***PSA before we start…to SKIP the verbosity that’s about to be thrust upon you and go STRAIGHT to the meat/potatoes of the DIY mural art install, scroll WAAAAY down, NOW!! ***
I observe a lot of things. I’m an observer. And all the observing I do allows me to then con myself into believing that I’m very profound, cerebral, what-have-you. The truth is, I just relish sitting down. Not moving. Being “in my head”. Because the alternative, I suppose, is being “in my body”, and my body is just tired. You parents feel me, right? Being a parent is lots of things. Stationary is not one. And mediocre, well, if you tag yourself as a mediocre parent, I mean…
in today’s overly-scheduled, overly-stimulated, overly-educated, overly-hovering, and truthfully, overly-kinda-everything way of parenting, if you call yourself “mediocre” you might as well pack it in. Your kid is toast, and your parenting legacy, shattered. No Harvard. No Rhodes scholar. No trilingual summa-cum-laude graduate who likely earned 47 college credits prior to commencing middle school.
Doesn’t it feel sometimes like we’re lying on the tracks, waiting for the worst? Waiting for that whistle blowing in the distance.
I feel it. I think lots of us do. So we get up off the tracks and we run. We sprint our way through childhood, trying to catch that elusive train that seems to keep moving faster, and faster, and faster.
It starts at 6 months with the baby & me swimming classes…you know, for safety. And then we add in baby & me music to stimulate their creativity. Then, you suddenly realize you won’t ever be able to raise a centered, grounded human without factoring in some time for baby & me yoga.
By the time junior is 5 years old, he speaks four languages, including sign. He reads at a fourth grade level, and he’s a champion fencer that can also do basic computer coding. Meanwhile, you’re in charge of the PTA bake sale and the moms group activity calendar. You volunteer at the school weekly, are the manager for the t-ball team, and sell popcorn for the cub scouts. It’s all so…exhuasting. Keep running, keep moving, faster, faster, faster. I GOTTA CATCH THAT TRAIN!!!!
I have a confession.
I am a mediocre parent.
To make it even worse, I am not even in counseling right now trying to improve on my complete lack of will to step it up to even a C+ average. I’m not scouring the parenting section at Barnes & Noble. I’m not gonna try and earn any street cred by volunteering to chair the school’s winter gala and auction committee. Nope. I’m gonna just sit here on my duff. On a comfortable bench at the station, and calmly watch these trains roll on by as I happily sip a latte. Who wants the Harvard tuition bill showing up at their house each semester anyhow? I sure as hell don’t!
There are so many EASY things we can do with and for our kids that are just good enough. And that’s my benchmark. I just want to hit that “okay” line. Mid-way between “lousy” and “laudable”. Wanna hear a mediocre mom’s secret?
Sometimes I fake it.
It’s true. Sometimes I do start feeling a bit anxious to be in the middle of the bell curve. And so I’ll FAKE praise-worthy parenting. By searching for the easy way out, once in a while, I stumble on pure gold. Now, I haven’t found solutions for MOST of my parental problems. But DIY stuff and home decorating? That’s this lazy mom’s wheelhouse. I’ve got domestic diva tricks to fake it on the homefront that will make you blush. My deceit is so good that it’s not too uncommon for me to be able to con those model-mothers and flawless-fathers into thinking I may be in da’ club, afterall. But it’s all a sham. Take my son’s room.
Now it may not be your cup of tea, and in reality, it’s not mine, either. I mean, I’m not an 8-year-old boy, afterall. But when my son FIRST saw his room, and it looked like THIS BEFORE:
Frankly, I already knew this was gonna be a home run. In his eyes, there was nowhere to go but up. And there you have it…
Mediocre Mom Tip #1: Start with the WORST case scenario, and work your way up to “just okay.”
By assuming a starting position that is at ABSOLUTE zero, you really need to do the bare minimum in order to call it a win. This is my strategy with cleaning the house. It’s not until I see flies circling, the bathroom smells more like a port-a-john and the laundry pile qualifies for it’s own zip code that I will actually entertain the idea of cleaning. And at that point, if at the end of my cleaning spree, there are still streaky mirrors and the floor isn’t quite crumb-free, no one will dare call me on it. They are all just happy at that point to be able to remove the clothespins from their noses.
Same thing goes with decorating. When the room BEFORE looks like it crawled out of another decade, or had a case of Pepto explode in it, you really only need slap some paint on a wall, throw a small set of legos in there and maybe a bedspread that isn’t pink, and he’s gonna think you are a flipping genius. SCORE.
Mediocre Mom Tip #2: When you get an EXPENSIVE, DIFFICULT idea, try to execute it in the CHEAPEST, EASIEST way possible.
