There are a number of things I really enjoy about social media. It has transformed the way we access new information, stay in touch with others, and see what is happening in the world around us. I love the ease of seeing what my family and friends are up to, even if we don’t actually talk on a regular basis. With as busy as our lives are, social media provides a very simple way to stay in touch.
Additionally, I have found many opportunities to join groups that have helped me learn new things and become a better mom. Breastfeeding and baby-led weaning, foreign concepts to me before becoming a mom, are now topics in which I feel well versed. I have joined communities that have both educated and embraced me, and social media has become a fun way to find new restaurants, food trucks, and hang out spots.
The comparison game
For all of the positives that social media brings into our lives, there is a significant downside. The comparison game is something we simply cannot escape if we want to stay tuned in online. Before becoming a mom, I would find myself scrolling through Instagram comparing myself and my life to another woman’s looks, home decorating skills, or luxurious vacations.
Once you become a mom, the comparison game takes on a whole new meaning. I struggled with comparing how quickly I lost the baby weight to others who gave birth around the same time. But the biggest thing I have found is how easy it can be to compare your own child’s milestones to another.
I thought I could avoid it.
I told myself before having our son that I would not fall into this trap. Then when he was around six months old I was scrolling through Instagram stories, watching videos of friends’ kids sitting up, wondering why my son wasn’t there yet. Not only were these kids doing things my own son was not yet able to, but they were younger than him! When I brought this up to my husband, he simply reminded me that our son was born very small for his age, and might need a little extra time to catch up.
Now that he’s getting closer to a year, I can see other milestones he has already mastered or is close to, that are on the early side for him. At this point, I can’t even remember when exactly he started sitting up. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t even matter. Whether our children learn to talk before one or after, it doesn’t really matter. Also, it doesn’t really matter whether our kid is in the twenty-fifth or eighty-fifth percentile for weight. Whether he starts sleeping through the night at four months or six, it doesn’t really matter (well, except maybe to the parents who aren’t getting much sleep yet).
Our children will develop at their own pace
We have to realize that all of our children will grow and achieve things at their own pace. If we start comparing our own kids to other children now, while they are so young, think about the impact this will have on them as they get older. I do not want my son going into school comparing his own learning or looks to the child sitting next to him. I want him to compare himself to a past version of himself, where he realizes how far he has come, and how much he has grown and learned over a period of time.
This lesson is not only vital to our children, but to ourselves as well. Being a mom is hard, so why are we making it even harder on ourselves by playing the comparison game? Remember, what we see on social media is simply someone else’s highlight reel. Most of us tend to post the best photos and most fun experiences – we never really know what else is going on behind the scenes.
Changing my mindset
Let’s focus on improving ourselves and supporting our children as they learn and grow. Strive to raise our sons and daughters to be strong, independent humans who do not need to compare themselves to everyone they see online. Let’s set the example now, while they are young, so they can develop this mindset as they grow up.
Also, when we see another mom post something exciting on her social media about her child, let’s be supportive and cheer her on! As we navigate these parenting waters, we are all on the same team. Instead of becoming jealous of another mom or her child, let’s celebrate with our sisters! We are all doing the best we can, and the more love and support we have, the better we can all be.