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How Social Media is Stressing You Out, Mom

5 steps to revamp your unhealthy online habits.

How Social Media is Stressing You Out, Mom

Like many modern moms, your Instagram feed is probably packed with shots of your tiny tot giggling, goofing off and just being plain adorable. Your little love’s mere presence in your posts triggers a “like” spike, and, let’s be honest, that can feel really good. This affirmation from your invisible audience seems to validate a basic human need to feel accepted. But have you ever noticed yourself feeling blue after you toggle between several mediums to share what should be a happy moment? If so, you are not alone. New research confirms a paradoxical phenomenon linking the more social media use -- not just in the amount of time spent on social media, but in the quantity of platforms we use -- with greater risks of depression and anxiety.

According to the study, which was published by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, these feelings of sadness and unease can cause you to negatively reflect on your experiences. It can diminish your happiness and subsequently cast a gloomy shadow over your interactions with your kids. Suddenly what should be a beautiful moment with your child feels dark and icky.

These negative feelings can arise in part from trying to live up to the unrealistic existence we curate in our social media feeds. As we post on our different channels, we begin to set impossible expectations upon ourselves and then devalue our accomplishments. The tyranny of these “shoulds” gets louder and louder and further fuels feelings of inadequacy. As a result, moms report experiencing fears that their less glamorous lives will be exposed. So they work to maintain the illusion that causes them to feel like imposters in their own lives.

Don’t feel despair if you’ve been caught in this loop. Here are 5 tips to help you fight back and overcome your social media shortcomings.

1. Recognize the stress that social media causes you. Awareness is the first step toward change. So if you find yourself feeling distressed, know that you are already on your journey to self-improvement. Social media can have a strong hold on your life, especially when the little ones comes into the picture. But armed with information and stress-busting techniques, you can fight it back to where it belongs. When you have greater awareness into your authentic self, you can make decisions that support your genuine needs.

2. One-week social media detox. By simply limiting the quantity of platforms you regularly frequent, you will reduce any symptoms of anxiety you may have. Challenge yourself to go cold turkey by writing down the time you spend on each platform. Then organizing the list in order of value added to your life. For the ones in the bottom 20 percent, hit delete and cut them out of your regular rotation. Try it for 10 days and see if you notice a change in your emotional state.

3. Pursue acceptance. Be kind to yourself. Keep in mind that your relationship with social media grew over time, so understandably, it will take some time to create more balance. Ask yourself why it feels so important to amass “likes” and examine the value you assign to this virtual validation. Give yourself a test: try emailing your photos to select friends and family members and notice if their responses elicit happier feelings than garnering multiple likes.

4. Be aware of your own gratitude. If you feel disconnected from your kids’ accomplishments, you can repair those feelings by raising awareness of your own gratitude. By acknowledging the goodness in your life, you can connect to something larger than your individual experience. Gratitude is also associated with greater happiness and helps you overcome adversity. Begin by creating a “gratitude journal” comprised of thoughts, events and experiences that contribute to a positive existence. The list may range from knowing how to make your little one laugh, to your partner’s good health, to catching blooming azaleas while out on a stroll. Try keeping the list in an easily accessible place, like on your phone or on a small pad you can take with you everywhere, and continually add to the inventory, so you can easily reference it when you’re having a stressful moment.

5. Don’t do it alone. . If you find yourself feeling constantly anxious or down but are unable to pinpoint the source of these feelings, it may be worthwhile to explore counseling. If you symptoms of anxiety persist and influence your daily functioning, you don’t have to suffer in silence. A professional therapist can help you unpack some contributing emotional issues and come up with a game plan to better manage your social media response.

Lindsay Liben, LCSW, has a private therapy practice near Union Square, focusing on women’s issues including depression, anxiety, and life transitions. She believes that by helping her patients get in touch with their most authentic selves, they can make choices that set them up for personal and professional success. Learn more about Lindsay and her work on her website.

 

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

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