Reclaiming Joy in Home Making

Update: This series was delayed due to the loss of my grandfather (you can read more about this here and on my Instagram page.) Thank you for all of your prayers, condolences and well wishes! I’m grateful for you. ❤ Cait

With busy schedules, lots of stress and lots of mess, its easy to let our homes become a hub of disarray. When we find ourselves discouraged, bitter or overwhelmed, how can we find our way back to the meaning and beauty hidden in the daily grind?

I could go into chore charts and scheduling but, if I’m being honest, it’s not my forte (like, at all!). Instead I’ll share the little things I do to help me reset, refresh and reclaim the joy of homemaking in a big way!

Own It

When people hear the term homemaking they usually think of a stay-at-home mom. Being a work-from-home mama myself, I know for certain that the two go hand in hand! But, home making is not limited to those whose life’s work takes place within their own four walls. Anyone who has a place to live owes it to themselves (& all who dwell there) to make it a home!

Until recently, it seemed that the titles of homemaker and stay-at-home mom carried negative connotations; the work done behind closed doors underestimated or undervalued. But, with more people working and spending leisure time at home than ever before due to the Corona Virus pandemic, the question of “What do you do all day?” seems to have answered itself!

Be Your Own Manager

Because you aren’t necessarily getting the same validation from keeping a home as you would from say a paycheck or a GPA, it can be easy to lose sight of your progress and your goals.

Instead of money and grades, look to your surroundings, yourself and your family as a barometer. Is your home a place that is functional? Does it offer you places for work and leisure? Does it reflect your personal style? Does it serve as a reprieve for your family at the end of a long day?

Answering these questions will help you to see which areas might need tweaking to reclaim your joy.

Vocation Over Occupation

If you’re doing it well, home making is challenging. It involves cleaning, appointments, errands, meetings, needs that are endless and tasks that keep repeating. You tidy the playroom and the kids immediately dump their toys. You unload the dishwasher and the sink fills again within hours. You sweep and mop just so milk can splash across your once-clean floor.

When I start to feel dissatisfied with another un-eaten dinner, half-finished project or mountain of laundry staring me down, I’m tempted to grumble and think,

“What’s the point?”

If I’m not careful, I can let these thoughts fester and turn to anger or even resentment. I’ve learned to nip these feelings of futility in the bud by remembering how important this work truly is. Not only to my family but to the world and most importantly, the Lord. What I do isn’t significant because I’m the best at it or because no one else can do these things, but because it is meant for me to do.

Regardless of passions, goals and roles in my life, my primary function and means of sanctification will be my duty as a wife and mother. My vocation today needs to be my main focus and motivation. If I realize all of my ambitions for the future that is great but what’s most important is where God has me right now! How I love those I serve, steward my blessings and live the present moment.

Create a Sacred Space

This next tip that has saved my sanity more than once! Create a sacred space. Set aside a room or quiet corner of your home that serves as a quick escape throughout your day. Clean this area first-thing in the morning and try to scoot the children out if you’re not there yourself.

Since daytime isn’t ideal for long baths or uninterrupted reading, simple, striking things work best. Include décor you enjoy and things that relax you as soon as you enter. For me this is usually the master bedroom, which means it’s a place that my husband can take a breather as well. It’s a place that feels like its just ours in a home where everything is shared. Whether it’s a freshly made bed, a window view, calming music or a piece of art, a place to find some peace and take a breath is something all homemakers need. Don’t forget to take care of you, as you care for your surroundings!

Reset and refresh

When we look at homemaking through a bitter eye, we forget that it’s an art! One way to keep that thought in the forefront of my mind is to refresh and reset often. I don’t just mean organization (though the more of that, the better!) but daily routines and seasonal changes that keep things interesting.

I change tablecloths and linens regularly, swap out heavy winter curtains for lighter ones in the spring, use seasonal décor that’s easy to switch out and use each season like throw pillows or wreaths on your door. My go-to for keeping things fresh day to day are vases of flowers and flickering candles at night. There is something about pulling back the curtains first thing in the morning to let the sunshine in and the warmth of candle light in the night that bookends the day so nicely.

That’s what home is all about, little comforts, small respites and rewards that all notice and appreciate (whether they tell you directly or not!). Creating a dwelling that you and your loved ones truly enjoy is so fulfilling. As the heart of our homes, we set the tone. The ability to transform a space, guide the day and create an environment that reflects who you are as a family is a wonderful thing!

It’s how you live

I’ve heard it said that when it comes to home life, it’s not what you have but, how you live. If we love something, we will purchase it but as a young family of five, we try to limit unnecessary spending.

Until recently, all of our furniture and most of our décor had been second or even third hand (Shout out to my Dad for generously gifting us bedroom furniture this past Christmas). Most of the time no one would guess, because we use the best of what we have and try to care well for it.

When it comes to furniture, I truly believe that less is more. Less surfaces make for far less clutter to keep up with and a little floor space goes a long way visually. Being choosy about the pieces in our home makes us more likely to opt for ones we really find functional or charming.

At our place, we do our best not to keep junk around but I do get creative when needed. I’ll put a framed photo over that nick in the drywall, and use pretty blankets to cover the hole in the family room sofa. I repaint lots of furniture and repurpose what I can. Sometimes, rearranging our old stuff makes it look brand new and inspires new appreciation for what we already own. When we detach from the idea of a perfect home, we free ourselves to take pride in the one we have.

Teach your children well

Lighten up, Mama! Do your future self a favor and let the kiddos help. Older children should have greater responsibilities but, everyone can pitch in somehow. My 4-year-old daughter likes to help me fold the laundry and my 2-year-old loves to “dust” with a damp cloth. It may mean I have to re fold those towels or wipe the coffee table a second time, but that’s really not the point!

Passing your homemaking skills down to your children and praising them for their efforts can be a fun time for boding, conversation and making memories. Accomplishing small tasks builds confidence and being responsible for their own messes begets accountability. Teaching children to clean is part of preparing them for an independent life and framing chores as a natural part of every day means less resistance to household duties when their older. My hope is that my patience with my kids now will benefit us all in the long run.

Let the dishes wait

If you can’t always keep up, it only means that you’re succeeding! Homemaking is not a contest to see who’s can be cleaner or prettier or more organized. No, the home serves a much deeper purpose as the very foundation of family life. All of your attention and effort within it serve an ultimate goal: to create a safe and comfortable place for your family to live. Don’t get so caught up in doing that you miss out on the moments that matter.

I can’t say it any better than Ruth Hulburt Hamilton in her poem Song for a Fifth Child. Let these word encourage you on the days you just can’t seem to do it all.

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

~ Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

What helps you reclaim joy in your home? Share the hacks and habits that work for you in the comments!

❤ Cait

Reclaiming Joy in the Spiritual Life

Hello friend, welcome to Reclaiming Joy!

I wanted to start off this series focusing on the spiritual life because it is the foundation for all of the other subjects in this series and the key to reclaiming joy!

Joy doesn’t equal happiness

This is an important distinction to make as we discuss reclaiming joy in our lives. Happiness is an emotion that depends circumstance. We feel happy when things are going well. When our finances are looking up, when our children behave, or when we’re indulging in a big scoop of ice-cream on cheat day. Happiness is dictated by outside influences.Joy, however goes much deeper.

At a Mass in 2014 Pope Francis reflected on Christian joy saying: “If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. ”

We find joy through peace and we find peace in surrendering to the will of God. Letting go of our expectations and putting our trust in divine providence makes room in our souls to receive the grace of peace. We have joy because we have the love of God, trust in that love, and hope that we will inherit what is promised to us, in this life or the next.

You may be thinking, “Okay Cait, that makes sense from a spiritual angle, but what does surrender have to do with my work, family, home and daily life?”

In short: Everything!

When we’re faced with a challenging circumstance or unpleasant task, we can either resist the struggle, or embrace it. The struggle exists no matter what. If we whine and complain through the challenges we face, we lose the lesson, stunt our growth and get stuck in a funk. Finding the beauty that lies in our trials means we don’t miss out on the merit we can gain from enduring them.

So how do we practice these things? By developing routines, frequenting the sacraments and infusing our lives with prayer.

Reset your routine

Routine is a friend of spirituality. A great example of this is the way those in religious life structure their days, though their daily schedules usually are not as feasible for those of us in other vocations. But we can certainly learn from their holy examples. Whether it’s early morning quiet time with coffee and your Bible, a midday rosary over lunch, or reading a spiritual book before bed, find a routine that works for you and stick to it!

This approach is valuable when it comes to the sacraments as well. Make Mass as often as you can, confess regularly and visit Jesus in Adoration on certain days of the week. Repetition makes a habit and scheduling time to practice your faith makes you more likely to follow through.

Infuse your days with prayer

It can be tough to stick to set routines when you have a full and busy life. I used to struggle a lot with balancing my spirituality with home making and raising my kids until I learned to blend it all together!

I used to think that I had to sit in a dark, quiet room, away from my rambunctious household in order to pray my daily rosary. I’d get settled and in the zone only to be interrupted by noise or someone else’s needs. I would let weeks pass without a visit to the chapel because I thought that I should go alone. It was frustrating and discouraging.

But one day while running errands, I felt a pull in my heart for Adoration. I knew exposition was happening in a Church nearby and wanted to go, but I had my two littles with me and worried they’d disturb the reverence.

But then I remembered the words of Jesus,” Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it has been to have them there. The other worshippers find their energy refreshing, their expressions of faith, inspiring. Some of my most cherished moments with my children have happened there in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Once I let go of the pious expectations I had built around my spiritual life, everything changed. I began to stress less when my toddler wiggled and giggled through mass. I started praying on my feet, through all the chores and interruptions. I led loud family rosaries and did my reading during nap time. I offered my effort in workouts and walks and I found out this truth; That we don’t need to lock ourselves away in a closet to commune with the Lord in our homes. God meets us where we are. On the treadmill, in the nursery, yup, even over the kitchen sink!

Embrace the Domestic Church

Leading by example is the most powerful tool we have when bringing up children in the faith. As I’ve grown in spiritual maturity and motherhood I’ve embraced the domestic church more and more. Many Christian parents wrongly believe that the Church is responsible for the spiritual development of their children, but the home is the first school of faith.

How do you cultivate your domestic church? Keep sacramentals and sacred images in your home, create a little oratory where your family can pray, start traditions to celebrate feast days and make prayer a part of every day. Your domestic church doesn’t have to look a certain way. Incorporate art that moves you, saints you love and items that fit your taste and personal style.

Pray anyway

Even the best routines and most efficacious devotions can become stale after a while. When the fire inside you starts to fade, look for inspiration. Reclaim wonder and reinvigorate your faith by reading the lives of the saints, listening to a powerful message, going on a retreat or jamming out to your favorite worship song. Summon the holy spirit, ask for help and be open to see the little winks God gives to encourage you along the way. Keep fighting the good fight!

What helps you reclaim joy in your spiritual life? Share the routines and habits that work for you in the comments!

❤ Cait

Reclaiming Joy: A Series

Introduction

Family life and all that comes with it is a happy, busy, mess. There are
so many spinning plates: people to chase, chores to do, appointments to keep and a hundred little fires to put out throughout your day.

Throw in spiritual practice, work, self care, time for your relationships and any other projects and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Intention and attitude is everything while managing family dynamics, home making, school, errands and performing mundane tasks. If you’re not making a conscious effort to find joy in your daily life, it can be easily lost in endless responsibilities that can  feel like drudgery without it. 

I have been crushed by these weights before, of comparison, of
resentment, but I’ve learned to catch on early and pull myself out of the muck before I’m stuck! 2020 was a tough year for many, so I’m excited to share how I recharge, reset and reclaim some of what was lost.   

I don’t mean for this series to be advice or counsel, I’m just sharing the wholistic approach I take to find and maintain balance in all areas of my life (or at least try!) 

Join me each week as we dive in and discuss how we’re Reclaiming Joy

❤ Cait

Natural Christmas Garland DIY + Kid’s Craft!

It’s funny how certain things come back into fashion. When I was teaching my oldest daughter to string popcorn garland years ago I referred to it as Old Fashioned Christmas. I suppose it goes along with the 2020 vibe of quarantine and sourdough starters that handmade holiday decor is back in a big way.

I’ve always loved a rustic aesthetic for the Holidays here in the forest. This year I knew I wanted even more handmade elements included in my decor and gift wrapping-a natural tree deserves as much!

I knew I needed an activity to entertain the littles while we strung the garland, so I included their activity here as well.

