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From the forums - In praise of home alone, but mind the bumps

The pros of leaving kids to their own devices - and the cons of bad-taste pregnancy pics

The pros of leaving kids to their own devices - and the cons of bad-taste pregnancy pics

Parents among the members of the TES online staffroom have been debating the age at which children can be left on their own. Headforheights believes her son is now old enough at 11 to be left for short periods - "he probably won't even notice when he is plugged into his Xbox" - and asks at what age other posters started leaving children home alone.

It is not just a hypothetical question. Last month it emerged that a mother who left her 14-year-old son in charge of his three-year-old brother had been given a caution for cruelty, meaning she will fail a CRB check and will be unable to work with children for 10 years.

Lizziec takes the view that if her daughter is old enough to walk to school on her own for half-an-hour, she is old enough to be left in the house for the same amount of time.

Some posters recall their own childhood experiences. The Pobble says she used to look forward to her parents' fortnightly shopping trips, when, as a nine-year-old, she and her sister would be left to their own devices for a couple of hours. She put the time to good use. "While they were out we would make an enormous pile of sausage and mash with a tin of tomatoes and bake dad a coconut tart or apple crumble," she says.

That sounds like a good reason to start leaving children alone as soon as possible. Alone apart from some pie ingredients and a recipe, that is.

Katherinelily has a gripe about friends who pose for artfully-taken pictures of their pregnancy bump on Facebook. "I feel a little unkind for thinking it, but to me they just seem tacky and a bit pretentious and very, very artificial," she says.

But if she thought pictures were bad, Ecolady is on hand to direct staffroom members towards websites where women can get a "magical keepsake" of their pregnancy in the form of a plaster cast of their belly. These can be decorated or turned into bronze to become an even more magical - and expensive - work of art. They could be used as a delightful cot for baby, or a fruitbowl. Perhaps a sickbowl.

Great questions of our time number eight: ResourceFinder wants to know if fellow posters played tig or tag? There seems to be something of a NorthSouth divide in the answers, with tig, or tick, largely in the North, and tag in the South East. The Midlands is where it gets mixed up, which is par for the course. But catherinaaa is the exception. "For some reason we called it 'had'," she says. But do you become 'it', if you've been had?

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