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How Social Media is Affecting Our Parenting

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I’ll come right out and tell you that I spend three or more hours on my social media accounts a day. A lot of it is supporting my blog and working towards my goal of being able to work from home, but a portion of that goes to looking into other peoples lives as well.

Lives that seem so nice and perfect. Millennial moms with cute linen rompers, clean modern kitchens with neutral palettes, great vintage furniture finds, and baby toys that are so pretty they look more like decor. When I was pregnant and a new mom, this is what I imagined my life would and should be.

Social Media Defined Motherhood

At month five or six, when my house was an ever-growing disaster, baby toys in all colors of the rainbow were sprawled across my living room floor.

My babies linen romper had long past been wet with drool and he was now donning a cheesy graphic onesie that said something like “World’s Most Expensive Alarm Clock”.

All those images of “good moms” floated around in my head and I wondered, why I couldn’t be a better mom?

What is a good mom? Is it an Instagram feed all covered in complimentary images and clean homes?

Is it cute packed lunches with seasonal themes and planned sensory activities every day?

Or, is it showing up everyday to be a better mom than you were the day before? Is it taking care of yourself so that you don’t lose your temper and shout all day?

If I had written down what motherhood meant to me at this point I would have written things like these:

  • Organized: clean house, always prepared
  • Productive: always working, cleaning, cooking, etc
  • Energized: never resting, never tired
  • Fit and Active: finding time to exercise and do active things with kids
  • Well-dressed: the entire family
  • Good at everything: renaissance woman, baking, cooking, cleaning, educational activities, I MUST DO IT ALL

It wasn’t until months later after striving and striving for this idea of “motherhood” that I realized I was worn out, unhappy, my self-esteem was gone, and I was falling further and further into disorganization, anxiety, and finally depression.

I was depressed and closing myself off because I thought I was a bad mom. I was afraid someone would see straight through me at any minute. A mention of something I had forgotten or done wrong made me spiral further into the fear that I was a bad mother and a bad wife.

All the things I was doing well as a mother were buried under a mountain of expectations that could never be met.

Unrealistic Expectations from Social Media

Where did these expectations come from? They came from these images all over my phone. Still images, posed and unposed, of imperfect humans that were chasing to only share the perfect moments. The moments where they appeared to have it all together.

The reality is that none of us have it all together. Social media is a place for us to share the best of ourselves.

The days where we planned a fun activity and it went great are all over Instagram. The day our kid got a hold of a marker and sucked on it until his whole mouth was green? Un-shockingly absent from our Facebook feed.

My challenge to you is this: throw away that old list and write a new one. Write a paragraph or a page or something about what TRUE motherhood is to you.

What is in reach for you? Maybe a tidy home, quality time with your kids, picture perfect social media, a good marriage, self-care, and everything else is too hard! It is for most people. Stop letting social media define what being a good parent is.

Our Identity as Mothers

Only you can decide what your dreams are for daily parenting. I challenge you to spend some time reflecting on what made your parents great influences or what you wish they would have done better.

I contemplated who I wanted to truly be as a mother, what I thought motherhood should look like. I decided to try and write down what things I wanted to be everyday for my son, JJ.

  • Kind; even when it is hard.
  • Empathetic; even when it seems trivial (I know you want to play with the kitchen scissors and it makes you sad that you can’t, but you are one and you will most likely impale yourself and die.)
  • Playful; I want to really play everyday. Not looking at my phone and handing toys back and forth.
  • Focused; on what I need to do to give him the best life possible.
  • Purposeful; using each day to its fullest, finding teachable moments wherever I can.

Write your list. Not my list.

A list that you can strive for everyday that isn’t defined by your social media feed. That is VOID of expectations and FULL of goals.

I have very rarely lived up this list. Everyday I mess up in some way, but the way you prove to yourself (no one else’s opinion matters) that you are a good mom? Try again tomorrow.

Social Media Limits

Start by limiting your social media. If you notice that you are spending more time on social media than you do playing with or reading to your child, QUIT IT. Make a change today. Delete the apps for a bit, put a timer on it. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Next, stop following accounts that make you feel like a bad mother. Look for accounts that highlight true, messy, slobbery, parenthood and follow those instead.

If you find that there is one account that you go back to constantly that makes you feel less than… DELETE.

Some millennial mom that makes a derogatory comment about moms that do not breastfeed? BLOCK.

You get the idea. Make a change, make yourself happy. You cannot do that on someone else’s InstaStory! Stop letting social media define your experience as a mom.

Remember Others

When you post on your social media think about the new mom, the struggling mom, the depressed mama. Is what I am posting going to make her think that she is doing a bad job?

I am not telling you not to share your SUPAH cute posed baby pictures. PLEASE do. I love a good baby pic.

Post your cute pictures, but leave off the captions:

“Breast is best. Formula is trash.”

“Managed to clean and organize my whole kitchen, teach my one year old to count to ten, and learn Mandarin today.”

“Being a mom is literally the easiest thing I have ever done #lovemylife”

Say things that are true, honest, and geared towards building one another up as women and as mothers!

“Grateful to be able to nurse my little man.”

“Had a productive day and spent some quality time with my nugget.”

“I love being this little girl’s mama. #babymama”

You get it. Mamas 4 Mamas. Women 4 Women. All that good stuff.

Ultimately we are in charge of how we take what we read on social media. We have to decide what our hearts and minds can take and how they are going to process the images we see on our newsfeed. Be safe out there in the digital age mamas, and remember as long as your kid is clean, fed, and loved you are ROCKING it.

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