Last month, the TODAY Moms released a survey of 7,000 U.S. mothers, showing nearly half feel “Pinterest Stress.”
…the worry that they’re not crafty or creative enough. Symptoms include staying up until 3 a.m. clicking through photos of exquisite hand-made birthday party favors even though you’ll end up buying yours at the dollar store, or sobbing quietly into a burnt mess of expensive ingredients that were supposed to be adorable bunny cookies for the school bake sale.
First off, people, this is not new. There may not have been Pinterest when I was growing up, but the mom pressure in Russellville, Arkansas was plenty fierce.
My mom went without sleep more than one night of my childhood to be sure my sister and I had proper Halloween costumes, cookies for class parties or whatever we needed. She might not have placed gold in the Mommy Olympics, but she probably made it to the quarter finals.
So let’s all simma down a second on how much more pressure there is now than in the “good old days.” I don’t buy for a hot minute things were ever simple or idyllic. I’ve seen the hot glue gun scars on my mom’s fingers.
Now, to address Pinterest. I realize I’m in the minority these days, but I adore it. I really do. But I think the trick is knowing how to use it. If you’re looking at Pinterest as a way to judge your creative process against other people’s finished product, you’re doing it wrong! (Think Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom here.)
Let me relieve the stress of half of American women with one simple blog post. Are you ready?
Let’s start at the beginning. My brain is wired in such a way that I need to be making something almost all the time. I write, knit, embroider, craft, fold 200 paper cranes out of the pages of old books or something.
If I am not doing these kinds of things, I will go crazy.That’s not hyperbole. Did you see the movie Harvey with Jimmy Stewart? Imaginary rabbits are what happen to people like me with no outlet.
Some people cook, bake or garden. I don’t really get into that, but it comes from the same place.
Pinterest is a way to keep things organized. I used to keep files of projects I tore out of magazines by subject: home, holidays, etc. Now I just keep a board of various files. Then when I’m looking for inspiration or can’t remember quite how something was put together that I was thinking about, it’s an easy access point with no storage problems.
The other thing Pinterest is good for is finding a moment of Zen. Sometimes when I’m very tense, I can just untwirl a bit if I can look at pretty things. So I have a board on Pinterest of pretty photos. They’re pretty to me. They may not be to you. But that doesn’t matter. It’s my board of pretty things.
In fact, I have a whole board of tags, labels and fonts. I know, it’s so unbelievably nerdy, I can barely stand myself. But I tell you, it calms my soul to look at it.
Now, in order to use Pinterest with a smile and not a nervous breakdown, there are three things you absolutely must not, under any circumstances, forget:
1) Set realistic expectations when you pick a project. You are not a professional baker, chef, photographer, tailor or interior decorator.
If you want professional photos of you baby, hire that done. If you want to get some photos on your camera at home with your kid’s head and body in the same frame, Pinterest can probably help you out with that.
2) It’s about the process, not the result. Now you’re thinking I’ve been talking to the big white rabbit. But I’m serious.
Being creative is about being creative. That means making mistakes, being messy, taking wrong turns, throwing out all but one sliver of something brilliant and using that to build the next thing that’s astounding.
There’s no 10-step photo tutorial for letting your brain scamper through its own beautiful wilderness and back again to a different starting place and ending totally differently. I wish there were. My life would be much simpler.
But you need cookies tomorrow morning for the class. There’s no time for that creative mess. I get it. In that case, either stick with what you know how to do, branch out slightly (but nothing wild because you’re on a deadline) or be prepared to make a last-minute dash to the grocery store. That, friend, is just reality.
3) Accept the fact that grout in a bathroom that is in regular use will never gleam. I’m talking you, dear husband. I don’t care how many concoctions you download off the Internet and scrub on that floor. That’s just what it’s gonna look like.