We Are an Easter People

This Lenten season started like any other for Catholics. We buried the Alleluia, celebrated somber Masses & began our fasting. With Churches all over simplifying decor, drawing nearer to Gethsemane. We are making our way through the desert when we hear the news that the pandemic sweeping across the globe is upon us.

Continue reading “We Are an Easter People”

A True 180°

This morning I walked out onto the back porch & faced the sun beams streaming through the trees. I quieted my heart, asking God what the day might hold. I breathed in the summer air, not yet touched by the humidity promised in the lingering haze. I stretched & smiled because I know each morning, each day is another chance.

Continue reading “A True 180°”

I Never Meant to be a Catholic Blogger, or Even a Catholic & Why I’m Staying Both

2018 was a purely experimental year for this blog and for my writing but, I knew that I wanted to share relatable and encouraging stories inspired by my life. It goes without saying that my spirituality encompasses and is at the heart of every experience I have and everything that I do. The love of God and the many forms that it takes in my life is always my inspiration. I knew that this truth would come through some in the creative storytelling style of my writing. Maybe in undertones. Maybe even overtones. What I didn’t plan on exactly was God taking over completely.
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If you knew me ten or even five years ago, you may be surprised to see my zeal for God and the Church. Back then I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that I would be a holy water keeping, blessed candle lighting, novena saying, rosary wielding, joyful Catholic.
Continue reading “I Never Meant to be a Catholic Blogger, or Even a Catholic & Why I’m Staying Both”

What I Learned From Getting Published

My grandmother said to me years ago when I expressed my desire to be a writer that you need to live some life, and have some experiences to be able to write about it! Despite what society may say it’s never too late to go after your dreams, or create new ones.

I recently announced on Instagram my “big news”– I’m being published! I realize that not everyone who reads my blog follows me on Instagram (though you should! 🙂 My IG is like a mini-blog) I am excited to share more about these opportunities soon but in the meantime I wanted to write a post here to share my experience and a few things I have learned along my way.

Continue reading “What I Learned From Getting Published”

The Liebster Award 2018

Image Source

Hello Dear Readers,

Recently I was honored to be nominated for the 2018 Liebster Award! Writing has always been such a huge passion of mine. It is part of the fabric of my being yet, I have struggled to share it over the years. I recently banished my shyness and fear of judgment in favor of following my dreams and fulfilling what I know is my purpose in this life which is to write. I hope you all have been enjoying reading this blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

Connecting with other bloggers and reading their blogs has been such a cool experience for me. I want to give my sincere thanks to Amy at Dear Heart for the nomination and encourage all my readers to follow her blog! It is beautifully laid out and covers a variety of topics from travel to faith to great finds to family, motherhood and more! I love reading her writing because it is so relatable and feels just like talking to a friend!

Ten Facts About Me~

  • I live in the same small town in Massachusetts that both my husband and I grew up in. As a kid I thought it was boring but, as I grew older I began to appreciate the rural life and history of my hometown which was founded in 1683!
  • I am a poet and story teller at heart. I have books, journals, and pages full of poems of all styles and lengths. I also have many book ideas and hope to write a novel one day!
  • I became a mother right out of high school at the age of 18. I survived an abusive relationship but was later blessed with my husband who has raised my oldest daughter as his own since she was 2 years old. She is 11 now and our family is happy, thriving and growing. My second daughter Claire will turn 2 right before the birth of her baby sister or brother this June!
  • I am eclectic when it comes to my musical taste. I like everything from classic rock to top 20 pop, to country to rap. You will find a little bit of everything on my playlist!
  • I worked for years as a medical assistant in a variety of clinical office settings including acupuncture and most recently managed a chiropractic office. Those environments sparked a strong interest in natural remedies and alternative medicine. I even went to college for a short time to pursue nursing. I am now home full time with my kids and love it! My previous experiences as a single working mom allows me to appreciate every moment home with my kiddos and though I sometimes miss my old career I wouldn’t change where I am now for the world!
  • I love to read and am a die hard library card holder. There is something special about an old library book and a dog-eared page that I just can’t get from my kindle! Have you read any good books lately? If so leave your suggestions in the comments so I can check them out! I am always looking for a good book to curl up with!
  • I have an Etsy shop where I sell hand made nursery, home, and wedding decor. I used to give them away or as gifts until someone suggested Etsy to me. I find creating things to be very therapeutic and nothing makes me happier than seeing others get excited about something that was so much fun for me to make! My favorite is macrame and other fiber arts but I am hoping to learn to sew as well.
  • I love nature and have always felt such a strong connection to it. Nothing makes me happier than a woodsy walk, a day at the beach, or sitting by a lake watching a gorgeous sunset. Even more ironic is that I named my oldest daughter Autumn then a few years later started dating my husband who’s last name (and now mine) is Winters!
  • I grew up Catholic but, fell away from my faith as a teen. After I started dating my now husband and my life began to stabilize I felt God calling me back to him. I searched spiritually for a while but found my way back to the Church a couple of years before I got married. I consider myself a “re-vert” and a Christian. I love drawing closer to Jesus by learning about my faith through fresh eyes. Like my hometown I see the beauty in my spiritual home of the Church now more than ever!
  • I am a master song-maker! I love to make up silly tunes about ordinary tasks for my kids. I always sing in a goofy way but don’t sound that bad when I am in the car alone and no one can here me. If I wasn’t so shy I would perfect it and make it a hobby.

In my element, sunbathing by the lake!

Q & A~

  1. What was the last movie you saw in the theater, how was it? An anime movie from 1986 called “Castle in the Sky”. My oldest daughter loves to read manga and watch anime and a local theater plays selections from the renowned Studio Ghibli about once a month. The showing was in Japanese with subtitles and it was cool to see it on the big screen!
  2. What is your favorite book? This is too tough a question to answer! I love so many so, instead I’ll list some genres, mostly books about spirituality, romance novels, history and classic literature.
  3. What book are you currently reading? I’m actually between books at the moment! Any suggestions?
  4. Are you a dog or cat person? Why? Both! The first pet our family had was a white cat named Lucky. Neither me or my husband were particularly “cat people” but, she was like no other cat we had ever known, a cat with a dog’s personality! Sadly she was scared out of our yard by our former neighbor’s loud lawn equipment and we haven’t been able to find her. That was about a year ago and we don’t have the heart to get another cat. Currently we have a dog and we love her!
  5. What do you believe is your greatest accomplishment? Definitely my family. I always wanted to be a wife and mother so I feel like I am living that dream.
  6. Where is your favorite place to travel? Down to Arizona where my best friend lives. It is such an opposite landscape, dialect, and lifestyle to here in New England. Although it is in the same country it might as well be another planet as everything there is so different! Last trip we got to go to the desert and crack rocks to search for geodes! It was the desert equivalent of shelling at the beach and I thought it was so fun.
  7. What is the best gift you have ever received? Definitely my engagement ring!
  8. Who are those public voices that currently influence you? (Pastors, motivating speakers, celebrities, etc.) I am so inspired by the speaker and author Autumn Miles! I found her on YouTube after the birth of my youngest when I was looking for something inspiring to listen to during a walk. I searched Proverbs 31 and she popped up. My oldest girl’s name is Autumn as well so it drew me in and I have been soaking in her words ever since! I listen to her Texas based radio show through Podbean when I drive or do housework and I highly recommend it.
  9. In your life, what would you describe as your most courageous act you yourself have done? Leaving toxic people in my past, facing my problems and working to change them.
  10. What is your favorite guilty pleasure? Chocolate, wine, and reading in a hot bath (if I can do it all at once it’s even better LOL).
  11. If you could travel to any place in the entire world, where would you go and why? There are too many places I would love to go and have yet to travel to but the top of my list currently is Ireland. I love the thought of all the history and magic in the land there and would love to drink at a pub and see the beautiful green hills.

My Nominations~

Mel at Loving Simplicity– Step by step DIY, crafts, recipes, and simple living!

Erin at Mrs. Mother Dirt-A nature loving Mama sharing stories of family life, fun unplugged ideas, and interesting opinionated essays.

The writers at The Millennial Fiat -Heartfelt posts about faith that inspire and go straight to the heart!

Nikki at Our Jolly Little Home-A blogger with variety! Recipes, opinions, stories from the heart.

