Pinterest Cannot Be Your Yardstick

by jessicaturner on May 13, 2013

Last week Tuesday was Teacher Appreciation Day.

Thanks to Pinterest I had high hopes of making homemade sugar scrubs in mason jars with perfect printable tags.

But I ran out of time. So Tuesday morning, I folded three pieces of construction paper for Elias to make cards for his three classroom teachers.

When Matthew came into the living room he saw Elias working on the cards and asked me, “is someone leaving?”

“No, it’s teacher appreciation day, so he’s making his teachers cards.”

“That’s so thoughtful,” he replied.

“No, according to Pinterest. I’m a failure of a mother. People make all these cool gifts and we are just doing homemade cards.”

We then went on to discuss if I should get some gifts from my gift stash to give along with the cards. I decided that was probably over the top.

Elias was so excited to give his teachers their cards. He memorized what color went with what teacher and ran right into his classroom to pass them out. Elias’s teachers were delighted by the cards he made.

This simple experience reminded me how Pinterest cannot be our yardstick for good parenting – or for thoughtfulness. As someone who doesn’t use Pinterest, Matthew saw the cards as thoughtful, but I saw them as not enough.

This is a problem.

Yes, Pinterest is amazing. But, as women we need to use it for what it was intended – visual bookmarking – and nothing more. It does not define you as a mother, as a giver, as a person.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel May 13, 2013 at 7:07 am

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. I’ve only recently gotten more into it. At first I was like, “Isn’t this the same as bookmarking things, except other people can see what you’ve bookmarked?” and I still feel the same way, but I do participate in it more now. I try to stay away from the “kids” boards and am going to need to start staying away from the “fitness” boards as well. I feel inadequate enough on my own without the added pressure. I’m a working mom of one, married to an extremely busy pastor who is also a full time student and the main “employee” of our small business. In the immortal words of whoever that lady is on YouTube, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”


Denise May 13, 2013 at 7:40 am

I did the same exact thing last week. As organizer of TA week I had this elaborate plan to decorate planters and fill them with succulents as I had seen and pinned on Pinterest. Then came the realization that it was expected that not only teachers participated (and reaped the benefits of gifts) but the whole staff. Well our school is K-8 and that’s 71 staff members. I decided to order in lunch instead. Best decision ever and probably appreciated even more.


Kelli May 13, 2013 at 7:42 am

yes, one of the biggest reasons I stopped pinning! LOL. I still pin occasionally but I don’t browse through what other people did, I only use it as an organizational tool. We gave the teachers what I call “the only thing left in the cabinet that’ll make cookies” cookies. (peanut butter cookies: peanut butter, egg, sugar…seriously that’s it and everyone has that in there cabinets) Well both teachers raved about them….I barely had the heart to say what was in them when they asked for the recipe. They appreciated all their things they got I’m sure but what they showed off was the sweet cards from the kids hanging around their rooms :) Who needs fancy soap scrubs cards homemade goes a long way too :)


Cerise May 13, 2013 at 7:53 am

I love pinterest, but you are SO right. It is easy to look at all your boards and feel like a complete failure. I used to pin like a mad woman, but mostly now I try to only pin stuff that I can draw inspiration from or projects I KNOW I can complete. Sometimes I’ll go back to a board and delete stuff, because it just wasn’t going to happen. EVER. Makes me feel better when I look back on my boards…which reminds me…I need to start working on another purge.


Rebecca May 13, 2013 at 7:56 am

I completely agree! As a “seasoned” mother of nearly 32 years, I hear so much of this type thing from my daughter’s peers. It makes me so sad for all the young mothers who spend so much time and energy trying to “keep up” when really at the end of the day their children want to spend time with them. I truly believe Satan gets into all of this social media oneupmanship and causes doubt and sadness for so many really wonderful mothers. There is nothing wrong with trying to make things a little prettier or more special but to take it to such degree that the object of why you are making something is lost on frustration and guilt needs to stop! We are not all gifted in the same ways and it was never meant to be a contest to see who can craft more beautifully! Motherhood is a full time, hard job and letting all the extra garbage in defeats the purpose.
I’m very sure that his teachers LOVED their cards and his expression of pure happiness in the picture is the proof in the pudding! : )


jessicaturner May 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Thank you for sharing your wisdom here.


Cat May 13, 2013 at 7:58 am

Pinterest is inspiration, not reality. I have always treated it that way. Pin on!


beccarayle May 13, 2013 at 8:09 am

Thank you so much, Jess for writing this, I so very much agree!


Jody May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

I love Pinterest! You have to treat it they way you would some of the bloggers out there. You know the ones I’m talking about. The have the perfect house, perfect kids, are the best parents ever, should own their own restaurant, are thoughtful and never forget an occasion and on and on. I feel like these guys are missing out on life by trying to be and make everything perfect. I finally had to stop following a few bloggers who I just felt weren’t being real. I think homemade cards are awesome. I was a preschool teacher for 12 years and can probably count the number of cards/gifts I got on both hands. Believe me when I say the thought behind it means more than anything. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Those teachers will remember that forever.


Sheila May 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

The only reason I get on Pinterest is if I’m specifically looking for ideas – I don’t browse it or use it for any other reason b/c its too tim consuming and frankly depressing to me. Our daycare does teacher appreciation week & we give money for that but my first grader didn’t do anything other that tell her teacher how much she appreciates her hard work (as did I).


Nurse Bee May 13, 2013 at 10:13 am

I had no idea there was a teacher appreciation day last week…oh well!! I don’t use Pininterest, but I do still feel some of that pressure to try to be perfect, make the homemade stuff, etc. But more and more I realize I have to let go of some things to concentrate on others.


