My daughter is finishing up kindergarten this year. Before school started, I’d braced myself for the PTO, the parties, the committees, and the volunteering expectations that I’d heard about from my mom friends with older kids. Today, we are certainly dealing with more parental involvement at school than our own parents (mostly our mothers) had to manage a few decades ago.
Now that I’ve been living it for almost a year, I confess I have had some first-time school mom fails. The forgotten library book, the running into drop-off just before the final bell, the showing up late to the Halloween party to see your own kid in tears because they don’t have their costume (because you have the costume). Not to mention, scrambling to get your Halloween-themed dessert and craft in order for the party (yes, it had to be both dessert and a craft, per the sign-up sheet).
Of course, all of this is more good than bad because your kid is learning so much and having so much fun. And, kindergarten teachers are so amazing. So much so that I didn’t want to let my daughter’s teacher down when we’d made it to February and it was time for their Valentine’s Day party.
I was determined not to be a #momfail, but I still did forget to sign up until a few days beforehand and the only thing left on the list was “craft.” Here’s the thing, though: I like kids crafts. I loved crafts as a kid, and I still love the hands-on, creative outlet of piecing together a collage. My mom and I would page through the Highlights magazine each month to find something we could make together. (I vividly remember a turkey we made from a found pinecone and pipe cleaners. Ah, the simple joys of a 1980s childhood.)
Today, Pinterest has given us an idea explosion from people way craftier than I am. So I researched, made my shopping list, and my girls and I even did a practice run to be sure it was easy enough for kindergartners. When even my 3-year-old successfully completed the project, I knew it was a winner.
When I arrived at school (early this time after triple-checking when the party was scheduled to begin), I stood outside the classroom with the other parents. We all shared a similar, relieved sentiment that this was going to be the last formal school event until May and we’d be off the hook for a while. Our room mom had coordinated every party, every gift, and managed to do it all with a smile — yet even she seemed happy we’d have a bit of a break.
Then the conversation turned to “Pinterest Moms” – and it wasn’t a positive discussion. I started to regret the choice of craft I had packed in my bag and sheepishly backed out of the conversation. I know the “Pinterest mom” has been ridiculed publicly in memes, in #Pinterestfails, and is generally blamed for creating unrealistic expectations of motherhood.
But privately, I’ve been hailing Pinterest Mom. Her passion is really helping us tired moms, working moms, and moms who don’t have the time or brainpower to come up with ideas that are both fun and photo-worthy on our own. Pinterest Mom is doing the legwork so I have something to bring when I’m the last to sign up for the party.
As we filed into the classroom, I quietly placed my craft supplies on the table. I decided I’d still lay out the photo example I printed out from Pinterest so the kids knew what they were making. I felt a little like I’d let the proverbial mom squad down. I wondered if they’d think I was trying too hard. I wanted to remind everyone, “Hey, I was the one late to Halloween, remember? My kid was the only one crying. Don’t you think I need to overcompensate a little?”
But a classroom full of excited kindergartners doesn’t leave any time for judgments. No one is going to remember the late mom or the over-achiever mom who brought the heart-shaped fox craft to the Valentine’s Day party. Just like our own moms told us when we were in school – no one is looking at you, they are too worried about themselves (and now their kids) to worry about what you are doing. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)
I know I’m not a “Pinterest Mom” to make other moms feel bad. I do crafty things because I like to. And I think next year, I’ll be the first to sign up for “craft” – that is, only if “bring plates and napkins” is already taken.
How to Spot a Good Pinterest Craft:
Read the Supply List
Just like a recipe, you want to read the supply list. If your craft idea calls for something that requires more than a single trip to Target or Michaels, move on. You don’t need to spend the time or money tracking down something like “felt glue” when an idea with regular glue or a glue stick works just as well.
Be Wary of Pics That Look Too Cute or Too Creative
Because it’s likely going to be too hard to execute. Read the directions before you commit. The cutest picture I found was of a cupid’s arrow made out of a popsicle stick. Upon reading the directions, I learned it required soaking a popsicle stick and leaving it to bend in a cup OVERNIGHT.
10-minute crafts, people! That’s all any kid has the attention span to complete.
Set Realistic Expectations
It will not look like the picture, and that’s OK. Isn’t creativity really about self-expression? Kids are excited about creating as much as the final product, and just like we tell them – having fun is really what’s really important.