So many of us struggle to figure out how to incorporate social media into our lives, and the challenge is even greater if you are a mother (and being constantly observed by little eyes!). Social media can be a hindrance to good mothering, but it can also be a help. Here are the five ways that social media can actually make you a better mother (if used correctly). Linking up with Jenna.
1. It can be reassuring.
I don't know how many times I've been worried about some stage one of my children has been going through, only to encounter a mother on social media who is struggling with the same thing. It makes me instantly breathe a sigh of relief, to know that I'm normal and so is my child. In fact, sometimes someone is in a similar but even more dire situation than mine!!
But honestly, it can just be comforting to know that you're not alone in your trials as a mother, and that other mothers are slogging along beside you (albeit miles away).
2. It can be inspiring.
The inspiration factor is probably one of the main reasons why I use social media. I really enjoy seeing what other people are working on, what ideas they have, and the beauty in their homes. It inspires me to add beauty into my own home! I know that some mothers (myself included, at times) really struggle with the temptation to be jealous or feel insecure when they see perfection in another woman's home. However, it can also be comforting to see a glimpse into a calm, orderly world, especially when yours doesn't feel that way on a given day.
But that being said, some of the prettiest pictures I've even seen on social media have been of tremendously messy situations, viewed in a beautiful way. I think that Ginny Sheller does a phenomenal job of capturing the everyday messy moments of motherhood in a stunning light.
3. It can be a practice in self-control.
With the advent of push notifications on your phone, it can be harder than ever to just shut off Facebook. I have news for you - Facebook cannot control you. Instagram cannot control you. Twitter cannot control you. They are tools. I can use a hammer to hang a picture on my wall or I can bang myself over the head with it. The choice is mine.
Self-control is a virtue, and like any virtue, it can be a challenge to cultivate. The answer is not signing off of social media, but rather learning how to use it properly, and with moderation. I find it helpful to limit the times of day that I'm on social media (i.e. not when I'm spending time with the girls, for the most part) and even limiting my reasons for being on social media. I do connect to friends via social media, but my closest friends I communicate with via text, e-mail, or phone call. Most of my social media usage is related to the blog and ministry type work, and that seems to help me keep it in its proper place. It's important to know why you're using social media - to have a sort of personal mission statement for social media use, if that makes sense - and then to periodically evaluate whether or not you are using it accordingly.
4. It can help you be more patient with your own children.
Sometimes, I find myself sinking into the mentality of "children are inconvenient/loud/annoying, etc." until I stumble across a mother who really loves her children, and it helps me realign. Lindsay's blog "My Child, I Love You" does this for me every single time. Her love for her children is palpable, and she has a way of describing the funny things they do with absolute tenderness. Again and again, she challenges me to do the same. Find a blogger/Facebook friend/Instagram account that challenges you the way you need to be challenged, and inspires you to love more deeply!
5. It can keep you informed and curious.
A lot of the mothers I know find it really hard to stay informed on what's happening in the world. When you have small children, you can't really put the news on without the possibility of traumatizing little brains. But it is important to be aware of what's happening in the world. We are called to not be "of the world" but we are certainly called to be "in the world."
Social media can help you stay informed so long as you don't use it as your primary news source, but rather as a starting point. I tend to hear about major news stories first via social media, but I'll get the full story through a reputable news source. In other words, social media helps me stay in touch with the headlines, but then I use the headlines to search for the real story.
Social media also introduces me to ideas and thoughts I'm unfamiliar with. Again, I can't learn everything I need to know on social media, but I can use it as a springboard for further, deeper study. One of the best examples of this is that some of the best book recommendations I have found recently, I'd found on social media!
BONUS: Social Media can be a little school of charity.
I am all too familiar with the twinge of jealous that rises up when I read about another person's success on Instagram or the surge of indignation when I come across someone's rant on Facebook. The problem is not with Instagram or Facebook, but with myself. But, Facebook, Instagram and the like are my own little school of charity. They are places where I daily have to practice being more charitable, more understanding, more patient in my explanations, more compassionate in my reactions. They are constant reminders for me that I (or you!) may be the only Gospel some people ever read. Am I preaching the Gospel by my interactions with others on social media?
How do you use social media? What is your personal social media mission statement?