Brit May 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

Oh you are so right. I do enjoy Pinterest, both for sharing fun things I’ve done & for looking at others wonderful ideas. However, we will NEVER live up to the pinterest momma that we have all created in our minds since the website has come on the scene. So, I’m good with getting inspired & putting it into action when the time is right. We just celebrated my sons 3rd birthday & I had plans to do lots of fun things that pinterest suggested but life sometimes has other plans. So I opted to not make my own decor & run to party store. gasp! lol We all lived :)


jessicaturner May 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

There’s no such thing as a Pinterest mama! :)

Good for you for keeping things simple. I’m the party was memorable regardless of the decor.


Mary Evelyn Smith May 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Thank you for this! It comes at a perfect time and you are exactly right– After spending far too long on Pinterest this weekend, I got overwhelmed and (embarassingly) spent a few sad moments bemoaning the fact that I don’t have the time or the funds to create an Etsy-esque/Pinterest-tastic birthday party for my son who turns one this month. I felt so inadequate until I thought about why it bothered me so much– it wasn’t about my son having a great time but about me wanting to get cute photos of my fancy pants party– obviously I was completely missing the point. Great post from one out-of-time mom to another!


jessicaturner May 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Yes, the lure of pretty pictures! I have been there, sister. It’s true though. Your son will not remember his birthday. Keep it simple, enjoy yourself and take photos of whatever you do. :)


Elizabeth Scruggs May 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I SO agree! Thank you for putting this in print :) Shared on my facebook page….thanks again!


Lisa Hamer May 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Oh pinterest…Love/Hate. It definitely is a source of the “I’m not good enoughs…”


Small Talk Mama May 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Amen! I love all the wonderful ideas I find on Pinterest but sometimes it paralyzes me, because if I can’t make something as bold and beautiful as my many pins I just don’t do anything. I love the homemade cards and I’m sure your son’s teachers did too.


jessicaturner May 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm

It can be overwhelming for sure. I have thousands of pins -what was I thinking!


melanie May 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

YES! thank you for the much needed reminder.


Melanie Brown May 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Well stated. Thank you!


Jenny B. May 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I saw a great blog post (on Pinterest, of course) about teacher gifts, and what teachers *really* want to receive. I’m a former teacher, and I wholeheartedly agree with the entire list. I think you’ll like it. :) Here’s a link:

Also, when I’m on Pinterest, I *try* to think of it like reading a magazine. I enjoy looking at all the beautiful homes in Country Living, and I ooh and ahh over all the adorable crafts and hors d’oeuvres (totally had to look up how to spell that) in Martha Stewart Living, but do I expect my house or my crafts or my food to actually be like that? Not usually. So it is with Pinterest (at least that’s what I tell myself). :)


Amie May 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I am a teacher and I would honestly rather have a homemade card than a gift. I have enough stuff. I keep the cards and read them again when I need a reminder that I do make a difference in someone’s life! :)


DARA GATES May 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I like gifts that are simple and from the heart. My style in minimalism. I use Pinterest for pinning quotes, sharing my love of Labrador Retrievers, useful culinary equipment and a few recipes


Gretchen May 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Well said!


Alyssa May 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I don’t use pinterest because I feel like it puts so much pressure on me. I’m going to give, decorate, etc. from the heart cuz that’s what’s best anyway. =)


Nirupama Kumar May 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I think this is a problem with gift giving in general. I would LOVE it if people only brought sweet little crayon made cards to our kids birthdays instead of elaborate gifts.


Amanda May 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Love this! (I spent part of last night ripping recipes out of old magazines I’ve kept for who-knows-how long and putting what I wanted to keep in a 3-ring binder. I laughed and told my husband it was like old school Pinterest.) This is such a good reminder that we aren’t the sum of our pins or the creations we make because of them–in the end, it’s where our hearts are that matters.


Kristin May 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I feel the exact same way and as a teacher this Friday I saw the pinterest gifts and treats and honestly as much as I appreciate anything, those handmade cards and notes are way more special to me than laboruous crafts those moms spent hours making! I honestly thought about the time and frustration it must have taken one mom to make these amazing cake pops….no thanks, my life is too short – i would rather be playing with my kids or hanging with my hubs! I dont think we should judge our mom worthiness on our crafts!


Renee Ronika May 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm

What surprises me in this over-saturated Pinterest culture is that people still haven’t learned the art of RSVP’ing or sending Thank-You cards. Is is too hard to read an Evite and click a response? Is it too hard to send a quick email thanking someone for a gift? The last four parties I’ve hosted and three weddings I’ve attended have garnered abysmal responses. Something feels lopsided: are we in a culture that can only be thoughtful if it yields massive response–never mind the simple, kind gesture?


Briana May 14, 2013 at 12:34 am

Well said! Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone! :)


Bomi May 14, 2013 at 9:11 am

What a delightful post:) Thanks for the reminder to appreciate the simple things in life… :) Have a blessed daY!


Pam Brown May 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I love Pinterest and I use it as a filing system/bulletin board. But I agree with your post. A Facebook friend of mine recently introduced me to the website Pinterest Fail and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. People post the original link of the Pinterest inspiration, followed by photos of their failed attempts. It’s Pintastic!


jessicaturner May 15, 2013 at 5:23 am

Yes, that site is very funny. :)


Lisa-Jo @lisajobaker May 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Dude, preach!


Faigie May 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I never thought of pinterest as something to keep up with. I use it to organize stuff and love looking at my humor board, my beautiful pictures board, art etc and its such a good place to keep great ideas that I may one day want to try.
There is so much more to it then just pinning crafts we should do and how are homes should look.


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