Week 7: Do a digital detox

 Purge your bad digital habits along with your breakfast. |  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Purge your bad digital habits along with your breakfast. | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

During these first few weeks of pregnancy, when there is so much time but so little you can actually do, consider doing a digital detox.

Social media

As a soon-to-be parent, you may think you need social media. But here's the thing: there are much better tools to accomplish many of the jobs you're currently using social media for. 

  1. Sharing baby photos. If you want to share batches of identical-to-everyone-but-you baby photos with close friends and grandparents, there are much better tools than social media. My tool of choice is iCloud photo sharing, but there are plenty of great and free options that allow your offspring much more privacy than your facebook or instagram account. If you want to share photos so that your high school acquaintances see that you have the cutest family in the world...you need to rethink social media's hold on your life.

  2. Asking for parenting advice. It feels comforting to think that, when you're up at 3 AM panicking about a baby, other people are too...and that you can talk to them on facebook. Social media can be great for getting book and travel recommendations, but it's not the best place for late-night parenting advice. That's why pediatricians have 24-hour phone services.

  3. Making new friends. There's no denying that social media connects can form new relationships. I'm holding onto my instagram account mostly in order to keep in touch with new parents I met in snackdinner's early days. [Okay, full confession: my bi-weekly facebook visit is mostly to judge old friends.] A more effective friend-making tool is going outside and being a person in the world. Would early parenting have felt easier if I had gone out and talked to other real parents instead of reading a filtered version of how all the other parents I used to know were living their #bestlives? I can't say, because I spent too much time "trapped" under a baby scrolling through parenting horror stories on facebook.

  4. Reading parenting news. Many of us get our news from social media feeds. And that's a huge problem, because what's popular isn't necessarily what's wise or even sane. You can cultivate your own list of trusted parenting sources using another online tool: your e-mail inbox.

E-mail

Email newsletters are a great way to receive can’t-miss information about pregnancy and parenting. The only problem is that, well, most of it you CAN miss. If you already know that you are expecting a child, chances are you’ve been doing a lot of googling, and during that googling responded to more than a few pop-ups on pregnancy and parenting websites. You might now have online accounts with diaper and formula companies, pregnancy countdowns from the big parenting sites, not to mention baby registry accounts.

But now all of the companies you gave your email address to (as well as any companies they gave your email address to) are filling your inbox with attention-grabbing subject lines. That means that the next time a scary parenting story hits the news, you’re going to see a half dozen versions of the story in your inbox. Remember the zombie raccoons from Week 5? The more you “see” them in the news, the more you worry about them, even though there was really nothing to worry about in the first place.

Make your e-mail accounts a dining experience rather than a feeding one. Send ads for baby products to your spam folder. Unsubscribe from any newsletters that describe “Local mom horrified by...” or “1 simple trick to…”

Once you’ve done that threshing, you’re ready to invite newer, better resources into your inbox. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Washington Post’s On Parenting
KJ Dell’Antonia’s How to Be a Happier Parent (check out her book, too!)
Pregnant Chicken’s What the Cluck?
Liz Petrone’s eponymous blog
Andrew Knott's Explorations of Ambiguity

Oh, and Snackdinner, of course.

This is also a good time to consider your whole media diet, not just those resources related to parenting. Austin Kleon’s weekly list of 10 things worth sharing will keep you inspired with new art, music, and reading suggestions. Crooked Media’s What a Day and Vox’s Sentences will remind you to look up from your growing family at the rest of the world.