Are you a competitive mum? As survey reveals social media is making the pressure on parents worse, our writers give their views
07:58 15 May 2014
Social media has been blamed for driving new mothers to new levels of competitiveness.
A survey of nearly 2,000 mothers, carried out by the parenting website BabyCentre, has revealed that three quarters of those born in the 1980s or later spend more than eight hours on their smart phones, tablets or laptops each day.
Nicknamed millennial mums, their purchasing behaviour is also linked to their time on social media - with 83pc liking or following brands on Facebook and 59pc buying products following recommendations on parenting sites.
The women also found posts from other mums to be 55pc more influential than adverts.
Here three of our writers (and mums) give their verdicts...
Case study: Kim Briscoe
It is only natural that mums will want to compare their child to other children the same age.
It’s a healthy way of gauging if a baby or toddler’s physical and mental development is broadly on track.
But I’m not a fan when it starts to get competitive and focused on brands of clothes, toys or equipment. There is a lot of pressure to get the latest gadget or piece of kit that will supposedly make your life as a mum easier.
My weakest moment came when I bought a slightly frivolous specialist baby food steamer and blender, but in my defence I am a rubbish cook and, figuring I needed all the help I could get, I bought it with some vouchers I had.
I found social media amazingly helpful in the first year of my 17-month-old son’s life.
Those times in the early hours of the morning when you were shattered after no sleep it was good to share coping strategies with a fellow mum also up at the same time.
These days I use it much less – pretty much only to arrange meet-ups with other mums now that most of us are juggling part-time work and motherhood, and then we have a good chin-wag about our joys and woes rather than what brand of shoes we’ve bought the little ’un.
Setting the tone for your kids is really important and while competition can be healthy in small doses, I definitely don’t want Freddie to grow up addicted to screens and with a craving for over-priced brands and consumer goods that I simply won’t be able to afford.
I would not describe myself as particularly competitive – but I am a bit of a perfectionist.
So it came as no surprise when I found myself comparing my now one-year-old son Adam to his little friends.
I managed quite well for the first few months as he progressed well and “normally” – judging by the textbooks anyway.
But then, at around nine months, my friend’s little girl – who is only three weeks older than Adam – could pull herself up and stand. I was so pleased for her, but then the worry set in.
I started to research milestones on the internet about what my nine-month-old “should” be doing and to my horror I realised that not only could he not pull himself up, but he also was not saying as many baby words as predicted nor drinking out of a beaker.
I shared my fears with my husband, my parents, other friends – anyone who would listen, really.
And then something magical happened – Adam pulled himself up.
From then on I promised myself that I would let him develop in his own time and I would limit what I read on social media.
When I told my mum a friend had bought an £800 pram for her baby and mine looked “a bit rubbish” in comparison, her reply was characteristically to the point.
“That way lies madness,” she said. “Don’t get into that game.”
And as much as it pains me to admit it, she’s right.
Life with a baby is quite hard enough without driving yourself crazy about whether your child, who doesn’t know any different, is decked out in designer gear or not.
But avoiding the millennial mums’ game is made easier by my friends – a lot of whom don’t have children, so don’t care about first words or first steps or £25-a-go swimming lessons.
My Facebook feed is more likely to make me go out and register for Glastonbury tickets or head off, baby strapped on my back, to India than spend a small fortune on toys.
And the friends I have who are mothers are realistic and caring.
We drink coffee and eat cake and moan about the tantrums our children have had and the sleep we haven’t.
But I will admit to one slip – a navy blue Maclaren Techno XT.
It is so much easier to get on and off the bus than the last pushchair. Honest.