Before we go any further, I’m NOT saying you should immediately unfollow or stop consuming content that brings you joy or that mummy influencers are all bad. So all you Hinchers, Stacey Solomon supporters and Millie Mackintosh admirers can put your pitchforks down. I know they’re a source of entertainment and can make parenting in the midst of a pandemic feel less isolating.
But, you should tread with caution. Following the word of a mummy influencer – whether you’re doing it absent-mindedly or intentionally – should come with a long list of disclaimers. So, here’s what you should know before you make your next parenting decision based on the merits of your favourite content creator.
Mummy influencers are not baby experts
Sometimes mummy influencers were born (gotta love a pun) out of a desire to share baby content with their nearest and dearest – and then their profile explodes. Other times, influencers with massive profiles start a family and naturally shift their content. Either way, it’s likely they’ve had no professional training or have encountered any baby experiences outside of their own.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know how much I loathe people who class themselves as ‘sleep experts’ with little to no credentials. The ones who sell one-size-fits-all routines that prey on sleep-deprived parents, based on no facts or scientific research. Well, the same thing applies here.
If your favourite go-to Insta mama is giving advice or sharing tid-bits of their routine (in yet another ‘ask me anything’ series), you shouldn’t mistake their experiences as expertise. You wouldn’t take advice from a total stranger on your baby’s needs, would you? This is no different.
I’ve seen all sorts of ‘bad’ bits of unsolicited advice, from recommending power pumping to boost milk supply to seemingly strict, unattainable routines. Sometimes because an influencer has been in our feed for longer than we care to remember, we trust them as if they’re a close, reliable friend. They’re not. And they should not be informing your parenting decisions, especially if it goes against your gut instincts or professional guidelines.
Promote products without research
I’ll let you into a little secret. I get a lot of companies sliding into my DMs, asking me to promote products that go against safe sleep guidelines or WHO/NHS advice. I always decline.
So, imagine my horror when those same products start cropping up on my feed, backed by a mummy influencer, a #spon and a filtered smile. Clearly, they hadn’t done as much research as I had, or maybe the pay cheque was too distracting to notice, but seeing this happen repeatedly is extremely concerning and disappointing.
When purchasing courses, products or other baby-centric services, always do your own research – even if a big name is backing it. They are never quite as thorough when it comes to googling the hell out of the thing they are ‘innocently’ promoting.
Comparison can make you feel down
Watching another mother’s daily routine can spark all sorts of emotions. Depending on your mindset at the time you watch their third lockdown activity pre-11am, you’re either a) inspired b) rolling your eyes or c) anxiously comparing their baby’s day to yours.
Now it’s not just mummy influencers who breed a dangerous comparison culture on social media. It’s that girl who graduated with a first on your uni course, who has now gone on to successfully launch three businesses. Or that guy you used to work with who traded city life for the glorious countryside. But, we don’t need to keep adding people to our pile of ‘why is my life not like theirs?’
I’ve noticed news reports on this and it’s a relief that people are finally speaking out about the dark side of social media. How our mental health can be compromised everytime we see yet another over-filtered version of someone’s life. And it’s about time we all recognised this sinking feeling and act on it.
If negative thoughts arise every time you double tap on another seemingly perfect family portrait, it’s your sign to hit unfollow or mute, for the sake of your mental health and wellbeing.
Remember, they choose exactly what they show you and when
Everything has been curated, nothing hits the grid accidentally or by chance. Some of the larger mummy influencers even have entire teams behind the scenes or agents advising them on what to show and how to interact with their audience.
Even if you feel you have a good understanding of what your fave influencer’s life is like, always remind yourself that they are only sharing what they want you to see. Yes, some share the lows with the highs and give us authenticity, but you’ll never get the full picture until you live a day in their shoes.
When you’re struggling or feeling like you’re not doing enough as the next mama, remind yourself that we are all human and what you see on social media never paints the full picture.