This time of year, when everyone has sparkling social feeds with perfectly posed babies, it can be especially hard to deal with feeling like you don't have it all together. It's a struggle to balance all the things we need (and want!) to do - and scrolling through social media feeds to see perfectly curated family moments can feel like a total punch. We get it.
There are days where we feel like we've got it all together....and then there are days when despite giving our best efforts, we just can't seem to get anything done - other than survive. We've all been the parent who manages to capture the perfect social media moment AND the parent who looks everywhere for their phone...only to find it's in their pocket.
During this especially stressful holiday season, we wanted to share these thoughts from Karen Shanahan, L.M.H.C. of Coastal Therapy, on the social media comparison trap we all can fall into - and what to remember when we are scrolling!
"Having a baby is truly a remarkable thing. From what your body physically accomplishes to the emotional expansiveness you experience. It is a time where we learn so much about ourselves and our growing families, although these lessons can be hard learned. A thing of major importance is to know you are not alone and that many, many women experience very similar challenges even though they may be less talked about. So here are some reminders that we are all in this together; the things perhaps you did not expect when expecting!
Social Media is a Photo Album
Social Media can be great but it can also be a place where the depiction of parenting can easily be misperceived. It is great we can all connect and support each other and see adorable images of loved ones’ babies and families so easily through social media.
The problem is, we can easily forget what social media is- a place where we get to filter images to share parts of our lives we choose to share. That means that social media is in no way an accurate portrayal of any part of our lives because it is not a full portrayal. We so easily lose sight of this though!
Before social media, we could grasp this concept. If you went to a loved ones home and looked at a photo album of their vacation (I am dating myself here!)- you would subconsciously know that those were images of the best parts of their vacation. You would not expect to see pictures that were unappealing- that is not what a photo album is for. BUT for some reason, with the immediacy of social media and the frequent feedback loop our brain gets from it, we forgot this concept.
When I post my pictures of my trip to Disney World with my kids- it is the photo album. It is going to be the memories I want to hold onto- my kids adorably meeting characters and holding hands walking through the parks. I am not going to take and post pictures of my child having a tantrum on the ground in the middle of The Magic Kingdom- but by no means does that not mean that those moments didn’t happen.
If we could all remember this when we look at social media, it would do us justice. Attention to this is helpful for those of us who compare - your energy is limited, don't expend it comparing your life or family to anyone else’s on social media (or elsewhere) as what you see is not the full picture!! The happy, cute, smiling babies also cry and fuss. The 10 month old who is walking before your child also might not have a big belly laugh your 10 month old has- they all grow at their own speed but know this- that speed is fast, so enjoy what your baby is doing and enjoy the photo albums you encounter on social media for what they are.
Is this being discussed with simplification, for sure - with intention. We need to be able to find lightness in the common challenges we share. It can all feel heavy so we need to remember that small, simple ways of changing how we perceive, process, and integrate information can have profound effects on how we think and feel. And when the small stuff doesn’t work, or when the heaviness feels beyond what may be typically or what you can carry alone, or when your partnership feels challenged and stretched beyond its limits, there are people to help so please seek them out and know you never have to do this alone."