It’s time to shine a light on parents who make everyone depressed with endless pictures of their perfect life. Ciara McDonnell delves into the murky waters of online parenting
When you sleep in two-hour increments and spend most of your days running after extremely boisterous tiny people, it can be extremely tempting to share your every minute with the welcoming audience of social media. Today, we live our lives through the lens of our mobile phone camera, poised at every second to capture a Tweetable offence. Whether it’s Facebooking your daily menu, or reaching out to other parents, there’s no doubt that social media fills the void for so many of us during those lonely first years as a parent.
That said, we all know at least one parent who lives their oh-so-sunny life through social media. Their instagram feed is filled with beautifully dressed children skipping through forests, making dolls from dried grass or casually helping to prepare dinner. Their Twitter and Facebook feeds — “Caoilinn just surpised us with a rendition of Come What May on the recorder!#childgenius” — are a modern equivalent of The Good Life.
Here are the top crimes:
The Good Life parent will probably have swapped urban living for the rural idyll at some point —probably before having their stunningly country-chic kids. Their days revolve around dancing in the garden and collecting eggs from their lovable hens, before whipping up a sugar-free cake for teatime. Good Lifers tend to make everything from scratch. Expect posts like “up at dawn popping a stew in the slow cooker, making bread and walking the dogs. No rest for the wicked!” If you’ve ever felt guilty about leaving your kids to go to work, then #ThisGoodLife will make you squirm.
We’ve all seen this hashtag used across social media, and we’ve all felt the intense urge to vomit. #Blessed is the most sanctimonious of ways a social media parent can use to highlight their perfect lives. Those parents going for a gold star will have an accompanying image with a retro instagram filter. The hilarity is, the #Blessed parent has NO filter. They are blessed when their child wakes up in the morning, blessed when they eat a plate of broccoli for lunch, and blessed when they take their daily ablutions. To me, blessed might as well say #IAmBetterThanYou.
#childgenius is used to taunt other parents about how stupid their own spawn is. Particularly useful when targeting first time mothers, #childgenius is often used to point out that babies are reaching developmental milestones earlier than they should. Worse still, braggers of this ilk are skilled at hiding brags in the form of a complaint. “So annoyed to wait 20 mins for Jack’s check-up. Luckily, doctor couldn’t believe my baby knows how to count to 400! Raising a #childgenius here, people!”
The world is better when children are happy, every parent will attest to that. Recently, supermodel and #cleaneater Gisele posted a photo of her toddler supposedly drinking a vat of green juice. If your children will eat nothing except food that is beige and mostly made from white bread, this will have made you feel a little tense. But let me tell you something that I recently found out about Gisele’s Husband: he has NEVER EATEN FRUIT. What does that even MEAN?
I am a Mum of two, and if I were to put a picture of my perfect day on social media it would involve a glass of wine, a box set of The Good Wife, and some new jammies. Most importantly, it would involve no children. #PerfectDay parents love their kids so much that they make their days utterly perfect. Their BEST day is when they get to sit among all their wooden toys and just snuggle their babies. Amazing.
Sometimes, parents post ‘parenting’ things that are just not at all to do with being a parent. A few days ago, Glee star Naya Rivera Dorsey posted a picture of her six-pack on twitter, saying “6 pack days…Almost there… #mommylife”. Please never ever fat shame parents on social media. We are glad you are getting your six pack back Naya, and WELL DONE. But it is not part of Mammy Life, nor should it be.
If anything at all is designed to make you feel bad it is parents who post photographs of their amazing homemade bento box lunch for their playschool-going toddler. Or the parent who spends HOURS sticking individual sequins to a lollipop just so that they can run around their house waving it madly at their tiny princesses, screaming, “I am the biggest fairy godmother of them all!” Crafty parents, I salute you, but you make me feel very bad about myself.
Funnily enough, the know-it-all parent is usually a first-time parent. This week, Santimommy, a hilarious blog shared a comment from a reader that epitomises this way of thinking. In the comment, the reader scolds parents for using our children as “an excuse to be dirty, or lazy.” She went on to say, “Being a parent doesn’t mean leaving food under the couch, and never showering. I’m only two weeks in but so far I’ve managed to get enough sleep, cook decent meals for my family, keep my apartment clean, spend some time with Jaime, and my newborn is happy, well-fed, well-loved, bathed and in clean clothes and clean diapers.” All I have to say to this is: you are only two weeks a parent. Just you wait until the baby starts acting like a baby and not a sleep-all-day newborn.
Strange, how when some parents manage to arrange a night away from their offspring, they feel the need to document it in a blow-by-blow fashion on social media. I have observed instances of couples that are clearly sitting across from each other on a night out tweeting each other. Really? You finally got away from the wrath of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and now you want to instagram the night? Put down the phone, drink the wine, and talk with the luxury of knowing you won’t have tiny hands clawing at you for a few hours.
Perhaps the most sinister hashtag of all, parents who actively taunt other parents with photographs of their sleeping babies are asking for trouble. If you have every experienced the torture of a non-sleeping child, you will know that under no circumstances should a baby who has slept for eight hours straight be bragged about on social media. Also, and maybe most important of all — if you brag about your sleeping child, chances are that the child in question will challenge you on your point from tonight onwards. Karma is a b*tch.
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