There are days I really fall short of my to-do list. I start out the day with all good intentions but by the end of the day I am still staring down the same basket of unfolded laundry that was there last night. How the heck did my foremothers find the time to clean the house and churn the butter while raising small humans? They didn’t have the distraction of social media!
As a write from home mom I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I surf the net for research. I try to limit my screen time in front of the kids to set a good example. But I have developed a really bad habit of sitting down at my computer and hitting up social media first thing, just to “check in.” An hour will pass before I even realize and I have accomplished nothing on my lengthy list, (unless you count schooling other moms on how to not judge other moms as an accomplishment).
There is a lot of discussion surrounding the effects of social media on our kids, but not much on how it affects our parenting. The average American spends nearly 10 hours per day on screen time. That includes social media and using digital devices. It’s also a lot of time spent being distracted from our responsibilities, and time not finishing things. I always say how much I could get done if I had 10 extra hours in the day. Well, I’ve put my password where my mouth is. I’ve started logging off of social media and only popping in when necessary (for official blogging business of course).
I’ve noticed I make my kids wait less so I can finish typing a comment. I also find myself responding more patiently because I’m not being interrupted from my “conversation.” I haven’t burned dinner in over a week because I am more focused on what I am doing. I am in a much better mood when I’m not confronted by other people’s negative behaviors. I mean really, adulating shouldn’t involve adults yelling at other adults on how to behave in a virtual world that can be obliterated with the touch of a button.
Not only do I have more time and patience in my day, but I’ve learned several things this past week:
- Not everything needs a comment. Sometimes people post things to vent a frustration. They aren’t looking for answers, or resources, or any opinions. Maybe they just want to feel heard because they aren’t feeling heard in their real life. Let them have it and scroll on.
- Don’t engage. Social media can be a great place to share information. In fact it was the first place I asked for help when I was learning to mother two new babies at once. However, typing a long lecture or tossing out a meme educating another adult on how to behave, or how they should be thinking isn’t going to help change the world. Before you know it you’ve wasted 30 minutes of your day and now you’re feeling grumpy. Also, there is no holy grail of memes that is going to enlighten thousands of readers to be better people. Just keep scrolling.
- Kids are always watching. Our kids can see what kind of memes we share and the language we use, and how we interact with other adults. If we are always treating people with angst, labeling them, or engaging in virtual shoving matches our kids see that too. This forms the way our kids interact with the real world around them. Maybe your kid isn’t on social media just yet, but they will be one day. And everything lives forever on the Internet.
- You can’t change people. People use social media for different reasons and they share things they think are funny. Micromanaging people with vague posts or passive aggressive blanket statements like, “if you think this is funny then get off my page” isn’t being very social. My rule of thumb is, “if this were presented to me in the real world how would I respond?” Would I kick this person out of my life for telling a tasteless joke, or just walk away? (In the virtual world walk away = just keep scrolling).
- You’re not a cop so stop policing people’s grammar. Here’s the deal, people post things in haste and they don’t take the time to edit because they’ve already moved on to watching videos of baby goats. Spell check is notorious for messing up my messages and selecting words that I am not even looking for. I know I can’t be the only one this happens to. No one is applying for a job, or submitting an essay for a Nobel Prize with their updates. If it bothers you that much perhaps it’s just a “you thing” and not a world problem? Are we gonna achieve world peace through one properly contracted word at a time? Probably not.
Social media is incredible. The technology allows us to stay in touch with people all around the world, yet has the power to distance us from the people right in the same room. By managing my time on social media I’ve been able to be more productive in managing my household and patient with my kids. I’m also in a better mood because I’m not bombarded by people’s powerful opinions. For example, today I felt happy while folding an entire basket of laundry as soon as the dryer buzzer went off. And now I have more time for baby goat videos. It’s a double win!
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia