• Deborah Charles-Nelson

'Family First.'

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

'Social-free' Set Me FREE So, recently I decided to take a healthy and much needed break from social media, and that even included blogging (eek!). I think what really pushed me to do it was the fact that I felt like I wasn't fully present (if you know what I mean). I guess I kind of felt like life was just 'happening to me' and I wasn't really living it. The pressures of life just felt amplified when I would compare myself to social media's standards and, in all honesty, I just wanted to just switch off all the noise for a bit and be fully present in the moment. I needed to remind myself to enjoy and fully live out being a mum, a wife and colleague, and a friend again. I even found myself taking silly pictures again — not just the 'really cute' ones curated and perfectly positioned for 'the gram' — and doing things just to create memories for a change, and I really missed that. Taking regular breaks from social media is definitely something I will be adopting in the future, and probably something most should consider adopting for a healthier mindset.

Thinking back to when my mum was in the 'nitty-gritty' of motherhood and raising me and my siblings to be who we are today, she didn't have social media; there were no YouTube videos or blogs listing out '5 easy steps to breastfeeding' or 'tips to be that perfect parent'. And whilst these can be extremely helpful (I mean, I've blogged about a fair few myself!), they can occasionally lead to us comparing our parenting styles and methods for raising our children against our top 'mummy influencers' or 'mum goals', and cause us to be distracted from exploring motherhood and developing an authentic and personal method of parenting. Recently, I had to ask myself some questions:

Am I really present ? Does this method work for me, or am I just following what social media says is the best routine? Am I a little too focused on making a life that appears perfect for 'the gram' that it actually ends up a little empty and not fully lived out?

I really had to ask myself these hard questions because, just as quickly as Ethan turned one, life will pass you by just as fast, whether you choose to live it or just exist in it. I must give credit where credit is due, and we are moving in a good direction with this new movement called 'social-free Saturdays'. It encourages regular breaks from social media, as there has been a lot more research showing how it plays a big factor in poor mental health. Yes, it can be a powerful tool for information, business and recreation, but it can also be our biggest pitfall and, as a new, millennial mum, I definitely fell into that social media trap of comparison within the first few months of having Ethan.

A couple of months ago, an old school friend passed away. Some may know him as 'Muggy Mike' from series 3 of Love Island but I just remember him as Michael T with the green eyes who was a cheeky 'banterous' ladies man. But at just 26 years of age, it's been reported that he took his own life... And it really hit hard for me, especially now being a mum. It's crazy that in the world we live now, it's no longer just physical disease that is killing us, but mental health is now a huge perpetrator. As a mum to a little boy (and young man to be), this news really broke my heart and I can't imagine what his mother must be going through. But it really caused me to think about the fundamentals of what I will be teaching my children. More and more, I'm realising that this social media age is having a significant impact on mental health, and it would help to be schooled on how to use it safely and for our benefit; not our downfall. It's so important so they are mentally strong to cope with the negative comments or backlash that can come with being fully yourself on social media.

So, a question to the millennial mum: How do we navigate this thing called motherhood in this social media age?

LOVE THEM BEFORE THE WORLD DOES Love, so our children don't seek validation from 'likes' and 'comments' on social media. For me, I grew up in an African household where my father didn't show much affection (which I don't blame him for — it was how he was raised), therefore I know how that can impact a child's behaviours. So, for me and my husband, it is important that we will pour love into our son, so that his actions in this world only produce positivity. Love, so he can turn to me or someone for help when he needs it most. Love, so he can be a present father and husband one day. Clichéd, I know, but I believe that more love can change our world, and that means being present in each moment with him. So, more than ever I am definitely trying to adopt that ethos of taking regular breaks so I can be more present in the moment.

I encourage you to take more pictures "just because!", be silly again, meet up with friends in person, get off your phone and chill — maybe watch a movie with a loved one.

Basically, actually live your life, instead of just appearing to on Instagram :)

Simply Deborah xo