooth was still growing behind, getting bigger!

More panicking by me, so I did what every other parent does these days when they're worried or don't know the facts about something.... I googled it!

'Big tooth growing behind baby tooth is this normal?' was what I typed in I think.

Of course, there were trillions of answers and all of them confirmed that it was indeed quite normal. It reassured me that once the baby tooth fell out, the big tooth would move forward and be in the right place. Usually this happened by itself, but some Mums took their kids to the Dentist, who pulled the tooth out.

I felt better. I decided I would just leave it to nature and let the tooth fall out naturally.

Which it did this week!

Whilst brushing H's teeth, I actually thought the tooth was out. It was hanging there by a thread but still attached! I told him it would probably come out at school and to try not to worry.

losing baby teethHere is the tooth hanging out, and you can see the new one behind. It had actually started to move forward already at this point, which is what probably forced the baby one out!

When I picked him up, it certainly had come out! At lunchtime whilst eating his food! He was very happy and excited! He had his tooth in his pocket and couldn't wait to show me!

After all the worrying, the tooth simply came out when it was ready.

The Tooth Fairy made a visit that night but low and behold, H's other bottom tooth at the front fell out the following day (yesterday) and then his twin, little O's tooth, which hadn't been quite as wobbly... fell out during the night! We had to go hunt for it this morning in his bed! I was so happy O's had come out too, I'm sure he was feeling a little left out!

first tooth outO's gappy mouth!

Jheeze! These teeth are like buses - you wait ages for one to come out then three come out all at once!

The teeth have come out without any problems, the big tooth is moving forward and into place and because the teeth weren't rushed (being wobbled all the time) there wasn't any blood or even any redness where the tooth had been!

But you know what this means don't you? My babies are growing up, I can't deny it! (sigh)

Big boys now with some big teeth... and big gaps!

gappy teeth

 

 

“MumofThree

 

Too young for Instagram?

Ok. So I've allowed my daughter to have Instagram. She's 10.

A few of her friends have it, including her best friend, and considering the Instagram account can be private - that is, only people you've accepted to follow you can see your photo's - I gave in and said she could have one too.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo sharing App. It's hugely popular, especially among young people. You can take a photo, do some basic editing like enhance the colouring then upload it to your account. You have 'followers', who can see your photo's (if your account is private.... if it isn't, ANYONE can see your photo's if they want to) and you can 'follow' others so you can see theirs. You can 'like' or comment on photo's (this is social media after all) and your followers can do the same with yours. Most people will follow their friends and maybe some people of interest to them, like celebrities, bloggers, photographers etc.

Can a child use Instagram?

Well, Instagram is for ages 13 and above. 13 is the recommended age for most social media platforms, but that doesn't stop younger kids using them.

Should I have said yes?

I made my decision in haste to be honest. I figured that if her friends parents have allowed it, and it's completely private, where's the harm? I didn't really think it through properly and now, a few weeks in, I'm questioning whether it was the right thing to do.

Initially, all was good, she just uploaded photo's off my Camera Roll on to her Instagram account. Or she took pics as she went along and posted them. This was fine. She had a few friends that she followed and who followed her back. This was fine too. But then, other 'friends' were requesting to follow her. Some were girls who were in the year above at her primary school, meaning now that my girl is in Year 6, these girls were now in high school.....Year 7.

My daughter was very good, she knew she had to ask my permission if she could say yes to anyone that requested to follow her. This was one of our rules. But the problem was, because some friends were at high school, they act slightly older. The photo's they uploaded were slightly different to hers, not in a bad way really, just different.

Selfies.

Lots and lots of selfies.

Now, my girl wasn't sure about selfies at this point. She hadn't really done any before unless she was  messing around with the ipad at home, or with me. But even her best friend pointed out that she should at least put the odd selfie onto her Instagram... that's what people do, she told her!

So she asked me to help her take one. I think she felt a bit silly at first. It wasn't really her. I mean, she's not very 'showy offy', which is what selfies are all about aren't they? They're very self indulgent. However, she was keen to master it. Holding the phone whilst she took a pic was the trickiest part for her. But she got there in the end!

The result is the above photo. Her very first, proper 'posing' selfie. And she looks super cute in it (even if I do say so myself!)

She has since become a bit of a seasoned pro. Here are a couple of others she's taken...

should my child use instagram

But I'm not sure how I feel about this. Has this selfie taking made her too aware of herself at this age? Probably. The two images above of her on her own don't even look like her! She's doing that typical teenage pose and even though it amuses me a little, I don't like it. It's too grown up.

This is what has made me question myself a little. She's only 10, should she be that self conscious that she now likes to practice her poses for Instagram worthy photo's?

But then again, she IS growing up and even before Instagram, she would play with makeup and look at herself in the mirror, or pose for pictures for me to take, so really is this any different?

Luckily, she's not THAT into Instagram. Maybe she would be if she was allowed to use it whenever, but she only goes on it now and again and pretty much forgets about it when she's playing and being a normal 10 year old.

I don't really want to take it away from her now but maybe we could've waited a bit longer. It IS a nice way of her to be in touch with some of her friends, especially her best friend who has recently moved to another school. And she would've seen it anyway when she's at her friends houses, but I WILL monitor it and I WILL have total control.

So how do I monitor my daughter's Instagram?

First of all I was upfront in what I expected from the start. This is very important. Laying out the rules, what was allowed and what wasn't allowed. Especially me being able to look and check the account at all times.

Next, Restrict Usage - At the moment, my daughter is only allowed to use Instagram on my phone, which means I have to physically log her in. I don't allow her to sit and browse for too long, which could potentially allow her to stumble across something inappropriate.

I monitor all Follow Requests - She has to ask me if she can allow someone to follow her. Only people she/we know well are allowed. If she's not sure, then we say no.

Check Uploaded Photo's - Because my daughter uses my phone, it's easy to keep tabs. She's usually with me when she's taking photo's or uploading a photo. She has had Instagram on the iPad when she's had friends over but I do keep checking in to see what they're doing.

Keep Talking - I think showing an interest is very important and keeping them aware of the do's and don'ts of social media in general is imperative. It just keeps things fresh in her mind as she gets older so it's (hopefully) ingrained. My daughter likes to show me some of her friends photo's too. I look anyway, because knowing what her friends are posting is a necessity. If anyone is posting anything inappropriate, they'll be deleted. This hasn't happened yet though I'm pleased to report!

Should YOU say yes?

If your child is begging you to allow them to have Instagram and you're just not sure, then I would think very carefully before you say yes.

You have to be comfortable with it.

Obviously I've said yes, and that's because I believe Instagram is OK as long as you're monitoring it. As long as their account is set to private and you're very choosy in who's allowed to follow, then it's a relatively safe option.

I mean, how many kids watch You Tube? We've all sat there whilst our kids are watching a cute video one minute, only for them to suddenly stumble across some dodgy cartoon that's aimed at much older children or adults the next!

And if they're at an age where their friends have it, this is a time when I think you do have to be realistic. They will look at it with them anyway. It's not as if saying no will protect them from it completely.

We can't stop our children from growing up and they ARE going to be exposed to the world of social media whether we like it or not. The important thing is to be open and not allow anything to be private. Your child usually won't mind this if it means they can use it.

I won't be allowing any other forms of social media though. Not for a long time... and probably not until the recommend age. I hope having Instagram will suffice for now... my daughter can keep up with what's going on from that... she can even message her friends on it! I think kids spend far too much time in front of a screen as it is and social media is just too much of a distraction from normal life.

One is more than enough for now.

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