Live your reality, not your Instagram feed

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Written by Kara S. Anderson

Join me in an experiment:

While reading this post, I want you to open up Instagram. And I want you to scroll …

I want you to think about how you feel as you see the images go past. Are you jealous? Are you sad you didn’t do that thing, whatever it is, when your kids were younger?

Do you feel less-than?

How often are you able to be genuinely happy for the people you see in your feed without adding something to your mental to-do list, or feeling bad?

Now, I want you to look around your home. I want you to think about your kids, and your circumstances.

Because today I want to talk about what I think is one of the keys to successful homeschooling – living your actual reality.

This can be challenging, because we’re constantly being inundated with ideas and images …

(This might be the one place where those pioneer homeschooling mamas in the 80s maybe had a bit of a break.)

Social media is a double-edged sword that most of us live with daily. Yes – it helps us connect with people who inspire us, but it can also help us connect with people who have entirely different circumstances than our own, and when we follow enough of those people, we might start to feel like we aren’t doing enough.

Meanwhile your 4-year-old is losing her marbles because she squished all her cotton candy into a ball and you won’t “unsquish it.”

Random scroll through my feed*:

  • beautiful vase full of fall leaves
  • mom reading to her three kids (she gets keeping-it-real points – the baby is crying ;))
  • beautiful fall baking display
  • handmade baby boots
  • Jamie Oliver cooking tomato sauce outside
  • handmade granola with coconut yogurt and berries
  • a shot of faraway mountains
  • homemade GF DF yada-yada healthy truffles
  • a rainbow display of books
  • a family at Disneyland
  • a family in their backyard with their chickens
  • a puppy being adorable

Let me tell you something about puppies: Recently, I was chatting with a friend who told me that she starts her day by making a french press coffee and turning on twinkle lights.

Doesn’t that sound so peaceful and magical?

I start my day with PUPPY.

I wake up next to my cat, who doesn’t like the puppy, and so it’s a Jenga-like series of movements to get the cats to on the other side of the baby gate while keeping the puppy from barking and waking the whole house.

Then I try to get the puppy to tinkle by standing outside in my pajamas and talking to her like she’s a toddler.

Finally, I have to settle her in a room with toys and then re-Jenga the cats and feed them, so I can buy my half-hour to write without them staring at me like I’m a 6-foot-tall turkey leg.

Not so magical. (Also – no joke – my twinkle lights just died. COME ON.)

My favorite thing about this photo is that the mug says “joy.”

But this is my life. I have chosen to surround myself with furry souls and kids.

It all reminds me of the C.S. Lewis quote:

“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

We have chosen to homeschool, and chosen to spend these days with our kids.

BUT, we haven’t chosen all of our circumstances. Maybe one child has a real attitude problem currently. Maybe Grandma just moved in.

Maybe we are a sensitive introverts who struggle with cracking down; and so our days always feel just a little chaotic.

Those are things we can’t change.

But what we can change is how we deal with them, and whether or not we spend our free moments ruminating, stewing or beating ourselves up.

And we can decide that comparison is toxic, and stop drinking that Kool-aid. (Comparison truly IS a distraction from more important work, and YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT.)

In our most recent podcast episode Cait pointed out that she and I are “ladies who write on the internet,” and that as such we can speak to something – we don’t have enough time to write about the stuff that fails, the experiments that don’t work, the books our kids didn’t like …

But those things exist, believe me.

And we struggle just as much as anyone else.

But no one wants to read a whole blog about that, so usually we write about the happier stuff.

Just know that isn’t our only reality.

And so we try not to make that the Instagram you see either.

Cait and I both try to share (at least on occasion) what it really looks like in our homes and lives.

We do that because we know how hard it is when you only see the pretty pictures. It’s easy for your mind to make the leap that we have picture-perfect lives, that everyone has picture-perfect lives – that you are the only one with a sink full of last night’s dishes, a child screaming at you or a dog who routinely pees on the floor.

I promise – PROMISE – that isn’t the case.

So as you plan your homeschool days, which somehow turn into our homeschool years, please remember that it’s absolutely OK to live YOUR reality.

It’s totally fine that you watch a lot of TV together, or that on Tuesdays you have to run Nana to the doctor.

We are making a life, not an Instagram account.

Your kids won’t look back on your feed to form their memories – they’ll look back on your imperfect days. They will know that you were doing your best; that you made a brave choice to stay home with them and to spend your days together.

And they will be grateful that you were real and imperfect – that YOU were their mom.

*Note: I recently curated my Instagram feed again. There are so many beautiful, inspiring feeds that I like to follow, but sometimes, I get a little overwhelmed with all the beauty and so I take a break. Then I add accounts back in when I am feeling a little more confident again.

now, it’s your turn. tell us: what tips do you have for navigating social media without feeling bad or overwhelmed? Share here!


You can hang out with Cait and Kara on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

You can also find Cait’s Instagram here; and Kara’s here.


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3 thoughts on “Live your reality, not your Instagram feed

  1. Daksina says:

    I have to keep reminding myself that one mama may be baking, another knitting, another going on amazing hikes, and yet another world-schooling. But none of them are doing all of those things, so why do I feel like I need to?!

    I want to give me kids amazing experiences so I get why I feel like that, but whenever I ask my kids what they love the most about homeschooling, they ALWAYS, always say, “Playing lego by the fireplace while you read to us!” So, they might really love and have fun doing all the other cool things we do, but I have to remember that our best memories are being made by doing what we are already doing.

    Thank you for keeping it real!

  2. Brigid says:

    I love everything about this post. I may have started crying towards the end. Ahem. My go to rule for Instagram is to go with my gut reaction. If my first thought or feeling is negative (I wish I had…I should…), it’s time to unfollow that person/account, at least for a little while.

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