3 Simple Mum Hacks to Encourage Independent Play + LEGO DUPLO Giveaway

3 Simple Mum Hacks to Encourage Independent Play

3 Simple Mum Hacks to Encourage Independent PlayThis post is sponsored by LEGO DUPLO and Nuffnang

LEGO DUPLO are offering three $90 DUPLO prize packs at the end of this post

What advice would you give to a first-time mum of a 2-4 year old looking for ideas on the types of learning activities to set up for their child? I am often asked for teaching (and curriculum) suggestions for this age group.

And I understand that; I was there too. And I think if I had been asked this four years ago, my answer would be very different to now. Now though, with the benefit of hindsight, I have learnt a lot and have a few Mum Hacks under my belt.


“What is a Mum Hack?”

A Mum Hack is a simple tool or strategy which makes life a little simpler.


But first, how I got here…

When Jack was not even two, I started teaching him letter of the week; s for snake, c for car, d for dinosaur. I was a new mum and I wanted to do what I thought would give him the best opportunities to learn and grow. I spent countless hours planning crafts and learning activities.

I was working part-time at the time and was trying to neatly compartmentalise my life in an effort to get it all done. I had organised time for work, time for household duties and time for Jack. It looked good on paper but it actually made me extremely anxious and stressed; especially when I was spending all this time making crafts for Jack, only to have him give it a 2 minute go or not do the craft properly.

It was exhausting, but more than that, I felt really deflated; what was I doing wrong?

Over the next couple of years I realised that I didn’t need to be doing any of this; that the best thing I could be doing was far simpler.Children Cooking in the Kitchen - An Everyday StoryCooking with Children - An Everyday Story

Mum Hack #1: Involve Children in Daily Life

I know now that the best thing to be offering toddlers and preschoolers is not crafts and structured learning activities, but an opportunity to be fully involved in daily life.

Bake with them, plant and tend a kitchen garden, draw and read together, involve your child in the grocery shopping; let them help out with the household chores.

When I stopped separating my life and my responsibilities from the time I spent with my children, I found that, not only was I enjoying my time with them more, I also felt a release from the expectation I had placed on myself to be always planning new learning activities for them.Gardening with Kids - Making a Kitchen Garden - An Everyday Story

Mum Hack #2: Recreate Real Life Experiences

Children like to play. They also want to be part of the adult world. Each time we welcome our child to be part of our daily experiences and share in our passions, we are not only nurturing ourselves by valuing our own interests, we are also helping our children to create meaningful life experiences which they will recreate through play.

The richer a young child’s real life experiences, the richer their play will be and the more likely they will be to engage in independent creative play without needing you to create it for them.

Coupled with open-ended materials; loose parts, playsilks, figurines and construction materials like LEGO DUPLO, children will be able to engage in deep, imaginative play for longer periods of time.

When young children have life experiences to recreate through play, you really don’t need to be planning their days with crafts and learning activities.LEGO DUPLO Play Ideas - An Everyday Story

Mum Hack #3: Offer Open-Ended Materials

Offer your child open-ended materials instead. With open-ended materials like LEGO DUPLO, these real life experiences can – and most often do – transform.

Often times I will find Sarah (4 yrs old) recreating something we have done together through play. Yesterday morning we had breakfast together at a cafe, today her LEGO DUPLO people ordered lunch and juice and chatted with the waiter.

A cafe soon becomes a zoo; and so the play unfolds as she adds in elements from other life experiences to create rich, imaginative play.

LEGO DUPLO is an unlimited source of creative play. Sarah counts numbers as she passes out the orders in the cafe, creates a register and gives out change; she is incorporating elements of maths and language as well as thinking creatively while she builds her own unique stories.

All the things I was trying to teach Jack when he was younger, Sarah is doing beautifully through play with little to no intervention from me.LEGO DUPLO Play Ideas - An Everyday Story LEGO DUPLO Play Ideas - An Everyday Story

Toddlers and preschool-aged children don’t need a lot of planned structured activities.

Spend that time instead involving your child in your daily life and offering open-ended materials like LEGO DUPLO and you will be helping to create meaningful life experiences for your child which they will naturally recreate independently through their play.



