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Parenting in a Pre-Social Media Era

Today, it's hard to escape the pressure of being the "perfect" mom, thanks to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and all the other platforms that bombard us with picture perfect moments and unsolicited advice. But back when my kids were babies, things were different.

When my kids were newborns and toddlers, social media wasn't even a blip on my radar. I never had MySpace. Instagram didn't come out until October 2010 and my youngest was born December 2010, and TikTok was still just a twinkle in someone's eye. My oldest daughter was born into a world where my primary focus was on nurturing her, not curating a picture-perfect online persona. There were no constant comparisons or unending noise from other parents' feeds.

For the first several years of my kids' lives, I remained blissfully uninterested in social media. I remember rocking my oldest to sleep, zoning out to episodes of "The Real Housewives of Orange County," without the nagging feeling that I should be documenting every moment or following the latest parenting trends. There was no pressure to "do this, don't do that" from the online world.

It wasn't until my oldest daughter entered third grade and became involved in competitive All Star cheer that I had to join Facebook because it served as the main communication tool for her cheerleading team and gym. My venture into Instagram was similarly motivated by wanting to share moments of my kids' lives with family members who were scattered across various cities. Instagram provided a convenient platform for sharing pictures and staying connected with my dad, who was frequently traveling for work in Atlanta, my sister in Nashville, and numerous relatives spread out in different areas.

During my late twenties and early thirties, I experienced the freedom of raising my kids without the constant barrage of curated content from other parents. I wasn't inundated with perfectly staged photos of family outings, meticulously organized playrooms, constant advice on do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that, noise around food and workouts and post baby bodies and so on. Instead, I parented in my own way, guided by my values and instincts, using my own inner guidance and inner wisdom, rather than by the pressure to conform to an idealized version of motherhood presented on social media.

I didn't have social media to post their milestones at the time or their accolades.

Reflecting on this time, I realize how fortunate I was to have navigated those early years of motherhood without the added stress of social media. It allowed me to develop a parenting style that was true to myself and responsive to the unique needs of my kids.

The psychological impact of social media on parenting cannot be understated. Studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression. For parents, this can translate into an overwhelming sense of failure, as they strive to meet the unrealistic standards set by influencers and peers. The curated perfection we see online can make us question our abilities and decisions, leading to a constant state of self-doubt.

In today’s world, the temptation to compare is every so present. I even think about now in their teens, almost all the adults I follow constantly post about their kids accolades. Their test scores, their awards, their new sporting milestones, and on and on and on. Yes, my kids are very smart and do well in school but I don't want to post THEIR achievements, what if a parent is dealing with a child with learning disabilities, or some kids just have a very tough time in school. Constantly seeing these posts can make a parent feel a certain way. Not to mention this is your child's victories not the parents, but that is a whole other topic.

Social media can create unrealistic expectations and a sense of inadequacy, but it is important to remember that behind every perfect post is a reality that is much more complex. As moms, we must strive to maintain balance, using these platforms as tools for connection and support while not allowing them to dictate our self-worth or parenting decisions.

Parenting is hard, and each era brings its own set of difficulties and advantages. By embracing the lessons from the past and combining them with the resources available today, we can create a nurturing environment for our kids that prioritizes their well-being over external perceptions. Let's cherish the moments that matter, whether they are shared on social media or not, and remember that the true measure of our success as parents lies in the love and care we provide, away from the screens and in the heart of our homes.

We can use these platforms to stay connected with distant relatives, share milestones, and seek support from other parents. However, we must also set boundaries to ensure that social media does not consume our lives or negatively impact our mental health.

One way to achieve this balance is by being selective about what we choose to share and whom we follow. We should curate our feeds to include content that uplifts and inspires us, rather than content that makes us feel inadequate or we start to compare ourselves to others. It is important to take regular breaks from social media to focus on the present and engage in real-world interactions with our children and loved ones.

If you have a mindfulness practice this can help us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and better manage the stress and pressure that can come from social media. Mindfulness can help us stay grounded and present, allowing us to fully experience the joys and challenges of parenting without the constant distraction of digital devices.

I think the key to successful parenting in the digital age is to stay true to ourselves and our values. Helping us focus on what truly matters, which is for me my kids well-being, my relationships, and my own mental health.

Remember that no amount of likes or followers can measure the love and care we provide to our families. The moments we share in the heart of our homes, away from the screens, are the ones that truly matter.

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