Saturday, 4 March 2017

It's okay not to be a perfect Montessori parent

I recently read a blog article about the Montessori method that left me feeling a bit sad. While I normally enjoying reading anything and everything about Montessori, this particular time, I finished up doubting my choices as a parent and feeling not good enough. 

I started thinking a bit about my own blog and the feeling I leave you with, dear reader, if you see the activities we are doing, or read the articles I share on here. I truly and deeply hope that you do not read blogs (mine or someone else's) and leave with a feeling of sadness or inadequacy. 
It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

I created Welcome to Mommyhood to share my family's experiences and journey in many things - cooking, recipes, DIY, homeschool activities, expat life, all the topics. Since then, it has of course evolved and transformed into something a bit more concrete with a heavy influence from the Montessori method (but not exclusively). 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

I want this blog to be a source of inspiration and to be an uplifting and happy experience for those that come here. I never want a parent, caregiver, reader to leave feeling negatively about him or herself. 

Which makes me feel the strong need to share something important with you. Bloggers are no different than you! I promise! Look, here's the thing. As a blogger (or vlogger), we only share a small snippet of our days. We share the best moments. We share the moments when things are picture perfect, or mostly even staged. 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

That's because when things aren't picture perfect, we are in the trenches handling them rather than taking photos or filming. When my son is upset and angry with me, I'm not filming or taking photos because I am helping him through those emotions and I will not disrespect him by filming that. When he's being 'sassy' and saying he refuses to clean up his toys, I'm not snapping photos because I am trying to diffuse the situation and understand why he does not want to do this. 

There are few times that I share my son completing works. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, I am very cautious to show photos of my children on the internet. Of course this has to do with their safety. My priority is being a parent before a blogger. Other people make different choices that work for them and I say, more power to you! But my husband and I tend to be very cautious about this. 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

The other thing is that Natasha especially is too young to give me consent for taking her photograph and placing it on the internet. Now that Y is older, I have shared some photos of him because he is able to say to me whether he minds or not. Mostly, those photos still are from behind so you can see the work being done, but his face remains off screen. Usually though, the camera is just a distraction so I avoid it during moments of actually doing the work. Often in pajamas. 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

This means that I tend to show our learning activities in photographs before they are used by my son. It doesn't matter too much, but it does only show a tiny part of how we function. How we learn. How my son really uses the materials. I explain how we used them, but you don't get to see it. 

You don't see the meltdowns. You don't see me losing my patience. You don't see me struggling. You don't see my children struggling. You see a small bit of our day. That's it. 

The reality is that every child learns and excels in a different way. Just because certain activities or a certain way of learning works for my family, it does not mean it will work for you. That is perfectly fine! Just because I show so many activities on this blog, does not mean you need to apply them to your home. Just because we have a pretty Montessori inspired set up, doesn't mean you have to! 

Blogging about Montessori

Montessori is important in my home. For my family it means so much more than activities on a shelf. More important even than the materials, Montessori is how we see the child. It means we treat our children with respect, kindness, and dignity. We talk to them. We explain things to them. We give them choices, freedom, love. 

For us, Montessori a lifestyle. Montessori is following a child and giving them a loving, caring environment to grow up in. You do not need to buy every single Montessori material or provide countless trays of activities to be a Montessori parent. And you certainly don't need to do this to be a good parent! 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

My home isn't perfect. It's not a Montessori oasis of perfection. That's not my goal and honestly, I never want you to feel that you need to do this in yours! Personally, my kitchen isn't done. It's basically a few scrap wooden counter tops screwed together and we're using an old gas cook top. We have this because our house is still under construction, but it hinders my son's ability to help me prepare meals. 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

It's reality. It's unfortunate but I refuse to beat myself up for it. My son has plenty of other opportunities to be independent and learn life skills. We're not going to go into debt to finish our kitchen sooner so we'll get to it when we get to it. Other house projects are coming first. 

Again, this is real life. Just because we have an imperfect kitchen does not mean that we are not using the Montessori approach well enough. It's enough. My husband and I are enough for our two children. 

I am enough. With my slippers, wheelchair, gray hairs, tired eyes. Even on the days I lose my patience. I am enough. And so are you! 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

You are enough for your children. 

Bringing our home to a Montessori standard is a constantly evolving process. Our children are constantly growing, changing interests, and we are evolving in our tastes and preferences as adults, too. What Montessori means to you, how you interpret Maria Montessori's method, how you apply it to your home is up to you and should be based on what works for you. 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

We still lack storage in our home. My husband is building an extension to our home that will be used to keep our out of rotation toys. For now, our storage and play area have become one. It leaves the room feeling cluttered. But we have to wait a few more weeks for that to change. It's reality. It's fine. 

I work with what I have to create as inviting a space as I can. The plastic bins are a part of a play area. I'm fine with it because they keep tiny lego pieces in place. Lego pieces certainly cannot be rotated out though - Y uses them every single day. This is our play space and I love it because it's functional and has so much sunlight.  
You see, blog posts showing our homes are meant to inspire and give ideas for what works for us, but they aren't meant to shame or brag. At least definitely not on this blog, nor the blogs of my friends. We just want to share our passions and help others who may need it. 

Even as a blogger, I find that difficult to remember at times. I see something explaining how one should adopt the method and remember all of my own shortcomings, whether it has to do with setting up my home, presenting activities, or how I parent.

Just as we say that every child is different, I think every parent is different and unique. We develop and engage with our children differently, in our own special and beautiful way. We are exactly what our children need, more than the environment, more than beautiful materials. Our children need us. 

It's okay not be a perfect Montessori parent by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #montessorihome, #parenting

When my son is going to be older, he will not care one bit how I stored his lego materials! You know what he'll care about? The countless hours my husband and I have spent building lego creations with him! The never ending stories we have listened to about what his creations are and how he can use them!

My son, like most children, will care about the engagement, the memories we have made with him, not whether we have his lego toys stored in a beautiful basket of just the right size or a practical and somewhat unattractive plastic bin! 

Yes, Dr Montessori most definitely had a point that we want children's materials to be presented beautifully, but that should not come at the cost of feeling poorly about your choices or purchasing items outside of your budget.  

Parenting is a difficult job. I think blogs are wonderful resources for sparking ideas, for sharing experiences, and creating a community of like minded folks. However, I hope you don't feel the need to adopt everything that one blog or another shares. 

Welcome to Mommyhood is meant to inspire not to preach a dogma. We use a heavily Montessori influenced approach to living our lives. It works for us, but I will never tell you that you are using Montessori wrong. I will never tell you that you have to do something you see on here. Montessori is not a one size fits all approach. It's about following the child. Your unique, beautiful, amazing, perfect child! 

This blog is about creating meaningful moments with our children and I hope to add positivity to your day. I create learning materials not just for parents, but for teachers, too. Keep that in mind, lovely friends. 

This very long article is simply meant to say one very important point- you are a great parent! You are enough! And you are awesome! 

And one more thing - I am happy to communicate with you! If you ever have any questions, comments, requests etc, please get in touch with me. You can leave a comment on a blog article, write me on facebook in a private message or email me. 

So tell me

What are your favourite blogs? 
What do you love about the Montessori Method? 

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Today, I am linking up at:  A little bird told me, Preschool and kindergarten community, Tot school Gathering PlaceThe Thoughtful SpotLove to Learn LinkyThe Mommy Club Resources and SolutionsLink and Learn, TGIFHip Homeschool MomsPractical Mondays