Heather at Midsummer Daydreamer -A fellow anxiety warrior sharing personal stories and practical advice

11 Questions I would like you to answer~

  1. What is a piece of advice you’ve received that you want share with others?
  2. Who is the most inspiring person in your life and why?
  3. How do you de-stress?
  4. How would you describe your personal clothing style?
  5. What is on your bedside table right now?
  6. What is your favorite on-the-go snack?
  7. Do you consider yourself more of an introvert or an extrovert? Explain.
  8. Describe a fun date you’ve been on!
  9. If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead who would you dine with and why?
  10. Tell us about an item on your bucket list!
  11. What do you like most about blogging?

Rules of the Liebster Award 2018~

1) Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.

2) Display the award on your blog.

3) Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting.

4) Provide 10 random facts about yourself.

5) Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel would enjoy blogging about this award.

6) List these rules in your post.

7) Inform the people/blogs that you nominated.

For more detailed information on the Liebster Award 2018 visit here.

To accept the nomination answer my questions, tag me and notify me of your post by commenting below! I can’t wait to read your answers! Remember to nominate other bloggers so we can all continue discovering new blogs, building relationships, and supporting one another!

❤ Cait

A Blackout and a Shadowban

The Blackout

Waves crash against a seawall near the Scituate Lighthouse, Friday, March 2, 2018, in Scituate, Mass. A major nor'easter pounded the East Coast on Friday, packing heavy rain and strong winds as residents from the mid-Atlantic to Maine braced for coastal flooding.

Photo via AP/Steven Senne-bostonmagazine.com

Growing up in Massachusetts, inclement weather is just a part of life. The winters are freezing, the summers are humid, and in between we have hurricanes. This past weekend we experienced a beast of a Nor’easter that produced damaging winds and flooding, knocked out power to thousands of homes, uprooted trees and trampolines, and sent branches flying into anything in their path.

Lucky for us we did not experience any damage to our home, just lost electricity for a few days. Nothing brings you back to basics like lack of light and water. Taking something so average as flicking a switch or flushing the toilet for granted is natural to those of us in developed countries. To me this blackout served a greater purpose and put some of my seemingly huge problems into perspective. The lesson hit home to me all the more because of the fact that for lent I have been giving up what I call my “luxurious baths” to acknowledge how lucky I am to have access to water at the turn of a knob. For many others around the globe obtaining clean water is a daily struggle, and often one of life and death.

Now onto my seemingly huge problem. If you are not interested in Instagram you might want to stop reading here! There is a lot of information forthcoming!

The Shadowban

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Anyone who is a blogger knows the value of social media. It is a great way to get your blog or brand out there and take advantage of free advertising, find readers and other writers in your niche, and give people a better idea of the person behind your posts. Everyone has a favorite and Instagram is mine! I used it often to engage in the poetry community there and am comfortable using it as a result. When I switched my focus to blogging it felt like a natural place to start.

I was just beginning to build good relationships and garner humble numbers that I was happy with when I saw a drastic drop in engagement. I noticed that my posts, which would typically get about 50-80 likes were getting more like 10-15. Where before the hearts would pop up immediately after I posted, it was taking much longer to receive that first like. The likes I did get were only coming from the people who were following me already and even they were sparse. Something wasn’t right.

I am no social media expert or major influencer and hadn’t truly tried to build any sort of following before so I researched reasons why this might be happening and came upon the term “Shadowban”. Well, my account had all of the telltale symptoms and it seems that my page has succumbed to the open secret that is the dreaded Instagram Shadowban. Never heard of it? Here’s everything I have found out about it during my extensive research.

What is it?

A shadowban is Instagram’s way to crack down on people going against their community guidelines by spamming, using 3rd party apps to like and follow/unfollow other accounts, abusing hashtags, and buying followers. This can also happen if you post offensive content or get reported by other users. Your posts don’t show up under the used hashtags to people who do not already follow you which seriously limits your reach and growth potential. Even the people who already follow you will be less likely to see your posts as they are pushed further down their news-feeds. You receive no official notice from Instagram or explanation as to why this has occurred. They have not acknowledged a shadowban directly, instead claiming a glitch in hashtags and some believe it is a myth and doesn’t even exist!

How to avoid it

Don’t use the maximum number of hashtags allowed (30). Make sure the hashtags you are using aren’t “broken”. If they are then the page will only show top posts, not most recent show an error message, or say that there are no posts to show. Don’t use the same hashtags over and over again, try to switch them up. Don’t copy/pate hashtags into your post. Avoid putting hashtags in the comments.