Upload your idea, using #DUPLOMumHacks, and be in with a chance to win a LEGO DUPLO prize pack.

I will be giving away THREE LEGO DUPLO prize packs (valued at $90 each) to three Australian readers. Each pack contains three fabulous DUPLO sets: LEGO DUPLO Airport set, the LEGO DUPLO Number Train and the LEGO DUPLO My First Construction Site.


  1. Share via Instagram:

Upload your photo to Instagram and add your mum hack in the comments, be sure to include the #DUPLOMumHacks hashtag and tag me @kate_aneverydaystory


  1. Share via Facebook:

Share your idea on An Everyday Story’s Facebook page – be sure to include the #DUPLOMumHacks hashtag to be in the draw.

The #DUPLOMumHacks competition will end at AEST11.59pm Friday 29th May. Three winners will be selected and will be announced Monday 1st June (Click here for full Terms & Conditions)

This is a game of skill and entries will be judged on creativity and originality. Click here to find out more and see the other entries.

All entries uploaded using #DUPLOMumHacks will automatically go into the LEGO DUPLO Facebook Competition, please see additional T&C’s at https://www.facebook.com/LEGODUPLO/app_1577474089196070?ref=page_internal

By submitting an entry, each participant: (a) warrants and represents that he/she owns the rights to the content submitted and that the content submitted is: (i) original to him/her and has been legally obtained and created, (ii) does not infringe the intellectual property rights, privacy or publicity rights or any other legal or moral rights of any third party; (b) grants the LEGO Group a worldwide, royalty free, perpetual license to, copy and reproduce the video or entry on the LEGO® website at www.LEGO.com, its websites and its social media channels; and (c) agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the LEGO Group against any and all claims, damages, expenses, costs and liabilities relating to trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property rights, right of publicity, right of privacy or defamation.

8 Replies to “3 Simple Mum Hacks to Encourage Independent Play + LEGO DUPLO Giveaway”

  1. A few days back I have entered my #duplomumhacks on instagram and tagged you in it . username – @dreamdream936

    1. Thank you Sapna 🙂 I’ll pop over and check it out

  2. Beautiful post, Kate!! Oh I could sooooo relate – to the things I eagerly structured and set up and tried to lead Lily in when she was tiny.. I now see were so unnecessary!! My kids learn and lead themselves so much through open ended play. Oh my, its too funny, Miles at two is currently OBSESSED with Duplo and will spend easily a SOLID HOUR playing with Duplo in his playpen. He just loves it and is so proud of all the things he builds. Im also thrilled because he and Eli can play with it together for ages too, finally a toy they can really work together well on for both their ages! Lovely post, and love love love Duplo and Lego, kids would be lost without it, lol!

  3. I love this post. I think involving kids in every day life is so important. Funnily, I just wrote a post about sorting and classifying with Duplo. It was a completely incidental learning opportunity which took place with Arthur (nearly 3) and it was lovely. I’m not going to enter the competition because after 4 kids we already have loads of Duplo!! I have to admit, children 3 & 4 get more ‘life involvement’ than our first two simply because we are so busy with household tasks most of the day, but they don’t seem to mind!

  4. lydia purple says:

    i love duplo. we have almost too much. doll houses, animals, tons of cars and trucks, the train set, airplanes…. it’s the only thing i have in the living room right now, becuase of the baby. lots of unstructured learning happening with the duplos. building the highest tower in the world ended up making the longest snake because it didn’t stand up…. and turned into counting and measuring the living room (it’s 178 duplo bricks wide). at the moment we have a egyptian pyramide build, which i am not allowed to break…. it also serves as roof for various doll houses in cardbard boxes. the baby is obsessed with the train. she is fascinated by the electrical one running on the track. she is good at catching it too.

  5. Lovely ideas! 🙂 Duplo is a favourite around here too! I’m loving seeing some Duplo posts on facebook and lots of ideas of new ways to use our Duplo too! 🙂

  6. I always learn something new from reading your posts! Thank you for sharing your wisdom! oh and big fans of DUPLO here. It’s the only toys that’s been out since the time we bought it and never went in a storage.

  7. Great ideas. Love, love, love Duplo. It’s a toy that my kids STILL play with (and they are 7 and 9!!)

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