I LOVE the internet, I love all that it has given me. It has enabled me to carve out a place for myself, a career that fits around my family. However, it really can be a double-edged sword. As much as it is filled with wonderful advice and inspiration, it also makes me regularly question myself and sometimes like today it makes me want to RAGE!
Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. From the pregnancy to dealing with two headstrong tweens and all the things in between. The strange thing is it seems to be all or nothing. We have great days and then we have rotten days and no happy medium. It really seems as though life is an emotional rollercoaster.
I have always tried to keep this little part of the internet real. I strive for it to be authentic and make sure I am honest and open on the internet. I want this to be a positive and helpful place and I think that I can only do that by sharing the highs and the lows. It is through the internet that I extended my village with people that help keep me sane and introduce me to wonderful TV like Gilmore Girls.
However, I am not immune to reading things on the internet that make me feel inadequate. Things that make me feel as though I am failing at being a good mum or not having the best career. How I can be a better mother, how I can earn more, how best to juggle work and family, how being up an hour before the kids would transform my life.
I currently feel as though the internet is feeding me a lie. It is telling me I can have it all.
Well, you know what? I can not have it all. As much as I try I can not give 100% to everything. I only have 100% of myself to give and somewhere I need to have time for me. So I have to make a choice. A choice to how I split my energy. I do not have family to help me raise my children, I have a husband that goes out to work to help support us and between the two of us we do THE BEST WE CAN.
And if doing the best we can means that sometimes balls get dropped well then that is how it is. If I am there 100% for my child then that means that I am not present for work and most of the time I am OK with that. Most of the time I know where my priorities lie and have come to terms with that. Hell, my boys are 12 and 11 and I feel like I only gave birth to them yesterday.
Parenting is a constant battle between going to bed to catch up on sleep or staying awake to finally get some alone time.
Add in cooking from scratch, reading a book for me, exercise, sex (What is that!), watching TV, housework, mowing the lawn and everything else, it is a wonder we get any sleep let alone manage to brush our teeth twice a day.
I am 40 something women with a Pinterest board full of quotes about insecurity, inferiority and failure!
The thing is I work in social media and I know that it doesn’t represent the whole, it is just a snapshot, often of the best bits that people have shared. It is the peonies and beautiful flat lays on Instagram and the blog posts professing how wonderful things are. I can understand that people mainly want to share the good parts of the lives, the highlights and joy. That is their prerogative as it is their space, however, it is really important to have balance or at least understand that this is not a true representation of their everyday life.
It is just like this photo taken by the talented Liam Crawley. You would never guess that the beach was full of people. it is all about how he has edited the shots.
Now if the internet can make me feel this way it comes as no surprise that social media can have such a negative impact on teens mental health.
As my boys are older I have to take their wishes into consideration with the things I share, so perhaps I too am guilty of not sharing when we have a tantrum or meltdown, but I have never sugarcoated the fact that I find being a mum blooming hard work. That I strive to balance a life with Xboxes and tablets with the need for my family to live a creative life. That weekends are filled with football and cricket and that finding any me time is a real challenge.
So how can we stop making people feel inadequate? How can we stop social media making people (including me) feel insecure, less than or really competitive? I am going to share some things that worked for me.
WAYS TO STOP COMPARING OUR LIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Take yourself offline
When I feel inadequate or see something that makes me feel like I am not living my best life then I turn off my social media. I put my phone away and go and see my real life friends. A lot of the time we make a pot of tea and then just laugh and put the world to rights. If it is a specific thing that has affected me then I have a couple of great friends who move in the same circle as me who can always put things into perspective. They really help me strengthen my bulls&%£ filter which we all need when viewing social media. This is something that I am trying to instil in the boys. We have times when none of us has any tech (most nights after 6pm) and one day at the weekend and the Husbeast doesn’t have any presence on social media at all which really helps.
This is one thing that really works for me and something that I have been working on for a long time. I try and end my day with three things that I am grateful for. I find by opening my heart and head to the positives it leaves much less room for any negativity. We also do this as a family and have a Gratitude Journal.
Put things into perspective
The reality is often what is lost on social media. We emphasise the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions. Life can be hard, ugly, and downright depressing at times. But those likely aren’t the adjectives most of us would use to describe the photos we post to our accounts. As soon as you realise this and start looking at the reality it becomes easy to look beyond and put things into perspective
Do what you love
I find that by focusing on things that give me pleasure in real life, my online life becomes less significant. Instead of being jealous I can appreciate what other people appear to have. So for me, this means family time, reading, cooking and eating well and following creative pursuits such as sewing.
If all else fails and you’ve found yourself really stuck then stop following the people to whose lives you’re constantly comparing your own. Spend some time with yourself! Figure out what you really want in life and how to get it. Then other people’s lives won’t seem so enviable after all. I wish it was as easy as this – there are a couple of accounts that I follow that really do give me the rage. It is like picking at a scab!