When I had my kids I lived in a small village in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. Ive just turned 40 and my kids are 19, 16 and 12...I also have 2 step kids aged 23 and 22.
At the time I'm talking about I only had two children they were newborn and aged 2, I moved away when they were 10 and 7 and had another child aged 2.
I joined a local playgroup, saw the health visitor at clinics on a regular basis, took turns to have friends round with their kids, went to play groups, met up for picnics in the parks, bike rides etc, the kids went to nursery, preschool and school together, with the same group of people for the 8 years...a few new people moved to the village and joined the same groups and a few moved away.
We all helped out at the school with fundraising and fetes, at church groups, cubs and brownies and the local football team.
Yes there was a clique, there was the one with the foul mouth, the one who let their kids run wild, the one that had an affair and split the village, the one that had a bit more spare cash than the rest of us and the odd falling out about who's child started it.
But on the whole it was good, I'd even been to school with 2 other parents in a different town, there were nights out, tears and endless babysitting.
We were all a similar age, from similar backgrouds and similar experiences. It wasn't idylic but it was fun.
Do you have this? This was 1995-2002, I didn't get a mobile phone or the internet till 2000.
I wish it was still like this, today when you have a baby you reach out to the internet for information and advice, breast feeding, what age to leave your kids alone or let them out in the street...
...but when you get your response from 100's of people and experts does it make you feel good, does it make you feel as if you're doing it all wrong or does it help justify your parenting skills?
Remember when you use the internet, twitter, facebook or google you're reaching a much wider audience, you're recieving advice from people that haven't had kids, people from completly different social and financial backgrounds, different ages, countries, experiences.
It doesn't mean that they're right and you're wrong.