What you need to know before you share your child’s life online

A childhood captured

When I started this blog, Flea was just three years old.

It was 2008. I’d split up from my husband and moved to the North of England. We moved into a fixer upper house. I was trying to look after a pre-schooler and make a living as a freelance writer. Flea was convinced she was either a boy called Aiden, or a dog called Sizzles.

Sixteen years on (and a few months) we’re still here!

That’s long enough to have a childhood captured in this blog. More than 1,000 blog posts and stories capturing our favourite moments, adventures and milestones.

Should you share your child’s life online?

After 18 years of parenting, and almost 16 years of parent blogging, I have learned a lot. Like:

  • It’s great to get support online but it shouldn’t be at your child’s expense. Protect their privacy and let them tell their own stories.
  • Instead, blog about the funny and happy moments, the great trips, the triumphs – that’s what you’ll love to read back over when they’re grown and have left home
  • Life goes pretty fast. Capturing those small moments on a blog, or a social media channel, is a really very special gift to future you.


This girl who ran through Manchester in her Team Elmo tee shirt is now is making her way through university offers and preparing for her first job at a language school this summer. I’m starting to build a new sort of life for myself, as a single person who isn’t responsible for someone else (some of the time). 

Some of you probably still don’t know Flea’s real name. It’s not a secret, but it’s also not for this blog. I’ve chosen not to post it here simply because I don’t want someone Googling Flea’s name to find this blog. That’s a choice I made when she was tiny, and 16 years on I am even more sure it was the right choice.

If you don’t know Flea’s name, you know the important stuff. You know that I love her body and soul. You know you can be a single Mum and still raise your child in a fun, adventurous, loving home. You can travel. You can be happy. I promise, if you’re new to this single parenting lark, you CAN be happy.

To prove it, here are 16 years of favourite moments, from my blog.


9 Year Blogging Anniversary Flea

When Flea was three, I was always out and about at some toddler activity, trying to make friends. Meanwhile, Flea was pretending to be a dog called Sizzles and dreaming of growing up to be a pirate or a burglar. She seemed worried about puppies that might eat our biscuits, and enjoyed making up songs about that time I accidentally punched her in the face.


At four, Flea started school and the highlight of her first day was that there was cake for pudding. Meanwhile I was starting a lifetime habit of being late for school, losing half the uniform and being woken up at 3am by my four year old to discuss death.

First day of school

Another post tells the story about how Flea shouted for me in the middle of the night. I stumbled to her room to answer the urgent question, “If it’s the Christmas holidays, why haven’t we been on holiday yet?” I loved re-reading this post about 10 random things Flea said in one week this year. Four year olds are brilliant.

flea at drayton manor


This was the year I convinced Flea of things. Like practice reading, where she read a book at bedtime and I closed my eyes and listened. She was full of questions ALL the time. Like, “When food goes in your stomach, does it come to life?” and “Is there a lifeboat in case fish can’t swim?”

It was also the age where Flea destroyed my reputation in public with her little news updates. “My Mummy says if we don’t have clean clothes, we can just take them out of the laundry basket,” was a favourite. Although I had to forgive her because after not making her favourite people list last year, this year I got an actual proposal.

flea age 5 proposal


Flea had been looking forward to her sixth birthday for months, apparently, because Grandma said she was making sausages. At six, Flea was still a dog called Sizzles, even when it came to a hospital appointment where she barked and panted at the doctor and would only agree to being examined if he referred to her hands as “paws.” And yes, she licked him.

flea at six

But my favourite memory of this was year was Flea sending me the extremely flattering letter below. When I asked her about the picture, she said, “Oh, that’s the dog you’re going to buy me now I’m six, Mummy. Did you see how many kisses I put?”

flea letter

It was also the year of our first trip to New York together. We went to see a Spiderman show on Broadway and designed our own Muppets at FAO Schwartz. It was brilliant.



At seven, Flea started to get really brave and want to do lots of adventurous activities. Which was great because it led to one of the greatest days of my life, when her Dad got stuck on a high wire course and had to be rescued with a giant winch. It’s no exaggeration to say we still laugh at this story all these years later.

https://www.tumbletots.com/ flea


I loved eight. After a few years, my work situation had stabilised and Flea was old enough that we could start to travel more. That summer we visited Spain and France, then New York and Cape Cod. Back home, we visited the (then) brand new Harry Potter Studios, and also took in Legoland and Warwick Castle. What a whirlwind!


The summer Flea turned nine was one of the best we’ve ever had – it was our first California road trip. We took a month to travel down the coast from San Francisco to San Diego, and between sailing, surfing and long days on the beach, it was the best trip EVER.

Closer to home, 9 was a real shift in parenting. It was Flea’s first time riding her bike the shops alone. She learned to make coffee, and took up skateboarding and climbing. She went on a school ski trip to Switzerland and I pretty much lost my mind. Also there was that time we did the egg roulette challenge

Flea ski trip aged 9


Flea’s last year of primary school was about sleepovers and best friends and weekends spent bowling, climbing and watching movies. It was also time to start thinking about secondary school, and all that would involve.

flea aged 10

Before that, we took a road trip to Canada and spent six weeks exploring forests, riding enormous ziplines and learning to paddleboard. It was a BLAST. By the end of that summer, I remember thinking how much more grown up Flea seemed, and what great company she was.

flea aged 11 in tofino


I can’t even fathom how much Flea changed during her first year of senior school. She had moved from the school she’d attended since she was three and there was a lot of growing up that year.

