I used to question the motives and agenda of women who would let their kids become a public face of brands and get paid to do so. That was me, like three years ago.
Now, I can’t really get enough of documenting and sharing about my kid. Specifically on Instagram.
In 2018, a survey conducted by TheAsianParent in Indonesia showed that Instagram is the most popular social media platform among Indonesian digital moms, as reported in The Jakarta Post.
More than 98 per cent of Indonesian moms has at least one Instagram account with 34 per cent of them spending at least one to three hours per day on Instagram.
The survey by Tickled Media also showed that woman’s media consumption in Indonesia had a tendency to change once becoming a mother.
These surveys are all me, seem to track my experience converting to the life of Instagrammin’ motherin’.
Many people would argue that limiting your screen time once you become a parent should be the norm. Let me tell you, and it is a cold little truth: It is impossible. Unless you give up your phone, lock it somewhere safe, and wait for your kid to sleep.
Well for me, a remote-working stay at home Mom, my smartphone is basically my main survival tool. Even with a cracked screen and all, it’s what helped me go through my day working and connecting.
As a lot of parents know, I can’t openly use my laptop for basic tasks with a toddler at home. I need it to write articles like these, so when I am answering emails or replying to colleagues, I have to hide the laptop. I live with a soon-to-be-toddler, I can’t have my one source of income ruined.
This is not to judge. Actually, I am a bit jealous of the hardcore perfect-parenting cult member, I don’t know how you get rid of your phone, but I salute you living in another level of connectivity and commitment.
Surviving one scroll at a time
Now that I have my phone with me 24/7 with a one-year-old, what’d do I with it besides working? Of course social media.
If I have a breather when my kid is busy with her pull and touch storybook or with her blocks, I open Instagram.
It’s more convenient, creatively inspiring, and not boring. Sorry Facebook and Twitter, but for Moms, Instagram is where it’s at.
Based on the survey mentioned before, “internet users increased by 48.7 percent, while television viewership reduced drastically to 78 percent” as most mothers preferred to spend time on the internet with most Indonesian digital moms use the internet to read parenting websites, check social media, and shop online.
Instagram is where the uplifting quotes and heartwarming videos that make you feel less alone in motherhood. And they are readily accessible. It tracks what you visit most and provides you with the exact content you are looking for.
Sometimes I worry that it’s on another level of creepy — as it feels like Instagram is listening to my conversation and showing me ads of the things I mentioned. But for the most part, it’s a nice 10 minute reprieve until my daughter inevitably knocks over her bricks and begins wailing.
I began my parenting journey on Instagram when I was pregnant. I read about steps and preps to decrease my chance of having a Caesarean section (spoiler alert: it worked, although not as smooth as I had hoped for). I watched tips to successfully breastfeed, and I watched new parents (my imminent future) interacting with a newborn on a daily basis.
After birth, I did the same for when I tried to find ideas on meal prepping for a baby who just started on solids. It helped me accessing information quickly, visually, and informatively.
Of course, I will step out of Instagram for deeper research as there’s no backlink on an Insta post, but the point is I learn. Also again, to drive the point home, now that I am a parent, sometimes I only have 10 minutes of quiet which is not enough time to read a book or long form article.
Having a community
I read a really nice quote by a mom featured in a Humans of New York on Instagram post. She said that motherhood can be “depersonalising” despite what people said about the magic and the privilege.
I felt that big time. It goes without saying that I’m aware of how lucky I am to get to be a mother, but I won’t lie that life without a kid was more easy and carefree.
It’s always gonna be hard. Just when you thought you have it all covered, your once-toddler is bringing home her first boyfriend. Another curveball forcing you to relearn what you know.
Instagram is a double-edged sword, though, as too much scrolling and retaining of information can lead to excessive comparison and insecurity. I did catch the insecurity part. Seeing another person’s kid reach a milestone way ahead of your kid can be disheartening.
Comparison is the thief of joy, but it’s really on you, not other people, to not let comparison make the platform toxic.
I, for one, found my mommy community on Instagram. It was through a mutual friend and we have kept each other grounded ever since.
One time, one of the mommy friends I met through Instagram said that she’s glad that we talk every day about everything and that this group chat over Instagram Direct Message is the most positive mommy community that she’s a part of.
“It’s like we are all grownups here, not trying to impose unsolicited advice about motherhood or trying to show off that ‘my kids are better than yours’ mentality,” she said. I totally agree although I’m not that deep into motherhood group chats universe, as I only have this one, positive, group chat.
Personally updating each other, cheering up a mom-in-the-dumps and loving each other’s kids feel empowering to me, so much so that it becomes one of the highlights of my day (besides the coffee that gets to be enjoyed cold and my kid’s nap time).
Oversharing is not a crime, but…
The crime lies in exploiting. Staging things for the sake of engagements and the number of followers it not morally wrong, just vain. But don’t we all use Instagram to be in touch with our own vanities?
While I think we ought to embrace that side of ourselves, the vain one, we shouldn’t flare it up, just simply acknowledging it.
You may scroll a little too long, share a little too much, go a little too far, but make sure to catch yourself and put the phone down for a bit.
It does get complicated. As for me, I don’t want to share about my kid on my handle because I think it can become too much easily.
Maybe it’s just me but I still think people on Instagram can switch quickly from “oh so cute” to “no one thinks she’s cute stop showing off”. After all, oversharing is -to an extent- showing off.
I now have three accounts on Instagram that I revisit back and forth during the day, one of them is for my kid’s pictures and videos with her name as the handle.
Am I slowly becoming that mom whom I used to scoff at? But, for me, it’s more about freeze moments that go by quickly. Unfortunately, a cynic might think I am being obnoxious on my own account.
I think it’s best used to document your kid for personal mementos.
Being personal and candid on Instagram is the new cool, but it comes at a price. I know that once my kid grows older to understand better, I will have to set boundaries on getting everything, even my winding down time, from Instagram.
I think Instagram is used to build an image, a personal brand that you wish people would believe about you. You control your narrative.
I put the Instagram where I share pictures and videos of my kid on private, and I only allow people who I know, and who know my kid, to follow.
Because even if it’s helpful for me now, I may be treading the thin line between the useful parenting information sourcing and the failed parental supervision caused by the excessive use of it. No one can know for sure, but a parent must look at all the precautions.
When it comes to parenting, Instagram is, after all, a “proceed at your own risk” game.
Who knows, maybe when my kid is aware of Instagram I will delete it all (after saving the pictures of course) and let her take control of her digital footprint.
Although…who actually knows. I did use to judge the Instagramming-mother I have become.