Has Pinterest made our Expectations Unachievably High?

When I was a child Pinterest didn’t exist. Heck, the internet didn’t even really exist – and we had the wonders of dial-up throughout my teenage years. Social media is something so recent really, still so new and, like all technology, it is ever evolving.

But when I was a child none of this existed. Our home was full of simple things and the only technology was a really bulky and heavy wooden veneer television and a BBC computer. It was a far cry from modern times but it was a childhood, and home, that I loved.

My days were spent playing with simple toys, reading books and baking cakes with my Mum. We were constantly baking and we made all sorts of cakes and bakes. Every bake was an adventure and they were creations fit for a homely cafe or a school bake sale. They tasted delicious and our house smelt wonderful for hours after a baking session.

As a child I didn’t have Birthday parties, my parents just couldn’t afford them. Instead we had Birthday tea with our cousins and had things like jam sandwiches and crisps in bowls on the table. We’d have treats like Jammy Dodgers and chocolate mini rolls. It was simple and it was perfect.

As a child I had no expectations of Birthday parties, of fancy cakes or making masterpieces in the kitchen with my Mum. We did what we did, we both loved it and it was perfect. I didn’t need or want anything else – I didn’t know any different.

But zoom forward 25 years and I have already created a childhood for my children where they expect a party – having had one each year since they were born. The parties have been simple – with a barbecue in the garden, a bouncy castle and a party buffet. I don’t have it in me to ever make a Birthday cake, preferring to buy a huge personalised £15 one from Costco. But the children now expect a party every year and this year those parties will get bigger – as LP has more friends to invite and she has been to more parties herself, expecting the same as her friends have had.

I always said that I’d like the children to have parties so this isn’t an issue – I want them to have what I didn’t have as a child and I want them to have that special day with their friends. But when planning a Birthday party where is the first place you look as a modern day parent on social media? Pinterest.

So you look on Pinterest at all the party themes. Pinterest gives you ideas for decorations, the perfect cake and other foodie treats. Every single kind of party inspiration is there on your phone or computer screen, ready to recreate in your own home.

Except, it isn’t that easy is it? Those people creating those Pinterest friendly posts have so much time to create those masterpieces. It may be their hundredth attempt at creating the perfect Sophia the First cake or their eighteenth attempt at making a Jake and the Neverland Pirates piñata. Most people creating those top posts on Pinterest don’t create them with little children at their feet, in their own busy kitchen and with the stress of an actual party to plan.

Then Pinterest shows you the images of cakes to bake, homes to decorate and so much more. There are ideas for every aspect of your life, all perfectly filtered and portrayed to be so easily reachable and yet so perfect. The ideal life there inside the screens of Pinterest.

But is Pinterest portraying a rose tinted version of anyone’s life? Aspects of life that are perfectly attainable and achievable or is Pinterest really just setting the bar far too high and setting many parents up to fail?

You see, having creations on the pages of Pinterest, creations that have been made by someone makes many people feel that they should be able to recreate those same cakes, party centrepieces or costumes at home. It gives them inspiration and even a guide on how to make it and they focus all their efforts on this thing of their Pinterest dreams.

But I have seen across social media more Pinterest ‘fails’ than I have seen perfect Pinterest recreations. There are posts every single day of people commenting how their creation isn’t one for Pinterest. Pinterest is a site of perfection where we can pin our hopes, dreams and ambitions within that one website. We can pin everything from gift lists to how we would like our brand new guest bedroom. We can pin everything, creating this bubble of expectation and hope for the future.

But having a shiny Pinterest board full of ideas and inspiration doesn’t make that fancy cake any more achievable. It doesn’t make that white, clean and minimalist family home any more realistic. It just makes ordinary parents feel like they should try harder, do better and achieve more.

I had an amazing childhood, full of homemade cake and basic Birthday teas of jam sandwiches and bowls of Skips. I am sure that our own children would be happy with exactly the same Birthday gatherings and homemade cakes that wouldn’t win any competition. Children love the simple things – home made cake and fun with their friends but instead of giving them that we have been sucked into a world of shiny Pinterest portrayals of life that has just left our own expectations incredibly high.

I think we should go back to basics – enjoying making cakes with our kids and putting crisps in bowls for their Birthdays. We should do the things that make us happy and not try to live up to these Pinterest expectations. Pinterest has been around for six years and I am sure that all of our lives were pretty amazing before that – just with a little less pressure on ourselves and much lower expectations.

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9 Comments

  1. April 29, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    Whilst I love baking, prior to having children I had never actually iced a cake as such…
    Roll forward to my sons first birthday and suddenly I found myself crying over attempts in making the ideal In The sodding Night Garden cake…
    I got there in the end and every year since my children have both had iced cakes which look fairly good… Probably more failed it than nailed it but I agree completely- pinterest needs to go into room 101 when it comes to ‘getting it right’ as a parent. The expectations that we set ourselves seems to be the hardest part.

    Great post x

  2. April 29, 2016 / 6:23 pm

    Oh god bab well I bet you can guess what I think? I am a great Mum. And am fab at loads of things like making them laugh, being silly but I can’t bake and I can’t craft. I wish I could. But I can’t. It did used to make me feel like I was utterly rubbish but I just do things my own way. And my best friend Asda makes a great cake for my two twice a year x

  3. April 29, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    I totally agree with you, pinterest sets unrealistic expectations for mums in much the same way the media as a whole do for women generally – our whole self image is based on a set of expectations that society has dreamed up from somewhere. Personally I hardly use Pinterest, I have no desire to look at everybody else’s false-perfect lives, I’m pretty happy with my own.
    Nat.x

  4. April 29, 2016 / 9:30 pm

    I do love Pinterest but I so agree with you on this one! My life is so not at all Pinterest worthy , I have been planning a little party for Sophia’s birthday next month and everything on Pinterest is so perfect and I have been thinking of making her little tea party all pretty and matching. She will only be 3 and she won’t have a clue and won’t care what kind of decorations or plates she has all she will care about is if she has cake to eat and her family there. When my eldest was little there was no pinterest and her birthday was just a simple tea party with mismatched party wear and she had the best time ever. Love this post as it makes me realise that we don’t have to make everything perfect as kids love the simple things in life xx

  5. April 30, 2016 / 10:06 am

    I actually think some of the people on Pinterest are actually a bit bonkers! 😉 For my son’s birthday party last year I did a halloween themed party, promptly headed off to Pinterest and thought ooh cat and ghost shaped sandwiches great idea – but there is so much waste, honestly it’s ridiculous – so I’m never doing that again!

  6. April 30, 2016 / 6:16 pm

    I love pintrest but yes it puts us under pressure for everything to be perfect and beautiful. I think things will change at some point and the simple tea parties of our childhoods will come back around again x

  7. May 3, 2016 / 7:31 am

    Fab post. I guess it depends on what type of person you are; whether you think you have failed if you can’t reach the dizzy heights of a pinterest replica or you just like the inspiration but realise your skills maybe more limited. Think, thankfully, I am in the latter camp xx

  8. May 7, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    I adore Pinterest but don’t really take it all the seriously. I love it for ideas and inspiration but I’m old an cynical enough to see that a fair amount of what’s on there is very staged and has little resemblance to real life. Occasionally, I get sucked in. I’m planning my 40th and was about to click buy on quite a number of table decorations and then realised I could better spend that £100 on treats and drinks and have a much better time. Oh, and my two always have shop bought birthday cakes and small parties at home … nothing fancy … and they both have the BEST time x

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