Spotted any of these beauties on social media recently? I have.
You know the type I mean. Those shared posts that preach a sense of parenting superiority.
Those posts that scoff at how exhausted you might be feeling.
Those posts that assume parents always have a choice when it comes to working or not working. Who needs money, right?
Those posts that underestimate a parent’s passion and happiness in their own career. I mean, what kind of mother would possibly pick work over a child?
Yes, I’m talking about all those posts that draw a definitive line in the sand between working parents and stay-at-home parents in some kind of crazy ‘divide and rule’ tactic – because heaven forbid the two groups should ever find any common ground between them.
Working parents vs SAH parents – how is that still even a thing?!
For the past three years, I’ve been a frazzled working mum. Right now, I am a frazzled SAHM of two, six months in.
Having spent time on both sides of the fence, I know that:
- both are bloody exhausting in their own challenging way
- both require copious amounts of caffeine and wine
- both have made me cry
- both come with their own unique brand of mummy guilt and insecurities
- both sides very often think they have it worse than the other
It’s those last two points though isn’t it? Those are the ones that often make some people feel the need to share these competitive ‘I’m a better / busier mum than you’ posts across social media.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. I can see the temptation in sharing them. In the past, I’ve had plenty of crappy snappy mornings with the kids, followed by a crappy day in the office, where I felt like a worthless mother, barely treading water. One quick glance at Facebook to see a stream of smiley ‘day out’ pics, or a fun filled craft morning from a SAH parent, and I would be bursting to post something that validated my ‘working mum’ choice. Something that celebrated me trying to juggle it all. Something that disguised my own crippling insecurities.
Would it make me feel better? No, not really.
Would it potentially upset, undervalue or irritate other SAH parents that see it? YES, of course it would.
Since quitting my job, I look at my working mum friends on social media and envy their cool campaigns, office clothes, hot coffees and Pret a Manger lunches. I’ll be eating Jaffa Cakes for lunch again. Someone posted this the other day (typo and all) and I felt a fresh new surge of mummy guilt from the other side:
As I glanced down at my stereotyped baggy yoga pants and crumpled t-shirt, I panicked: what kind of role model was I like this? Do I sometimes get the urge to post a pro-SAH image to justify my career change? One of those ‘I’ve got the most important job in the world…..raising my kids’ post? You bet I do, I’m only human.
Of course it’s ok to feel all these things. Both sides of parenting are fighting their own demons. It’s just not OK to fire cheap public shots to the other side using social media. So let’s STOP SHARING THESE POSTS!
Because deep down, we’re all on the same side! Working parent or stay at home one, we are all in the same camp – camp exhaustion! We might have different roles in that camp, but as parents we are all united in trying to do the best for our kids whichever way we can. And equally as important, we should all be united in making OURSELVES happy. Happy parents, be it ones in the office or home, make the best parents.
I might go back to work this year. I might not. Whatever I pick, I‘ll no doubt continue to have guilt fueled ups and downs, and ‘grass is greener’ moments. But I won’t be using social media to air these feelings. Sharing just isn’t caring in this instance
Some people , even brands, who share these kind of posts might not realise how they can be interpreted or how they can make the other parenting side feel. It might genuinely come from a place of pride – pride in your hardworking lifestyle choice. Or it might stem from insecurities and the need to make yourself feel better about your choice. But either way, do we need to really share these kind of posts at all? Do we really want to draw that line in the sand between workers and stay at homers any further?
I think it’s every parents job to just show a little empathy and understanding for the other side. Remember, it’s not always a choice for some. Remember, that someone on the other side feels like they are drowning too. Why make them feel any worse.
The truth is, for each side, it’s the same hardworking story, just a different script. Choose your words on social media carefully parents – for some, they can be haunting.