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How Parenting Is Like Pinterest Boards

How Parenting Is Starting to Look a Lot Like Our Pinterest Boards

I don't know about you, but my Pinterest boards are crammed with good intentions. A yearly savings plan broken down by week? I am so gonna painlessly save $1000 this year. A coffee table made from nothing more than an old wood pallet and some cheap candlesticks? That is going to look great in my living room. The best tips for cleaning grout? Mine is gonna sparkle, as soon as I can get around to it. And Marie Kondo's house will have nothing on mine, once I use some of these handy decluttering pins.

But as gung-ho as I am about my Pinterest ambitions, and as sure as I am that I'm actually going to turn these intentions into actions, I can probably count on one hand the pins I've actually tried. Because, life. As much as I'd love every component of it to be clean and organized and skinny and delicious, there's the small matter of time. And motivation. And ability — let's face it, things always look a million times easier on social media.

Oddly, the same exact thing could be said for my parenting. I remember back before I was a parent, how I had it all planned out. It was like a bunch of mental Pinterest boards, with smug titles like "Brain-Enriching Activities" and "Things I'll Never Let My Kid Do." I stockpiled ideas and goals, with the intent of achieving win after parenting win.

I remember back before I was a parent, how I had it all planned out. It was like a bunch of mental Pinterest boards, with smug titles like "Brain-Enriching Activities" and "Things I'll Never Let My Kid Do."

With my master plan, I was going to raise kids that were bright beyond their years, well-rounded and polite, paragons of good nutrition. I would never allow them to rot their brains with too much screen time, or watch anything on TV that wasn't educational. They'd never eat anything but a balanced diet (organic, natch), heavy with veggies and whole grains. My children would never throw a fit in public because they'd know better – I would discipline them firmly yet lovingly, and they would behave because I'd force them to, unlike most of the other parents out there (insert self-righteous eye roll). They must not have a solid plan like I do, I inwardly scoffed.

When actual motherhood hit, though, it was a whole different ball game. And, like the ones on my Pinterest boards, my best-intentioned ideas – along with my pride – fell, sadly, by the wayside.

I found myself slogging through Target with a wailing infant and a tantruming toddler despite hisses of "I said stop," repeated, ad infinitum, through gritted teeth. I was feeding them entire platefuls of nothing but beige foods that weren't even close to organic, hoping against hope that ketchup counted as a serving of vegetables. They watched SpongeBob and slept in my bed, drank out of plastic cups that I'm sure were laden with BPA, and spent an amount of time on the computer and tablet that would undoubtedly raise the eyebrow of any expert.

Yes, real life parenting delivered a karmic backhand, a comeuppance for the sin of thinking I had it all figured out before I even got started.

But in the parallel between parenthood and Pinterest, I haven't given up on improving either one. Despite all my abandoned efforts (and, OK, a few outright fails), I keep pinning away at those boards. Why? I still strive to achieve those ideals, even if I don't always reach them the first time – or at all.

I'm still inspired to do better, to try new things, to learn from other people's expertise. And even though I pin many more things than I actually attempt, I've had enough successes with the things I have tried to keep me hoping for the next Pinterest win. It's the same with all those ideas I have about parenting: Even if they don't always work out in real life, that doesn't mean I shouldn't keep trying until I find something that does.

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