Pinterest is driving mums crazy

June 02, 2015 1:48PM
Pinterest’s picture-perfect craft projects and homemade-from-scratch everything are causi

Pinterest’s picture-perfect craft projects and homemade-from-scratch everything are causing social anxiety among some mothers. Source: Supplied


TEMPER tantrums? Easy. Work-life balance? Handled. No, the enemy of mothers today is much more insidious and terrifying: Pinterest.

A survey of 7,000 mothers by the US morning program, Today show, found that 42 per cent say they suffer from “Pinterest stress." That’s the feeling you get when you realise that every other mother is more artsy and craftsy than you are.

Pinterest is a photo sharing site popular for showcasing home projects, food dishes and hobbies.

A quick perusal reveals thousands of clever and adorable ideas for filling your children’s lunch boxes, decorating their rooms and accessorising their backpacks. Why give them ordinary biscuits when you can attach them together to look like a fire truck?

Well, here’s one reason — there are only 24 hours in a day.

A few years ago an acquaintance of mine with an Ivy League degree and a Juris Doctor from a prestigious law school decided to quit her job at a high-powered firm in Washington. She was not getting to spend enough time with her children.

Even on a reduced-hour schedule, it just wasn’t working. But shortly after she made this transition, I started to notice that her online feed was filled not only with more cute photos of the boys but also an extensive list of the vegetables she was now growing, the sauces she was making from them and the delicious new dishes she was trying out.

On the one hand, I thought, “Boy it would be nice to have all those hours to spend with my kids and not worry about when to fit in writing and editing." On the other hand, I have never had any particular aspirations to be a gourmet chef or a master gardener.

Similarly, there is nothing about motherhood that would make me more inclined to know what to do with a gluestick. I wasn’t a very artistic child, and I’m not a very artistic adult. If my children want me to read a book with them or play outside, I’m happy to oblige, but I’m not about to become Martha Stewart.

When did being a good parent mean becoming a master hobbyist?

Studies show that working mums today often spend more hours with their children than stay-at-home mums did in a previous generation.

Back then, there were more children in each family, children were allowed to spend more time on their own and stay-at-home mothers needed to spend a lot of time washing dishes and clothes.

Yet there are plenty of mothers who think that although they are playing with their kids, feeding them, taking them to the park and reading them stories, they are still underperforming.

Online, these mums see birthday cupcakes that look like nail-polish bottles or fruit snacks with moustaches. They see meals that have taken days of forethought and hours of preparation. They get the idea that being handy with construction paper is part of a mother’s job description now.

It’s one thing for working parents to stress over whether they get to spend enough time with their children. But it’s quite another for them to stress about whether they are producing enough lunch box crafts to make their children’s classmates jealous.

For her new book, I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, Laura Vanderkam looked at time diaries of women who managed to juggle demanding jobs and young families.

She found that “women who made peace with their time tended to focus on the things that mattered to them, and for everything else, borrowed the theme song from Frozen and ‘let it go’ " — even if that meant not keeping up with the other mums.

Pinterest, Vanderkam says, “is for adults, not children."

There’s nothing wrong with being crafty or domestic and many of the powerful women she interviewed enjoyed knitting too. But they were doing it for themselves.

She concludes: “If you’re going to make cracker fire trucks with your kids as a fun project, that’s great. If you’re shooing them out of the room because you’re worried they’ll nibble on the crackers and keep you from getting Pinterest-worthy photos — that’s a problem."