Last year I was given a copy of Holly Wainwright’s novel The Mummy Bloggers to take with me on holiday. It's the story of three women competing for a prestigious blogging award – the career mum, the stylish mum, and the earthy country mum. Aside from being a great beach read, the events which unfurl in the book feel scarily close to reality.
It seems almost like an exposé on they way some social media accounts today feel incredibly stylized, portraying life with young children as idyllic, filled with designer clothes, immaculate bedrooms and playrooms that seem strangely un-played-in.
I must admit to being somewhat of a social media newbie – I only joined Facebook and Instagram in late 2016, and mainly for the purpose of giving Busy Bookworms an online presence. Since then, I have come across many of these slightly creepy accounts, which are sadly draining the confidence of new mums struggling to hold it together and adjust to the messiness and craziness of life with kids. Feeling socially isolated and trying to connect with other mums via social media, only to be confronted with highly staged, unrealistic images to which very few new mums could compare their own lives must be incredibly dispiriting.
However, I have also come across some fantastic websites and social media accounts, filled with great ideas for activities to try at home with young kids. These are sources of practical advice and useful information, and do give a sense of being part of an online community of like-minded families. Not too surprisingly, many of the mums who run these accounts are former kindergarten or primary school teachers who are now at home with their own children, and who use online platforms to share activities and ideas with other parents. I have found some very inspiring accounts to follow, so I thought I’d share some of my favourites!
Some websites are fantastic resources for lots of different things: activities, recipes, educational resources…here's a few I love!
picklebums.com – Early childhood teacher and mum-of-four living in rural Victoria, Kate shares gorgeously simple craft activities, yummy recipes as tested on her own family, and some fantastic free printables too. I made up a copy of her drawing challenge cards recently and my kids were happily drawing for ages – a big hit!
happyhooligans.ca – I love the way Jackie's crafts and activities are sorted by season and type of activity – water play, messy play, sensory play, outdoor play etc. She also has some extensive lists of books for early readers, which are a fantastic resource.
There are also great sites with step-by-step instructions for easy STEAM activities (Science Technology Engineering Art Maths), often with accompanying videos – these are useful if you’re feeling a bit nervous about trying something new.
babbledabbledo.com – Ana’s theme is “Connecting through creativity” and she shares a fantastic range of activities for kids under the umbrellas of art, science, engineering and design. Each activity is clearly broken down and explained with the help of easy-to-follow photos, and her range of D.I.Y. toys is super cool!
handsonaswegrow.com – Mum of three Jamie divides her activities by age, which is very handy. You can find awesome ideas for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids, in areas of science including nature, technology, water, upcycling and a great range of simple experiments.
Some sites also offer awesome ideas for gross and fine motor activities to do at home with kids, many of which are fun games to play when you’re stuck in the house on a rainy day.
themeasuredmom.com – Anna is another teacher and mum who shares activities for early literacy and maths (I love the ideas for introducing graphing with young kids!), but if you search ‘motor skills’ on her site you’ll find a heap of purposeful activities that are so much fun, your kids won’t even realise they’re working!
pinkoatmeal.com – Don’t let the name fool you, this site is nothing to do with a strange coloured breakfast food! Chanda is a physical therapist who shares lots of information about gross motor development, and a huge range of activities to do with young children, many of them yoga and movement cards to use as ‘brain breaks’ with your kids. Some need to be purchased, but there is a free range as well, and they’re really cool – I’ve used several in Busy Bookworms classes. Ever tried Outer Space Yoga?
For bright, colourful activities requiring only simple, easy-to-find supplies, I love:
@cintaandco - Jacinta's account is a pleasure to look at, with its gorgeous use of bright colours, but the main reason I'm a bit of a fangirl is because this inspirational Melbourne mum has really fun, practical and achievable STEAM activities for kids, many of which also help with fine motor skill development.
@acraftyliving - Olivia is a Sydney nanny to a 1, 3 and 5 year old whose Insta will leave you in awe over the cuteness of it all, and will also give you lots of ideas and insights into play–based learning.
@the_paige_diaries – Each month, mum and early years teacher Lycie shares a fabulous range of easy-to-prepare activities around a particular theme – colours, messy play, sorting etc. And I’ve never seen so many awesome uses for pompoms!
There are also some fantastic accounts sharing brief reviews of the latest and greatest picture books, such as:
@picturebooksblogger – I love how this account shows not only the cover of all the fabulous books, but some of the more spectacular illustration spreads from inside the books.
@kidlitpicks – This account shares books around a different theme each month: non-fiction picture books, art, wordless wonders, embracing our differences etc. If you’re looking for a selection of books to help raise a particular issue with your kids, this is a great place to start.
@kids.books.we.love – This Sydney mum shares not only what she loves about the books she reviews, but the thoughts of her 5 year old daughter as well. They way she pairs the books with matching toys to make her photos super cute is a nice touch too.
And similar to the websites, some Instagram accounts offer a bit of everything: craft, science activities, food, motor skills practice and more…
@prekpages – Preschool teacher Vanessa shares everything from snack ideas and playdough recipes to counting activities and beautiful crafts – love it!
@iddlepeeps – Sydney mum Nicky shares delicious, healthy and kid-friendly recipes alongside simple and innovative craft ideas, like frozen fruit juice painting!