a woman holds up her phone to film herself

Tech & Media

TikTok Is For Moms Too: Why Making Videos On This App Is Therapeutic For Me

Mar 26, 2021

"EW, MOM, NO! That is so embarrassing. Nobody else’s mom is on Snapchat or TikTok!"

And yet here I am, in fact, on TikTok, scrolling on a Monday morning snort laughing, trying to find an amazing sound to use for my daily video. You might call it a pandemic hobby, but ironically it was kind of my kids' constant chatter about TikTok that initially got me interested.

Months and months ago, it seemed that every single conversation with them around the dinner table began like this. "Have you seen this meme? Have you seen the TikTok where the guy does this?" And the teens lapsed into their own language for a bit. One would say: "I pass the phone to the one who always uses my brush." And the other would pick up the thread, and my husband and I were both always in the dark.

On the one hand, they were getting along well. On the other hand, we had no clue what they were saying. For a while I didn’t really pay that much mind to it, but then I began to wonder about TikTok.

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My curiosity peaked this past year as my daughter and I walked past the local elementary school. While students were social distancing at recess and lunch time on the yard, dozens of kids were actually also filming TikToks during their breaks. BOY, how times have changed, I joked.

Flash forward one year later. You know the saying: if you can’t beat them, join them.

Last March, when we were hunting for things to do and I was genuinely bored out of my head with pandemic lockdowns, when our mental health here was at an all-time low — I started a TikTok account. And I made my first video with one of my daughters.

"'Are you actually doing your hair for the videos?' a friend asked me recently. Yes, I am, because it makes me feel good."

She had been dancing outside filming herself and I was rolling my eyes as usual. We were in first lockdown. The next day she tried to show me one of the dances, breaking it down in steps, and I bumbled through a few rehearsals and gave up. But then she took the phone and shared the post with some stickers and hashtags. It was completely harmless and, in some small way, it was a bonding activity. Also my nephew in Toronto was on the app and while we couldn’t get together, we could all share TikToks. So, we communicated via the memes, TikTok trends and dances.

Slowly, I started to see the merit. TikTok is light-hearted. My oldest daughter calls it her daily dose of serotonin. There are dark sides of the channel too, of course, like the grotesque glamorization of eating disorders, but we have talked about that in my home, and I try to remind my teens that TikTok is also not a reliable news source. On the plus side, each dance or rehearsed video took a fair bit of planning and memory and physical activity. You’d be surprised how many takes a TikTok dance can require.

In the last year, I’ve grown extremely invested in these tiny glimpses into some people’s lives — like the cruise boat captain who has been grounded for over a year, but still lives on board and takes viewers on random tours of how she is surviving the pandemic. She lives on board with a CAT! Who knew? Sometimes, I laugh my head off when I spy a comical baby, cat or dog video.

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So, when did TikTok become my therapy? Somewhere around the middle of 2020, I started enjoying it more and experimenting with sounds and memes and hashtags. Occasionally, I actually woke up and planned an outfit and makeup so that I could film a TikTok dance or video that day. After months of not even knowing where I left my cosmetics bag, I am now putting on a bit of blush, highlighter, lipstick and washing my hair.

"You’d be surprised how many takes a TikTok dance can require."

"Are you actually doing your hair for the videos?" a friend asked me recently. Yes, I am, because it makes me feel good. I enjoy making funny little videos and I sometimes really love doing silly dances with my kids then posting them to share with my audience of bored moms and relatives. Oh, I am no pro, but it makes me chuckle and I have fun doing it. Basically, it gives me joy.

TikTok might not be therapy, but for me it sure is therapeutic. If you are struggling with mental health, seek appropriate resources: family doctors, therapists and specialists who can help — I am definitely not saying this is the answer for mental health issues. But the laughter has actually helped some of the anger, depression and anxiety in my home.

The memes and dances and TikTok trends are mostly just fun to watch and share. I dare you to watch @lubalin or @kallmekris and not laugh. Like that deep belly laugh that many of us haven’t actually had since the pandemic began.

TikTok makes my family laugh and it is engaging and creative, and that is vital. These days when the kids launch into their TikTok conversations at the dinner table, I am not such an outsider anymore. Occasionally I laugh or chime in and once in a while they still say, "Oh MY God, Mom, my friend Jack said you popped up on his For You page." Cue eyeroll.

Later today my oldest daughter and I will go out to a park and try a new TikTok dance. Maybe we will get it and maybe we won’t. Probably it will take us a dozen tries to get the basic choreography down. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are connecting and having fun together during a pandemic.

Article Author Paula Schuck
Paula Schuck

Read more from Paula here.

My name is Paula Schuck and I have been writing professionally for over 20 years. I am a mother of two daughters, and I am a fierce advocate for several health issues. I am a yoga nut, skier and content coordinator for two London, Ontario, trade magazines. I have been published online and in traditional magazines and newspapers including: Today’s Parent, The Globe and Mail, Kitchener Record, London Free Press, trivago.ca, Ontario Parks blog and Food, Wine and Travel magazine.

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