“Just give me two minutes,” I say to my son and frantically add hashtags to my Instagram post for the day. #lifestyleblogger #motherhoodthroughinstagram. Is anyone else guilty of this? How about a quick check of your Facebook feed while you breastfeed? Especially during those long middle-of-the-night feeds.
Social media is ever-present in our lives. It’s changing aspects of our motherhood experience, including the way we find our community, reach out for and receive support, document and share family memories, and even how we communicate with our loved ones. Navigating the balance between our personal, social and business lives is a dilemma of modern parenting.
It begs the questions: are we a generation of mothers addicted to our devices and the instant gratification from likes and followers? Are we more-than-ever struggling with isolation, using social media to fulfill unmet needs?
As a mother and blogger, my internal dilemma about social media use is real. I choose to be a stay-at-home-mum and commit myself to being present with my kids living a life of internationalism. But I also author a blog. I use social media and maintain high ‘engagement’ in order to publicize my posts (to achieve my goals of connecting with and inspiring others). Striking the Mother-Blogger balance is a challenge. How frequently should I post? How much do I share? Am I guilty of allowing social media to distract me from motherhood? I bet many mums trying to combine motherhood with other endeavors such as blogging or running a small business face these questions.
Through social media we witness the rise of Picture-Perfect Motherhood. Instagram mums make it all look so easy and glamorous. Their smiling kids wear heirloom outfits in picture-perfect homes.
But how far are these scenes from reality and do these images negatively impact our own experiences of motherhood? For most, motherhood is hard, exhausting, lonely and messy. It’s easy to become a little envious of the apparent perfection of other people’s lives. With social media, we often put pressure on ourselves in pursuit of the lives of others. In fact several sources suggest a link between social media images and increased anxiety and perinatal depression.
I blog, and while I always try to keep them honest and real, I know my photos have a way of cropping some of the chaos out of life.
In an image-hungry, visually-driven culture, parents are keen to ‘capture’ memories. Our phones boast near-professional cameras so it’s easier than ever. But where does it end? Does picture-taking disrupt kids’ play and spontaneity? Are we so caught up in our desire to capture photographs and videos, that we fail to enjoy the privilege of having front row seats to the making of memories?
Social media use poses an ever-increasing distraction from our motherhood roles and responsibilities, but it can also enhance the experience of motherhood and this is important. Here are three ways social media can enhance motherhood:
1. Contact/ Interacting
Motherhood can be extremely isolating. The demands of young children and sleep-deprivation make finding the time and energy to make new – and maintain old – friendships difficult. Social media allows mums to stay connected.
2. Seeking Advice
The advice from books or fellow mums at play-dates seems somewhat redundant compared to the wealth of information and interactions available on Facebook groups and online forums. Anonymously, mums post questions, seek opinions from thousands of fellow mums, all willing to share advice. Parents need not struggle alone, afraid to ask silly questions to health professions, family or friends.
Beautiful pictures on Pinterest and Instagram inspire us. The imaginations of other mums captivate us. About everything from homeschooling ideas, arts and crafts, family traveling adventures, to kid’s fashion and playroom design and decor.
So, here are six ways to enjoy social media without it changing your experience of motherhood and the ability to be present in daily, family life:
- Identify times of the day when your phone is stashed away. Be intentional about the times when you want to be fully present.
- Take the positives from social interaction, the inspiration, and don’t get caught up in the comparison game.
- Avoid any screen time for 30-mins before bed. Don’t take your phone in your bed room, and don’t be tempted to have a quick peak during those night time feeds. Screen time can overstimulate and prevent you from achieving quality sleep which you need to parent.
- If you need to make notes, lists, write them on paper rather than using your phone. Kids love to see their parents reading and writing.
- If you do wish to post to social media daily, try creating these posts during the evening of the day before once the kids are in bed.
- Avoid the temptation to take too many photos. Rather, sit back and soak up the experience.