For a while now, social media has been occupying a huge part of our lives; we’ve all interacted with it somehow. Social media definitely has its perks, however, it can be detrimental to our well-being for various reasons and most of you have probably experienced this in one shape or form. In this technological era, new mamas or even mamas with multiple children have turned to social media looking for support, guidance, or validation. But at what cost?
The Benefits of Social Media in Motherhood:
Social media has been and is a useful tool for mamas. Probably many of you have opened up one of your social media platforms in search of a good laugh. Or maybe, you were looking for support or looking to connect with other mamas.
It’s a great new way to feel less alone; for example, it’s much easier to find communities that fit your specific needs.
Social media is also a great tool to see what others mamas are doing and get inspired. It’s also great for entertainment and learning new things from other mamas from other countries and cultures.
There’s a Lot Out There for Mamas
The more social media grows, the wider the array of creators, or as we call them “momfluencers”.
There are a lot of people out there: Instagram or Tik Tok personalities there to entertain or to empower women; psychologists; nutrition and sleep consultants; doctors. And the list goes on.
We’re surrounded by experts, available at our fingertips, who can provide us with more modern educational baby/child-related advice. You’ve most likely come across “mom hacks” (for example, taking your baby’s onesie off from top to bottom instead of bottom to top), tips and tricks, guidance on a sleeping routine based on your baby’s age, what foods you can feed your baby, etc. As you can see, theres a lot.
Is it All Good Though?
Seems all fun and dandy, but social media is affecting us as mamas, whether we like it or not. Most of you probably scroll through your Instagram or Tik Tok in the morning or at night. For some mamas, though, especially ones who are looking for validation, are probably getting the opposite of what they were looking for. In fact, it can really make us doubt ourselves as mamas; question our ways (which can be a good thing, but to what extent?).
The Idealization of Motherhood Through Social Media & Our Self-Esteem
The portrayal of motherhood as depicted on social media doesn’t always depict a realistic experience of motherhood. It can really have a negative impact on our self-esteem, because most representations of motherhood are portrayed as aspirational content and polished lives where the daily life of a mother is joyous, full of excitement, love and smiles.
It can make us believe that motherhood isn’t hard; that bad days mean you’re not doing a good job and aren’t a good mother. And even worse…it can make you feel extremely guilty for not being like those social media mamas.
Motherhood is extraordinarily idealized online; motherhood looks so perfect. A stroll in the park, a giggling baby, mamas holding their babies and smiling; all perfect moments that make you feel like you don’t measure up or are inadequate.
Why Aren’t the Hardships of Motherhood Portrayed?
We have to give credit to some momfluencers…there are some out there who are trying to show that motherhood isn’t easy. Some like to show videos of themselves having a hard day and breaking down, others will show their messy house and how exhausted they are. But that content isn’t as prevalent as the polished idealized version of motherhood that’s portrayed on social media.
Sadly, those more “truthful” depictions are harshly judged by the public; especially online.
The message isn’t always well received and can be taken out of context: “you shouldn’t be complaining…you should be grateful”, “what a terrible mom for thinking that you need a break without your children…you must not love them”.
There is SO much shame and guilt that’s being thrown left and right, so the representation of the harder side of motherhood is very limited.
Those momfluencers also have to constantly police their content. A lot of topics are still very taboo and it’s tricky for mamas to show ALL of the nitty-gritty parts of motherhood, whereas the glorious side of it is sweet, entertaining and way more well received.
Survey on How Mothers Feel About Social Media
An interesting survey was conducted by Refinery29 Canada in 2019 in which they surveyed 500 Canadian mothers about social media and motherhood. These women were asked how social media affects how they feel as parents.
“82% said they compare themselves to other moms on social media”, “69% said they have insecurities about motherhood that stem from social media” and “38% said they often or always have those insecurities”.1
In even more detail, the study showed that 38% said “it seems like other families are having more fun”, 30% said that “other moms seem to have more time for themselves”, 24% said “it seems like other moms are happier than me” and 30% said “the meals my family eats aren’t as healthy or yummy-looking”.1
Also, Maybe there’s TOO Much Information
Most of you have probably come across content on your social media platforms such as “tips and tricks”, “motherhood hack”…or even read big captions like “NEVER do this”, “don’t do this or else!”.
There’s a lot of information that’s discussed in absolute terms: “NEVER wake a sleeping baby when…”, “Don’t feed your baby to sleep”, etc. Clearly it’s the creators’ ways to entice and attract people to their content; using big and dramatic words.
There’s also a lot of contradictory information, which makes us wonder what or who to believe, even among the so-called experts.
All this information and tips and tricks can give us a false sense of hope; thinking that by trying these so-called tricks, like putting your baby down drowsy but awake, it MUST work for me. But when it doesn’t work, you’re crushed with this unrealistic expectation that something must be wrong with you because they say it should work for all. Then, you see other information that tells you that this isn’ true for all babies. That, in fact, most babies aren’t biologically able to sleep independently. Some can, but not all.
Every baby and child is unique, and so we must learn to take this information with a grain of salt or learn to become more media literate.
Things to Remember in Order to Navigate Through All of This
- Motherhood isn’t easy. You’re not alone in feeling this way.
- Empathize. Mamas on social media are probably just trying to be positive about their experience. There’s a lot of pressure to look good and show your perfect moments. But don’t fool yourself, all mamas have their hardships off camera!
- The idealization of motherhood as portrayed on social media is unrealistic – it‘s not real!
- All mamas and children have their own unique circumstances! No single piece of advice, hack, tip or trick will suit all babies or children. It won’t work for all.
- We need to learn how to become more media literate; how to consume all this information in a healthy way; how to discern between polished and very selective portrayals of motherhood versus real day to day life.
- Advice or tips and tricks are only guidelines, not absolutes.
- All mamas are trying their best.
With This in Mind
Despite all the repercussions that social media has on motherhood that were discussed in this article, social media is here to stay. It’ll be up to us to empower fellow mamas and create a space we can all participate in. We’re all mamas and we should be working together to normalize all aspects of motherhood; the good, the nitty-gritty, and the messy.