Instagram is filled with awe-inspiring images of seemingly perfect families enjoying time together.
And, if you’re browsing them from the discomfort of your mess-filled living room while your kids scream at each other in the background, it can be easy to feel like you’re failing in comparison.
While technology has allowed us to connect easily with friends and family across the world, and to find like-minded parents to connect with online, there are also downsides to social media.
We are bombarded with images of other people’s family on a daily basis.
For many of us, social media is one of the first things we check in the morning, perhaps even before we’ve said good morning to the living, breathing human being in bed beside us.
It’s easy to compare yourself with the mamas who fill your social media feed, and you can end up feeling bad if you seem to come up short.
We absorb images of other people’s kids opening their birthday presents (do they have more presents than our kids?). We see videos of autumn craft afternoons (she’s such a better parent than me), and photos of happy families enjoying days at the beach (why don’t we ever go anywhere?).
Comparison is the thief of joy. That saying certainly rings true where social media is concerned.
7 Things You Don’t See In That Perfect Instagram Feed
Instagram has a particularly bad rap when it comes to this kind of thing. The people you connect with on Facebook tend to be friends, or at least feel like they are. But most people follow strangers on Instagram.
You might follow a mix of real-life friends and family, celebrities, bloggers and Insta-celebs. There’s a whole group of people making a living from projecting their lives on Instagram.
‘Instamums’ is the term often used to describe the parenting bloggers who share their lives on Instagram. Their feeds are beautifully curated, and each image attracts thousands of likes. It’s these women who are often, I would argue, unfairly blamed for making real mamas feel bad about themselves.
Your life might not be ‘Instagram-perfect’, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: neither are theirs.
That gorgeous laid-back effortlessly cool mama on Instagram has the same daily struggles as you do. Her photographs might paint a perfect picture, but they might not tell the whole story.
Here are 7 things you don’t see in that perfect Instagram feed:
#1: The Mess
You’d never believe it looking at the photos, but her house probably isn’t pristine all of the time.
In fact, many Instagrammers have admitted to tidying just the parts of a room you can see in the photo.
From Instamum’s feed, you might expect a minimalist white heaven, but in reality, the room will be cluttered with bright plastic toys and abandoned raisins just like your rooms are. That little square doesn’t tell the full story: there are probably plenty of small ‘pictures’ of calm within your own house of chaos.
#2: The Arguments
If Instagram is to be believed, sibling relationships are nothing but hand-holding, gentle kisses and playing nicely. Except, well…. it’s just not true. Sibling relationships are complex. You will know this from experience; your own kids probably get on nicely for about two minutes out of every 24 hours.
The Instagram mum is just very speedy at grabbing her camera and capturing those fleeting seconds of love. Her kids fight just as often as yours do, but those moments don’t make such beautiful photos, so they don’t make it to Instagram.
#3: The Photos That Don’t Make The Cut
It’s easy to think the Instagram mum’s life is simply perfect. Her kids are always happy and smiling, they dress impeccably, and they spend lots of time hanging out as a family. When you look through your own photos, they’re all blurry and the kids are pulling ‘hilarious’ faces and you have about 15 chins.
The Instagram mum didn’t capture her perfect shot first time, anyway. She probably had plenty of terrible images as well. She just deleted the photos where her baby was blowing a snot bubble, her toddler had pulled his nappy down, or her husband looked bored.
#4: The Pasta Handprints On The Walls
Having white walls is risky when you have young children. Instagram mum’s walls are clean, crisp and bright, so her photos always look amazing.
But don’t worry, they’re not all like that. You can bet your life savings on it.
There are definitely pasta handprints on the whitewashed walls of Instagram mum’s home – probably by the fridge. There are also soup stains on the wall behind the baby’s highchair, and grubby fingerprints leading up the stairs.
Kids are kids, even when you’re an Instamum. She’s just smart enough not to take any photos that display the evidence.
#5: The Tiredness
Her family looks perfect and she seems to have an amazing life. She’s also beautiful, but she’s still tired. That’s part of being a mama. She has the same struggles as you.
She’s permanently tired because her baby keeps her awake all night. She spends her days wiping bottoms and snotty noses.
She’s a mum just like you. She might not fill her feed with the daily grind of motherhood, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to go through it.
#6: The Hard Work
It’s easy to look at Instamums and sort of hate them for having the picture-perfect life. It’s easy to eyeroll when you see another perfectly set up flat lay of her favourite beauty products or a Mother Of The Year worthy craft activity she’s set up for her kids.
It might look as though she does all of this effortlessly, but she doesn’t. She has to work hard on it. She gets up early to set everything up, and she spends hours editing the photos to perfection. She’s probably burning herself out trying to stay on top of everything.
#7: How People See You
You look through Instagram and think about how you never look that good. Your house is never that tidy, and your kids are never that well scrubbed up. But you don’t know how the rest of the world sees you.
When you’re walking back from the park, with legs coated in mud, and two happy kids giggling and singing behind you, as you wearily push their scooters home, you don’t think you look great. But you do. You are the real life, perfect image of a happy family.
Have you ever caught the eye of an older person passing by? The one who looks at you and your family, with a face full of love and lost memories etched on her face? You remind her of what it is to have a young family – the sleepless nights, the baby cuddles and the chaos. And that’s beautiful.
The Instamums with their perfect photos and gorgeous feeds aren’t trying to make you feel bad. They’re just projecting the best version of themselves into the world.
It’s what you do when people ask how you are, and you give them the positive highlights. And that’s ok.
Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and admire uplifting images. Real, gritty mum blogs are great, but it’s also good to see happy smiling faces, and admire the love and positive feeling in the world.