Interview with Emma (@play_at_home_mummy)
There are some truly inspirational people in the Instagram play community.
I have learnt so much, am continuously inspired and am forever encouraged by them.
What better way to celebrate this wonderful community than sharing some of my absolute favourites with you over the next few months!
I thought the gorgeous Emma from @play_at_home_mummy was a great place to start!
Emma is a Sydney mum to three girls, she is EC & Primary trained and is such a wealth of inspiration and simple every day ways to play with your little ones.
I asked Emma a few questions about her time at home, parenting, challenges and everything in between so pour a hot cuppa and lets get stuck in!
What does a typical day look like in your house?
A typical day for us is built around sleeping, eating and play ☺️ The girls wake and play until I get up with Adaline, and then we have breakfast and play (this is typically the time when I have time to do a planned activity with them while the baby sleeps). The girls play independently most of the day, while I watch and listen in for any ‘teachable moments’ where I can jump in, and we tidy up a few times a day to ‘reset’ the play.
They eat lunch at 11 and then have a nap or rest, and after naps is more play, often outside or we will go on a walk. We tidy again before dinner at 5, have a bath and then the girls have a short amount of tv time before we read a book and go to bed.
There’s also the usual amount of chaos, crying and breaking up arguments throughout the day that you’d expect with three kids 😂
How would you describe your parenting/teaching style? Do you follow any specific principles such as Montessori?
I’m very much a child-led parent and teacher – I’m inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach which I learnt a lot about while I was studying teaching, and I love reading about and am inspired by the Montessori philosophy, but we are not a Montessori family nor am I Montessori trained.
My teaching and parenting follows where the girls lead – if I recognise a need in them, I will fulfil it.
What was the thing you were not prepared for when you first became a mum?
I was very unprepared for the sleep deprivation 😅 that was without a doubt the hardest thing to deal with as a new parent.
As a third time mum it doesn’t affect me as much, but the first time round it was rough both mentally and physically and I found it made the first year as a parent extremely difficult.
I didn’t love motherhood the way I do now, back then.
Have you always had a playroom? How has it evolved over time?
Since Miss 4.5 was about three months old I started to curate a space for her in our house. It’s evolved A LOT since then – it takes a lot of time to get to where we are now!
When I started I just started gathering materials and resources that I thought would stimulate her, I did a lot of discovery baskets and diy things and made her a comfortable and accessible space on a big mat with baskets, rugs and pillows ☺️
It evolved as she grew and then again when Miss 3 was born, and when I joined Instagram when Miss 3 was 1.5, I got so much inspiration for continuing to curate their play space!
What things do you think are most important in a play environment?
In a play environment I think the most important thing is to make things accessible for the children to be independent in their space. Shelves at their height, toys set out so they can easily get them off shelves, stools if there is anything out of their reach, and inviting play invitations that draw them in.
It’s also important for it to be tidy and ordered (most of the time), because it promotes a respect for their belongings and makes play sacred. I always think of their space like I think of my whole house – it’s important to take pride in it because it reflects the importance of the people inside it
When do you make your wonderful DIYs, do the girls help?
The girls help with some DIY’s! It depends what it is.
They often help if I’m painting, but if it’s something that involves a knife then they don’t, but they always enjoy watching and asking me what I’m doing
The hard days, how do you manage? Do you have a go to that helps everyone reset?
The hard days are hard! I find reading a book together or having a ‘treat’ together – like sitting all together and eating a chocolate – really helps to reset bad moods for all of us.
When things are really falling apart we often have quiet time – all of us in separate rooms and calming ourselves down (me included!) for a few minutes.
I also find it helps to get out for a quick walk when things are going downhill at home!
Do you have any advice for families just starting their play or home school journey?
For anyone just starting – one thing at a time! It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what you see on Instagram. Just start with the most important things – your kids. What do they like? What interests them? Make a list.
Think of resources you might use or things you could make to stimulate their interests.
Find a space (or spaces) in your house and figure out what furniture you have that could fill it.
Make another list. Just do everything one step at a time, things fall into place after a while I promise!
What inspires you?
My biggest inspiration is and will always be my children.
Everything I do centres around them and all my ideas are based on what they have shown me they need in one way or another.
I’m also inspired by the many other incredible mothers and teachers that I have met through Instagram, some of whom I’m lucky enough to have met in real life, and others who I’ve built amazing friendships with through Instagram.
Thank you so so much Emma for sharing a little bit more about you and your wonderful family. You have been such an inspiration to so many!