“You use social media more than anyone I know,” my sister recently told me.
“Really?” This observation surprised me. Mentally, I thought of my friends on social media and their own Facebook and Instagram posts. I didn’t think my usage was any more than anyone else I knew.
At the same time, I realized that since my sister had been in town visiting and staying with me, I had been less and less involved in scrolling through and posting on social media.
Being a stay at home mom often goes hand in hand with loneliness. There is a lot of monotony in the daily routine. There are tiny people demanding your attention non-stop and it’s almost impossible to finish a sentence or have a complete thought. You’re stuck home way too frequently while your kids nap and can spend an entire day without an adult conversation.
It’s no wonder stay at home moms (SAHMs) turn to social media for company.
I am rarely without my phone. Inevitably, if I put it down, someone—mainly my husband— tries to reach me and panics if I don’t pick up the phone. When I have adult interaction, like family over or a playdate with friends, I don’t look at my phone as frequently. When we’re out at the park or library, I also don’t glance at it as much.
But at home, during a regular day, I admit that I use it a lot.
According to the 2016 Nielson Total Audience Report, mothers in general use media and technology more than most groups, but the difference is that working moms have more access to different social media devices and platforms. On the other hand, stay at home moms tend to use the technology more.
The report found that moms with smartphones spent 7 hours a week on average on social media platforms and about 24 hours overall using the device.
Phones aren’t the only technology moms at home use more. The study showed that SAHMs spent 8 hours more than average watching television, three hours more on computers and two hours more on smartphones.
In general, stay at home moms tend to be more social online.
An additional study by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association showed that on average, 50% of adults use Facebook, while 15% use Twitter. SAHMs beat that with 60% using Facebook and 17% using Twitter.
So what exactly are we using technology for?
For one, it’s a way to connect with people. I love looking at pictures of family or my friends’ kids on Instagram. I laugh over funny articles that friends share or the ridiculous things their kids say. Social media makes me feel closer to my loved one who live far away.
SAHMs tend to join Facebook groups to connect us to one another as well. I belong to three or four parent-oriented groups. Some I mostly use for advice, but two others regularly organize in person events that I can bring my kids to.
Through social media, I also learn a lot about what is happening in the towns around me. Following several local libraries and other kid-friendly spots keeps me up to date with upcoming events. I also keep an eye out for deals, coupons and free classes.
Without a second income, I can’t do too much shopping, so I follow a few different lifestyle and fashion bloggers on Facebook that always share awesome deals and discounts for clothes. It’s nice to be able to update my wardrobe periodically without breaking the bank.
Social media a way to keep up with what’s going on in the world. Sure, I tend to see articles posted by like-minded friends, but if a subject really grabs me and I have the time, I’ll go read articles from different sources to get a wider perspective on current news.
Like many stay at home moms, I learn a lot through social media about how to bring in extra income. A free Facebook event turned into a job for me because it introduced me to Tinkergarten, which I later became a leader for. I use social media to promote my classes and offer discounts to prospective families.
Tons of moms want to find work that they can do from home, whether that’s selling a product or being a social media manager or a blogger. It’s very rare that any mom can fully commit to not working at all. We are all looking for a hustle of some sort, a way to bring in a little extra to take some of the burden off of the working parent, even if that means just paying for the kids’ clothes or an activity.
For me, I work exclusively during naptime, working on various writing projects or prepping for Tinkergarten classes. Much of that 1-2 hour time period is spent on social media, promoting my work in the hopes of landing more. I also blog book reviews and am working on a novel on the side. All of that writing is shared on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
And, of course, while I’m sharing my work, it’s hard not to check into my various mom groups or scroll through pictures on Instagram.
I’ve written previously about wanted to be more mindful as a parent and model mindfulness to my children. The downside of time spent on social media and on my phone is that I’m not fully present with my children. The impact that will have on them is one I think of constantly.
I’m slowly trying to make changes by putting my phone down and fully focusing on them, setting up lots of play dates so I can get some adult time and getting us out of the house into new environments like parks or libraries where the day doesn’t feel so monotonous.
I also downloaded an app called Flipd, a Digital Wellness Company, that effectively locks my phone to prevent distractions.
A digital detox is good for everyone, but especially for my children.
I only have so much time with them before they’re off to college and while I definitely will still be using social media, I am going to put a real effort into avoiding those distractions during time when I should be paying attention to them.
My sister was right, I certainly use social media more than she does, but our lives are so different. She has a job and is active with paragliding and traveling, which keeps her busy enough that she doesn’t feel the need to constantly check her phone. I anticipate that I will feel less bored with the day to day when I return to work, but in the meantime, it’s reassuring to read studies explaining why SAHMS spend more time on social media than other people.
My goal now is to combine my quest for mindfulness with my work and social needs on social media so I can be more present with my family and not appear to the outside world that I spend all my time in front of a screen.