Parenting the Pinterest Way: The Road to Insanity

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Image: Sarah Pinault. Feet, a common photo across the mother-net.

When I became a mother, I didn’t realize how much I would be affected by those around me. Then I discovered blogging, then Pinterest came along, and suddenly I am surrounded by virtual mothers to compare myself to. Mothers to judge myself by. As I went deeper and deeper into the mother-net, I found myself coming up short more often than not. Technology is both friend and foe to the modern mom.

My name is Sarah and I am a virtual-mom junkie.

I’m a relatively sane person if such a thing exists. I have had my battles with PPD, a dose or fifty of Zoloft, I abuse caffeine on a daily basis, and I control my OCD tendencies by punching myself in the arm! I also have too much on my plate. I work full time, I have two boys under the age of four, I write for GeekMom and myself, I craft avidly in many forms, I have taken up running, and I volunteer at church. I overreach on a daily basis. So recently I decided to attack the thing that was compounding all of this into one massive ball of insufficiency – the internet.

I began to reduce the virtual moms around me in several key ways:

  • Pinterest. I had been surfing pinterest daily. Ostensibly compelled by a desire to improve myself, educate my children, and streamline using tactics that have worked for others, instead I found myself compiling monstrous to-do lists. So I went cold turkey and deleted the app from the Ipad. This in itself was a huge step. No longer at my finger tips, I found myself logging in on the laptop only when I actually needed something.
  • My blog feed. The demise of Google Reader came at just the right time for me to assess what I was reading and why. Several of the blogs I read contained beautiful pictures and wonderful ideas, but did nothing more than take up my time and make me feel bad about my own skills. Poof, gone! It’s hard to cut the cord, but sometimes you just have to let go.
  • Email notifications. The unsubscribe button is your friend. If you no longer receive the Pottery Barn sales flyer, you won’t go running to Pinterest for a cheap way to make the $3,000 canopy for your toddler’s room. If you no longer receive comments on posts you do read, you won’t be driven crazy by internet trolls and judgmental moms.
  • Limiting screen time. It’s not just for kids folks! I used to be on the internet while having breakfast, while cooking dinner, and even while watching television. It never seeped into my time with the kids, but boy do these portable devices make it into every other second you have. Delete the app, delete the cookie, then take the next step and put the device in its bag for the morning. Trying not to turn on the laptop when I turn on the kettle for my tea has probably been the hardest part. Now I listen to the chickadees in my garden and chat with my husband for a few more minutes each morning. Bliss.
  • Localize. The activities of a homeschooling mother in Utah or a military wife in Texas just have no bearing on my life. While I love broadening my horizons and seeing the world, sometimes those things can just make you feel bad about yourself. These days I focus on reading things local to New England, from people more reasonably within my own social bracket.

This may not be something I have to do for the rest of my life but for right now, limiting the ways in which I use the internet on a daily basis is proving to be far more effective than a latte or a date night.

Virtual mom junkie signing off.

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5 thoughts on “Parenting the Pinterest Way: The Road to Insanity

  1. I think what you’ve done is awesome. One of the things I dislike about the quick & easy info culture is it’s lack of depth. It’s hard to discover if all these people you are comparing yourself to share your values or even have that much in common with you, other than being a mother. Without this sort of information, how can we really know if the values we’re taking on mesh with our own?

    The only online community I spend considerable time in is Ravelry, & that’s because not only have I found a supportive group of people who’ve taken the time to get to know me & allow themselves to be known by me, but I find it inspires my creativity in a huge way.

    Thanks for sharing your courageous un-plugging!!

  2. Sounds like why I never went to Pinterest. I have enough craft projects to keep me busy (I cross-stitch) without scouring for more and I’m not interesting in planning a wedding or comparing pictures of how my food looks. I’d rather just go to sites dedicated to the crafts I’m interested in.

    I’m only now testing Twitter to see if I like it and if it’s giving me something meaningful or just eating up my time with random noise.

  3. I do enjoy Pinterest, but I’ve had to haul myself out of the “what can’t *I* do all these wonderful things, there must be something wrong with me/I’m a bad mother/etc” trap as a result of spending too much time out there.
    I do have particular things I look for anymore, though, and that helps. And I LOVE*LOVE*LOVE the geeky/nerdy/fandom-related things out there – but those are mostly just pictures to look at or funny quips to read, which doesn’t make me feel bad.

  4. I still have my Pinterest app on my iPad, but I’ve gotten good about not simply browsing Pinterest for the sake of browsing. It took a while, but I got it out of my system.

    Instead, I try to stick to very precise requirements. Am I planning a trip? I’ll make a board of things we can do on the trip, or travel deals, and keep it there for reference. Birthday party? Ideas board. Going to a military ball? Dress/shoe/bag ideas board. Painting a bedroom? Color palette ideas board.

    Isn’t that what Pinterest was meant for in the first place? A virtual pinup board of ideas?

    As for the other unplugging ideas, they’re good ones. I need to be better about surfing the web while cooking/cleaning, etc.

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