Quitting Social Media Made Me Feel Better About My Parenting

Social media used to be fun until it started having an adverse effect on my self-esteem. I decided to Marie Kondo that toxicness right out of my life and it completely changed the way I live and parent.

An image of a cellphone on a colorful background.
Photo: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

One day I was scrolling through my social media feed when I suddenly found myself feeling sour. I pinpointed the shift in my mood to a picture of someone's "Pinterest perfect" life. You know the one. The parent that posts the perfectly curated photos of herself dressed to the hilt doing adventurous things with her adorable kids because she's not a regular mom, she's a fun mom. She writes gushing tributes to her doting spouse. You see her and think she really has it together and it makes you feel inferior.

I realized I frequently felt this negativity, and I was letting social media—which was supposed to be fun—wreak havoc on my life, so I made the decision to delete my accounts and I immediately felt a profound sense of relief. The contentment I continue to experience just reinforces that I did the right thing for myself. Here's why.

A New Perspective

After getting off social media, I truly realized just how pervasive it had become in my life. I started to recognize it as an environment in which many people seek attention, approval, and validation through oversharing ("sharenting"), one-upping, and humble bragging. Our social media feeds are full of art-directed, shiny, happy photos, yet we fall apart behind closed doors. Our truths and pain are hidden in favor of projecting perfection and superiority. Frankly, it was exhausting and unhealthy for me to willingly participate in. Removing all this from my life was utterly freeing and had many other benefits as well.

Increase in Productivity

The biggest issue was that social media had become a mammoth waste of time. I routinely found myself in a zombie-like stupor scrolling through my feed, entranced in what I call the rabbit hole of insipid nonsense. I would somehow end up on my old college roommate's brother's girlfriend's best friend's dog's profile. Dinner would be burning, kids clawing at each other, and I would be completely oblivious.

I balk at the amount of valuable time I wasted viewing completely inconsequential information about celebrities and people I haven't seen in decades. As parents, we're in a season of life where time is our biggest commodity so we must be very prudent with how we spend it. To misuse it was really maddening for me.

With all my extra free time now, my productivity has been through the roof. I watched one episode of Chopped and now I fancy myself a chef. I've been cooking extravagant meals and packing elaborate bento lunch boxes. Most of my culinary efforts remain largely unappreciated by my kids (imagine that!), but I'm undeterred.

I was also inspired to declutter the house and donate all the baby gear and outgrown toys and clothes. I loved living so minimalistic until I realized it wasn't plausible for the house to remain that way as long as kids lived there, so now I guess it's time to find a new dream.

Better Mental Health

Social media is the digital equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses and playing the comparison game started to negatively affect the way I viewed myself and my kids. People's exotic travel photos made me feel boring and basic. Why couldn't I lose the baby weight as fast as her? My kids seemed downright feral compared to the well-behaved children I saw. The careers of working moms made me envious. Then, after I went back to work, I'd feel guilty seeing the stay-at-home moms attending class parties in the middle of the day. Somehow, almost every photo I looked at made me feel less than in some way, which was utterly ludicrous because I have a fantastic life.

Taking myself out of the invisible "competition" has been cathartic. I don't give one single solitary fudgesicle what Susie Sunshine Supermom and her superstar kids are doing because…I don't know. I have no metric to constantly compare my family with, so we just do things at our own speed without fretting about whether it's on par with what everyone else is doing. I have a much more positive mindset now and feel less anxious because I'm no longer measuring myself and my family against everyone else on the internet.

Living in the Moment

If distracted driving is dangerous then so is distracted parenting, which I was guilty of. Child development is largely relational, so now, when I am spending time with my littles, I try to be intentionally attentive and put my sole focus on them instead of being chronically distracted by my phone.

There are only so many hours in the day; time spent on my phone viewing cognitive garbage was time not spent actively engaging with my children and forming meaningful relationships with those around me. Being offline has allowed me to be actively present with my family and friends because they certainly deserve my full, undivided attention.

I've also learned I don't need to prove how great my life is by showcasing it on my social media profile. Now, I'm free to simply live instead of always trying to shape my life into something that looks impressive online. I found it is possible (and more relaxing) to go somewhere with my family and enjoy myself without focusing on how it would appear on social media. It's like the proverbial tree in the forest; did it really fall if no one was around to hear it? Did you really have fun if no one is going to be jealous? The answer is a resounding yes!

Now, I get to chat with people in real life instead of seeing their status update. I really look forward to playdates so my kids can hang with their buddies, but so I can get caught up with their mamas as well! Additionally, not having a digital footprint has the added benefit of not providing fodder (bathtime photos) for my kids to be angry about down the road.

The Bottom Line

I would be remiss if I didn't mention there are, of course, positive aspects to social media, but for me, the cons far outweighed the pros, and it was becoming harmful and toxic. Going cold turkey is certainly not for everyone, but it was definitely the right call for me.

I've been surprised and delighted by the satisfaction and extra time this brings to do other, more constructive things like over-analyze that completely normal conversation I had with that mom at the park, bone up on new lingo to embarrass my kids with (yeet!), or clean the kitchen only to have to destroyed two minutes later.

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