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.

Do Kids Need Crafts and Activities?

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?

18 Comments

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  1. sarahelisabeth Apr 4, 2014

    Sarah, your ideas are great but I personally, have never thought that is all your children do and you have been very honest about bringing up children in your Biblical boyhood series.
    Pinterest can be overwhelming but used in a focused way it can be beneficial especially for keeping ideas together. Sometimes an idea can be modified in a way that makes an otherwise mundane day flourish with very little parental help. If it is simple it might work whereas if it is complicated it probably won't! High energy boys need loads of occupation and having some ideas is very helpful!

    Reply
    1. Sarah Apr 4, 2014

      Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I think those are the biggest benefits of Pinterest - keeping ideas in one place, and finding some inspiration. I think it's especially important for homeschooling moms. Supplementing our curriculum with some creative ideas makes it so much more positive for everyone.

      Reply
    2. Mess Apr 4, 2014

      Thanks for this blog post. I agree with you on many points.

      I feel that we simply need to "do stuff" with our kids. A lot of folks seem to spend every weekend carting their kids to kid parties, sports, and events. Where that, and the blog post you mention, miss the point is that it's also important for your kids to join in your hobbies.

      I think "The Pinterest Life" is a fine enabler of that. If you're "crafty," it's logical that much of your crafting will be for your kids and with your kids when they reach "that age." I don't think it should be done to shame others, and I'm not sure that it's a crafty person's intent most of the time.

      My parents were both police officers, and around the age of six, they would let us clean guns with them. To this day, I don't have any interest in guns, but that activity with them is something I remember fondly. The message I got from doing that was that their hobbies, needs, and interests were important, too. And while they did not "revolve around" me, it was important for family members to share in each other's interest to some extent.

      I feel that the big disconnect today is that there are kid events, kid materials, kid crafts, kid activities. What happened to kids participating in tasks or events/celebrations with their adults. Society hasn't taken away our right to live our lives alongside our kids. Why do we keep complaining like it has?

      Reply
      1. Sarah Apr 4, 2014

        Yes! I totally agree. There is so much benefit in watching mom and dad do things, helping where possible, and maybe working to create something new. Great point!

        Reply
      2. Nicky Apr 4, 2014

        Thank you for this post. It is good to see your heart here. I am always so thankful for your posts, you have offered so many great ideas that my kids love. I love the fact that you offer not only crafty ideas, but also relational posts, too. I am thankful that God has given you the words to say.

        Reply
        1. Jerilyn Apr 4, 2014

          Excellent thoughts!!

          I liked the original article because I don't like crafts, holidays, clutter, etc. but its taken me a few years to realize that I don't like certain things (also, decorating a home) and being okay with that. Everyone has to find their own balance. And I think that is your point.

          I would love to read Mrs. Schaffers book now! And I paid $1.40 (!!!!!!) in library fines yesterday. ;)

          Reply
          1. Happy Home Fairy Apr 4, 2014

            Wow. This was really encouraging and insightful. I have always enjoyed your site because I see and hear your heart in every post. You are very real with your readers and always point us to Christ. It is a blessing! Thank you!

            Reply
            1. Nicole Nelson Apr 4, 2014

              I am in the middle on the original article. I agree with her that too many people take it over the top, and I hate kid crafts that I have to do because they are not for kids. And I agree with you...I subscribe to your blog and share it with friends because we homeschool and you have fabulous ideas. Especially for those moments when the fort and the backyard, or their own imaginations have run out of steam and need a little mommy facilitating to jumpstart their play again. The same reason I use Pinterest for my own inspiration. I say kudos to you and keep up the goodwork!

              Reply
              1. Phyllis at All Things Beautiful Apr 4, 2014

                Creating a magical childhood for your children, to me, means letting them free to be children...to play, explore, imagine and be creative. I do provide activities for my children, but not nearly as much as I let them have the time and space to create their own activities. Undisturbed. I find your blog an inspiration not a pressure to be super mom. Please keep up the good work.

