Permission to Ignore the Internet

As a millennial mom, it feels like Instagram (my choice of the internet) can see straight into my soul. Or perhaps it’s the well-crafted algorithm figuring out I spend most of my time on babies, baby sleeping, baby feeding, and moms talking about the “unglamorous” side of postpartum/motherhood (while looking simultaneously beautiful and curated?).

From the moment I shared I was pregnant, my internet senses have been flooded with motherhood and baby content.

At first, it felt useful. Tips for sleep training. Ideas for tummy time and other developmentally appropriate activities. Tips for breastfeeding. Tricks for pumping. Suggestions for first foods. Tips upon tips and some advice for good measure.

Then, when I wasn’t looking, it became overwhelming.

The slow-moving avalanche of comparison and worry started to gain speed until I found myself sobbing in the kitchen because my daughter showed no interest in eating the sweet potato mash she seemingly loved the week before. A bewildered husband couldn’t comprehend my tears while I crumpled on the floor next to our daughter sitting in her Bumbo gleefully smiling at all the sweet potato flung around her.

How did I get here, you ask? A baby-led weaning account correlated the late introduction of solid foods to picky toddler eating, and at that moment I freaked out that my daughter would succumb to a lifetime of picky eating based on a single instance of not showing interest in food. Looking back, it feels absurd my brain made this connection, and yet, at that moment it all was incredibly real.

I needed a break.

I unfollowed the account that night, along with several other “tips and advice” accounts tailored toward new moms. I needed to re-learn how to trust myself as I grow to become the mom I want to be, not the one Instagram thinks I should be.

I have since returned to a few of the accounts I unfollowed that night, with strong boundaries on how I interact with those accounts with regard to what I take in and what I choose to ignore. The internet and the multitude of social media platforms are vast, with a lot of excellent content that makes us feel less alone (shout out Boston Moms). It can also be a world of contradictions, both in advice and messages.

If you find yourself worrying your child isn’t meeting milestones, guilting yourself that you are not doing enough, or feeling like a failure because the advice shared for a broad audience isn’t working for you, you have my permission to stop.

Stop following accounts that illicit feelings of guilt or shame. Ignore accounts that make the negative voice in your head louder. What works for one mom (who I’m sure recommended accounts they love!) may not work for you. Find a trusted few (or ignore them all), and stay true to what makes you feel most like you.

The journey of motherhood is long and uniquely yours.

You don’t need a peanut gallery.

Sarah grew up in Connecticut, but Massachusetts has always felt like a second home with an entire extended family in the state. Sarah moved to Boston after graduation from her Master of Public Health program. As her career has evolved Sarah has found a passion in process improvement and making healthcare less complicated so patients and clinicians can focus on the care. Sarah met her husband covered in sweat and lifting weights at a local Crossfit gym (talk about first impressions!). They adopted a rescue pup from Mississippi and welcomed their daughter in 2021. After nearly a decade of city living, Sarah and her family are headed to the Metro West suburbs to start a new adventure. Sarah volunteers for Community Consulting Teams of Boston(CCT), offering pro bono management consulting to Boston-area non-profits, and recently completed a 3-year term on the board. She is a member of the Kappa Delta sorority and has served as an advisor to the Northeastern chapter for the last 6 years.

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