Parenthood can be a pretty lonely gig at times. Whether you’re swamped with endless feeds and nappy changes in the early days or if you have a busy toddler who just WON’T sit still in a café so you can catch up with a friend, it can be all too easy to go weeks without having a proper ‘grown-up’ conversation.
When we moved from the UK to Australia for my husband’s job three years ago, I knew that making friends would be quite a challenge. The main reason being that I’m actually an introvert. I’m not a fan of huge social gatherings plus my eldest (and only child at the time) was going to be in school. Not that I really minded as that meant I wouldn’t need to go to playgroups!
Fast forward one year and I had a newborn in tow. After a flurry of visits from grandparents I found myself itching to get back to some level of normality. I’ve always been a creative type and I was also really missing my job as a classroom teacher so I needed something that would help me make friends and keep busy at the same time.
This isn’t to say that I am friendless, I have a great group of friends who have gone to great lengths to make me feel welcome here in Australia. However, when people are busy with work, their own children and other friendships, I can’t rely on them as my sole source of social connection.
Here’s exactly how Instagram has helped me navigate my way through parenthood – perhaps it will help you too!
Firstly It’s all about community rather than selfies…
When I first signed up as Teach Investigate Play on Instagram, I had no real idea whether there was a community that would suit me. There’s the common misconception that Instagram is all about selfies and arty shots of lunch dates (which I actually love!) but there’s also a deeper level of connection, especially when you find your community. My page has grown at a gradual pace but it’s just so much more than how many ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ I get, but the genuine connection with real people.
I managed to find my tribe
Ok that sounds kind of possessive but it’s a great way to describe the awesome accounts that I’ve found as a result of joining Instagram. Through trial, error and the correct hashtags, I’ve managed to find a group of educators, parents, foodies and creatives that I connect with. This has resulted in friendships with people from all over the world.
I’m able to get some really awesome advice from people who have been there and done that…
The fact is, as a family, we travel A LOT. I don’t have my parents on the same continent, let alone in the same city so when times get rough, I can’t automatically turn to them for help. When Zoey was literally waking every 30 minutes at night, I turned to my Instagram followers for advice. A Lulla sleep doll, Lush Sleepy Time cream and a night light later, we are finally getting somewhere! I love that there is always someone out there who has lived through a similar experience and is able to share how they dealt with it.
The accounts I follow help me to fill our days with education and fun experiences…
One of the main reasons I signed up was to share some of my teaching ideas. I didn’t know if this was a ‘thing’ on Instagram or not, but it turned out that thousands were doing similar. This in turn encouraged me to become more creative and try new ideas. Whether you’re a teacher or parent, a quick scroll will help you find an idea for an activity, pronto!
TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR OWN INSTAGRAM TRIBE
My guess is that most of you reading this already have an Instagram account but if you don’t or are just getting started, here’s a few tips for you!
Share what you feel comfortable with:
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? However, this can be a major reason why people don’t have public Instagram accounts. Plenty of the teacher/ parent instagrammers don’t share photos of their kids. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, you can opt to solely share your activity ideas or do overhead shots where your child’s face isn’t visible.
Avoid the Robots
One of the major downsides of Instagram is the fake accounts or perhaps even worse, the people who pay companies to do their likes/ comments/ follows for them. On the upside, you quickly learn to avoid those accounts like the plague! If you get a comment like ‘nice shot’ or ‘best of the day’ that is 100% coming from a bot, so just ignore them. Likewise, if you get followed and unfollowed by the same account several times over, just block them. Might sound kinda harsh, but it also means that you can get a more genuine Instagram experience.
Follow an account that you love, then check out who they follow
When you’re first getting started, this is a great way to make connections. This is exactly what I did: stumbled upon some big accounts that I loved and went from there. In time people will follow you and if you like their style, follow them back. Liking and commenting on posts that you genuinely love will also help you build connections too.
Use the hashtags…
…But definitely not #followforafollow etc if you genuinely want to engage with people! For my blend of education, creative, parenting and travel posts I go for ones that suit those themes. Check out what the bigger accounts that you love are using and try giving those a follow, it won’t be long before you find a page that gives you major heart eyes! Alternatively, send me a message and I will give you a list of some of my favourites.
Although I do take pride in my photographs and I have a certain style, I like to keep it real. We share photos of chaotic messy play sessions, craft fails and toddler mood swings because I would hate for anyone to think we lived a perfect life! (we definitely don’t!)
Or the following posts might be of interest: