Daisy is mum to Ewan, 4, and Florence, 2. We discovered her frankly sanity-saving easy game ideas on Instagram (@fiveminutemum) and wanted to find out more.
Tell us about the idea behind your blog, Five Minute Mum?
I noticed a while ago that there are loads of great blogs and social media folk who share the realities of parenting which makes us all feel a whole lot better about the stuff we all do as busy, tired parents. I also noticed there are brilliant blogs with ‘Activities for Children’ but these are often run by very organised teachers and the games sometimes seem complex and require teacher style equipment! So I wanted to bridge the ‘blogging gap’ (I am aware that sounds knobby!) between these awesome groups of parents. I was a Teaching Assistant before being a full time mum, but I’m also a frazzled parent who loves a bit of me time or a quick win. So I use my old teaching skills and current exhaustion to invent easy games for little kids, that are fun, often educational, use stuff you will already have a home, and only take five minutes to set up. Simple wins that make parents feel great about themselves. But if they don’t work – it doesn’t matter. It only took five minutes!
You are great at coming up with fun-but-educational ideas! Where do your ideas come from or do you take inspiration from things as you go along?
Thanks! My biggest inspiration is my own mum and her mum, my nan. Both have great imaginations and always invented games and fun things for us to do as kids. But as a Teaching Assistant I often worked with children who had unique learning requirements, and this challenged me to be inventive in how I taught. I use this same principle in my games. My son isn’t a fan of learning letters and writing but loves trains and cars, so it started off by just trying to be creative to get him interested in knowing his letters through toy cars and went from there. Now I just make it up as I go along or people message me with the challenges their own children have and I enjoy thinking up a new five-minute game for them!
You’ve already had lots of positive feedback online to your five-minute activities. Why do you think parents are responding so well?
I think ‘Five Minutes’ just seems achievable doesn’t it? They are so quick to try out, and easy to understand so I think it just suits busy parents or grandparents. Also, I think this pre-school and starting school age is quite tricky for parents. All of a sudden your children are required to know things! You need to actually TEACH them something that feels proper (not just how we don’t wee in the toy box). You start hearing whispers of things like phonics and numeracy and you think – argh, what is that? I have a friend who’s a cardiologist – she quite literally saves lives on a daily basis – who was totally baffled by her daughter’s nursery literacy expectations! The idea behind my blog is that it breaks it down and means parents can do short activities that feel like you’ve taught them but in a fun, easy way so the kids don’t even realise. No pressure, all fun and most importantly, minimal effort!
What’s the best activity you can recommend for parents desperate for five minutes’ peace? (I.e. which one will keep them the most quiet!)
Well obviously we all know one episode of Peppa Pig is the biggest winner of five minutes peace. Ha! But my ‘Ice Smashing’ activity has definitely been very popular for that reason. Pop toys into cups of water and freeze them, then let the kids smash them out with a spoon while you lie in the sun. Things like ribbons and elastic bands take even longer than five minutes for them to release I’ve learned – excellent! It can be found on my blog post – 5 ideas for fun in the sun.
Finally, we’d love you to share a five-minute activity with us!
I’ve decided to share The Spider’s Web because it only requires a pen and paper and I’ve had lots of photos from parents of their kids enjoying it, which I absolutely love to see. With all my games I always suggest using my ‘Golden Rule’ which is set the game up and let the kids come to you. It’s always easier that way and means they don’t realise it’s something you actually WANT them to do. I often write lists (don’t we all?!) so with this game I just sat to do that and when my son asked what I was doing I replied asking if he wanted to help me make a Spider’s Web. He did.
The Spider’s Web
1. Write the numbers 1-20 randomly on a piece of paper and circle each of them.
2. Tell your kid we need to make a web joining up all the numbers. Draw a little spider if you like! Start at one and ask ‘so what’s next?’ and ‘where is it?’
3. Let you child find the numbers and you join them up. Make it seem like it’s totally hilarious each time you criss cross the page.
4. If your child wants to, let them join the numbers (pen skills!) If they get stuck start back at one and retrace over your web (counting skills!)
5.Celebrate getting to 20 like a cup final win, then stick the kettle on.
My son’s interested peaked halfway through the second web, so he pottered off to play and I wrote the list of jobs I’ll never complete in peace!