Not that I have achieved a complete zen in this household with a 6 month old and four dogs, but I have to start somewhere, right?
I stumbled across this post, and it has changed my perspective on everything to do with raising Willie. Montessori was not a word I had ever heard before and now I am kicking myself for not doing my research earlier.
I have been absolutely obsessed with the Montessori method. Seriously, look at my search history from yesterday.
Willie is only six months old, but I feel like I am failing him everyday. I know, it’s pretty dramatic to say. But it’s true to an extent.
This is my first time with a baby, ever. I can’t think of a time BB (before baby) that I spent significant time with a baby.
Sure, I had taken a parenting and children course in high school. I know for a fact that I made millions of posters about child development but the only piece of information that stuck was trust v mistrust.
When William turned 4 months old and he would look at me expectantly with his big, blue eyes I couldn’t help but feel like I have been failing him by simply not knowing what to do with him.
But the key is, I don’t need to do much with him really, at all.
Thank you, Maria Montessori!
In a very short and vague description, the Montessori method is an educational philosophy that believes the most pivotal time in a child’s life is between birth and 2 years. In that time children should be taught confidence and independence- not by a teacher, but by their environment. This blog’s resource page was super helpful for understanding what I have so far.
I cannot get enough of the Montessori method for these reasons:
Montessori is child lead
In this world of mommy shaming and terrible, click-bait columns, crunchy mom vs silky mom cliques (that’s really a thing, now?), and all of the conflicting information in regards to every single important baby topic, ever- child directed learning takes a whole lot of pressure off most important- mom.
And more prominently, it makes a whole bunch of sense.
I would much rather take cues from the tiny dictator himself than be pre-occupied about whether he hit this specific milestone or not.
This mom has a new role and that is to observe as well as interact without interfering with him.
For example, he really wanted his red ball (pictures are featured below). Instead of giving him the ball when he was struggling, I sat back and watched what he would do. This little shit pulled the blanket to him to allow the ball to come within his grasp so he could grab it. It’s incredible how capable babies are.
Montessori is a hands-off approach
To be honest, having a baby attached to my hip 24/7 is really not my style. I would be so stressed out because I wanted to hold Willie all the time but then at the same time more stressed because I needed my space, too.
The Montessori method has given me so much relief because it’s all about taking cues from your baby, then creating an environment that they will interact with and benefit from independently.
I related to this post on such a spiritual level. Especially that she gets alone time, with kids at those age levels. Ugh, what a dream.
I found could implement instilling independence instantly (nice alliteration, Amanda). Before Montessori, I felt so guilty if I wasn’t playing with William every time he was playing, and then I would feel guilty for setting him up with some Elmo so Mum could maybe shower today. He is probably SO sick of me.
Now, I encourage Willie to do his own thing while I watch from a distance. I make sure he has a safe space and enough toys to keep him entertained. I still will get down and play with him, as well as talk to him while he is on the floor. I just don’t feel the need to hold him all the time like I had been doing.
These pictures were from our first day while I watched to see what he would do. He loved trying to chase his red ball.
Montessori is Practical
My biggest seller is that Montessori encourages babies and children alike to do things on their own. Seriously, it’s a dream come true. Babies and kids are capable of doing things without your assistance. According to the Montessori method, they prefer it.
I’m not sold on that entirely yet, as William won’t always hold his bottle. But Willie did want to feed himself tonight at lunch and dinner, and he did such a great job.
Before learning about Montessori I would have fought with him over the spoon so he wouldn’t poke his eye out. Today, I took a leap of faith and trusted (maybe not entirely) that he is capable of doing it by himself. And I am happy that I did (Although, he did get himself in the eye once). Dinner was so much fun, he ate more than he usually does, and I was so proud of that little man.
Montessori is minimalist friendly
This was the most important for me personally, because a minimalist lifestyle is the ultimate goal. Willie has so many Elmo toys, plastic rattles, teethers ect. that I lost count. I forget about toys, and they’re scattered in every room of the house. Montessori is minimalist friendly because it focuses on quality instead of quantity. Not only quality of the toy itself but in the quality of entertainment for the child.
Montessori homes have a few toys that are accessible for the child to choose independently. The toys are usually made out of better quality materials such as choosing wooden blocks instead of plastic blocks. Toys are supposed to be more realistic because children learn by imitating their environment, therefore they should learn with objects that make sense. The toy selection is almost curated, based on their interest in the toy and where the child stands developmentally. Once the toy hasn’t been played with for awhile you swap it with something else. Less toys = less mess for me to clean up (oh, and in Montessori homes children are expected to do most of the cleaning of their toys).
I have SO MUCH MORE to learn. But I am excited to learn more. I haven’t been this excited in I don’t know how long. Did I say that I can’t get enough Montessori, because I seriously can’t get enough.
In just two days, without buying anything, I was able to change so much about our lives. I feel so much more confident in being a mom.
I have to say, that this blog has been such a gift for me. To the point where I almost sent Elaine, the author, an email thanking her for everything she’s done for me- which I never have done before. I didn’t do it, but I was thinking about it which counts for something. She’s got such a great voice for writing, very real and personable. A great photographer, and her blog is so clean and organized. I spent HOURS reading through it, so I wanted to share.
Please share with me what you’ve implemented in your household that has changed your life, I would love to know!