Facebook. MySpace. Think blogs and many parents immediately think about these social networking communities, popular with young teens and tweens and feared by parents as a place where sharing detailed information can cause problems and possibly compromise safety.
Social networking and blogging, however, are not feared by all parents. In fact, "mommy blogs" have become a popular niche in the blogosphere. Taking advantage of late night posts and a community of fellow parents, many moms have embraced blogging from the beginning, finding ways to share the joys and struggles of parenthood, chronicle their experiences online and share their insights and tips with fellow mommies and daddies.
Blogging offers an outlet for moms and an opportunity to receive comments from others outside of a familiar social circle. "This has become my journal," says Dawn Albrecht, a stay-at-home mom of three. "It's great to have a place to share your ideas, even if it isn't a huge audience all of the time."
Bloggers still have to regard privacy as a priority, especially when children are involved in the topic of conversation. "Personally, I avoid putting too much personal info online. I don't like the idea of people being able to see pictures of my kids and knowing too much about them," Albrecht says. "I'd blog about what you know, what excites you, what inspires you, what you want to learn about, but not too much child detail. Maybe it's the mom in me, but I try to be really careful about the information that goes on the blog."
Interested in trying a mommy blog? You'll need blogging software to get started. Try a free blog at www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.com to get going. Follow these tips to make your blog fun and family-friendly.
Protect your privacy
Talking about your inner feelings with the world is one thing, but beware of sharing personal details about your friends, family, co-workers or relationships. When referring to kids, some parents use first initials or nick names that are not identifiable. Avoid adding details about your child's school, day care, sports team or camp location.
Proof your pictures
Adding pictures to your blog may be a way for you to personalize your posts and connect with your audience. However, be cautious. Watch for monogrammed or personalized clothing that might reveal a child's name or school. Look for items in the background, like a license plate number or house number that can give away locations.
Once you're on the Internet, you've gone public. A detailed post about your toddler's potty training trials and a photo of him on the potty chair may be cute, but not as adorable a few years down the line if his classmates find your blog. Items published on the Internet can linger in cyberspace for years if you continue blogging or do not delete your blog completely. Think ahead before you carry on about something that might be embarrassing or detrimental to a family member in the future.
Count to 10 before you send
Blogs can be very therapeutic-a way to blow off the trials and tribulations of being a parent, a spouse and employee. But parenting can be emotional, so make sure you read over what you've written and make sure you're ready to go public. Once it's out there, there's no taking it back and a post sent in haste can have serious ramifications.
Share your expertise
Whether you realize it or not, you're an expert on something. Putting some thought into the focus of your blog can help make your blog helpful to others, enjoyable to read and give you some direction as you post.
The beauty of blogging is connecting with others. Check out these parent blogs to see what other moms and dads have to blog about.
• themomsalon.com The Mom Salon-where women find the smartest mom blogs.
• themommyblog.net The Mommy Blog-adventures from the wonder-belly of motherhood.
• themomblogs.com A directory of mommy blogs organized by interest and topic.