A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our kids to Land’s End for a family hike. Despite being foggy (shocker), it was gorgeous and we all had so much fun exploring a really cool maze and a beach!
The only problem? I kept finding myself distracted, planning pictures I could later post on Instagram. We have to get one on top of that cliff, I thought to myself, at this angle, and with both of them smiling.
But guess what? My kids were not at all down with this plan. Getting the two of them to sit still, smile and look in the same general direction is nearly impossible, and I found myself frustrated that I wasn’t getting the “perfect picture” to post.
And then I took a step back. I was ruining my family’s enjoyment- my own enjoyment- of a beautiful outdoor adventure because I wanted to share this moment with a hundred of my closest social media friends (yes, I only have, like, 100 followers. Don’t judge me!)
To say I considered this a wake up call was an understatement. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t admit my thoughts to my husband, but I did surrender my phone to him for the rest of the hike. And it was SO much more fun once I did that. We truly enjoyed our time together, saw some really cool stuff, and I felt so engaged and connected with the kids.
So on our way home from that fun and fateful trip, I decided to make a new parenting rule for myself:
Stop thinking about posting to social media while I’m doing fun or meaningful things.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but my hiking picture-taking episode was a real eye opener for me.
How often have I been ignoring what’s happening in front of me because I’m trying to capture it on camera? How often am I distracted from what I’m doing because I’m thinking about how to “share” it with my friends?
I’m hoping the answer to these questions is, not too often, but to be honest, it’s a hard thing to quantify. And I know I’m not alone. I see this epidemic all over my Facebook and Instagram pages. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing pictures of what my friends are up to, and especially pictures of their kids, pets, trips, and cooking escapades.
But my fear is that our frequent sharing and posting is taking away from the meaning of the event itself.
I’m not saying we should never post pictures on social media; that’s just preposterous (although I’m envious of my friends that don’t).
What I’m suggesting is, let’s stop letting social media dictate why we are doing something or affect our ability to be present in the moment.
Plan a party because you think your child will love it, not because you think it will get a lot of ‘likes’. Cook something because you enjoy the process and like preparing healthy meals for your family. Go somewhere fun because you know you and your family will enjoy it, not because you want to show off how cool California is (I’m guilty of this one!).
If you feel compelled to take a picture, do it with intention, put your phone away, and post it later when you have some down time. I can tell you from personal experience that your family will appreciate this more than you know.