Before my son, Beanie was born, I wasted an indescribable amount of time perusing Pinterest. From holiday advice to interior design, I was pinning. Posts about subjects that I didn’t even know existed clearly needed to be saved for that time when I was bound to need advice on how to teach my hamster to make stained glass mirrors.
It wasn’t long before I came across the plethora of articles all about parenting. Everything you could think of from baby weaning, to arts and crafts, to celebrate International Second Cousins Day (this may not exist, but it probably does), to the absolute must-haves for your baby’s nursery unless you want your child to need years of therapy because their bum got cold whilst you changed their nappy for the fourth time in the space of an hour. That pin probably doesn’t exist either, but if it had, it would have been on the board. Why? Because I was totally going to be a Pinterest Mum.
Why I ever thought this was going to happen, I don’t know. You know the saying about having your ducks in a row? There’s a parody, along the lines of ‘they’re not in a row but they’re in the same pond’. Mine are roughly in the same park, and most of them are probably not even ducks. I love the idea of being that person. The one who bakes and decorates an elaborate cake; even though I love the baking, I don’t want to waste time perfecting it when I could be eating it. So instead, I’m the one who sits for three hours on Pinterest looking at everybody else’s creations.
However, Pinterest Mums have a reputation. They make everyone else feel deeply inferior; people who are coping rather well suddenly feel like they should have the time to do that too. And those of us barely keeping our head above water feel like complete failures.
We have some dear friends who are very much Pinterest Parents. There is one couple who go for days out and have lavish playdates with all the beautiful handmade activities planned to the minute for the perfect amount of age-appropriate educational fun. And another couple, who invited us round for such a playdate, where they transformed their son’s nursery into a sensory playground of lights, music, textures and bubbles. It was wonderful, but boy did I feel jealous.
I envy those people so strongly. I’d love to be that organised, but I’m just not. Added to the pressures of just being a new mum, I have literally had the year from hell where I barely have time to think and I have begun to feel like a complete failure to my son. I have actively avoided Pinterest, because of course, unless I create a beautiful mermaid garden with four shades of baby-safe coloured sand, how can I be sure that he’s getting enough stimulation?
It all came to a head a couple of weeks ago. Our house has taken a serious hit this year, with multiple long trips to the hospital (my husband, my dad and my husband’s nan – two of which are sadly no longer with us and the third came close) housework was the least of our priorities. Unfortunately for me, as Beanie has got older, he wants to explore. This means that the house that wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of Hoarders wasn’t safe. Our garden (where Beans loves to be the most) resembled a jungle, with my dad who passed away suddenly in February’s car sat in the middle of it.
We had started Operation: Get Stuff Sorted, and I had got a couple of small outdoor toys for Beans so I could start the task of weeding and chopping back while keeping half an eye on him. He loves any kind of vehicle so Dad’s car got lots of attention. As he lined some of the stones from our gravel up along the bumper, I had a lightbulb moment.
After a quick trip inside, I came back armed with a box of magnetic letters which we used to spell out words on the passenger door. Not long after this, he found an old bin with rainwater in and started to drop the stones off the bumper of the car and into the water. When I realised the water was a little dirtier than I’d expected, I looked across at the pile of random junk waiting to go to the tip and saw a plastic container that had its lid missing. I filled this with water and dropped in a few stones to give him the idea.
He loved watching them splash! Then he went and found some other items such as leaves and flowers and put those in to see if they did the same thing. They didn’t, and he was fascinated. With minimal encouragement from me, he was on a quest to discover what these things did when placed in water. At one stage, this included himself. Even our pug Nickie came to watch.
The next thing I know, he was shouting at me to look at something. When I got there, he was showing me a big hairy caterpillar, looking to me to explain this bizarre creature. I carefully moved it to the car bonnet so we could get a better look. It was then that I realised what we were doing.
We were using our environment in alternative ways to get more out of it. We were thinking outside of the box. I saw treasure in our junk. Educational, stimulating treasure. And it felt amazing.
I realised then what being a Pinterest Mum was all about. It’s about being the best we can be and doing the best that we can for our children. And right now, I don’t have much to give Beanie, but he loves me anyway. Some people make intricate sensory gardens, and some of us use some gravel and a box. He loved it just as much. I AM a Pinterest Mum. I don’t look like I have just walked off a movie set while I do it (unless it’s a disaster movie, in which case, maybe!). Instead, I have mud down me, ketchup on my shoulder, odd socks and hair that’s not been washed in three days.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.