                Reply
                1. JDaniel4's Mom Apr 4, 2014

                  My son actually likes to take the crafts I have put out and add or change them to reflect what he is interested. I think it is important to let craft and activities be open ended as often as possible. I learn from him and about him when we work on things together.

                  Reply
                  1. JANSmom Apr 4, 2014

                    As a mom of four boys who has just recently come to a better understanding of pinterest (I blog about it here: http://planaimmeasurably.blogspot.ca/), I thank you very much for this timely and wise article. You have articulated many of the things I have been grappling with and appreciate very much your authenticity. May you be blessed richly on your journey as a mother and a very talented writer!

                    Reply
                    1. Alpana Deo Apr 4, 2014

                      I feel that doing crafts with your kid not sure unleash their creativity and imagination but at the same time creates a strong bond between you and your kid.
                      I came across the article you have mentioned.. It's definitely true that for parents making their kids happy is always on the top of the list but we should try to maintain a balance. Kids know how to find joy in simple things too.

                      Check me out at www.mothersgurukul.com

                      Great post...

                      Reply
                      1. raewynwyn Apr 4, 2014

                        Library fines!? I'd waive them after all the cool ideas I've pinched to share with the kids who love crafts at the Library I work at. They used to come for the hot cocoa, now they come for the crafts, and we smuggle a story into the mix. :)

                        Reply
                        1. Malia {Playdough to Plato} Apr 4, 2014

                          Perfectly said, Sarah!! As a kid blogger, I sometimes worry that readers have the false perception that my family lives in a picture perfect world free from tantrums and spilt glasses of milk. That would be nice- but it's not true. The activities I create are just a tiny piece of the bigger picture- one activity occupying one small part of the day. I hope that the learning games I share are inspiring, not overwhelming. As Kristina from Toddler Approved shared a few weeks back, we all need to remind each other that parenting is hard and we're doing a good job of it - whether we're baking fresh cookies every day or not. :)

                          Reply
                          1. Cindy Apr 4, 2014

                            great post and great reminder! I blog, as well, and know the truth about how we spend most of our day (not pinterest worthy...) yet still struggle with getting sucked in to the "perfection" trap...if only my real life were as cool as my pinterest life...lol...in all seriousness, it's important to stay grounded and realize the power behind certain sites - light and fluffy; not the core of our lives.

                            Reply
                            1. Kate - The Craft Train Apr 4, 2014

                              I read that article the other day and didn't make any comments, because an opinion and a feeling can't be wrong, and I certainly get the point and remember my own fun childhood spent playing outside on a dirt road near creeks and puddles with little to no supervision from our parents. We had a blast and I missed out on nothing. BUT I love your article, and I confess to be one of those mums posting pretty crafts on Pinterest every week, mainly because I love craft (and not because I'm trying to show the world what a great Mum I can be!). I look forward to planning my kids' themed birthday parties because it's creative and fun and I want to do it. If the writer of that article could see the mess that I've kicked over to the other side of the room so I could take a pretty picture, or hear the whinging and see the "I'm bored" moments that happen at our place the rest of the time I'm sure she would not feel so pressured to be perfect, because no blogger is :-) Thank you for making that point so diplomatically.

                              Reply
                              1. Cerys from Rainy Day Mum Apr 5, 2014

                                Fantastic post Sarah, I think a post like this is so important especially in light of that post. THANK YOU

                                Reply
                                1. T and J Apr 7, 2014

                                  "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."
                                  This is exactly why your blog is my most shared, pinned and saved! Because I NEED ideas! I use Pinterest pretty much solely as a categorized idea bin, so that when I am feeling lost for them, they are all right there. I love your down-to-earth, useful, easy-to-do ideas that seem relevant to life and learning. I never feel like I need to do all I see, but rather use it as inspiration for fun things to do with my little boy. I have often thought about the time and trouble it must be at times to take pictures and blog about the things you do, and I want to thank you for it!

                                  Reply
                                  1. Daniela Jun 20, 2014

                                    This is great! An eye opener post.

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                                    Reply
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