Be honest. How many times have you checked your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account today? Were you pushing the buggy in a wiggly line down the pavement with one hand, or tilting the bottle, or shaking yet another squishy toy at your baby, whilst scrolling through the wicked world of social media with the other?
Did you hear yourself say ‘Yes yes, there there, Mummy’s coming’ as you concluded your session of delving a little deeper into someone’s Instagram profile?
Now ask yourself this. When did you last call (not Whatsapp) your fellow mother friends? When did you check in on how your own mother was, instead of the other way round? When did you convince yourself that commenting on someone’s ‘status’ or latest picture was as good as getting in touch directly.
I am guilty of all of the above. I despise this false new world we have got ourselves into. I did so even before I became a mother.
‘It’s a work thing’ I said. I signed up to it as a casual participant and am now a self-confessed addict.
If social media were personified, it would be a playground bully or a fickle, self-obsessed colleague. Not necessarily a friend.
Throw in a baby, a new world of routine sterilising, minimal sleep, maximum wrinkles, a bank balance that feels woefully depleted and a waist line that still feels a little wobbly and Oh. My. God. the beast that is social media can suddenly make me feel more inadequate than a health visitor admonishing me for not caring for my daughter properly. (This never happened but you get my point).
You see, if social media were personified, it would be a playground bully or a fickle, self-obsessed colleague. Not necessarily a friend.
There was one point, around week 12 of motherhood, when I hit a real low. Even though it was Christmas, family time was looming (extra help, whoopee!), I admitted to a friend (in person) that I thought I was depressed. I knew I was tired, I tried to cut out caffeine, I was hating the cold, and something inside me was niggling with anxiety.
When did you last call (not Whatsapp) your fellow mother friends? When did you check in on how your own mother was, instead of the other way round?
One evening, as I was almost cross-eyed from looking at another sunset, another chia and cacao smoothie, a ‘dreamy’ pair of shoes or another ‘#Imeanthedream’ my husband suggested I stopped pouring over Instagram, ‘just for a few days, pretend you don’t have wifi’.
Guess what? I came out of hibernation, blinking into the metaphoric sunlight.
I held my baby with two hands, I enjoyed pushing a pram in a straight line without aggravating every other pedestrian in my path, I tickled my daughter’s cheeks as she laughed and I took in the real world, with its ups and its downs and I realised how happy I actually was. I was in the moment, fully absorbing my time as a new mother not worrying about what I should be eating, buying or thinking.
I challenge anyone reading this to switch off from it all just for a week, and see how you feel. Instead, pick up the phone once a day, sit on a park bench in the sunshine whilst your baby sleeps and phone a friend, parent, colleague, sibling or grandparent.
Or just call your husband to tell him you love him. Life is short. Childhood is swift. Your baby will be a teenager before you know it.
Grab hold of reality (and the pram) with both hands. I guarantee it will feel more rewarding than any number of ‘Likes’, ‘Shares’ or smiling emojis.