(My lovely friend Lauren from Hunters and Heels took a few of these photos for me when we went to the beach for the day. Although it’s not really the time of year for summer beach photos I couldn’t not have them on my blog, so here’s to reminiscing some September summer sun).
I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for some time and tonight is finally the night… appropriate really as this coincides with with my blog’s two-year anniversary which I find hard to believe. Where did that time go?!
Anyway, here goes…
When did I start Instagram and why?
It was roughly around three years ago that I bought my first iPhone and then downloaded the app Instagram. Over that first year I began what I’d class as any normal Instagram feed; everyday life, capturing nights out and the odd #foodporn pic… well, we all make mistakes! It wasn’t long however that little by little I started treating my feed as my own personal canvas and began thinking a little more deeply about the kind of photo I wanted to share. It soon became more of a ‘lookbook’ with a concerted theme and style, rather than a mish-mash of personal photos.
Humour me while I tell you a little about my background; apologies if you find some of this somewhat hollow but this is me being open and honest.
From a very early age… pretty much as early as I can remember… I’ve been obsessed with taking pictures. All through my teenage years I’d be the one everyone turned to because they knew I always had a camera primed and ready to capture that unforgettable moment. I used to go into town to photo processing shops (remember when they were a thing) and have masses of photos printed before sticking them all over my bedroom wall. To the untrained eye you’d think I had photo wallpaper as you could hardly see the actual wallpaper below. These photos made me smile and feel happy. If they weren’t on my wall then you would find them in my many photo albums where I had written little captions on each of the photos. (I so wish I had time to do this now). I’ve also been crazy about art ever since I was little and this continued at college where I studied art and design for a further two years along with dance, media studies and performing arts. I’ve always been a creative person, making cards for everyone’s birthdays or choreographing dances and performing on stage to hundreds of people. This was me and what I absolutely loved to do and what made me feel happy and alive. I guess it’s fair to say I’m a creative person at heart.
As I got older though and gained more financial commitments, some things had to give as ‘real life’ took over… working full time, buying a house, getting married, and holidays. Without really realising, I ended up giving a lot of my hobbies up but one thing I didn’t stop was taking photos upon photos because although life was changing, its moments were still worth capturing.
It was no wonder that when I got introduced to Instagram nearly three years ago it became my little hobby and an avenue where I was able to express my creativity, interests and highlights of my life. In years gone by I created tangible photo albums and scrapbooks; now Instagram had become my own little digital scrapbook and journal all in one place where I could share pics of whatever made me happy.
Is my Instagram feed fake?
No! Might sound like an odd question but it has been directed at me before. Hugo and I are real people, truly mother and son, and believe me you cannot force a little baby to do anything he doesn’t want to do as it’ll just end in tears! There are moments of course that are more ‘set up’ like my ‘coffee cup’ pics as I don’t hold it like that normally… I just grab it and drink it and don’t even think about it. Or if I fancy doing more of a fashion post, of course, these are a bit more contrived as I don’t just happen to have a white wall behind me wherever I go. I tend to plan these kind of snaps around everyday life so often, we’ll stop en route to somewhere, hop out of the car and my hubby will quickly take some photos for me; it literally takes about 10 minutes, not long at all. And then continue with our journey.
The reason why I’m sharing all this is because I would like to think that my feed comes across as ‘real’ and not something that’s trying to perceive my life as perfect as it’s far from that. I have a truly happy life with many perfect moments in it but I also have a lot of imperfect moments where I feel I could really loose my rag at any point and literally cry over spilt milk (especially if it’s freshly expressed breast milk which actually happened a few months back when my husband accidentally kicked over a bottle when getting up from the sofa. I cried so hard. He however found it hilarious. Looking back at that scenario now it is actually quite amusing how such a little thing left me ranting and raving and giving the silent treatment… which for many guys is actually a positive outcome!)
Talking about my IG feed again, it does irk me a little bit when I hear people saying that social media is fake and all made-up as ‘no-one’s life is really like what they post’. In all honesty, who would want to see a picture of Hugo being so overtired and crying so hard that even I’m having a hard time trying to console him… or a picture of my whole house looking like a pig sty… or me being in the same joggers for like five days in a row with super greasy hair. These aren’t moments I particularly want to share and I don’t think anyone else would either.
