How to be a Mindful & Engaged "Instagram Mum"
Live in the moment.
You’ve probably these phrases heard it thrown around the ‘gram a lot in the last year. Staying ‘Present’ or ‘Mindful’ is the new black, but is it possible to achieve this while maintaining an online presence for you and/or your children?
By Jess @allabouteverly
While social media mums (in particular, ‘Instamamas’) have gained momentum in the last few years there has also been a growing wave of parents who are pushing back against the ‘Sharenting’ trend, claiming that it takes away valuable time engaging with you children, normalises the often unrealistic world of Instagram and impedes on the connection you have with your children.
Well. I’m not going to delve in to the moral debate around whether online sharing involving children is right or wrong- that is another conversation for another, much longer, blog post! But if you’ve already made the decision to share online content, you can read on for the strategies and tips I’ve put into place around my own social media pages.
Being mindful means to focus on the present moment. Something that can be hard to achieve if you have a camera or iphone in front of your face while you’re trying to capture that perfect shot. All of these tips are ways to decrease the amount of time your face spends behind a camera or phone, and increase the amount of time you spend engaging with your child.
So let’s start with; Schedule your time for social media. This sounds simple but trust me, it is oh-so-hard to stick to! Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest- they’re all designed to drag you in and keep you there, tapping, clicking and commenting until you realise it’s 11pm and you’ve been mindlessly staring at a screen for 2 hours.
The times that I log on have changed over the years depending on Everly’s age, but I try hard to make them when she’s eating or sleeping. Figure out what works for you, lock it in, and try your hardest to stick to it.
HOT TIP- try to always have a book or a great Netflix show on the go! Something that will make you want to put the phone down rather than get sucked in for longer than you plan.
Set up first! Do you have a particular shot in mind? Do you need the light a certain way? Is there an outfit, product, backdrop, props that you need? Get it set up before you even think about taking out the camera- while your kids are asleep, while they’re at daycare, whenever you can. If the set up is done then all you have to do is pop them down and say cheese.
The less time your camera is in your hand, the better
Take it one step further; Use a tripod and bluetooth remote when you can. Set the scene, set up the camera and you’re free to play with your littles while you click! It’s perfect for getting mummy & me shots, or, angle yourself just out of the shot to get the perfect playtime pic.
Tripods and remotes don’t need to be expensive- I used to tape my iphone to a broom handle and use a $7.50 clicker. (I still use that same clicker. I’ve upgraded the broom handle tripod though!)
Get your kids involved! Talk to them before you take photos. Get them to decide what the shot is going to look like. “Mummy wants to take a quick photo of you with these flowers, what do you want to do with them? Hold them up in the air? Do a dance with them?” Letting your kids decide what’s going on means that they feel involved and also fosters their creativity. Show them the photos when you’re finished so they can see the end result!
Another excellent way to be involved is to let them take photos! I often let Everly take a few shots before I do- I show her how to angle the camera, how to tap and focus- and away she goes! Not only does she get to be more involved, I’m also sharing one of my favourite hobbies with her.
Post Stories later. A good story takes a few minutes to prepare. Filters, text, tags, maybe a swipe up link. But the great thing is; you can do all of that LATER! Unless you’re Kim Kardashian, I can guarantee that no one is waiting every 3 minutes for you to post a story.
By all means pull out your phone and take the snap, film the video, but then put your phone away.
You can upload them in your scheduled social media time.
Choose days to get bulk content. Pick times that you know there will be other people around to entertain your kids- a weekend away, a playdate at a gorgeous park, an afternoon in your backyard with your partner there… use those times to jump around and get different shots. If they’re having fun and playing with other people they’ll barely notice you taking photos. And if you can get 5 pics to share on Insta over a few weeks, that’s five days that you don’t need to pick up your camera or phone to take photos.
Listen to what your they want. This could be the single most important tip.
From as soon as Everly could talk- or communicate what she wanted- if she asked for the camera to go down, it went down. No ifs or buts, no pushing for another 2 minutes because you’re so close to the shot you need. If they don’t want you taking photos, you stop.
Deadlines can be rescheduled. Small businesses will understand if you need an extra day to get your brand rep shots in. Everything can wait, except for your child feeling heard.
Say thank you. Always, always say thank you after taking photos!
Like everyone, I have good days and not so good days. Weeks where I stick to these rules and other weeks where I slide a little- and at the end of the day there are always going to be arguments for and against taking photos of your children to share on social media. I think it’s a grey area with a fine line that’s easily crossed into unhealthy territory. But by keeping a few strategies in mind, I think it’s possible to keep walking on the right side of that line!