How to avoid Insta-parenting anxiety
Research shows around six in 10 parents feel pressure from social media to be the ‘perfect parent’.
The result of this social media pressure can often be stress and anxiety, with good parents believing they’re failing because they’re not matching the unrealistic and unobtainable standards trumpeted by others on social media platforms.
But parents should take another look at their social media use and be more honest about the realities of parenting.
Vivien Waterfield, from the charity Home-Start in the UK, which conducted the study, says: “Parenting has never been easy, but with the added pressures of social media, our bad days and difficult times can seem magnified compared with the seemingly perfect families we see online.
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“We’re calling on parents to be more honest with what they post on social media, and we hope this will start a more open dialogue between parents and encourage them to help and support each other — parents supporting parents is something we know can be incredibly effective.”
Here are seven ways to deal with Insta-parenting:
1. Remember the ‘perfect parent’ doesn’t exist
If you’re struggling with feeling like you’re ‘not good enough’, the research proves you’re not alone. We all face challenges and it’s only our happiest times that we share on social media. Remember that social media is a rose-tinted view of the best parts of lives and doesn’t tell the whole story.
2. Follow accounts that make you feel positive
Instagram is a hub of beautiful images showcasing aspirational lifestyles. They’re not always reflective of real life or real parenting. If the accounts you follow make you feel bad about yourself as a parent, make the choice to stop following them. Cleanse your Instagram/Facebook accounts to follow more supporting and uplifting voices. You can curate your own positive space.
3. Limit social media use
Phones and social media are designed to keep our attention for as long as possible, and we’re all guilty of falling into a YouTube ‘rabbit hole’ of cat videos from time-to-time. If you feel like social media might be getting you down, set a time limit for your daily screen time — through either your phone’s own settings or specific apps.
4. What are you posting?
Equally, think about what you’re posting on social media. Are you sharing only the best moments or even creating moments to get likes and comments? Most of us are guilty of adding a filter or two, but it’s helpful to consider how making our own lives look perfect can make others feel.
5. You’re not alone
It can be hard to talk about the pressures of parenting, particularly if you feel like you’re struggling with something that doesn’t seem to bother other parents. Speaking to those around us about how we’re feeling can be really daunting, but you’ll be surprised how much fellow parents will understand. If you have someone close to you who can offer that, it’ll be a huge weight off your shoulders.
6. Moments above pictures
Trying to hold on to special memories with your kids by taking photos and cataloguing everything on social media is really tempting, but the best way to remember and enjoy these moments is by being present.
7. Ask for help if necessary
The research found that, on average, parents can struggle for over seven months before reaching out for support. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and it can prevent a difficult situation turning into a risky one. The earlier you reach out, the sooner someone can help you to regain your confidence. Do you have friends or a relative you can speak to? You could also talk to your GP, who may be able to suggest services in your area that could help.