Raise your hand if you’ve ever watched your toddler play with a toy and saw how much they loved it. A great idea popped up and you decided to look at Pinterest for inspiration to sneak in some learning by taking advantage of their interest.
You innocently searched for something like “toddler crafts,” but it popped with hundreds of pins like “50 Best Fun Easy Activities for Toddlers”. The intention was to find a simple craft to print, but you now must discover the BEST one out of 50 BEST activities since you’re ready to spend the energy on this one activity. Then you get paralyzed, and you realized you just spent an hour on Pinterest. At the same time, you realize you still have yet to do any fun crafts or activities with your child.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay, and it happens to the best of us. Learn what Pinterest Paralysis is, why so many people fall victim to it, and how to overcome decision paralysis.
So What Is Pinterest Paralysis?
The feeling you get when overloaded with inspiration from Pinterest is not unique to Pinterest. The psychological impact is called Decision Paralysis – it’s a real thing. To determine if you have decision paralysis see if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Overwhelm: When you are faced with too many choices to process, you can feel like your mind is buried. Having choices can be beneficial, but too many options can make you worry about whether you’re making the best choice.
- Confusion: When you’re faced with many similar choices of the same quality, you have trouble differentiating between choices. More choices can lead us to overthink, and the more information we have, our brains get overloaded. When our brains are overloaded, our mind shuts down in response.
- Anxiety: Perfectionism and anxiety go hand in hand because you set high standards and leave little room for failure. Pinterest can be a challenging place for perfectionists because you see all these great ideas. Being a perfectionist, you want to make sure you’re finding the best one. You spend hours searching but can’t find something that fits your exact needs. Instead of feeling inspired, you feel defeated.
- Regret: When you are overwhelmed searching for free fun easy activities for toddlers, it can lead to inaction. The inaction can lead to you feeling disheartened and unaccomplished.
My need for perfection prevented me from doing anything at all.
I tried to DIY everything and spent so much time (1) finding the “perfect” activity for my toddler (which is only perfect for my own expectation for how an activity should look like) and (2) assembling the materials.
It was fun the first few times; then, I noticed that my child spends less time on this activity than I spent creating it. There are times when he did not want to do it – and it felt disheartening because I poured my energy into it, thinking he’d love it.
I suffered from Pinterest Paralysis and found myself not doing anything with my child. This made me have less confidence in my ability to teach my child. Why does Pinterest have that impact on us?
Is Pinterest Bad?
Pinterest becomes problematic when you spend more time on it and do not accomplish your goals. Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. You can find many creative learning or craft activity ideas to do with your child.
You’re healthily using Pinterest when it’s lifting you up. Pinterest should provide you with sparks of creativity to modify the activities you see. It should also inspire you to create new toddler activities to do with your child.
Identifying when you might be suffering from Pinterest Paralysis is step one. Next, you’ll learn how to overcome decision paralysis and start having control over planning activities for your toddler.
Set a time limit when searching for toddler activities or lesson planning inspiration on Pinterest. Set a timer if you have to.
This exercise teaches you mindfulness and self-control. Setting time limits teaches you how to work smarter when searching for fun easy activities for toddlers on Pinterest. You’re training your mind to spend time on the pins you love and less on the so-so ones.
When Pinterest pinning time is up, take a look at your board and take a good look at the activities. Shortlist the activities or crafts that:
- Meet your learning objectives. Are you targeting gluing, cutting, sorting, matching skills?
- Are developmentally appropriate for your toddler. Not all super cute activities make suitable activities for toddlers. Giving toddlers activities beyond their skill level can be counter-productive because it causes frustration and lowers self-esteem. When you complete the craft for your child, it reduces confidence because they’ll feel they can’t do it on their own. Plus, it defeats the purpose!
- Contain materials you currently have at home. If you don’t have the material, don’t worry. Identify whether you can replace an item with something you already have at home to save money.
A side note on planning activities:
According to child development experts, a child’s attention span is two to three minutes per year of their age. For a two-year-old, their attention span is 4 to 6 minutes, a three-year-old, six to nine minutes, etc. Keep this in mind when searching for the activities online and selecting the type of activity for your toddler.
Train your mind to visually deconstruct an activity to its individual components
Training your mind to deconstruct sounds like a Jedi mind trick, but it’s easier than it sounds! When you can look at a picture and say to yourself, “Oh, yeah, I have the materials to build this,” you are removing one aspect of Pinterest Paralysis. When an activity is too challenging to deconstruct – then that activity wouldn’t make an excellent activity for your toddler, and you can remove it from your Pinterest board.
Deconstructing the activity to its individual components will help you easily identify pieces you can substitute or modify. This will reduce feeling overwhelmed or eliminate the need to have to purchase every single craft material just to execute one project. You may even find yourself becoming so good at visualizing what goes into an activity that you will start creating your own projects using inspiration from other projects!
Practicing this tip will help you quickly identify projects that require too much prep work, like cutting complicated shapes from those that are worth your time.
Analyze the cost-benefit of DIY versus ready-to-use preschool activity alternatives
I have no doubt you are 100% capable of creating your crafts, lesson plans, activities, etc., and you may be very good at it too. Or maybe you’re not that creative, but Instagram and Pinterest pressured you into thinking that if you’re not DIYing creative activities with your child, you’re a terrible parent (been there!). You are NOT a bad parent if you’re not DIYing Instagram-worthy activities with your child to set the record straight.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether the time you are spending on curating, sourcing, and prepping activities is worth the goal you want to achieve: to spend quality time with your child and engage them in learning activities. If preparing activities is fun, great! When you are overwhelmed with lesson planning, you will most likely feel exhausted by the time the activity makes it to your toddler. Plus, engaging a young child takes energy!
Use a combination of pre-made toddler lesson plans and Pinterest craft activities.
Find a flexible curriculum, like TigerKubz’s storybook-based learning kit. The “The Runaway Bunny” Preschool Learning Kit has 19 activities across six cognitive and social-emotional learning subjects. The activities are ready-to-use and come with a Parent Guide to show you how to present each activity. It only costs $35 or $1.84 per activity. That’s less than a cup of coffee you can actually enjoy because you’re not tied up prepping activities.
There are many other sources to use when planning your customized toddler curriculum. This can be monthly subscription boxes, Outschool classes, field trips, and Pinterest to find activities to fill in gaps in your lesson plan for your toddler.
Sheryll is the proud mom to 3 boys (1, 5, and 12-years-old) and wife to her better half. She is the founder and CEO of TigerKubz and is on a mission to empower parents with tools to easily engage their little learners. When Sheryll is not thinking of creative ways to make learning experiences of everyday life, changing diapers, or chasing after her kids, you may find her in the kitchen trying out new recipes, attempting to fish on a nice day, or jamming out to Disney singalongs with Alexa.