The infamous influencer. Popular, even revered individuals in our modern-day world of social media. Described in the trusted pages of the Oxford dictionary as “A person who has the capacity, the power to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone.” I think this pretty much sums up motherhood in a nutshell... but let’s delve deeper!
As mothers, we may worry which influencers our children are following, latching onto, aspiring to be. But I say, let’s flip the script. As moms we have an irreplaceable role in our children’s lives—dare I say it—we are the original influencers for our children. Think about it for a moment, not only are we the ones who birth them, we’re actually the ones who raise them and unleash them into this world. So raise your glass, click your heels and do not underestimate your superpowers, mamma. Be proud to be a mother!
To support my belief I thought I’d review what the so called “experts” identify as the requirements to be a successful social media influencer today and correlate it to what mothers have been instinctively practicing since before Instagram and grumpy cat. In my endeavor, I went straight to Forbes magazine and found this listacle, by Tom Ward, entitled, “How to Become an Influencer” to break down his “tips” to becoming it and showcase why we moms hold the power to influence our children best.
Tip #1: Loyalty & Authenticity
As an influencer, you need to build a loyal following by being authentically you. If you ask me, nothing is more authentic than the tireless work that is motherhood. Whether it’s singing an incoherent lullaby in the wee hours of the morning to soothe a crying newborn, cooking dinner with a child wrapped around your leg or cheering on the sidelines of a soccer match wrapped in a sleeping bag, we give 100% of our truest selves to our children without boundaries or #filters. With children, we have the opportunity to build loyalty that goes both ways. Such that is unspoken, but evergreen, it takes creating that safe space, a sense of belonging and truth. Authentic loyalty is imparted by not only living our deepest values, but by letting our children know that they are valued and that we will always have their best interest at heart, even when they’ve just dented our brand new car.
Tip #2: Trust
As the old saying goes, “if you can’t trust your mother, who can you trust?” It is my belief that it is our role as mothers to be the person our children can trust with their lives, their wellbeing and secrets. Sure, our kids are likely not telling us everything, but by building trust with them they know that they can come to us with the big things. The earth-shattering things. The life or death things. That’s what moms are for, right?
Tip #3: Find your niche, your passion
Need I say more? You and I both know that it was passion led to the child you’re holding in your arms... Yet as they grow and turn into their own human being, your passion for them may not always feel like enough. What do you have in common? What can you connect about that is unique to the two of you?
Tips #4: Do it in your own unique way
Everyone and their mother (hah) is looking to give you advice on how to mother your child. Here’s the short of it: you know yourself and your child better than anyone... be a mother your way, read the books if you want, follow advice if you want, but at the end of the day let your gut guide you, because mothers do know best. As Nike would say, “Just do it!”
Tip #5: Pick your channel of communication
For mothers this should be a no-brainer, but I’m definitely a traditionalist on this one… Throw out the goddamn device! Here’s why, beyond the scientific reasons of serotonin release, etc. we all know how good it feels to be together—eye to eye, face to face—so we can see, hear and feel the emotions in the room.
Tip #6: Create a strategy
Who’s a finer strategist than a mom? We’ve potty trained these little ones goddamnit (sorry, second profanity in two paragraphs!) But truly, as a mom we build up a host of skills. We are creative, patient strategists who allow for spontaneity within a structure. We intrinsically bring our values to the table every day in how we choose to spend time with and raise our child. Wake up world, there should be a mother on every corporation’s board... or sounds like the candidate we need in the Oval Office!
Tip #7: Be consistent
A mother’s sanity pill! Your kids need this. Consistency, structure, stability—in whatever ways you create it, make your kids feel loved and safe as they are finding their place in the world.
Tip #8: Engage
Engage, engage, engage. Can’t say this one enough. As moms, that’s our secret sauce. Engagement is about time over things. But don’t stress yourself—if you are a working mom, or strapped for time, what matters to your kids is quality time over quantity time. How are you maximizing the minutes together to truly be there. Not out in the ethers of your phone and beyond.
Tip #9: Check in and evaluate
Isn’t that what every mama bear does, whether our kids ask for it or not? Check in when they rise, before they sleep, during birthdays, holidays, Fridays, Mondays… you get the picture. Storms will come, tides will rise… political discourse will shock us; life, as we have come to learn and are living right now, is unpredictable. But a mother’s instincts and wisdom are always on high alert helping our children to navigate adversity and giving us the strength to find a new path if needed. All so our little angels can reach for their dreams with us as the wind beneath their wings.
In sum, it is clear, moms are the boss! And, being an influencer is a powerful role and not one to be taken lightly. As mothers we are granted the gift and the responsibility to guide our children with kindness, empathy and joy, so in turn they will pay it forward for a brighter more connected world. We are the original influencers after all.
Diane Danvers Simmons is Co-Host & Co-Founder of the Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered Podcast. Mother of the mother-daughter duo, Diane, brings a life-time of varied experiences and a global perspective as a baby-boomer and proud owner of 3 passports to their female-centric conversations. Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered aims to bridge the intergenerational gap and bring women from all walks of life together to learn and grow together with the core belief that we are stronger together. You can find Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered wherever you listen to your podcasts and can follow them @motherdaughterunfiltered on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. (www.motherdaughterunfiltered.com)