First things first. I like Instagram. It keeps me connected to out-of-state relatives and friends, provides me with a digital photo album of my family, and introduces me to new people and products that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Sometimes I start and end my day by scrolling through Instagram, and I don’t plan to delete my account anytime soon. But if there’s one thing I have learned recently, it’s that Instagram does not make me a better parent.
When Instagram released the feature that allows me to see how much time I spend on the app, I was shocked to see how much time and energy I was giving it. Something needed to change. Last month, I signed out of my account, deleted the app from my phone, and took a break. For 20 days, I was Instagram-free, and I learned a few things that should’ve been obvious to me all along.
I need to stop comparing my 3 year-old to everyone else’s 3 year-old. Instagram lets me see other kids counting to 30, writing their name, going to preschool, scoring a winning goal in soccer, etc., etc. It is a fun way to see what my friend’s (or strangers) kids are up to, but it’s also way too easy for me to compare. When I’m not worrying about what other people’s kids are doing, I can focus more on my own family.
No one’s house is as clean as they claim. Scroll through photo after photo of perfectly staged homes and you will start to forget that nothing is as perfect as it seems. If a house looks spotless, there is probably a pile of toys pushed to the side and dirty dishes hidden in the sink, just outside of the frame. I should know, I’ve hidden my mess too.
The less news, the better. I don’t think we were made to consume as much information as we do these days. The more I scroll on social media, the more I find myself getting anxious, often times about things happening in places I’m not familiar with, to people I’ve never met. I want to be educated, but I don’t need to be anxious.
I might want it, but I don’t need it right now. The makeup, the oils, the fitness program, the meal delivery kit, the newest shopping cart cover or diaper bag — they all suck me in and make me want to grab my debit card. A little break from Instagram made me realize how much money I can, but shouldn’t, spend during a midday scroll.
I am enough. In this current season of life, I often turn to Instagram to feel validated. I want to be heard and feel understood during a time when my days are spent wiping noses and sweeping floors. The more I look up from my phone, the more kisses and hugs I get from my kids, the more “Mommy, thanks for playing with me!” I hear, and the less I need to turn to my phone to feel like I’m enough.
I will still turn to Instagram for connection and entertainment, but I will also remember that I am a good parent without it.