This week, an article has been circulating through Facebook and other social media called “I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical.” This article has created quite a stir. The author’s main point seems to be that Pinterest and social media in general have created unrealistic expectations of what childhood should be. Moms feel pressured to create impressive birthday parties, crafts for every season, and picture-perfect bedrooms. Kids today are entertained by their parents, whereas in the past kids played outside and got dirty and created “magical” experiences of their own which were far superior to Pinterest crafts or themed birthday parties.
To some extent, I definitely agree with her point. Moms should not feel pressured to create “perfect” crafts and experiences, especially if the motivation is to share photos online in order to keep up with friends and to show what great moms they are. Pinterest has created a false reality which, I believe, has the potential to affect our motivation for the things we do and to breed discontentment.
The people behind “Pinterest activities…”
However, as a person who contributes crafts and activities to Pinterest, I know that there is a disconnect between reality and appearances. I’m not sure that there is a complete solution to this, but as a blogger, I want to take this opportunity to make a point that I think is extremely important.
I do not entertain my children with fun activities all the time. Or half the time. Or even a quarter of the time! The things that we post may only comprise 10% (I just made that number up – I don’t know what it really is) of our time that week. My boys spend a lot of time reading, playing outside, riding bikes, building with Legos, folding laundry, and helping with chores. But because I don’t post about all that, it’s easy to get the impression that everything we do is crafty and fun.
It’s not. I promise.
And if you ever feel pressured because of reading this blog – then stop! I don’t want to be a source of mom-guilt because goodness knows us moms don’t need any more of that!
I started this website because I know that moms of high-energy kids need a way to channel that energy, or the kids are going to find a way! Playing outside is excellent, but the weather is not always good. Moms need ideas. I love sharing ideas on this website in order to provide moms of kids (and especially boys who might not enjoy many of the crafts that are out there) with ideas for things to play, make, and do that encourage creativity and connection. I love to share ideas that might make schoolwork more tolerable, and I share some of our struggles with raising boys and how we’re dealing with them.
Are “crafts” bad for kids?
I disagree with the “all or nothing” approach that the author seems to be taking in the “I’m Done…” article. Is it bad to feel like we need to do everything we see on Pinterest? Yes. Is it possible to provide our children with too much entertainment? Absolutely. Is it harmful to give them lots of stuff and spoil them with constant vacations and outings? Of course. But this article seems to swing too far the other way in favor of not doing crafts, not baking cookies for the holidays, and parents playing with their children only rarely.
The home as a place to nurture creativity:
The response against Pinterest fake-perfection is appropriate, and yet I think an important point is lost – the home as, in the words of Edith Schaeffer, “a birthplace of creativity.”
As a Christian, I absolutely love what Edith Schaeffer writes in “What is a Family?” (affiliate link) about how we are created in the image of God, and thus we are to be creative people. Just think about the world that God created – the variety of animals, the beauty of a sunset, the flowers of spring. We appreciate that beauty because we are made in His image! There are a thousand ways to express that creativity, and as moms, none of us have to be the same! All of us are to find beauty in everyday things and to encourage creativity in our homes. Some of us may enjoy doing arts and crafts projects with our kids, while others excel at working to create a garden or a chicken coop, or cooking, or writing, or computer programming, or music, or babysitting, or any number of other things. If done for His glory, God is praised in all of our creative efforts!
As parents, there is a balance between turning our kids loose to entertain themselves and overindulging them with fun things to do. The balance is providing needed support so that they can learn to become creative individuals.
“Just what is needed? An atmosphere of two-way communication, which involves listening as well as talking, and taking an interest in the other person’s thoughts and ideas….”
“I’m going to make a raft!”
“Really? What are you going to use to make it?”
“This wood, see? I found it in the woodshed. Please?”
“Well, okay, go ahead and try, and then you can see if it will float.”
The six year old boy will work all afternoon, getting what help he can commandeer. Perhaps you can make a sail for him, if that seems to be the encouragement he needs. The crooked pile of sticks will sink, if these is any water to try it on, or perhaps float for a few moments, but it can be a marvelous raft with a sail right there in the garden, and a meal can be supplied to eat “on board.” The very trust inspired by the cooperation and serious treatment of the project can pay off, not only in more creative attempts, but in a closer relationship. Now, if boat making continues to be his interest, the cooperation may include buying some books on the subject, or getting information as to what are the basic things to be understood.”
From What is a Family, p. 53-54
Many of the projects that I share on this site are the ideas of my children. For example, Aidan decided that he wanted to create a chameleon design on the Rainbow Loom. Our hope is that we can provide some inspiration to others – to make the chameleon, if desired, or to see that chameleon and think, “Oh, I have a great idea for how to change that a little…!”
So as you read blogs or browse Pinterest, please remember that bloggers are just real people! We all have dirty dishes and uncooperative children and bad days and library fines (well, at least I do…). Limit your time online if it’s dragging you down. Choose sites to visit that inspire you rather than discourage you.
How do you like to inspire creativity in your home?