Montessori Baby

The author, trained as a Montessori primary teacher (AMI), documents and analyzes her efforts to raise a "Montessori" baby.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Returning to "Real Life"

When I was teaching, I found the winter holidays to be a much-needed break from the classroom. Often, they were also an excellent chance to reflect and make plans for the future. This holiday season was very similar for me as a parent. As Alex and I traveled, taking time off from our everyday life, I found myself looking forward with enthusiasm to the opportunity to make some changes upon our return.

First, Christmas refreshed our supply of toys, materials and books. I so appreciated my friends' and relatives' thoughtfulness in choosing gifts for Alex. They seemed to really consider his interests (and perhaps my preferences as well) when they shopped. This has had a very positive impact on our lives; Alex spends long periods of time concentrating on maneuvering beads along wire runners, fitting shapes into various containers, and opening and closing lids. He comes away from the tasks seeming grounded and satisfied, which is great for all of us.

The communication surrounding eating and nursing are still shaky for us, so I also decided to begin making a snack regularly available to Alex at his table between meals. I hoped that, in this way, he can be more independent about satisfying his need to eat. Though we still use a regular cup at meals, I offer him a small rubbermaid waterbottle with a built-in straw for his drinks and place finger foods in a covered dish on a tray to keep snooping dogs at bay. When he shows an interest in the food, I help him into his chair. If he begins to stand or to try to dump food on the floor, I ask "All done?" and remove the tray. Eventually, I hope to add a clean-up procedure that Alex can participate in.

Upon our return, we also reestablished our nighttime routine of spending the last thirty minutes to an hour of the evening in Alex's room with the lights low. Typically, my husband and I alternate every fifteen minutes to give each other a break and to allow Alex a little time with each of us. We have no set agenda during that time except that I will nurse at some point. This seems to work well.

Finally, I created some more space in my life to devote to the things that keep me healthy and happy both physically and mentally. Newly equipped with a jogging stroller, I take Alex out three times a week. I've mentally sketched out a few "fixtures" for each day that give it a sort of rhythm, and I'm committed to keeping the house neat - something that drastically affects my mood. By taking care of my own needs, I feel certain that I'll be better able to attend to those around me.

It seems to me that distance, reflection, and change are vitally important in Montessori and in life in general. I hope that the new routines and mindset that I developed over the break bring our family more harmony, growth, and satisfaction, and I hope that anyone reading this post finds restful breaks from life to do the same!


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