I'm learning to accept that likes, loves and share reactions don't define my parenting or who I am as a person.
Hello. My name is Jennifer and I had an unhealthy relationship with social media.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's dive right into a typical day, shall we? Perhaps it's similar to yours.
It's 5:00 a.m. and my son just woke me up crying. As I roll over, the first thought entering my mind (after why so early, kid?) is I NEED to check my phone. Not want. NEED. Or if I don't, I will be strung out thinking about it for the next few hours.
So I do. I quickly check my e-mail, Snapchat, Facebook and text messages.
After feeding my son, I refresh my apps and see what I could have possibly missed in the last 20 minutes. I check all the Facebook groups I'm in and go as far back as I need to catch up making sure I've seen every new post. You know, to get rid of all the numbers next to my groups. (Spoiler alert—I belong to a ton of Facebook groups and this takes significant time.)
"Weet-woot." There's an Apple alert. My anxiety and fear of missing out don't let the alert go unattended for long.
As I play with my son I realize I'm getting frustrated because my phone keeps going off so I'm in and out of the playroom more times than I can count to check my phone. Nothing important, honestly. Friends sending memes about Netflix and cute dog GIFs.
Before we venture to the store, I sit in the car for several minutes browsing Instagram and mom blogs and then check it again while pushing the grocery cart. My phone is even in my hand on my morning walks with my son.
Here lies the other problem. I don't like the example my phone behavior sets for my son, so I hide it—I'll go in the bathroom, the closet or the shower to scroll without his eyes on me. I get sucked into news articles while I aimlessly scroll through my social feeds. I read the most useless posts until I've gone so far down the media rabbit hole I'm taking quizzes on what type of pizza I am. (Pepperoni, in case you were wondering.)
I've spent money I shouldn't have because of social media, too. Well-catered-to advertisements of candles, leggings, toddler toys and hair styling tools have me *adding to cart* way too frequently.
As soon as my son goes to bed, no matter how tired I am, I lie in bed late into the night going through dozens of emotions bubbling up from what I see through my screen—jealousy, anger, judgment, happiness, urgency, boredom.
And then the morning rolls around and I pick up my phone and repeat the same process of another all-consuming day of social media. Right off the bat, I'm inundated with thoughts of being inadequate setting my mood for the rest of the day.
They are prettier than me.
That mom gets to work out?
Her husband is so romantic.
Wow, their kid sleeps through the night and is always smiling?
We constantly hear about making sure we're limiting screentime for kids, but what about adults? What about me? My behavior was causing drops in productivity, low self-esteem, a disconnect with my spouse and most negatively—it was stressing my toddler out because he felt like he was second to my phone.
While I love technology for keeping me connected to friends and family afar, it's ruining some relationships and causing unnecessary frustration. And let's face it, parenting is stressful enough without stress we pile on top of ourselves.
As a mom, I just want to feel included. I want to be in the loop and involved in what's happening outside our little bubble. Social media has helped with that, acting as a relaxing escape.
Unfortunately, it eventually turned into a problem and I have felt consumed by a world that wasn't my own.
So I'm taking time away from social media now, and I'm feeling better already. My house doesn't look like a Pottery Barn ad, my son and I didn't travel somewhere exotic and post our photos and my husband didn't surprise me with a romantic date night. BUT, being present and seeing the beauty in our family life with my own two eyes rather than through the lens of an iPhone has given me a sense of worth and accomplishment no amount of "likes" ever could.
I'm learning to accept that likes, loves and share reactions don't define my parenting or who I am as a person.Being present over posted does.