“Pinterest Mom.” Isn’t that what all moms long to be? After dealing with the winter blues and spending a few too many days cooped up inside, avoiding the latest sickness going around, I decided I needed to do more engaging activities with my boys. With my extended maternity leave coming to an end in 30 days, why wouldn’t I want to fill every day with something special for my kids and I to do together? What I didn’t realize was it would feel like a part-time job that ended up being more of a nuisance, rather than something we could do together to build memories.
I needed to think outside of the box to not only make memories but give them different exposures, rather than the same old toys/games we always play. That’s when I turned to Pinterest. I started with a few fun activities that helped my toddler work on letters and some other more messy activities like playing with shaving cream and construction vehicles. This lead to a personal challenge. Could I do an activity every day for 30 days, as my maternity leave comes to an end? Like Barney Stinson, on How I Met Your Mother would say: “Challenge Accepted.”
So Day 1, I decided to start with a craft/activity that I knew I already had the supplies for. After all, this took some planning with a calendar, notes, and some organization I needed for each week. We made bouncy balls from Elmer’s glue, Borax, and warm water. It started to become a “Pinterest Fail” when my toddler wanted nothing to do with the activity. I basically had to bribe him until we finally started forming the ball. He ended up playing with it off and on until it eventually stopped bouncing and no longer resembled a ball. So overall, we were off to a decent start.
And Day 2 rolled around with painting with teabags. And I totally forgot. Guess these “Pinterest Mom” seeds haven’t been planted long enough. So on Day 3, we did two things to try to get back on schedule. My toddler wanted nothing to do with the teabag painting until he saw it all set up later on in the morning. Then he lasted a whole minute before boredom hit and he moved on to another preferred toy. Then I had a fun rice cake “bear” snack set up for after nap time. He cried for a good 10-minutes that he wanted mini muffins instead. I was totally winning at this challenge. Am I right? [insert flushed face emoji]. Send help.
Like any challenge, the first few days are always the hardest, whether it is a new diet, exercise routine, new skill, or trying to get back into hobbies you love so much, trying to stay encouraged that I have selected fun activities that my toddler and 9-month old will buy into. After the first few days, the prep is what started to kill me. I found that I was too tired to prep the night before, and would often try to gather the supplies the day of, which sometimes bit me in the butt because I wouldn’t have one of the supplies I needed. This would inevitably mean I would not complete the activity that day, which would force us to do multiple activities in the days to come.
I got back on track for a few days when I made sure to add the materials to my grocery list. This worked until the weekend rolled around. We are always so busy on the weekends, so activities would put set aside, and we would run out of time. That, again, led me to do 2-3 activities the following days to try to keep up with my calendar of events. At this point, it was just work, and all the fun was quickly going away.
A few things I learned from being a “Pinterest Mom” for 30 days was that the activities I thought my kids would be the most engaged in, actually became the ones that I fought with them to complete or held their attention for the least amount of time (i.e., bouncy balls, marker cars, cereal threading). What I did find was my toddler enjoyed painting with creative “brushes” (pipe cleaners, toilet paper rolls, etc.), things he got messy with (glitter slime), and snack foods that had his favorite ingredients (fruit or candy eyeballs-ha!).
I am not sure how I would be able to complete this job while working full-time. Having a bit of flexibility throughout the day allowed me to try an activity in the morning, and if his mood wasn’t right, we had another opportunity after nap. There were a few days I replaced activities with my “extras” I planned because I just didn’t have the energy to do the activity, such as homemade wind chimes. Really? What was I thinking? There were also days towards the end of the challenge that I was just running out of steam and counting down the days when this challenge would end. I ended up replacing the more difficult activity (that had a million expensive materials) with something simple, using items we had in our house already.
Do I think this challenge was a complete waste? No. I think I learned that I am capable of trying to add some engaging crafts, activities, and even snacks to our week, but just being responsible for completing one a day only takes the fun out of it. What I took away from this was that I would keep materials on hand for activities I want to do with my boys, and when the open time presents itself, then we will complete it. I also learned some things about my kids and what interests them through exposure to new things, like science!
Pinterest puts too much pressure on moms to have the perfect birthday party, shared sports snack, or even house. Use Pinterest with caution and take some pressure off yourself, mamas! And don’t be fooled, behind these photos of my kids doing the activities (like most Pinterest Moms), there were tears, some screaming, sometimes boredom, and maybe some of my own tears.
Find my complete 30-Day Challenge on Pinterest here or more play ideas for toddlers and babies here.