pinterest screenI have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

On one hand, it has saved me hours of scouring the internet looking for pretty things I have seen and want to find again. (“It was a farmhouse table, with Eames chairs and flowers…”) I have stopped tearing out pages from magazines to keep in my Ideas File. Now, I just find the picture, article or recipe online and pin it.

It saved me just yesterday when my 7-year old was bored and trying to stir up trouble while I was trying to get dinner on the table. (Egg carton + paint = 20 minutes of whine free cooking.)

On the other hand, though, Pinterest is always telling me what a slacker I am. How much cuter it would have looked at my last party if I had served drinks from mason jars with red and white stripey straws instead of blue plastic Solo cups. How my store-bought, cardboard “Happy Birthday” banner pales in comparison to a hand-crafted fabric one. My wrapping paper, my kitchen counters, my garden, my laundry room, for gosh sakes. My life can seem like a dim reflection of the shiny, colorful, happy Pinterest world.

Glossy magazines and pretty blogs have always had the power to both inspire and demoralize. It’s how and when we use them that decides whether or not they are useful. Pinterest can be great for people who plan ahead. (One day, I’m going to invent a social media site for last-minute people who fly by the seat of their pants. It will be popular, I know it.) Don’t look at Pinterest party pins after you just had a party. Or kitchen pins after you just redecorated your kitchen. Or crafty kid ideas after you just parked your kids in front of SpongeBob and are locked in the bathroom with a glass of wine. THAT is real life.

Pinterest has it’s place. On my good days, it inspires. On my bad days, it makes me feel inadequate. The truth behind the pictures though is that all those pictures are from real life homes. You’re just looking at the very best slice of it. You don’t see the mom sitting on the mountain of unfolded laundry to take the picture of her perfectly organized playroom. Or the sink full of dirty dishes in the picture of the rainbow birthday cake. Or the giant pile of school papers moved to the counter to take a picture of the serene kitchen table.

Don’t let Pinterest bring you down. And if it is bringing you down, try browsing People of Walmart to make yourself feel better.

Sue writes at Laundry for Six and likes to pin pictures of pretty houses instead of cleaning her own.