Parenting in the Pinterest World: When good ideas just make you feel bad

2013-07-07T13:30:00Z 2013-07-08T13:38:09Z Parenting in the Pinterest World: When good ideas just make you feel badJulia Perla Huisman nwitimes.com
July 07, 2013 1:30 pm  • 

“I found it on Pinterest.”

This is becoming a regular statement among American women, usually in response to a compliment on one’s family photo wall or chicken tortilla soup recipe.

Indeed, thanks to Pinterest, the website where users can “pin” ideas to their virtual bulletin boards, we have unlimited access to ideas galore, particularly in the categories of crafts, household projects and recipes. In just three short years, this new way of collecting and storing resources has taken the world by storm, including many moms in Northwest Indiana.

“I use Pinterest for everything,” said Alyssa Pedraza of Hobart. “I have found many things that I would have never have thought of before, from organizational pins to food to things to do with my son.”

Shawna Slavich of St. John said she has even “replaced Google with Pinterest,” primarily pinning recipes and décor and cleaning ideas.

The social network is also credited for bringing out the artistic side of people. “Pinterest has helped me get back in touch with my creative side and inspired me to try new things,” said Jeannie Nowarita of Valparaiso.

Kelly Dykstra of Cedar Lake similarly appreciates the artistic projects she’s found on Pinterest. “I usually want to go to the craft store soon after logging off of Pinterest," she said.

Might this renewed interest in DIY, however, have the opposite effect for some women? Does it put more pressure on moms to hand-make everything from hair bows to window treatments to art canvases? Do the photos of beautifully photographed recipes and immaculate, sun-swathed laundry rooms present an unrealistic image for the parent who is just trying to make it through the day?

Jill Smokler, author of book and blog "Scary Mommy," shares in a post titled, Pin This, “I know that I’m not the craftiest mother on the block, but after Pinterest, I feel like an utter creative failure. Clothespins with outfits drawn on? Pfft. People are building play kitchens! From old Ikea bookcases! With their own bare hands!” She goes on to post a series of Pinterest-esque photos (i.e. a meticulous, color-coordinated craft area) followed by photos of what that same area in her house looks like (a bunch of crayons hastily thrown into a plastic bin).

Pinterest, and the current affinity for all things visual, has certainly changed the way we look at the world, for better or for worse. We go to a one-year-old’s birthday party expecting handcrafted paper puffs hanging from the ceiling, the trendiest of (theme-related! And vintage!) accessories assembled just so, and designer cupcakes. Our standards as a culture have been raised, which results in more beauty, yes, but also a heightened pressure to make everything a work of art.

The key is perspective, said Slavich, who admits that out of all the DIY projects she tries, only half turn out the way they’re supposed to. “I have to remind myself that the [people whose work is pinned on Pinterest] are showing the best of their projects and not their first try at it either.”

Slavich also advises moderation. “It’s good to have a balance and see that we don't have to make or recreate everything we see in order to be ‘successful’ creative people.”

Nowarita takes the think-positive approach. “I do not allow perfectionism, the killer of creativity, to steal my excitement. I figure that doing something is always better than doing nothing.”

And perhaps that’s the point. With a resource as vast as Pinterest, parents are able to do more than ever before. We can learn how to do pretty much anything, whether we’re naturally gifted at it or not.

If such a thought is overwhelming, however, focus on what else Pinterest offers: parenting advice and support, even for the arts-and-crafts averse.

“I have realized there are so many more fun things I can and really should be doing with my son,” Pedraza said. So while Pinterest may not spark you to build your baby furniture from scratch, it might help you raise a happier, healthier child, which in the long run is the only project worth tackling.

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