Friday, 6 January 2012

some thoughts on blogging, motherhood and a high-five from us...

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I have blogged on and off for years, but it was this past year that I discovered the realm of the play-blogger and really found my niche (at least I hope so!) Searching for fun ideas to do with Vin, I came across a vast and supportive network of moms, daycare providers, teachers and passionate people. People who care about the kids in their life, who know the importance of play, who understand that what a child needs stretches far beyond stuff and video games that 'read' you a bedtime story.

These blogs offer endless playtime inspiration, opportunities for fun and learning. But more than that, they offer encouragement, support, validation. Everyday I question the decisions I have made with my family, I look around at my friends and the things they do differently, I think back to how my mother raised me. I wonder what is the *right* answer. When I came to play-blogging, I had a suspicion about playtimes, about childhood, creativity, learning, development; through other blogs I have learnt so much, understood my child more, uncovered opportunities everyday - I truly think I am doing the best job I can, and it is through the words, wisdom and insight of these bloggers.

I have only been blogging here for a short time (in fact, today marks my three month blogoversary) but I feel that I have been accepted into this community. And that is such a great inspiration in my life. Too much of motherhood and working with children is undervalued and isolated. Too often we are forced into battle with other moms because of how they chose to feed their children or how quickly their kids aquire skills. I have always thought this was completely the wrong way round, when you are thrust into a new world of complete uncertainty and responsibility, we should be rallying round, offering support, understanding - feeling our way through the dark, together. In the blogging community, sometimes I found there is a silent competition, as if there are a limited number of readers and post ideas, and that new bloggers are out to steal from you. To blog is not just to write a post and send it out into the world, you have to be stylist, photographer, editer, writer, webdesigner, marketer, networker, nurturer of your baby space in the Internet. There are blogs out there that only show you the perfect, post-worthy, photogenic parts of life, but childhood is not picture perfect, and it can be nerve-wracking to hit 'publish' on a post of  'mess' your child has made, their chocolate smeared faces and admit when you have got it wrong, underestimated, overestimated or had a complete playfail.

I'd like to introduce you to some of my favourite blogs from this year - most of them you have probably heard of, but I hope there will be some new discoveries here too.

The Imagination Tree - you might remember Anna was one half of the 30 Days to Hands on Play Challenge that we undertook in November. The first post I ever read was this one about printing with peppers and I remember getting excited when I realised this was a UK blog (since so many blog in this genre are American based). Since then we have been inspired by recycled material Christmas trees (here's our version), DIY Moon Sand (you can see how we played with it here and here) and we discovered our favourite playdough recipe (as you can see in this post)

Nurturestore - another great UK blog and one I check every couple of days for play inspiration. Each week Cathy puts together a Play Planner with fun for each day (our Small World Farm was included in this one). Our Chocolate Playdough Cupcakes were inspired by this post, recently we have been playing with snow playdough and reindeer food. Cathy also has a great e-book full of playdough ideas that we are working our way through!

Meet the Dubiens - this blog is full of sugarysweet kids ideas and it always makes me happy to visit. Jill makes amazing lunches for her two kids, and is the main inspiration behind our kiddo lunch posts. I also love all the handprint/footprint/thumbprint art, this Lego and Car Table and we are going to whip up some of this Bubble Bath Paint for our belated Secret Santa gift

Pre-School Play - another UK blog, written by another Cathy. I noticed this blog initially as Cathy is a childminder working with under fives, which is not only a great source of inspiration to me in my own practise (the links to EYFS at the end of each post are an excellent feature), but also reminding me it is possible to have kids, a job in childcare and blog about play without getting overwhelmed! I think the first post I read were about these amazing discovery bottles which are always on my to-do list. Our playdough stress ball-oons were inspired by these ones and next week we are definitely going to make some coloured spaghetti for one of our letter 's' activities. I love that each post has a reminder about being child led and process driven, which is something I think we should all take to heart with our kids.

hands on : as we grow - Jamie was the other half of the play challenge and a great supporter of our endeavours throughout the month. As I have a little teararound on my hands, I love that there is an entire category of energetic play ideas - in fact I think I have found a kindred playspirit in her love of lists. - our favourites: 30 ways to play with balloons, 34 ways to play with playdough (love this one, of course) and 30 dirty kid activities

Teach Preschool - I consider Deborah's blog one of the 'heavy weights' in the play-blogging world but she is one of the biggest championers of small blogs too - I love to check out her Facebook Page where she features amazing projects and links every day (I have seen the mighty Teach Preschool influence when our Coffee Playdough was featured!) As well as great art projects (our puffy paint gingerbreadmen were inspired by these ones) Deborah shares lots of inspiration about her classroom set-up but it is really the passion and love for her job that shines through every post that I find quite infectious!

Minieco - I don't remember who first pointed me to Kate's blog, but I remember the recommendation saying something along the lines of 'I have a total colour crush on this blog' - now I do too - check it out and you'll see why. I love the mix of adult-friendly projects like this pencil crayon jewellery and Space Invaders weaving and activities the kiddos love like natural dyes for homemade playdough and DIY pavement chalk. You should also check out this list of Boredom Busters (not least because some of our ideas are featured.) I just noticed Kate is also about to publish a book, 'Eco Friendly Crafting With Kids' which is now on my wishlist!

So friends, what blogs would get a high-five from you? Leave a link in the comments and feel free to shout out your own page too!


  1. I'm new to the play-blog sphere myself, but I'm rapidly developing some favourites myself.
    Let the Children Play is one of my favourites:
    Australian based teacher at a progressive preschool.

    Also love Teacher Tom:

  2. Two more of my favourites - I love Teacher Tom, whenever I feel doubtful of the decisions I make as a parent there is always some reassurance and inspiration there

  3. Thank you Charlotte - I really appreciate this online community we have too. I'm really glad to have met you.

  4. Thanks for the lovely write up- a great post!


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