Year 7 first day

It was also the year Flea started playing hockey and decided that the worst thing that could ever happen was for me to speak to her, or any of her friends, in public.

hockey training


Flea dyed her hair pink, joined the county hockey team, then discovered the perils of exam stress. Suddenly, it was vitally important to have the right clothes and the right shoes and after five years, Flea stopped making YouTube videos because the boys at school thought it was lame.

flea pink hair


After suffering with exam stress and friendship issues at school, when Flea was 13, we made the choice for her to return to her old school. Year 9 can be brutal. I wrote a post about all the things I wanted my girl to know.

After a really worrying few months, she settled back in and seemed much happier. We took a return trip to California and both got ridiculously excited by seeing actual Lorelei Gilmore’s house.


Flea aged 14 in greece

As Flea got older, she was often MORTIFIED by the very idea I might write about her online. Which was perfectly reasonable. I started to write more generally about issues, rather than Flea’s life. But this was the year Flea chose her GCSE options and I asked readers for advice about things like monitoring internet usage, how to get teenagers out of bed, and what to do when the PE teacher hates your daughter and the way that those kids who are ‘easy’ tend to get ignored.

Just after Flea turned 14, we had a big family dispute, and half of our family cut me (and therefore also Flea) out of their lives. I know that Flea found it tough, and she learned some truths about life that I’d have liked her not to know for a few more years.  In between all the drama, we managed some fun trips to Greece and Italy.


A month or two before Flea turned 15, the UK went into lockdown. For my teen, being 15 was about remote schooling, revising for GCSEs and how to survive when it’s a single woman and a teenager in the same house.

arisaig beaches

Lockdown was when we bought our first kayaks and getting on the water saved our mental health. And lucky for Flea that she managed to have a GREAT house party before lockdown. Here’s her last day at the same school she had her first day at, way back when she was three!

last day of school year 11


After all the stress of lockdown, Flea threw herself into sixth form life, commuting 30 miles to a different town to attend a boys’ grammar school.

how to prepare for sixth form

After getting a solid set of GCSE results Flea transformed into a super motivated academic, and set her sights on attending a top university. To inspire her, we set off on a mini road trip visiting five universities over October half-term.

This was also the year we discovered home exchanging. We were still on a travel budget this year but managed to spend a great week in Scotland with friends and then went on to spend Christmas in Switzerland!

Christmas Day


The year Flea turned seventeen was a real whirlwind. After coming out of lockdown, Flea set herself some ambitious targets and has revealed a drive I honestly never knew she possessed.

flea aged 17

She’s worked with a trainer to regain her fitness after a year of lockdown living. She sat her mock exams in July, and got grades that put her on course for her target universities. She spent her holidays attending summer schools at two universities and a week-long Shakespeare course at the Globe Theatre, to help improve her uni application.

We had a week in Greece, and Flea came back and submitted her uni applications.


Flea at 18

At 18, we set out on what I’m painfully aware might have been our final summer road trip, driving down the East Coast of America from New York to North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Flea declared Wilmington Beach to be her favourite place in the world and we loved our six week trip of beaches, music, barbecue food and amazing scenery.

We returned to find that Flea had passed her A-Levels and gained a place at her first choice university. She’s studying English, and from what I can see, is throwing herself into every possible life experience. This includes the good, the bad and the terrifying. She did a lot of learning in her first term! 

first term at university

Blogging is a Lifeline

I could tell you blogging for 16 years has been professionally beneficial or I’ve learned about technology or social media. I don’t know about that.

But I can say with certainty that blogging has been a lifeline. When I started I was newly single, living in a town where I knew nobody. Blogging gave me a connection to other, like-minded Mums. It’s not just a childhood we’ve captured, it’s our story. Me and Flea. She’s all grown up now. And I couldn’t be more proud.

Flea is 18

At every stage of parenting, blogging has  allowed me to share stories and challenges and memories and find support and understanding and advice that’s made me think differently about the way I parent. It’s helped me to make friends and be inspired about travel and reassure me that all parents and kids go through similar things on this journey.

But as I’ve said before, I am sure, I love that our story is here to be remembered. By me, and by readers but also by Flea. Look at the fun we had! Look at how much adventure we squeezed into our ordinary lives! See how much you were adored?

sally flea selfie

4 thoughts on “What you need to know before you share your child’s life online”

  1. Loved reading this and love that you’ve managed to keep blogging. Blogging was definitely a lifeline for me, too, and for so many of us, I think. I do miss it and my very sporadic blogging that is mostly about SEO to get people to find me and pay me to draw pretty pictures is not the same at all. Well done, Flea and good luck with A Levels and uni choices. And good luck to you for the future. I imagine it will feel quite strange for her to not be there xxx

    1. Oh goodness, it’s going to be a HUGE shift, and a whole new phase of life. I’ve got plans to keep busy, though, and I suppose the comfort for the next few years is that we’ll likely still see each other for half the year.

  2. Gosh I can’t remember when I started following you, but I have probably been here a good chunk of that time. I “found” blogs around 11yrs ago. It’s strange seeing this condensed growing up of Flea and realising how much she has grown without me noticing.

    The family estrangement post caught my eye, having been about 8 when my dad had a falling out with his brother. Suddenly, my cousin who was in the same school class as me stopped talking to me. Later when her parents separated and she started trying to befriend me again, I found it quite difficult to trust her for fear of it happening again.

    1. I love that I see these strapping young adults now on social media and I remember them being 4 and 5.

      With family splits, I can totally see where younger you was coming from. Although I’ve worked very hard to understand and forgive certain relatives for their actions, I can’t imagine ever letting them be in a position where they could do that to me or my child again. There would just never be any trust that they would be there for us in any meaningful or dependable way. (This being academic, because all the evidence suggests that we just don’t exist to them, these days)

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