Dealing With Social Media As A Busy Mom
Some people think it is too drastic to avoid social media completely, but since I’ve tried this for a while in the past and closed my Facebook account, it was eye-opening!
Like most people, I enjoyed catching up with family and friends in my feed, reading the inspirational quotes and tips on sites I followed, and getting updates on news and current events. I also figured that I had to maintain my business social media pages so there was no option for me to avoid social media completely.
However, the day came when I had to take a much needed break from it. My main reasons for going off social media completely for that while, was when I noticed that it was not bringing my life much good and it was taking a lot of my time. Sometimes it would cause me more anxiety and stress!
I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to close my Facebook account and leave social media completely. It was a process that was nagging at me for a while and causing me to ponder on what I was doing on there. Then came a time in my life which caused much upheaval and I needed to set aside time to focus on pressing matters so I took a break from many things - one of them being my social media.
While I was away from my social media, I started to discover how much I didn't need it in my life as much as I thought. See, I’m not writing this post to convince anyone to leave social media or to tell you what a time-waster social media is, but I want to share with you how my abstinence from it, helped me to focus better on my "real life" by focusing less on my "cyber life." Here were my realizations:
1. I felt that my intended search did not come close to the resulted outcome
In the past, I convinced myself I was going to "miss out" on what's hot and what's not. That it was my way of learning about current events and that I needed the "break" from the strain of motherhood and my responsibilities. What I found was that it took more of my time and that I did not have it under control.
Say you start at the point of looking up a simple pasta recipe, after clicking link, upon link, upon link, you end up on Pinterest pinning a "no-sew girls skirt made of tulle" that you don't end up making! Or say you want to quickly check what's new on your feed, but end up clicking link, upon link, upon link, till you don't know how you got where you are, and you try to go back to where you were, but your feed was updated and you can't find your same spot. The five minutes of looking quick became an hour you didn't plan on looking long.
2. I felt that my time was less productive when I was online too much
I used to go online a lot for homeschool, blogging, motivation, and tips to make life easier. I would take advantage of the social media pages and groups that I thought were going to advise me on ways to do what I do better. But how much of that knowledge did I actually use? I analyzed what I was going online to search for and saw if what I absorbed was going to be used effectively in my day. Unfortunately, it wasn't as high as I thought and I was using a lot more time finding solutions, than actually implementing those solutions in my life. It seemed like I was always grasping for time and fell behind on my tasks.
3. I felt the need to de-stress from my responsibilities yet I didn't really feel less stressed
I would feel that I had earned the right to go online after long hours with my kids and chores. I felt that I needed the breather to say hi to a friend on Facebook or post something funny or inspirational to keep the flow. But then I noticed that once I went offline, I didn't feel de-stressed or relaxed. Instead, I was left feeling anxious from all the news and confused as I took a few moments to think where I had left off and what I still needed to do.
4. I felt that I didn't need to know what was going on all the time
The need for information and knowledge is a human need we all want, but deciphering the nonsensical info from the helpful info is the challenge we face. Without a doubt, I felt that I was getting a lot of information online, but I had to sift through all this information to find what really helped to improve my life. There were times that I got extreme information overload and ended up feeling more confused, and then not doing anything at all!
5. I felt that I got too distracted and lost my sense of focus
When you feel compelled to check your smartphone whenever you want and think that you need to be updated on everything all the time, you are left with no time to actually think and contemplate in peace. This ends up making you feel a lack of focus. That's why I felt that I wasn't able to concentrate on anything very well because I was constantly being side-tracked and distracted by notifications and beeps coming from my phone.
6. I felt that I got disappointed with peoples antics
Sometimes I would see something disappointing or sad about someone I looked up to when they were acting inappropriately. No matter how tolerant one is, you can't help to have an opinion or have thoughts about what you see. I noticed that I had a better perception of my friends and acquaintances when I didn't see their dirty laundry aired online, or when they had a weak moment and vented words that were best left unsaid.
7. I felt that I was less grateful for my family, home, and life
Most moms have the tendency to compare themselves to one another mom. We'll notice another mom's privileges and compare it to our lives and may feel short changed. Imagine the difficulty of having a bad day and you see someone on social media boasting about the very thing you're struggling with. It's human to feel a pang of envy and disgruntled with your life. Unless your faith is so strong, your gratitude is in check, and you’ve discovered that these social media moments are not the full picture, you can get sucked into it affecting your mood.
I noticed I was more grateful for my husband, kids, home, and life in general when I didn't compare my life to everyone’s feed all the time, and especially the boasters! Social media is a one-sided view of people’s lives because people only share the bits and pieces they choose to show to others.
These seven points may hit a nerve with some, and for others it may not yet be realized. However, I can honestly say that when I went back on social media with boundaries in place, that’s when I found it didn’t affect me much. It’s difficult to express the joy you feel when you reach a point of realization and notice the fulfillment of not being dependent of social media.
Like I said, I'm not prompting anyone to take the measures that I took by going off it completely. I believe it’s better to have a balanced approach to everything. Social media is part of society and can bring much good too, but the key is control. WE must control IT and not allow IT to control US. When we stop using social media to fill a void and waste precious time, but use it responsibly at the right time, then we are free to reap its benefits. Here are a few ways I've learned to get the upper hand on my web and social media usage when I feel my control slipping:
Remove social media apps from my smartphone if I feel I’m becoming too dependent on it.
Unsubscribe from everyone's notifications and only receive the nearest and dearest ones.
Choose one or two social media sites that I like the best and stick to it, instead of going on all and trying to keep up.
Make the intention to go online for a purpose and then stick to that purpose at all costs.
Ask myself why am I are going on social media before I click it and think if it's really necessary.
Set a timer for how long I will go online and then stick to that time no matter what.
Weigh the pros and cons of what I’m doing on social media and realize the impact it’s having on the relationship with my family.
Set specific times to go online and only go at those times to maintain my control of social media.
Remove the notification sounds from my computer and phone and check social media at assigned times instead of every time it beeps. Remembering that friends and family have my number to text and call.
Realize that I am not missing anything important, because any major news will eventually get to me from someone or somehow.
Be honest and ask myself if what I’m doing on social media is inspiring me and if my input is impacting others positively.
I hope these tips help you to analyze your online habits and make you think about the control you have on your social media activity, just like it did for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media and whether you have it under control or prefer avoiding it mostly.