Grandiose ideas. I get them, a lot. Delusions? Could be, for sure. BUT, if I can actually pull them off, well, then that just makes this mediocre parent feel like a rockstar (temporarily, of course). As an example, let’s take this same bedroom again. We wanted to make it into a dream room for a budding train engineer, and a kid who loves all things “transportation”. So I envisioned a room with a huge train focal point. A fresco! Sure, we’ll get an artist to come in and Michelangelo this puppy!
That’s where it starts, and eventually, I’ll noodle it down to this. A simple, relatively inexpensive wall mural. And a vinyl one too boot…which means, no wallpaper paste. Basically, a giant wall sticker. And BONUS, it removes super easily. So when your son decides trains are out, and skateboarding is in, you just peel that train right off. No wall damage done. Wanna try it? Here’s what you’ll need:
***Meat/Potatoes readers…START HERE***
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DIY wall mural installation supplies:
DIY wall mural how to:
1.) Make sure wall is clean and prepped.
Applying a vinyl sticker over a bumpy surface won’t work well. The wall needs to be smooth for the best possible results. Similarly, make sure the wall is free of dust, etc. If you have JUST painted, wait AT LEAST 24 hours for the paint to completely dry before moving forward with the installation of your mural. Remove any faceplates for electrical outlets that may be situated in your installation area. If you’re aiming for mediocre, like me, just dust the wall off with the bottom of the shirt you’re wearing, and call it a day. Consider your wall “prepped.”
Lazy caveat: Do you see in the image below that I was too lazy to paint the WHOLE wall? Yep, I left the original pink paint underneath where the mural was going to go. I wouldn’t do this again. You’ll want to make sure there is a light or neutral color behind your mural. Ours was not completely opaque, so if I look really carefully at the lighter areas of the mural, the line between the two wall color shades can be seen a bit. Next time, I’d try to be a little less lazy, and just paint the whole wall a neutral shade in advance.
2.) Install Panel #1.
If your panels come like ours, you’ll have bleed, or excess on both the top and bottom of the mural that will be trimmed off once the whole thing is installed. You can see that excess in the picture above. The mural comes rolled up like a poster, in a tube. And it will be adhered to a backing. Start by unpeeling 4-6″ or so of the backing off of panel #1 (they should be labeled if you have multiple panels). Having your mural abut a corner makes installation a bit easier, as you can use that 90° angle as a bit of a guide for positioning that panel. Make sure that you are applying the panel completely straight using the corner (if available) and a level.
Once you are happy with the position, use your putty knife/squeegee or credit card to get the panel stuck firmly to the wall.
It’s best to go back and forth in overlapping horizontal swipes, making sure that every inch of the panel has been gone over with your tool. This will help prevent air bubbles. Once you’ve gone across that section horizontally, go back and wipe vertically, also, making sure to cover all of the currently exposed surface area of your sticker.
Then, pull another 8″-12″ away from the backing, and continue the same technique with your tool. Horizontal swipes followed by vertical. You will continue this process until the entire first panel has been applied, and you’re happy with the positioning.
If things start looking like the sticker is not going on completely straight, stop. Peel back the panel from the wall, and re-position.
2.) Install Panel #2.
You’ll now follow the same exact process as above, only using the first panel as a guide to position that second panel. You want the image to line up properly from panel to panel. Peel back that first 4-6″ of backing from your mural, and position it to match the first panel, then get your tool and begin the adhering process for panel 2. Some murals, like ours, will format the panels so you slightly overlap the second panel onto the first. Others will not have an overlap, but instead align directly adjacent to the first (making sure there is no gap between the panels).
3.) Continue process until entire wall mural is adhered to your wall.
4.) Trim excess from top, bottom and overlap of mural as needed.
The need to do this step will again depend on your specific mural, but on ours, we had bleed on the top and one side that needed to be removed. This is accomplished with a utility knife. Make sure to use a new, sharp blade to get a clean cut. Typically, you will be trimming bleed from areas such as a corner, so that will serve as a guide for trimming. In the image below, the moulding is serving to guide the cut. You will also need to trim the overlap so you can’t see a bulge at each seam. We used a level as our guide a utility knife with a SHARP blade. Cut right down the middle of the overlap. Ideally you will just cut through the two layers of the mural, but if you score the wall that is not a big deal. Once you have made your cut, peel back the side of each panel, remove the excess pieces and fold back together. This will give you a perfect seam. Now repeat this for each overlap.
And there you have it. An easier means to an end for a pie in the sky idea in my son’s room. And doesn’t look too mediocre at all, right? Now, I’m off to do some more observing. AKA sitting on my duff and pondering some more stellar “fake outs” for other current family/parental issues. Particularly:
- Finding a way to fake working out.
- Developing a method for sending my daughter to school with a her hair styled in such a way that it looks like we actually do own a brush.
- Getting credit for attending a PTA meeting without actually being there.
Will let you know if I come up with any lightbulb moments for any of the rest of my fellow C-average parent friends out there. We gotta stick together.