Is Elf On The Shelf making you feel like a crap mother?

Apparently, according to the world of social media, the answer for some is yes. But I’m gonna call bullshit on this one and say it’s likely not the elf but the comparison to other mums that’s making you feel inadequate.

Let me explain…. As someone who uses Instagram to share family life, and who chooses to celebrate and share both successes and failures, I am very aware of how seeing things online can impact your mental health.

There are a whole host of topics that could or should be banned from social media. Topics that in my opinion elicit trauma, and if it was up to me I would choose not to read or see the things that trigger me.

Oh wait, for the most part is IS up to me.

I am able to mute, unfollow, ask not to see this again, in order to clean up my news feed.

Hence why I find it just a little bit unnecessary when someone has a rant about how Elf on the Shelf is making mothers (them) feel inadequate.

People who have tidy houses, are hugely successful and look like supermodels make me feel inadequate, but it would take me one hundred years, most likely bitter years, to successfully call out all of these people on their pretentiousness, but why would I want to?

Don’t get me wrong, as a disabled mother on a low income, I know what it’s like to be hard up. I’ve experienced trauma and I know what it’s like to struggle with your mental health. We all have triggers. All of us. But we also need to take stock and stop blaming others for triggering us.

The mum posting her child’s toy elf prancing around on a plastic dinosaur is not doing so to make you feel inadequate.

Realistically, she is probably doing it to make herself feel better, a silent high five to having remembered that Fergus-Frosty-Pants the elf needed to move his matchstick body, to another part of the house after her kids were tucked up in bed.

Similarly, the mum who takes pride in her home and posts pictures of it, is not doing so to make you feel inadequate. She’s sharing something she’s proud of.

I’m not a big fan of sharing hauls, or how many presents my kids get, mainly because I’ve always been brought up not to place too much value on material things, but you know what? If I could afford to do all the things with my kids that I’d like, if I could afford to shower them with gifts that fill rooms, I probably would. Of course we need to educate our children not to place value on how much they receive, I had a conversation just yesterday with my daughter about being grateful for all that she has as opposed to being sad about the things she doesn’t. It started when she sulked walking back from the shop because they didn’t have the Christmas tree biscuits we usually buy to decorate this time of year. We had a good chat about all the lovely things we’ve done and the crafts we’ve made in the run up to Christmas and that sulking about not being able to decorate some chewy gingerbread, kind of pales into insignificance if we compare. We talked about how there will inevitably always be things we want that we can’t have. Things others have that may make us jealous or resentful, but this is part of life. It’s literally something we all, even us as adults (clearly) will experience often. Comparison is the thief of joy and if we focus on what everyone else is doing and allow it to make us feel shit about ourselves, we lose sight of all the great things we have and if I’ve learned anything in the last year (and I like to think I’ve learned a whole lot) it’s that gratitude is not only a healthier way to eradicate the feelings of inadequacy that comes with comparison, it also helps us to feel better about what we have.

I see posts all the time saying ‘it’s ok if you don’t have XYZ this Christmas’ and of course it is, but I’m nonplussed as to when anybody suggested it wasn’t.

I myself am guilty of previously following trends, especially with the kids. Always wanting to make sure my daughter has a birthday party as great those of her peers. Don’t forget the photo ops, balloon arches and all that. However, I’ve learned that actually she’s happy if there is food and dancing, and she doesn’t really give a shit if she has 100 balloons positioned into a giant rainbow at five years old. I’ll add as well that all of these things are available in DIY and don’t cost the earth if you’re prepared to graft yourself.

We’re all human, trying our best, wanting the best for our kids, and it’s hard enough to avoid the never ending guilt that is placed on us as mothers, without turning on each other for moving around a felt elf, two weeks a year.

Just do you. XOXO

DM To Collab…..

Ok so here’s the thing. You’ve recently started growing your social media following and brands are approaching you with exclusive discounts. You think wow someone wants to work with me and bite their hand off for a freebie. Maybe it’s an umbrella from Amazon that someone is asking you to write a review for. Maybe they want to send you an exclusive discount code for recruiting brand ambassadors, or maybe they’re trying to sell you weight loss products because youd be perfect to represent their brand.

You don’t consider your self an influencer so you feel like you’re lucky to have any kind of opportunity for a freebie and you snap each one up eagerly. Next thing you know you have to write a caption bigging up an umbrella in the middle of a heatwave or promote weight loss shakes that taste like sick and give you a headache for a week.

The moral to this story is – Don’t fake it. If you don’t believe in something don’t try and sell it for a freebie. Because in doing so, you’re committing to work for free for a product you don’t even believe in yourself. The reason I’m writing about this now is because I was that girl who tried and failed to promote an umbrella. I hate umbrellas, they’re awkward, they get in the way and almost always break upon second use. Instead of saying that though, I tried to write a catchy caption about why this plain and badly made umbrella was the highlight of my week. I had a better experience when I stole one from the brolly bin on exiting a Cardiff restaurant during an April downpour.

Also noteworthy, if someone is commenting on your picture dm us to collab I can 99% guarantee that they are doing the exact same on another 1000 posts each week. Maybe even several times a week, thus meaning their collab offer is likely to be no more than an invite to apply. Or maybe it’s a discount code and an expectation on you to produce content for them, for FREE.

After learning the hard way that most people’s ideas of collaborations are in fact expectations, I now strictly only work with brands that work for me! Meaning I only promote products I am interested in, or that represent what I’m about. For example I recently collaborated with Royce Lingerie to promote their blossom bra, a non wired bra available in my mega size of a H cup.

Likewise I’ve promoted menstrual cups and self care products that promote wellbeing for women’s health. Being a chronic illness and mental health blogger as well as a mum means there are not always opportunities in abundance for product reviews or PR posts.

However, even if there were, I will never promote products that make false promises such as shakes that claim to contain all the nutrients you’ll ever need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, or pills and supplements that claim to fix health problems.

Be a grey goose in a pond full of swans

Suffering from chronic illness makes you a less than desirable candidate for some brands, as do my personal and often very sweary captions. I recently got offered a collaboration with a well know sanitary production company. I sent them all my insights and they asked me to be part of their latest campaign. I agreed, but upon them viewing my grid I was not deemed appropriate because of some of the language I use. Eg – I say Fuck, a lot! But that’s fine, because I don’t work for these brands. I created a blog as an outlet and a space to share my experiences, if I get offered payment or freebies of products that I’m interested in, I consider it a bonus. I’m not prepared sacrifice my integrity for a tub of Slimfast or some free tampons. If your purpose in life is to be an influencer then this blog might go against the grain. You may be thinking any work is work and that’s absolutely your choice. I don’t look down on people who have #Ads all over their grids, it’s just not for me. I don’t DM to collaborate with brands because I believe if they really wanted to work with me they would in fact be reaching out to me to offer me a collaboration opportunity.

I’m not suggesting you never do the reaching, I think it’s great to network and let people know you’re interested in their products but what I am saying is these secondary accounts commenting on your photos are not likely to make you the next big thing. And remember huns, that being famous on Instagram is the equivalent to being rich in monopoly….. #justsaying

Example caption from one of my recent grid posts