Today we have a reader essay on one of our favorite time sucks…..INSTAGRAM! It’s a good one, mamas!
Oh, Instagram…I think we all have a love/hate relationship with that little square on our phone. It’s a place to find inspiration, good laughs, and stay in the loop with all your distant friends. It’s also there to drain your time and energy with pretty images of perfectly edited feeds. First, let’s talk about how Instagram can be NO BUENO:
1. It can plain distract you. From engaging in a tea party with your daughter. From having a real conversation with your husband. From doing the things that make you feel productive – like work, or cleaning, or showering.
2. It can leave you feeling envious. There are plenty of young moms or influencers you can follow with beautiful feeds of professional images – with model quality looks, travelling the world effortlessly as a family, with a home straight out of a magazine. As you sit there, un-showered, in day 2 yoga pants, surrounded by messes, you may be left feeling discouraged.
3. It can make you play the numbers game. Checking your phone incessantly to see how many likes or comments you got on a photo or story you posted. Determining how well people like you or what you have to say by the number or types of reactions to your posts. No good.
So, how do we avoid the NO BUENO? Here are my quick, simple tips:
1. Dedicate time to check the app. It’s easy to just click that box anytime your mind wanders,
you’re waiting in line or you’re at a stoplight. Having a few set times per day to check my Instagram keeps me from being continually distracted throughout my day and makes it more fun when I do check it. I try to set aside a few specific times per day to check my Instagram:
a. when I start my day – along with checking my emails and setting my to do list for the
b. when I get back from the gym on my lunch break
c. after Millie goes to bed
2. Follow the right accounts. Figure out why you have the app, what you want to feel when you check it, and then make sure that’s the experience you’re getting. For me, I go to Instagram to keep up with friends, laugh at funny things, see some rad fashion, and engage in a community of authentic mothers…because motherhood is better together. I want to feel inspired, encouraged, connected, and uplifted. Every once in a while, I’ll go through everyone I’m following, and unfollow any account that doesn’t align with the experience I want. It feels great to do a cleanup like that. Also, on this topic, sometimes that means unfollowing a friend, and that’s not a bad thing. For example, if you’re struggling with infertility, and you have a friend that’s posting about her pregnancy, and it’s triggering hard things for you – I’m sure your friend would understand if you unfollowed until you’re in a better place.
3. Quality over Quantity. This ties into point 2 above. If you’re intent is to connect and engage with others, then the numbers don’t matter. Would you rather have 40 people like your photo because it’s perfectly edited or 2 people comment that they’re going to try out the new goal- setting technique you suggested? When you watched that Instagram story and totally needed that tip on how to deal with a toddler meltdown, comment back that you appreciate them sharing and you’ll give it a try. It will be so valued. Remember that it’s a community, and that means you can share your experience to give value to others.
As a bonus, I’ll share with you some of the Instagram accounts that I follow, specifically related to motherhood, that I’ve found the most encouraging. They have led to blogs, webinars, Q&A’s, and other great resources that I’ve so appreciated. Real-life mom friends are invaluable, but these ladies are doing some very brave, genuine things on this tiny little app that are engaging women and building a community of love and strength.