Social media has it’s perks (it can help spread awareness, save lives, and even enables you to know what your 6th grade lab partner who lives 3,000 miles away had for lunch – just to name a few). But it also has a sneaky little way of inducing guilt upon mothers due to the constant state of comparison. You can see who is making what craft with their kids and who is taking their kids to what special places, all while you sit at your computer checking status updates on Facebook. You really should get on the ball, right? Your kids are watching TV while the highlight reel of everyone else’s daily adventures spins before you eyes. Ahh quick! Go on Pinterest, find something spectacular to do! Ahh! Your kids aren’t interested! Ahh! You’ve probably screwed them up for life! Ahhh! What kind of mother are you? Sound familiar?
If I’ve led you into one of these unnecessary tizzy’s before based on something I’ve written let me first apologize and second clarify: I love my kids deeply BUT, I believe in “semi” free range parenting. I don’t believe in structuring their every move, I believe in independent play and engaging in meaningful interactions in small bursts throughout our daily routine. Translation: I don’t need or want to be up my kids behind every second of the day.
So tonight as you scroll through your feed on social media you may come across one (or all) of the following images or blog posts and be instantaneously smacked in the face with guilt because it’s something that you are not doing. But, I’m here to tell you why you need not be.
Ok first is the picture with the caption, “I just love playing house with my little baby!”
Ok, I love watching my kids play independently. Their little minds in motion and the things they say…. agh, it’s enough to melt my heart. But do I always love playing with my kids? Um, no, actually I don’t. When I do interact, I want it to be something we both enjoy so it’s not forced. When my kids ask me to play make-believe games with them, I cringe a little inside. It’s just not my thing, and besides, half of the time I never say the right things. “No, mom. It’s not time for night-night and also, you are sitting in the water over there. You need to come over here on the ship or a shark is gonna eat you.” *sigh*….. I’d rather toss pitches or read books or dance together or just have a snuggle and a conversation.
And I’m pretty sure this way of thinking is shunned in the world of social media. No one snaps a picture of them playing Barbies with their kid and captions it, “I’d rather be drinking Chardonnay with my girlfriends”. Heck no. Because we love our kids and we want to spend time with them and sometimes we do things like play trivial games with them because we know it makes THEM happy. It’s okay if it’s not 100% enjoyable for you. I’m pretty sure that is normal. If you’d rather match a laundry basket full of missing socks than pretend to be a Power Ranger, then call me, we should be friends.
Then there is the viral post that makes moms think they should spend hours snuggling with their child at night….
Okay confession time: When I put my kids to bed at night I beeline it out of their room, rip off my kid-encrusted clothes, put on the coziest ensemble within reach, then dash down the stairs and plop my arse on the couch with some mommy juice for a few hours of time A.L.O.N.E. I open my computer, surf Facebook for a bit and then it pops up. One of those articles that tries to make you feel guilty about this me-time you are rewarding yourself with after a busy day. According to so and so, you should really be spending time snuggling your baby upstairs because these years will be gone before you know it. NO. Don’t buy it. Your kid needs to sleep and you need alone time. How are you supposed to plan the 87 activities for tomorrow if you have zero minutes to yourself? Most times I don’t even finish reading these articles because I know it will just make me feel bad and I really don’t need to do this every single night. Am I saying to do this never? NO. Do it when you can and make it special, or start bedtime early enough so that you can talk and snuggle without encroaching on your time. And snuggle them all day long! Who says the important ones happen only night?
Then there is a picture like this one with the caption: “Let them stop and smell the roses. Let’s stop telling our children to hurry up!”
Um, okay. If I never told my kids to hurry up they’d probably still be lolligagging through breakfast and I’d still be plucking cheerios off the floor (and it is currently 2:24 in the afternoon.) When you tell your kids to hurry up you are instilling a concept of time in their heads. Now means, well, NOW. They will have plenty of time to “smell the roses” throughout their day. Now is not one of them.
And then there is the status update where a mom feels bad about telling her child to “wait a minute” 10 times in the last hour and vows to never let them wait again.
Yes, I totally 100% agree that we should give our kids even more instant gratification than they already have in this day and age…… ahhh, NO! Ok so let me set this scene straight: 99% of the time my kids need something from me, I am already distracted doing another task for them or for one of their siblings. So when I tell them to wait a minute, I really need them to wait a minute!!! The other 1% of the time, I am probably doing something mindless, like looking at cute shoes online, so when I tell them to wait a minute, I also really need them to wait a minute. I am taking schidgen of a mental break and for everyone’s sake, having them wait a minute is probably the best scenario. And think 12 years ahead, what does a teenager look like who’s never had to wait for anything ever? That is a whole level of egocentricity that I’m not sure I want to imagine.
And finally, we come across the 100 Day Challenge of moms who have banded together and promise to never yell at their kids again. Ever.
Wait, what? You’re kidding right. Picture me right now with an utterly puzzled expression on my face. Similar to the face of a child who just found out Santa isn’t real. Yeah. I have no words for this.
While I am certain that the intentions of these pictures, articles, videos and such are NOT to make us feel like we are doing something wrong, sometimes they do. The point of this post is just a little reminder: We all love our kids, but the way we show them that love doesn’t have to look the same. We can stop questioning our parenting and the amount of love that we give to our children or the way we speak to our children based on photographs and status updates. Think about something you did today that made your child feel loved. Don’t let what someone else did (or didn’t do) take that away from you. That’s just social media guilt that we really don’t need in our lives. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now 😉