As a stay-at-home mom, the social media debacle is a real home-hitter. Some days, social media is the only “social” experience I get. But all too often, I find myself scrolling for far too long and neglecting my real responsibilities.
You know it’s really bad when your kid tells you to put your phone down. That’s where I was a few weeks ago, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I started questioning everything about my social media use. Am I being “influenced” in almost all aspects of my life? What habits am I teaching my kids? What kind of future is in store with social media, and what is my role in that?
There can be a very evil side to many social media platforms, and while I won’t be speaking to that directly in this post, I think it is important to be vigilant about what we and our children are accessing on any virtual platform. We've got to make sure that it is appropriate for everyone involved.
In general, I've concluded that the social media platforms I access aren’t entirely “bad”. Like I said, some days it's the only way I stay connected. I have learned fantastic parenting tools and ideas from social media accounts. I’ve bought and sold things, met people, and found some amazing products for me and my kids--all through social media. Though excessive use is clearly toxic, social media isn't going away anytime soon, so I need to learn to manage it well.
My life is already filled with a lot of chaos: I deal with two crazy toddlers and all the anxiety and stress that comes with parenting. Now let's add a pandemic, a few social justice movements, and a presidential election to the mix, and I call it a panic attack in the works. It’s a lot--and willingly adding to the chaos by repeatedly checking my social media is a level of self-destruction that rivals taking my kids to a nice restaurant.
My first step in regulating my social media use is managing the accounts I follow and the content I allow into my life and mind. Knowing your limits and knowing when something or someone isn’t adding to your happiness is key for this. I will remove or mute accounts that I find myself spending too much time on or that are making me compare myself. These accounts are hardly ever “bad”, but they're adding to the noise in my life, and that is something I can’t afford. So I only let only the best content in.
Another thing that helps me manage my time is a reset. As I mentioned before, I love staying connected to people and groups through social media, (I also never want to miss a good sale!) but sometimes I need to reset. I will often take a week off of social media, sometimes deleting the apps from my phone entirely. I've found that once I come back after taking a break for awhile, I tend to spend less time mindlessly scrolling. I can also enjoy the app in smaller doses and more easily turn it off when I’ve had enough, or when my attention is needed in other places.
The final thing that I have found to help balance my social media is to manage my time with it. I will either set a timer or time limits for how much I am willing to spend on it. Sometimes I will allow myself one hour a day total, giving myself permission to access social media anytime I want, but limiting the time spent as a whole. Other times I will give myself an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening so I can spend more time during the day attending to my real life.
Finding a healthy balance is the key for me. I still love being connected, seeing other people thrive in life, learning new skills, and finding awesome new products, but on the flip side, I have a real life that needs undivided attention, too. When I find myself slipping and slacking in my real life, that’s when I know I need to crack down and manage my time better.