Meet Dannii O’Donnell, Mum to Edie, two years and Raffy, 13 weeks. When the kids are fast asleep Dannii she uses writing as her creative outlet.
My Social Media Sabbatical – By Dannii O’Donnell
I was deep in a newborn-induced social media abyss. I’m talking hours stuck on the couch underneath an
insatiable, cluster-feeding baby. Nights up breastfeeding in bed, scrolling Instagram in a desperate attempt to
keep my eyes open (and often failing, I might add, jolting awake with phone still in hand, thumb in scrolling
position, bub still on boob). I would pat his milk-filled belly with one hand and update Facebook with the
Just what exactly did the breastfeeding, sleep-deprived mother do before social media? I remember musing to myself. God forbid I get stuck beneath a sleeping baby, my phone out of reach. Oh the misery! And sure, it was a great way to kill the time and, yes, it (sometimes) helped me stay awake. But you know what? It was making me feel like shit.
I came to this conclusion after a rather difficult day. Okay, a disastrous day. Two kids under two is enough to drive any Mum mad, and on this particular day I was exhausted, hormonal and a mess (not even a hot one). My little darlings had gotten the better of me and as I sat on my bed, breastfeeding the newest member of our tribe while scrolling Instagram, tears began to roll down my cheeks. I was only feeling worse and worse:
The Fit Mums with the toned, tanned rigs and immaculate diets. The Fashionable Mums with wardrobes that mixed vintage and new oh-so effortlessly. The Creative Mums with the picture-perfect Instagram squares, consistent in colour palette and theme. Don’t even get me started on the DIY Mums, kids’ rooms styled as though they’d been lifted directly from a Pinterest board.
They say ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ Well, I was making a lot of comparisons. Why don’t I look like that after having my babies? Why doesn’t my Instagram feed look like that? Why don’t I live in Byron Bay in a pristine beach house, dressed in kick-ass boho get-up? Yeah, zero joy.
And in that moment, as I mentally tore shreds off myself, I decided enough was enough. No more Facebook, no more Instagram. I was going on a Social Media Sabbatical. I swiftly deleted the apps and felt an instant sense of relief. One month, I thought to myself. I will go one month without it and see how I feel.
I instantly started to wonder what I would do with all my new spare time. My first thought? Read. I would read. And in a matter of minutes I had placed half a dozen books on hold at my local library. And do you know how many of those books I finished? Not one. Clearly I got a bit excited; I have a toddler and a new born for goodness sake! Nevertheless, the intention was there and I do intend to read those books when time permits.
So I may not have read any books, but as the month passed by I noticed a few things: I was more present in conversations with my loved ones. I played with my kids more. I still took photos (with an actual camera) but without the pressure of finding the perfect filter or writing a witty caption. I shopped online less. I was there to enjoy life’s precious little moments, without the distraction of my phone. And biggest of all, I felt a hell of a lot better about myself.
Now I’m not going to get up on my high horse and say that this Social Media Sabbatical has changed my life and that I’m quitting indefinitely. But I will say this: I am certainly more aware of the impact that social media platforms have on my own self-esteem and on my relationships, and I do intend to switch off every now and then to reset. So, if you’ve found yourself in a similar position to me and are considering a digital detox, give it a try. At worst, I can guarantee you’ll save some money. And at best, you might just discover the important things in life.