Social media comparison can be detrimental to parenting. Psychologist Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D., explains what happens when parents compare themselves to others and how to stop doing it.

By Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco, Ph.D.
May 11, 2021
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The appeal of Instagram is strong. Amidst the day-to-day chaos of #momlife (not to mention #pandemicmomlife), who among us hasn't succumbed to the lure of the mindless scroll?

But while it feels relaxing in the moment, comparing yourself to the highly curated feeds of celebrities and famous momfluencers can be detrimental to your mental health. Research has shown that moms who engage in social media comparison feel more overwhelmed and less competent as parents and more depressed than moms who don't.

How can you stop the cycle of maternal comparison making and learn to extend yourself some much-needed self-compassion? Here are four tips I recommend based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

midsection view of woman sitting while holding her cell phone in hand
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Getty (1)

Do Some Detective Work

On Instagram, we tend to evaluate ourselves against a single fabulous post or picture, but we need to consider whether we know enough about the influencers in question to make a fair comparison. Ask yourself: Is every picture of themselves excessively flattering? Do they seem to care about others? Are they trying to sell or promote something? If the answer to these questions is yes, you'll know to take their posts with many grains of salt.

Expand Your Comparison

If you are jealous of another woman's seemingly perfect #momlife, consider what areas of your life are enviable. The truth is that there are so many different areas in which moms can excel, due to their talents or interests or circumstances (or all of the above). Usually, most moms will excel in a few different areas, but no one will excel in all of them. It's important to recognize that you can play to your strengths, and other moms can play to theirs, and it doesn't mean that any of you are better or worse mothers.

Know Your Triggers—And Unfollow Them

I encourage women to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of following a particular celebrity or friend or engaging with a particular social media platform. If, for example, you identify the benefits of following a certain celebrity mom as "has great ideas for vegetarian recipes" and "has amazing thoughts about how to wear leggings" and the drawbacks as "posts fill me with soul-crushing FOMO," it is absolutely time for you to stop following this person.

Don't Sleep with Your Phone

So many moms check their phone before bed, charge their phone right on their bedside tables, and even engage with their phone if they can't sleep or wake in the middle of the night. Try instead to leave your phone in another room overnight. My mom patients find this incredibly helpful. They tell me that it helps cut down on their comparison making and anxiety and makes it easier for them to sleep. Many feel considerable relief that their phone is nowhere near them at night.