Feeling like you have mom brain years after your precious little angels were born? What if your tiny tyrants aren’t to blame for your foggy noggin? What if the culprit would be traced back to your phone and many moms’ guilty pleasure: Instagram.
Pause for a personal pop quiz: How many hours do you think you spend per day on social media, and more specifically, Instagram?
Write that number down.
Now, go into your phone’s settings and see what the actual number is. How close were you? Did the findings surprise you? By way of extra credit, look deeper into your settings to see where your digital time is being allocated. See how to do this here: https://osxdaily.com/2017/06/15/see-how-much-time-ios-apps-used/
Like a lot of other moms who left the working world to “stay home” with their kids, I’ve been searching for a LONG time to find a job that fits into my crazy life with three young kids, instead of a job I have to fit my life around. A few months ago I decided to jump onto the MLM (multi-level marketing) board to try my hand being a health coach for a company I personally love. Part of doing this involved using social media, specifically IG, to show and tell people what I was doing, how I was doing it, and why they might want to join me to feel the healthier/happier changes I feel too.
I’m the kind of person my family lovingly refers to as an extremist— I tend to jump ALLLLL into things. So when I decided to try building a business, mostly online through social media, I went all in and got ON social media, again, primarily IG.
I created a beautiful grid with thoughtful captions, 8-15 stories a day, I engaged with other accounts, and on my own. Soon, I was clocking up to ten hours a day on my phone (not all on Instagram, but it was definitely a big piece of the screen-time puzzle).
No, you read that correctly: ten hours a day.
As a mom, I’m guessing you don’t let your littles clock in eight, nine, or even ten hours a day on their (or your) devices, right? If you do, I’m not judging— especially in our just coming-out-of-a-pandemic world, but I think we can all agree that spending the majority of one’s daytime hours on a screen is over the top and probably not the best way to preserve one’s brainpower.
But here’s the thing I’ve since learned from watching The Social Dilemma and listening to author and journalist Jo Piazza’s podcast Under the Influence (I highly recommend watching and listening to both, respectively): Instagram, and Facebook, and TikTok, and really, any and all social media platforms are DESIGNED TO BE ADDICTIVE. Therefore, it’s not entirely your fault that you feel more and more compelled to scroll and scroll…and scroll. There are features embedded in the technologies intended to hook you and, well, possibly sink you.
Once I became aware of my social media addiction – because let’s call a spade a spade here, it was an addiction – I was shocked how many times I almost unconsciously reached for my phone to refresh my IG screen. I tried setting limits on the app and other methods of cutting down or cutting myself off, but they were easy to override. I found I felt more and more overwhelmed and anxious about social media, but simultaneously, more and more compelled to consume it.
So, one day, I JUST STOPPED scrolling. I deactivated my account. Remember my extremist tendencies from above? It had to be all or nothing to break the addiction.
I’ve been on a break for three months and friend, I have to tell you–in fact, I sort of want to shout it from the rooftops: It feels AMAZING!
While I still occasionally feel FOMO or want to hop on and see what my favorite influencers are doing, I absolutely don’t miss it. If you’re considering a pause or indefinite break too, here are some of the benefits you can probably expect to feel:
- No more brain fog. I’m beginning to think that all the brain fog people complain about is not linked to gluten or gut health or anything else except for social media and technology. Your brain was not meant to be so stimulated so frequently!
- More connection and conversation with your kids and family. Since deactivating IG and limiting my screen time use overall, I’ve noticed I have conversations and connections with my kids and husband that I otherwise would not have had. I can almost guarantee the same would happen for you. And to me, that’s priceless.
- More confidence as a parent and person: No matter how immune you think you are to the comparison game, social media by design often makes you feel inadequate.
- More time. No explanation needed, girl.
You may not need to go cold turkey and cut off entirely like me, so here are some less all-or-nothing strategies for weaning yourself off of the screen:
- Start by tracking your time to see if you’re spending more minutes than you’d like scrolling Instagram (or whatever your platform of addictive-choice is).
- If you are spending more time on your device than you’d like or want, try, setting app limits on your phone.
- Still not working to curb your IG addiction? Try turning your phone off for blocks of time. I mean, you can’t scroll a blank screen!
- Deactivate your account. You won’t lose your pictures/captions or anything else you posted, but you will be off for good for however long you decide to stay inactive.
I’m never one to judge other moms (hello, I thought breastfeeding would be a piece of cake and how could Suzy Loo only have made it through three weeks?? Then I tried it myself and realized making it through three hours is a damn big accomplishment). So again, I’m not here to judge and urge you to not even judge yourself. But as a former journalist myself, I do advocate being informed and educating yourself around how social media is designed to be a manipulative and addictive tool. Informing yourself is empowering by being able to decide how, why, and when you want— or don’t want— to be a conscious user.
All I can say is that from my personal experience, going from spending up to ten hours a day posting and engaging on Instagram— yes, in part to build a business and make money, but nevertheless— to less than two hours of screen time total a day (including email and reading on my phone, helllllo beloved Kindle app!), I will tell you that getting off Instagram might be the best gift you can give your already-over-stimulated mom brain. Try it. What do you have to lose…except maybe brain fog.
Want more mama motivation? Here’s another writer’s 2017 account of life before and after social media: https://phoenix.momcollective.com/life-before-social-media/.