It also wouldn’t be fair on Hugo to share that kind of photo as who knows who might screenshot it and use it against him in later life, such as kids in school. Secondly although they are real life moments, they’re not moments that make me particularly happy and when I look over my feed, I like to see things that make me feel happy and smile. I absolutely think YES to those people who do share pictures like this as we know that we’ve all been there but for myself I prefer sharing those ‘not so perfect’ moments through writing heartfelt captions. On my Snapchat however, you’ll see a few glimpses of my ‘not so perfect’ home life. I can post any old thing on there but reserve more creative and positive shots for my Instagram.
How do I feel about posting pictures of Hugo?
I am probably more aware than you realise of what I’m posting and always question if I should have such an open Instagram and blog as there are some awful people out there but since I started all this I have only come across super supportive friends and followers who I feel blessed to share life with.
I have had the odd person steal my photos and even set up accounts using my images and pretending to be Hugo and me but these have been dealt with immediately. In most cases they are simply teenagers who are too young to know better and, I guess, are at an age where they’re searching for what they view as the perfect life… you can read up on it more here. I am really not blasé about this as this is my son… my all…and if I felt Hugo was going to come to any harm in any way, I wouldn’t even think twice. I have had to have many conversations with people I love and trust on many occasions where I’ve confided in them with my concerns and worries that have always helped me go forward and think more positively about this. I honestly don’t take this lightly.
When someone does take my photos without permission, or even sets up accounts, what do I do?
The immediate response that often pops up in mind is:
-Delete all my open social media accounts
-Delete all photos of Hugo
Why haven’t I done this yet?
These are some of my reasonings:
-There are thousands upon thousands of mum bloggers out there who are doing the exact same thing as me. If the likes of AmberFillerup and other mum bloggers of her status are doing it, then what do I have to worry about? We’re all in this together.
– Being on statutory maternity pay and having another little person to pay for and still pay all the bills was a real trial for us as a family and so it was a huge blessing to have been given so many gorgeous clothes for Hugo during this time. I have also been given some amazing opportunities to work with some global brands that I love. I don’t blog because of this as I would still do it whether I was a part of any collaboration or not just like I did in my first year of blogging. I always want to be real about this… this is a crucial element for me…. and only recommend brands that I truly love or would buy anyway whether or not I received it for free. The other point I want to add is that being a blogger is like having another job; the hours spent writing, journaling, editing pictures and interacting with my followers are endless but above anything I enjoy every minute of it.
-I have never felt so supported, encouraged and inspired as I have by all my friends and followers in recent years.
-During my maternity leave, especially in the winter months when Hugo used to sleep for hours on end and the days were short and the nights long, I would actually say that Instagram helped me not to feel alone. The days would often be too wet to venture out and I didn’t have a lot of close friends who had babies at that time. I met a few lovely mums at baby groups but no-one who I would meet up with on a really regular basis if you know what I mean. Because of this I would actually say that Instagram helped me connect with other mums who were going through the exact same thing as me, the sleepless nights, the teething, the first smiles, all the highs and lows. This is when Instagram became a lot more real for me as I realised that trying to show a ‘perfect’ life actually isn’t what people want to see; they want to see the real life moments, good and bad. Like I said before though, no-one really wants to see a photo of Hugo in distress or anything but I could post a picture and write a post about what was happening right at that moment and feel instant support from so many like-minded mums. Whether I may have got postnatal depression without this app I don’t know but in some ways it gave me a little more purpose for the day and gave me a channel to express and appreciate other mums. I developed a sense that we’re all in this together and that we’re doing a fabulous job… YOU’RE doing a fantastic job… sometimes it’s just nice to hear those words in the most unexpected moments.
Obsessed with followers and likes?
