Social media. It is a mother’s biggest blessing and biggest curse all rolled into one pretty little newsfeed. We are all guilty of wasting time on Instagram when we should be doing something else, or having a mindless scroll when it is more important to be paying full attention to our children and be in the moment. I know I am guilty of all of the above, and it is something that I am trying to get better at. On the flip side, I find comfort in Instagram and some of the people I have gotten to know behind the screens. Sometimes this motherhood gig can start to feel overwhelming, and it is comforting to know that there is someone else out there going through the exact same stage with their child. Now don’t get me wrong – nothing beats a face-to-face catchup, but there is also something about being able to turn to a community of mamas with children the same age as yours with the simple swipe of a phone at any hour of the day.
Something very prevalent in the social media mum community, is what some have called the ‘FML Mums’, and I feel like this description is spot on. We all follow them – they are the ones that seem to feel like they have been saddled with an unfair disadvantage at life by choosing to have children. I saw one post in particular this morning pop up on my explore feed (I don’t follow this person because I don’t like their negative vibe) that consisted of a sassy quote complaining about motherhood. It wasn’t highly offensive, but for some reason, this was the post that tipped my tolerance levels over the edge. I am definitely not the first person to write about this, and I am by no means declaring to be a perfect mum (far from it, in fact!), but I wanted to bring this up as a topic of conversation and see if anyone else was feeling a bit fed up with this current trend. Motherhood is hard. But more importantly, motherhood is our biggest blessing, our biggest teacher, something that we chose but also chose us – and for that – we should feel grateful every. single. day.
I think there definitely needs to be a happy medium when it comes to motherhood and how we portray it on social media and in real life. I choose to focus on the positive side of motherhood on my feed, and try to find light in even the harder days. I made the decision a long time ago that I wasn’t going to post in detail about bad days me or my son were having. I might mention that the day was challenging, but going into detail on anything more I feel is a total breach of his privacy. I see some people post very embarrassing things about their children, calling them names and declaring that they are going to sell them. I see mothers proclaiming that keeping a messy house and messy children permanently is ok because #sanity and being rather proud of it. In my eyes that is just possibly a cover for being lazy. Yes – of course, that is all said in jest and of course, we all have bad days, but that is just what they should be – bad days. Not a lifestyle to aspire to. Unfortunately these ‘keeping it real’ types have such a big influence over their followings (they are called influencers, after all!) it has now resulted in a cult-like mindset that any mother that posts about how much she loves her kids, or shares a snap of the healthy bento box she lovingly prepares her children each morning for school gets mum-shamed and called out for being fake or trying to project a perfect life. Which brings me to ask the question – Since when has being happy or caring equaled being fake??
‘Keeping it real’ – what does it actually mean?
I think this term has been vastly over-used the past few years on social media, which has lead to confusion because everyone’s ‘real’ looks very different. And so it should! My interpretation of ‘keeping it real’ simply means being honest with yourself. Is your house a mess because you and the kids had a tough day, or because you are being influenced by others to think that that is keeping it real? Do you actually think that mums who make bento boxes or put an effort into their appearance are really fake, or perhaps they might just enjoy the creative outlet because their day job before motherhood allowed it? (These are just examples – so please do not think I am pinpointing anyone!). The ‘keeping it real’ trend is one that I am keen to see gone sooner rather than later, because to me it just doesn’t make any sense!
Finding the Joy in Motherhood
In case anyone needs a reset due to the influence of others on social media, I have a few tips to help you find the joy in motherhood every single day. I have collected this information the past year, and find that it helps me when we are having ‘one of those’ days and I need a reminder.
- Practise gratitude. Be it through writing it down in a journal, saying it to yourself as you brush your teeth just before bed or using it as a nightly topic of discussion at dinner time if you have older children. Since I have been practising gratitude nighlty (or thereabouts!), I have noticed a shift in my mindset, and feel like I am ‘chasing’ less and more grateful for the things and people that are already in front of me. (I use this journal).
- We’ re all in this together. (cue High School Musical dance scene visual) Voicing your frustrations to someone that is in a similar situation to you helps so much when it comes to changing negative energy to positive. I have a tribe of mamas in real life and on Instagram that I go to when I need reassurance that everything is OK. Internalising everything is only bound to make you feel negative and spiteful.
- Choose Joy. I know this can sound a bit silly, but if you choose to welcome joy into your life, it will come. Can we control everything that happens to us? No, we cant. But can we control how we react to it? Yes, most definitely! I am still learning to do this, as I am very sarcastic and practical by nature (which can sometimes come across as negative. But its just my practical mind being annoying haha!) but when I consciously choose a joyful mindset, I notice such a difference.
- Look after you. It is ok to put yourself first. If you do not show yourself some love, your parenting will suffer. I feel like mothers very easily fall into the trap of martyrdom, but it is not necessary. Yes, of course, there will be many times when you need to put the needs of your child before your own, but just be conscious about losing sight of you. You still matter very much.
- Do not compare. The saying Comparison is the thief of joy could not be any truer. Social Media does have a lot to answer for when it comes to comparing ourselves with others, but at the end of the day, we are the ones responsible for how we bring this into our lives. If I ever feel a pang of jealousy when looking at feeds on Instagram or friends in real life – I take a step back and ask why. Nine times out of ten, it is purely something superficial or aesthetic, so I end up doing one of two things. I ask myself if the particular thing I am feeling a bit jealous about is something that I could achieve myself. If the answer is yes, then I figure out how I can put myself on that path, and the jealousy turns into aspiration. If the answer is no, then I practise gratitude and almost immediately, the feeling disappears. The mind is truly your most powerful tool in life! An amazing book I read recently by Brene Brown really helped me with this, and I kind of feel like it is a book that everyone should read!
I challenge everyone to take a look at the influences in their life and see if there are any that are affecting your mindset when it comes to joyful motherhood. If you are following a ‘FML mum’ (sorry, it does make me giggle) on Instagram and you feel like it is clouding your judgment – then unfollow them. I did this a while back, and it made such a difference. Give the ‘positive parenting’ influencers another chance! If you are friends in real life with someone who focuses on the negative too much, then cut down the time you spend with them, or perhaps have an open and honest chat to explain where your head is at. Remember that everything in life – especially our time with our children – is temporary. So please, (in the words of the great Ferris Bueller ?) keep in mind that life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Much love to you all,