Did you know Instagram has limits for certain actions? If you exceed them the app may think that you are a bot. It is suggested not to like more than 150 photos an hour and not to follow or unfollow more than 60 accounts in an hour (some recommend these as daily limits). Don’t use 3rd party applications for growth or buy followers, if you are guilty of this stop and revoke access now! Leave meaningful comments, not just one word or emojis. Just engage in a genuine way and you should be okay (though I do and wasn’t that lucky).

Shadowban check website

there is a website that claims to be able to tell you if your account or certain photos have been shadowbanned or not but the general consensus is that it isn’t reliable. It did not work for me and told me I was not banned even though I clearly am. I won’t leave the link as I don’t trust the site.

How to really check

Use one of your other accounts or ask some friends who do not follow the account in question to check if your recent photo is showing up under the hashtags you used. If they are not you might be shadowbanned.

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How to fix it

My issues seemed to only resolve with time (the largely reported 14 day time frame) so I am not 100% sure if any of these things actually worked but I think they are worth a try! Some claim that there is no way to fix it and you just have to wait it out. Users have reported the ban lasting anywhere from 24 hours to 3 weeks or more. The most common time frame I have read is around 2 weeks or 14 days. Some give up and start new accounts.

If you use any questionable 3rd party applications, log into Instagram on a desktop computer, and revoke access (you can find the step by step process here.) Another suggestion is to delete broken or banned hashtags or just remove all hashtags from your recent posts. Next, report the problem to Instagram (step by step process here.), when you report don’t say you are shadowbanned, rather that your hashtags are not working and assure them you are a real person. Switching from a business account to a personal one may also help as many users reported the ban starting not long after enabling business tools.

After that it is suggested that you take some time off of Instagram. That means no posting for 2-4 days. Some people go so far as to suspend their accounts and/or delete the app from their phones altogether and reinstall with an updated version when they are ready to test it. This apparently gives time for the algorithm to ‘reset’. Once your hiatus is over interact and post like a normal user. Avoid any spam like activities and follow the rules.

This just may be the new normal

Some believe that this is just the direction Instagram is going. That they have left a lot of money on the table in the past and are trying to take it back by making people pay for sponsored posts to reach their target audiences, much like Facebook. Facebook owns Instagram so it makes sense that they might go in this direction and become a more lucrative and monetized platform.

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Why I think it happened to me

When I started to take my blogging and freelance aspirations more seriously, just a few months ago now, I looked into how to improve my Instagram account. I invested in a camera for better photos, researched relevant hashtags, and prepped my posts to be engaging and of high quality. As you can tell I put a lot of thought and work into my posts, often writing them out in my phone’s notepad including hashtags. I used as many tags as are allowed (including an original hashtag I created and used every time) and copied and pasted them into my posts. I noticed others on the platform placing their hashtags into the comment section of their posts instead of the body under the photo and innocently thought, “Gee, that looks nice!” and I tried it for myself.

I think that is what triggered the ban. I suppose Instagram thought it looked “spammy”. It is frustrating to me because I am truly trying to grow a following organically. I have never considered using growth applications or buying followers. I never had a business account and am not trying to push a product, just wanted to let people know if there was something new on my blog! I would rather have 100 people that actually are interested in my content and writing than 1,000 fake accounts following me. Sadly I never had that many to begin with. I only ever had a little over 650 followers at most and since I can’t be found by anyone not following me in the hashtags I am sure that little number will dwindle until the issue is resolved. I know there are other accounts that have liked and follow/unfollowed me clearly using bots and they have thousands and thousands of followers so it is pretty annoying to feel targeted when my account is more modest .

Some Perspective

It can feel devastating when all of the hard work you put into your Instagram is threatened. Many make money off of their profiles and it is an essential part of their businesses and livelihoods. The truth is that you don’t own your Instagram and there is no telling if it will one day be as passé as Vine. The algorithms change often and they can delete or suspend your account at any moment. Use it as the tool it should be and not the end all be all of your craft or brand. There is more to life than social media!

Do you have any experience with the shadowban? Did I miss any vital information or solutions that you can think of? Comment below and let me know!

❤ Cait