I would say this is one of the most challenging and potentially negative aspects of Instagram, and social media generally, in that it’s so easy to get wrapped up in a culture of self-acceptance based upon how much of a response you get to a post. This is why I think that if you have quite a large following and you’re still quite young and impressionable – in fact, regardless of age – I can see how easy it can be to measure your self worth based on all these statistics. If this is you and you’re reading this…. Who really cares how many likes and followers you have? Are you doing this for yourself or others? YOU my darling are worth so much more than anything you could imagine, if only you were to see yourself through God’s eyes you would see just a glimpse of how much you’re worth.
Comparing yourself to others on this app is also so easy to do and I have to admit there have been times where I have been my own worst enemy and done exactly this and got myself in a whole big jealous slump because I just didn’t feel good enough. It’s actually quite disconcerting that these thoughts must enter so many people’s minds as they scroll through numerous feeds on a daily basis. How do we stop this? Acceptance. ‘This is my journal and I’m going to write and share pics that I want to share and to also accept the beauty of others because we are all different and unique’.
The other point I’m going to mention on this topic are apps that show you who’s unfollowed you. I’ve got to say that this has caused me a few insecurities in the past… questioning what I’m doing and how I might have offended someone to the point that they chose to unfollow. Did I post something they didn’t agree with? The thoughts rumble on. This plays on the mind so much more when you actually know the person in real life; people you talk to every week but they have no idea that you know that they unfollowed you. A bit of a weird situation. I would advise against getting apps such as this, they really don’t help at all. I’ve felt so much better since deleting it as it helps to build yourself in confidence and not be knocked down or doubt yourself. I now have a totally different perspective; if someone does unexpectedly unfollow, that is absolutely OK and totally their prerogative. The same goes for you; don’t worry about it and don’t read into it. Keep doing what you’re doing!
At this current time I am very aware of what I post, mostly in regards to Hugo, I do not want to expose him just because of blogging purposes. I also don’t want anything to backfire on him as he grows up because he’s ‘that child on Instagram’. I want to do life with my family and capture real moments, not conjured up moments. I admit there have been times where I’ve got so wrapped up in this social media crazed world that I became a little obsessed with it which really wasn’t healthy for my family or me. Just these past couple of weeks I have decided to step back a little and assess how much time I devote to my blog and social media, not to get stressed out if I don’t have a picture for that day or because Hugo won’t go to sleep so I couldn’t write a post that night. REAL life is way more important. My family is way more important. I salute those people who manage to blog a few times a week who also have another job and have kids… I’m not sure how you do it!
Of course both my husband and I enjoy our own downtime where we do our own thing together but separately if you know what I mean, like sat on the couch together whilst he’s watching the football and I’m going through photos on my Macbook or writing blog post. Recently I’ve taken more time out to read other people’s posts too – this is something I missed quite a bit as I struggled to find enough hours in the day to do everything.
My aim and why I’m doing this
To encourage, lift up and inspire other mums in that we are all doing the best job we can do. Motherhood is a name that unites so many women and I’m a part of that so I want to be real about what I’m going through, the highs and the lows. I can’t really go to the gym anymore as I just can’t motivate myself to go at the moment so for now this is my little hobby with a purpose and something I enjoy doing in and amongst my everyday life. I do love fashion so that will always be a part of my feed and I am still going to take pics of pretty flowers, as I like how they add bursts of colour not only in my feed but in real life too. Oh and I can’t forget the good old coffee cup pic just to remind you that I love coffee. Hugo is, of course, a huge part of my life… well really he is my life and he will always be a big part in my journaling process at this moment in time. If at any point he doesn’t want to have his photo taken or he doesn’t want to be a part of it, without question I will honour him but for now we are being truly blessed and I am super thankful for all the opportunities we have been given. As many of you will know, I am a very spiritual person and I always pray that God will help me make the right decisions in what I do and also for protection and to lead me in the right direction. I am so grateful for his abundant blessings in my life whether they are evident at that time or not, I know that he has even better things in store for us as a family. It’s so important in life that you speak positivity into your circumstances and even against all the odds you reap blessings. Surround yourself with people who build you up and always be confident in who you are!
Sorry for the super long post but these things have been on my heart to share for a while now and although it’s taken me hours to put together, I feel like I’ve got it off my chest. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!
Lots of love