The Social Media Mommy Support Group: Balancing the Life Savers and Sanctimommies
It starts out as a hobby. You join one or two groups for moms interested in Jamberry or Plexus, just to get some of my questions answered by other moms who’d had experience, or maybe it’s a group for moms who want accountability for a toddler-friendly workout plan or healthy meal-prep recipes. Regardless of your purely innocent intentions, what started out as a fun way of connecting with other mamas has suddenly become a judgmental uproar of opinions and information or “advice”.
Facebook groups are an awesome tool to stay connected with other local mamas or to learn more about a specific hobby or “thing”. They can be great ways to share information with other like-minded people in your community. There are groups dedicated to sharing healthy, kid-friendly recipes. There are groups for information about local happenings. There are groups for buying and selling certain brands of clothing or baby toys. Honestly, there are Facebook groups for just about everything. Some of them are awesome! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purged our closet of unused baby things and sold them to other moms online. It’s way more convenient than driving all over town to consignment stores, plus you get more bang for your buck in the long run. There are also groups where I’ve gotten answers from local lactation counselors about frequently asked breastfeeding or baby related questions like, “How many ounces does my baby need per bottle while I’m at work?” or “Does anyone have recommendations for a good pump bag?” These groups can seriously be life savers and time savers!
It doesn’t take very long, though, to find the Sanctimommies. I don’t necessarily think that mothers decide they’re going to become Facebook sanctimommies on purpose. I honestly think that most people have pretty good intentions, especially when children are at stake. Yet somehow, it doesn’t take much searching to find some judgmental comments about why moms shouldn’t sit on their phone while their kids are at the chick-fil-a play area or why moms need to let their kids run freely more often instead of always being such a helicopter parent. It can be difficult to navigate this online world where people are a little braver with their remarks than they probably are in person, especially if you’re a brand new mom. It’s so easy to start to feel guilty for doing something the “wrong” way because all the people on that one group said to do it differently.
I recently went on a month-long Facebook fast. It was 100% out of my comfort zone and I was honestly kind of afraid of missing out on some hang out opportunities, but I decided that I was going to be diligent about it because I really thought it would help me clear my head and connect better with my children. The first day felt kind of strange. It was almost like an itch that I couldn’t scratch. But each day got progressively easier. I realized that I had little nooks and crannies of time during my day to fill with things I actually enjoyed doing. I pulled a half-read book off my shelf and took 10 minutes here or there to read. I really engaged in play time with my children. I spent more time pondering the verses in my bible app instead of scrolling through a Facebook feed of “Perfect Parents”. My brain wasn’t bombarded with the noise of how I should be introducing solids to my infant a certain way or how I really need to put my toddler a tighter TV schedule. I felt like I had more brain space to focus on myself and my family and how I felt was the best way to raise my children. It was so refreshing!
I think my biggest takeaway from my Facebook fast was that I had to be intentional about connecting with people. It’s funny how social media is supposed to make it easier for us to connect to others and yet it can so easily become the very thing that disconnects us from the people right in front of us. I could no longer scroll through my phone at work when I got bored. I had to make conversation with the other people in the room. I couldn’t look at pictures of what my friends were doing or read statuses about how their day went. I had to actually ask them. Even if it was just a quick text, I had to intentionally reach out to the handful of real people in my life that I cared about keeping up with.
So yes, I’m back on Facebook and Instagram. Yes, I still scroll through the Facebook Mommy Support Groups. I still find lots of useful information and connect with moms that share my hobbies via social media, but I’ve also realized that I am completely capable of functioning without them, and I’m especially fine functioning without all the Facebook Mommy Wars in my life. Sometimes the noise can be so loud and let’s face it, Mamas, you’ve only got so much brain space left after thinking about your husband, children, and yourself. Don’t waste the rest of your precious energy on the Sanctimommies.