Social media has revolutionized what it means to be a mother. Sure, the basics of mothering remain the same throughout the ages, but with all the information of the internet at our fingertips, new theories catch steam quickly, unsafe practices are brought to light in front of large audiences, and people can pick and choose which parenting methods work best for them in real time, as these methods are being used and tested by others.
One of the largest drawbacks to staying at home with your kids is the broad-stroked isolation you feel as your friends continue on their paths while you stop your own development to jump start your babies' development. Though spending hours upon hours with your kids is fulfilling in a way nothing else can be, it is also lonely, as your main mode of conversation becomes: "Do you want this or that? Do you have to use the potty? Please, stop crying."
Gone are the days of idle chat with your peers, the coffee shops, the restaurants, the heart-to-hearts. You can barely get an entire sentence out without addressing your kids in some manner, which is off-putting to conversational attempts to say the least.
Social media and Web sites bring the world to you. If you want to talk about parenting, there are sites devoted to parents sharing pictures and stories of their little ones. If you want to read the newspaper, you can catch up on current events with the click of a button. You can interact with others and discuss the stories you're reading in the comments section. You can keep in touch with friends via Facebook. Most importantly, you can devote just minutes at a time to any of these activities and go right back to your kids without looking socially awkward. A thread on Facebook, or in a forum, can develop slowly throughout the day, so that you can comment on something interesting to you, leave to play with your kids, and come back to comment again on the thread when you have time, without missing any of the conversation. Drive-by internet conversations are practically tailor-made for the stay at home parent. It caters precisely to the kind of chatter we can handle. The kind that takes just two minutes at a time and can handle long lapses in between.
As the world catches up to the technology available to us, work from home opportunities abound - moms can invent, can create, and can produce viable products and ideas in their spare time, possibly making money, but, more importantly, keeping their foot in the business world's door, as more and more employers respect and desire the know-how necessary to keep online projects afloat, the marketing and networking skills acquired through creating a brand for yourself online.
Back in the 1970s and 80s, women were still struggling to prove themselves in the workplace. Taking a year or two off to start a family stunted progress in that battle, and individuals often felt not only isolated in their choice, but ostracized as they tried to get back into the career they'd worked so hard to be a part of. As much as staying at home with your children is given lip-service, it's rarely looked upon positively behind closed corner-office doors. How can a woman who's left the working world for an extended period of time be as efficient or as appealing as a person who has been working and growing with the industry all along?
I must admit, when I made the decision to start staying home, these fears weighed heavily on me. Would I be hirable after my hiatus? Would the technology have completely changed? Would all my backbreaking work throughout my childless years be forgotten or obsolete? What could I possibly have to offer after such a long "vacation?"
I worried I may well be putting the nails in my only half-built coffin by leaving television journalism when I did.
I no longer worry, though, and tomorrow, I'll tell you why. It has to do with the internet. It has to do with social media. It has to do with this blog and the desireable skills I have, quite accidentally, honed each morning while Sesame St. is on.
(If you are interested in this topic, you may also enjoy the Parenting Online Series: 1 and 2)
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