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Instagram. Oh, Instagram. It’s amazing how you can love and hate something so much, all at the same time, isn’t it?
I’m pretty sure that’s how most moms today feel about Instagram, let alone homeschool moms. Navigating Instagram for regular moms is tricky, but as a homeschool mom?
Navigating Instagram can be downright complicated.
Navigating Instagram for the Homeschool Mom
Comparison is the obvious problem with Instagram, and I can’t fathom a mom that never struggles with it. But as homeschool moms, we’re not just comparing homes and kids and vacations; we’re comparing homeschool methods, activities and curriculums.
- Do we make our kids get dressed, or do we live in pajamas all day?
- Do we have a strict schedule, or does every day look different?
- Do we homeschool early in the mornings, or homeschool in the afternoons?
- Do we do workbooks, or hands-on activities?
One glance at the wrong Instagram feed can quickly turn what you think is your best homeschool day ever into the worst homeschool day that ever existed (or so you think).
One minute you’re patting yourself on the back for making it through an entire activity from start to finish, getting through a chapter in a read-aloud, and keeping everyone alive, fed and happy. Life is good.
The next? You check your Instagram feed, and so-and-so homeschool mom not only did those three things, but she also found the time to draw the most beautiful and accurate map of the United States you have ever seen on her gigantic, homemade chalkboard.
It’s seriously beautiful, and it could be inspiring if it didn’t hit you at just the wrong moment.
You quickly lock yourself in your bedroom and cry your little eyes out and seriously consider quitting homeschooling right then and there.
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
Instagram’s original mission was to “capture and share the world’s moments,” and that’s exactly what it does. They just forgot to insert [most perfectly staged, cleaned up the entire room to get this one perfect shot of what makes my life awesome, kind of moments].
Just kidding (sort of).
Like any other social media, Instagram was designed to help people stay in touch across time and space. If you use it wisely, it can inform you, connect you, and inspire you.
Follow these four tips to make Instagram a blessing in your homeschool life, and not a curse.
4 Tips to Get the Most Out of Instagram
1) Follow homeschool moms whose homeschool styles are at least somewhat close to your own.
If relaxed homeschooling is your jam, following a classical homeschooler or a Pinterest homeschool mom (think beautiful crafts and hands-on projects every single day) has the potential to make you feel like you’re not doing enough.
On the other hand, if you’re a checklist homeschool mom, following unschoolers snapping photos of time spent outdoors, on amazing adventures, and diving deep into their child’s latest interest might make you feel like you’re too rigid and not taking advantage of all homeschooling has to offer.
Unless you are extremely confident in your homeschool style, I would advise finding accounts that are on your end of the homeschool spectrum.
Instagram should encourage you and inspire you, not make you feel like you should be someone you’re not.
2) If Instagram becomes a source of comparison, anxiety, or depression, take a break.
When I say take a break, I mean a serious break.
First, delete the app from your phone (because we all know tapping that little button is automatic and irresistible every hour or two). Then, commit to a set amount of time away from Instagram.
You can declare your break to social media land if you wish. (This is strongly recommended if you currently post five times a day, and your mom will think you died when don’t post for an entire week.)
When your break term is over, make sure to talk to someone about the results of your break before you go on an Instagram binge.
I mention this last point because it’s so easy to forget how social media affects us. We come back from our week or month-long fast and immediately dive back down the Instagram rabbit-hole, forgetting all the positive changes we experienced from limited use.
And when you do return? Use that unfollow button and use it liberally. It’s not personal: it’s boundaries.
3) Find accounts that let you in on the darker realities of homeschooling, too.
My most liked Instagram post for all of 2018 is my dirty dishes post. I snapped a pic of my overflowing sink and quickly uploaded it with a simple caption you can see above.
The comments started pouring in.
“Thank you so much for sharing that! It makes me feel so much better about our house.”
“I love this so much!”
“Thanks for the encouragement. Now off to do the dishes myself.”
As a blogger, there is so much pressure to create the perfectly curated Instagram feed. And there is a place for that.
I do enjoy scrolling through beautiful and inspirational photos from time to time. It’s kind of like a magazine on my phone. In fact, it’s so separate from my current reality that it inspires me instead of depresses me.
But with homeschool accounts, things can hit a little too close to home, sometimes.
We see homeschooling mom blogger _______ looking amazing all the time with perfectly snapped photographs that are obviously taken with a beautiful camera, staged in a beautiful house (and clean, mind you) that seems so far from anything you will ever own, and silently plead for the occasional photo that lets us know she can’t do it all either.
We need to see the dishes that pile up, the take-out they ordered last night, or the mess that was their dining room table at the end of a long homeschool day.
We need to know that they aren’t perfect either, which brings me to my last point.
4) Remember that an Instagram post is often the single, best moment of that mom’s otherwise chaotic day.
You know this, and I know this, but it needs to be said again because we so easily forget it as homeschool moms.
Remember Instagram’s mission? To capture the world’s moments?
That’s all those photos are: moments.
What you don’t see on Instagram is the fight before the photo was taken, the disaster the house was before it was cleaned for two hours before that shot, or the financial burden of debt that is a heavy load to carry.
Life is messy. Homeschool life is messier.
I haven’t met a single homeschool mom blogger yet who doesn’t talk about what she doesn’t do. Every one talks about giving up something to make their homeschool mom blogger life happen.
It’s not just you. They’re so very far from perfect.
Instagram’s Amazing Potential for Homeschool Moms
I’ve told you all the dark sides of Instagram (most of which, you probably already know), but what about it’s highlights?
Several accounts I follow inspire me regularly. They provide me with book recommendations for my kids, inspirational quotes, and what life really looks like as an unschooler.
I used to be a habitual Instagram scroller. Thankfully, I broke that habit.
Now, I go there when I need one (or all) of three things:
Instagram is only a tool, and just like any tool, it can be used for good or for evil. That tool is in your hands: you decide how to use it.
Every time you scroll your Instafeed, scroll with purpose; scroll with your guard up, ever so slightly. Every time you publish a photo, think about why you’re doing it and make sure your intentions are good.
Instagram, when used wisely, can be another helpful tool in your homeschool mom tool belt. May it give you the information, inspiration, or connection you need, exactly when you need it.