Another weekend of playful memories with my family got me thinking about the truth behind the photos that get shared on social media.

A friend of mine recently posted that she quit social media for a whole year because her mom friends always made her feel like a #badmom by posting these pictures of them out doing awesome things all the time.  And she felt like she couldn't live up to the hype. 

*BTW, she is an awesome mom and is running circles around me in her level of mom-awesomeness! 

She was the reason that I wrote the article about the truth about hiking with little kids.  Because I am 100% guilty of only sharing the happy, smiling (or silly) faces of my family on social media.  

This is mainly so that my own children don't grow up and read mean-spirited or nasty things about them from their own mother. And because being a mom of multiples truly zaps most of your brain cells and I can't remember anything unless there is a picture of it.  

But, as I thought about our weekend of playful activities, there's so much more than a collection of fun photos. 

Fun Times:  Roller Skating Lesson

What you see in this photo is a 4 and 5 year old rocking it out for the first time at the roller skating rink.  My 4 year old, in the front and my 5 year old way ahead of him in the blue!

What you don't see:

  • Me racing back and forth across the rink trying to help each child as they fall down repeatedly in different areas.  
  • My 5 year old falling on her knee and crying hysterically for about five minutes.
  • Me (in skates) trying to take 2 four year olds (in skates and their skating walkers) to the bathroom.  One fell into the toilet and nearly cracked a rib. The other peed all over the outside of his shorts. 
  • My kids arguing over who could use my phone to take a video of me skating and the resulting 1000s of blurry pictures of the floor and their feet. 

Fun Times: Art Project

What you see in the photo is my kids having a blast dying coffee filters that we plan to turn into Valentine's flowers.  We tried the color with marker and spray with water method and also the dip in food coloring method. 

What you don't see: 

  • Our hands, which were all completely colored and took tons of scrubbing to clean up
  • My counter, which was totally blue from the markers bleeding through the coffee filters
  • My kitchen floor, which was soaking wet because one of the kids knocked over a plate with orange food coloring and water
  • The fight over who got to use which color, who got to go next, where they were going to leave the wet filters to dry and basically every other step of the process
  • Me telling them 150 million times that the coffee filters WERE NOT DRY YET. 

Fun Times: Making Brownies

I didn't get photos of this one, but just use your imagination: 

What you see is my 4 year old super excited to make brownies for the family.  He loves to cook and had been begging me to make brownies for days.

What you don't see:

  • His brother crying because HE didn't get to make brownies
  • My toe that got smashed as he was moving the stool closer to the counter
  • The entire bowl of unmixed ingredients (oil, eggs  and mix) fall to the floor because he was trying to show his brother the egg that he successfully cracked into the bowl.
  • The ENORMOUS meltdown that ensued because the brownies were totally ruined and there was no back up mix.  
  • His brother eating brownie mix off the floor and saying that it still tasted good (gee whiz!). 

Next time you see a cute photo, remember this....

There's a mom that is barely holding it together.  

There's a mom with a full glass of wine posting cute, playful photos of her kids doing fun projects because it is those photos that keep her from drinking the whole bottle of wine. (Been there judgment)

There's a mom documenting this crazy life so that the good moments are savored and the bad ones fade away. 

There's a mom that feels guilty about yelling too much, being impatient or harsh, or too "whatever" because life is more complicated than that tiny moment in time. 

Fun Projects Aren't Always Fun: I Do Them Anyway

The truth is that play time with the kids isn't always fun.  It's almost guaranteed to make a huge mess and to take way longer than expected.  There are usually some tears, some fights, and some arguments.

In fact, it was the second batch of brownies that we made that weekend that became my breakfast this morning. And they were delicious.

And I hear my kids tell the story of how they learned how to roller skate, that they have a special present to bring their teachers, and that they made yummy brownies.  

They leave out the messy details.  

And so do I.  

If people told us how incredibly messy and hard parenting was, no one would ever do it!  

So, don't believe the hype.  We are all a hot mess.  But whatever you do, I believe in pictures!  You can never have too many pictures.

Well, maybe you can have too many blurry roller skate pictures.  But, you know what I mean. 

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Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

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