Two years ago, in November of 2017, I first went public with my Instagram account.
I had started an account, simply for personal reasons. I hoped to build community. I’ve always been a private person—it’s how I grew up, and part of who I am. But I love photography, my family, and expressing my thoughts through writing, and for me, Instagram was the perfect place to share this side of me. I wanted to learn how to be open with people, and Instagram provided a platform for me to do this. So I did.
It was exciting, and I felt like finally, I wasn’t doing this motherhood journey alone. It opened up a place to connect, especially, since being a stay-at-home mom can feel very isolating.
Very quickly, my following started to grow and I got to “meet” many people (mostly moms/ladies) that I would have never talked to otherwise. It felt nice to connect and to be able to have a conversation with them. I also felt taking photos and posting them was an outlet for myself. A bit of “me” came back from being a “mom”.
And, it was enticing to see big accounts with lots of followers bringing in income. That sounded amazing, especially since I was staying home full time with my kids.
In the first 6 months I gained thousands of followers organically. And then in May of 2018, I was featured by Instagram on their home page. It was amazing, and so rewarding to see my hard work paying off!
But at the same time, part of me didn’t feel good about it.
I noticed myself checking my phone every little chance I got, and then sometimes the little chance to check would grow into longer. My kids would ask something or want me to play, and I would tell them “in a second” and get a bit irritated.
It was like my priorities had shifted, and the app had more of my time than my own children … which I was not okay with. It was starting to affect my relationships and my inner peace.
I had to figure out what to do, because I couldn’t continue on like this.
Being an “all or nothing” person, I did what I thought would be best … and I walked away altogether. I stripped my following that I had worked so hard for, and took about two months off entirely, reverting my account to private.
After those two months, I thought I could come back and start posting again with a fresh perspective, but I noticed I was still struggling with some of the same issues — so I went back to private and stayed that way for approximately 5 more months.
During this time off of Instagram, I enjoyed being more fully present with my kids and not worrying about getting a photo and posting at “just the right time.” I didn’t worry about commenting on others’ posts, responding to messages, etc. It was freeing. I could think without so much distraction, and I noticed I was much less stressed.
Many of my connections from Instagram couldn’t understand. I expected this, because they don’t know my everyday life at home, and they didn’t know me fully. But stepping away was the best decision for me and my family. I was able to regain my priorities. It was a relief.
After 7 total months of much-needed time off and some soul searching, I realized that I did miss Instagram. I missed putting my thoughts out there, and the ability to meet people from all over the world that I’d otherwise never have the opportunity to know. I valued the community that I built and I missed it.
So, I decided to come back, but only with clear boundaries—in a way that wouldn’t run my life or allow my priorities to shift again.
Here are some guidelines I’ve set:
- I’ve put less stress on myself to get “the perfect shot.” I don’t go overboard to make my photos as creative. When I was growing quite rapidly, I was using flowers as my creative base. Not only did it get expensive, but there was a lot more thought process in each photo. Now, I try to make nice photos for fun, that don’t cost me money (or put my kids in a position where they’re not enjoying it). This makes a huge difference.
- I’ve set time limits. I’m not perfect at these, but I am continually working on it and very aware of how much time I’m spending. When I do go over, I try to readjust.
- I’m keeping my account public, but not pushing myself to grow as quickly as I did before—that takes too much time away from my family. My goal to stay rooted in why I enjoy this app (community!) and not get distracted by everything else.
At the end of the day, it’s comforting to know that if people want to follow along for real life, real talk, then they will follow, and they’ll be following the real me. And in the meantime, I will be on here, doing what makes me happy—but never letting it become more important than my family and my kids.