Real Parent Pinterest

Recently I was reading a post by a friend about the many things that make us feel like we’re crappy parents. For her, one of those things is Pinterest. And boy, do I know what that’s like.

Pinterest is the shiny pretty promise of the perfect lives we could have if only we were better. Craftier. More fashionable. Just, you know, completely different people.

And somewhere inside us a voice is squealing “That could be me! My happy life is so close I can see it, right there in tiny thumbnails of awesome. I shall pin this thing and someday, someday so help me I WILL make my own bath salts!”

This constant stream of perfectly lit perfection fools us into raising the bar for good parenting to ridiculous heights. Because this is how we figure out if we’re doing it right, we look at what other people are doing and compare. And on Pinterest it feels like everyone is baking ladybug cupcakes and tying scarves in 36 different ways and turning lunchboxes into works of art.

The more we see, the less competent we feel about our messy, mundane, imperfect reality. Nobody pins pictures of that. We hide it away, and forget that everyone else is doing the same thing.

And so by comparison it feels like I’m failing my kids by making them eat pancakes that don’t have a face. Or because I’m not exactly sure what the hell ‘kale’ is and I only know one way to fold a towel. I’ve never made play dough from scratch or braided my own hair and yes, it’s true, we did nothing to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. There, I said it. God it feels good to get that off my chest.

I actually really enjoy Pinterest, but while it’s fun to see all the clever ways I could turn meals into a canvas for my midlife crisis, the reality is that my kids like repetitive, plain food. Their reasons for this are complex, and the solution to selective eating is never going to be as simple as turning their sandwich into an elephant. And you know what? I really don’t mind. Serving the same food every meal time is easy, they’re relaxed and happy and with all the time I save by not making the Sistine Chapel out of edamame and Babybel I actually managed to clean the shower this month. True story.

Nope, Pinterest doesn’t come remotely close to documenting how anyone is actually living, so I’m going to stop letting it become a breeding ground for disappointment, dissatisfaction and discontent. Because who has time for any of that stuff?

Instead of killing myself trying to make my life look more like Pinterest, I decided to make Pinterest look more like my life…

Instructions for making leftover graham cracker surprise Plain sandwiches labelled as everyday objects with the caption Shape Fun With Sandwiches

I made this board to remind myself that Pinterest is not reality. It’s not a documentary of how others are parenting, and it’s certainly not a yardstick for me to measure myself against. I made it to celebrate the everyday, a place for anyone who’s feeling like their reality is inadequate. Mostly I made it to make my friend smile.

You can find more on the Real Parent Pinterest board. Wanna pin your own slices of reality? Celebrate real parents living messy and mundane lives? Let me know and I’ll add you to the board. Or hey, why not make one of your own?

Because real life is pinworthy.


Wow, this post has been way more popular than expected! I’ve loved all your comments about trying the Sydney Opera House (go slowly, young Padawans).


I was honored as a BlogHer’s Voice Of The Year (VOTY) for this post! It was nominated by a totally awesome reader named Cyn, who blogs at That Cynking Feeling – thanks a million, Cyn! Please go check out her blog and show her some love 🙂

17 April, 2013 by Bec Oakley

Bec Oakley is an autistic writer and proud parent, with an intense passion for 80s text adventures, Twizzlers and making the world a better place for autistic people and their families.