I would wager that just about anyone, in any type of demographic, has a love-hate relationship with social media.
It is the quickest way to connect—and yet, it can often leave us feeling the most disconnected we have ever felt. From my own experience—as a mother of a two-year-old and now watching my friends with their new babies—I think mothers of young children may have it particularly rough.
New motherhood is a time of beautiful instability, one to be celebrated and handled with care. As mothers, our bodies are no longer our own. No one is sleeping well, getting out much, or enjoying much needed personal time—and all the while, our hormones are at the helm.
When we have a down moment, it’s easy to open a window into the world of social media—and oftentimes, close it in discouragement. We cannot compare to the amazing things people are doing. We are in the muck and sludge of new motherhood, and that can lead to feelings of comparison and despair.
I remember when my daughter was in her first months; I would post random thoughts, baby pics, and silly articles, just looking to connect. And now, I see some of my peers (who’d normally never post) in the slog of motherhood, doing the same.
I decided to write this to encourage those out there that what you see is not necessarily what you get—and that the best kind of connection often happens when you close that browser.
Here are three reasons a long break or a limit on social media might be a good idea during those early years.
1. Your body just went through hell. No matter what means it took to bring your beautiful bundle into the world, “rough” is an understatement. For nearly 10 months, your body was building a baby. It was changing, adjusting, dealing with new hormones, and growing. You are tired, your clothes are not fitting, and the idea to get back to the gym is a distant dream because you are chasing sleep when and where you can.
When we open the internet, and see “so and so” losing weight one day after their baby was born, it makes the rest of us feel insecure. Not only does it cause us to compare, but it sets a false standard that begins to spiral us into deep insecurity. We must remember that these kinds of “superhumans” are rare, and that is totally normal and acceptable to be whatever weight we are now.
The time will come when you will have more energy to go about making whatever changes you see fit. Until then, give yourself a bit of grace. Understand that the most important person in the world now is not looking at you any differently and simply loves to fall into all your softness.
It might be best to keep scrolling when you see “quick fix” suggestions or “so and so” wearing a bikini after the one month after the birth of her baby. Find one small thing you can do today to feel good, even if it’s just getting in the shower!
2. There are no perfect couples. The baby is napping, and you could be doing a thousand other things, but your phone sits waiting for you, allowing you to check out for a few moments. You open it up to see the grandiose announcements of how amazing everyone else’s partner is…except yours.
Right now, you and your partner can barely be in the same room together. Hormones are raging, exhaustion has set in, the house is a mess, and any time you get one second to yourself, the kids start crying.
You have deep resentment for your significant other. You open Facebook and see all the romance you are missing out on. Date nights, birthday celebrations, random notes of kindness. You begin to feel unloved. You begin to feel unwanted. You begin to think you want a new partner. It’s interesting that any time I actually spoke to my friends in person, after reading a post on their latest romance, I found that they were struggling just like I was.
It didn’t appear that way on social media, but in real life, their issues were like mine and my partners. Rather than comparing, I could connect. By connecting with my friends and family offline, I began to sense a feeling of camaraderie, rather than comparison. By connecting with my partner when I could find the time, rather than checking out, we began to come back together as a new type of unit—one that included our beautiful, exhausting, and inspiring children.
3. The hormones made me do it. In my post-partum phase, I took to social media to post pics of my new baby. I enjoyed all the “likes” I received and the comments, as I sat stuck at home during nap times. However, I found a deeper and deeper need to connect more. So, I began posting random thoughts and opinions on everything from politics, to current events, to the food I was eating. I thought I was being witty, intelligent, and entertaining. Looking back, I was just lonely. I was looking for approval, because I could not seem to find it within myself.
Being a new parent is a huge accomplishment, but due to our fast-paced society, it feels small in comparison to the ever-changing world. I look back on those posts and cringe. What was I thinking? The truth is, I wasn’t.
My hormones were trying to self-regulate, and my moods and opinions were constantly shifting from one end of the spectrum to another. If I could give any advice on posting your thoughts and opinions post-partum, it is to wait. Before you click “post,” consider where your thoughts are coming from. If it is out of loneliness or boredom, perhaps it is wiser to pick up the phone and call a friend.
These are just three of many reasons why social media and new moms might not be the best match. In one way, it is great to be able to share with people so accessibly—but, it is also a pitfall to new parents who are already in such a vulnerable state.
I hope that by reading this, you will find encouragement and kindness for yourself—and perhaps, close the browser and open up to all the wonderful things that are happening during this sacred and special time.
Author: Quenby Schuyler
Image: Flickr/Oleg Sidorenko
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Danielle Beutell
Social editor: Cat Monkman