Mom Talk: I’m A Social Media Mom
Written by Bethany Menzel
Photography by PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF BETHANY MENZEL
We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Bethany Menzel talks about her experience being a mom with a social media presence, and how she finds balance when photographing her children. -JKM
I didn’t give too much thought to being a “social media mom” until recently. Now that my oldest daughter is over three, and sometimes expresses an opinion on not wanting to take photos (or the more concerning, consistent asking me to take her photo and apply a puppy filter), I’ve started to be more aware of what effect social media might have on her childhood.
I have shared the intimate moments of our lives, and more specifically motherhood, more and more over the past four years. From the emotions of our darkest days to Boomerangs of my daughter, Poppy, peeing in back alleys, I’ve never hesitated to share these moments with others.
I learned pretty quickly to shake off the negative messages I would receive from followers every now and then. If I sense a hint of negativity when I start reading a message, I just delete it right away. Sometimes, it’s just readers expressing concern for my children, that when they are older they will be embarrassed by what I have shared with the world. But, to be honest, that isn’t something I’m concerned about for them at this age. The moments of their babyhood are sweet and funny moments, and it gives me joy sharing them with others. I’m careful not to share any photos of them that could be used inappropriately, I also rarely share negative moments about their childhood. Of course, children are hard and trying, but ultimately they are my greatest earthly joy, and I wouldn’t want them to read back on these days from my perspective and think otherwise.
But, more than worrying about what I share, I’m cautious of my kids looking back on being little and saying “I remember my mom being on her phone a lot.” When Poppy turned three, she would sometimes alert me when I would leave a room without my phone. That was when I realized that she was aware and that I wanted to be more intentional about my time spent on social media in front of her. So, I created some rules for myself that I try my best to stick to. One of those rules being no phones at meals. Poppy usually eats dinner before we do, so it’s easy for me to just put her at the table, while I’m in the kitchen scrolling. But, sitting down and chatting about the day with her or reading her a book while she eats is one of our best connection times.
My Instagram feed isn’t filled with a lot of in-the-moment photos. The “stress” of trying to capture those seemingly photogenic moments started ruining them for me. I would put so much pressure on an outing, a cute morning moment in bed, or a preparing a nice looking meal to make sure we got the perfect shot, that those moments were getting spoiled by the need to capture them. So, now we are intentional about our photo time. I tell Poppy that we are going to go out somewhere fun and Mommy wants to take some pictures, while we’re out. Or, maybe even more importantly, I warn my husband when I know I’m going to want something captured ahead of time.
I have also started logging out of Instagram and emails for one day a week to cleanse myself from it. When you’re in the habit of checking it often it’s easy to not even realize you’re doing it, but having that reset day gets me out of the habit regularly.
Being a part of the first generation of mothers to learn the social media balance, I think it will be an ongoing learning experience, and I’m sure when our children grow up, they’ll have their own opinions on the matter to fill us in on. But, I’m doing my best to find my way through sharing our lives publicly and in a way that I won’t look back on with any regret.
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