Social media made me feel like I was parenting ‘wrong’—so I took a step back

Days with a baby can be very, very long. He isn’t always happy and dancing. There are clingy days, teething days, fussy days. There are days when I haven’t slept or he isn’t napping and I don’t know why. And I look for an escape—a connection to other mothers, some assurance that my baby is okay—usually through social media.

But what’s hard for me is to log on to my network, my chosen internet “village,” and instantly feel like I’m parenting all wrong.

On Instagram, there are pictures of clean, clutter-free houses, beautiful meals and glamorous makeup. Babies are happily chilling in baby carriers, going on adventures and cooing, not crying.

The group I joined to get baby food ideas? Moms are going back and forth about baby led weaning or traditional purees. “Your baby will only eat chicken nuggets forever if you feed them like that!”

Then there’s the baby sleep group discussing all of the future sleep regressions I will be facing— the 8-10-month regression, the 12 month regression, the 18 month regression, and 2 year regression.

The headlines from news sources on my News Feed were even against me: “Ways new moms hurt their babies without even knowing.” (Seriously?!)

Sometimes, to be honest, my social media feeds make me feel inadequate. And it can be overwhelming at times.

So recently, when I was feeling this way, I shut down my laptop. I needed a break. Then I grabbed my phone, put the ringer on in case of emergency, moved it out of sight, then put on some music.

I looked at my 10-month-old son.

He was dancing to the music and laughing.

He was absolutely fine.

In this moment it hit me—we are doing a really great job together. We’re a team.

So I danced with him. I picked up the Megablocks that were scattered on the floor, and he took them out again. We played with his walker. We had a baby conversation. We had breakfast. I had coffee—without the distraction of social media. I felt at peace. I was content. And, clearly, my baby was, too.

When I did finally go back online, I felt refreshed and relaxed. I unfollowed a bunch of Facebook pages that didn’t suit me at that moment. I unfollowed any Instagram account that made me feel bad about the way I’m doing things.

That was the start of something new. I’m home by myself a lot, and I enjoy the connection online. I don’t want to delete my social media accounts, since I do find helpful advice, connection and inspiration there.

Instead, I’m working on decluttering my feed like I would declutter my house. Nothing that sends me into a googling spiral. Nothing that inspires intense controversy for no reason. Nothing that constantly irritates me when I see it on my social feeds. More accounts with “You got this!” vibes and positivity. ?

This helps me keep everything in perspective. I know that those shiny, happy Instagrams don’t tell the whole story. I get it. Even my own pictures don’t. My baby looks sweet and happy and my living room spotless, but it took 20 minutes to get him to stay still for a one second photo and I cropped out the mess. I know people’s social media pages are mostly their highlight reel, and it’s okay to enjoy looking at it and feel inspired.

However, when I feel overwhelmed and start to question myself, I will close the browser screen and try to focus on what is right in front of me. My baby.

He is okay if he eats cheese twice a day, or if he still hasn’t eaten kale.

He is okay if the way I parent him is different than what someone else might do.

He is okay if some of his toys flash and play music.

He is happy and he is loved. And there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with that.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Well, you can see where this is going.

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