Every so often I wonder why I bother with Facebook and Twitter. I sometimes feel like it’s a pointless waste of my time.
98% of my Facebook friends don’t have babies less than a year old, although many have children of school age. I have a couple of Twitter acquaintances who have just had babies or are pregnant. So there’s not really anyone on either who’s talking about things I’m going through at the moment.
Add to that the fact that we do all just share the ‘highlights reel’ on social media, even those who are having challenging days aren’t going to say so on a Facebook post or a tweet. (Also, sometimes we’re trapped underneath our babies, without internet or phone access, because it just happens like that!)
So what can I use social media for and still stay sane?
Both Facebook and Twitter have messaging functions, which are useful to get in touch with specific people.
Advice from those who’ve been there
My Facebook friends have a huge collective knowledge of looking after babies, and sometimes there are practical questions they can help with – how to choose a baby monitor, what stuff is absolutely necessary to buy for a newborn, where are the baby change facilities in town, etc.
Connecting with new people
Occasionally there are opportunities to join an online course or group, or follow an interesting blog on Facebook or Twitter. It’s taken me a while to find, but there are a few things I’ve found worth following. I have online friends in other areas of my life, so why not in parenthood.
Lots of the baby activity classes have Facebook pages with information and events, and it’s helpful to be able to look those up. Although they do also have them on their websites as well, so maybe that’s a better first port of call, unless other class attendees interact with the pages.
Twitter is a great source of local and national news in the moment, so often worth a quick browse to see what’s going on. I just need to avoid getting sucked into reading too many articles that make me envious.
A smaller selection of posts
Having less posts to read seems sensible to me. So I’ve unfollowed a few things on Facebook, and set myself up a list on Twitter of people whose posts I want to see so I can reply. There are only about 25 on the list, which feels more manageable than my usual feed of news and articles.
And what could I be doing instead of browsing social media?
Enjoying spending time with my daughter!
Obviously. Which I do, she’s very alert, smiles and giggles, and I love watching her interact with the dangling toys on her activity mat or looking up at me while playing on her tummy. As everyone reminds me, she’s already growing quickly, it’s definitely a time to be in the moment and enjoy every second. (She’s sleeping quietly as I write this, in case you were wondering.)
Going out and meeting people
There’s no substitute for face to face contact. Getting out to mother and baby groups, meeting up with other mums of similar age babies, catching up with other friends, spending time with my parents, sister and niece. It’s not always easy to get out on time, and it’s not practical to schedule every hour with activities. But when I make it out somewhere or when people visit, it’s nice.
I often have quite a bit of time on my hands while breastfeeding, although it’s becoming less relaxing as she gets more lively and distracted! In the moments I do need something to read, I should focus on reading a novel on my iPad, or catching up very quickly on the latest news headlines, rather than browsing any social media streams that make me feel lonely and envious. I could also try learning something new, although as I tend to like writing notes while learning, I don’t think that would work!
So does social media still have a place for me?
Well yes it does, but only within reason. I know that although it helps you keep in touch with friends, it’s not a replacement for going out or inviting people round. As long as I’m mindful of what I use it for and don’t just scroll for the sake of it, I think social media and I can still be friends!