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When I first became a mom, I thought I didn’t have a parenting philosophy, and that was fine with me. I just wanted to do what came naturally to me, to watch my beautiful new baby, and build a relationship around love and trust.


I slowly realized, though, that all I had learned through my career as a Montessori teacher heavily influenced my parenting style. I love and believe in the Montessori philosophy and way of treating children, so naturally, it was how I wanted to parent my child too.

I’m certified as a Montessori teacher for children ages 3-6, but not for infants and toddlers, so I started to read. I read books and articles and blogs, all about Montessori parenting.

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However, I realized that I wasn’t absorbing just the information, I was also absorbing guilt. Even as a Montessori teacher, I read about things I wasn’t doing the “Montessori way” and it made me feel guilty.

I realized I didn’t want to post certain things on my blog because they didn’t necessarily conform to the Montessori ideal. I questioned basic decisions I was making for my family. I resisted what I knew was best because it didn’t fit the perfect picture I had read about.

Things finally changed when I asked for help.

I tend to process things internally and don’t often talk about my struggles. I finally got so frustrated with how I was feeling that I had to reach out. I talked to both my own mother and my old boss and mentor and they both encouraged me to trust myself and reminded me that I know my son best, not a book and certainly not the internet.

Each time I made my own choice, whether or not it aligned with my “parenting philosophy,” and saw the positive results, I became a little more confident as a mother.

I want to share the Montessori parenting ideals that I “fail” to do well because it’s so important to sift through all of the information, all of the opinions, all of the noise, to find your own parenting style, to find what works for you and your family and your precious child. I never want to add to others’ feelings of failure or not doing enough and through sharing my failures, I hope it helps someone else to find her own voice.

1. Montessori floor bed

This was something I struggled with so much.

Traditionally, Montessori babies sleep on a floor bed (basically a mattress on the floor), rather than a crib. This allows them a more complete view of their environment, and also encourages freedom of movement and independence. We set up a floor bed for my son, and he started using it the first week we brought him home.

Fast forward six months when he became mobile, and everything changed.

He was able to roll off of his bed and roll around the room, but he could not yet get back into bed. While he had previously been falling asleep independently, I now needed to stay with him while he fell asleep or he would simply roll around the room and play. This wasn’t terrible but felt like a backward step in independence to me.

Most importantly, he was SO eager to play and explore, that he started only taking 30-minute naps. When his sleep cycle transitioned, he would simply wake up fully and start to explore.

Every time. For weeks.

I really tried to make the floor bed work. Trying something else felt like giving up to me because it wasn’t the “Montessori way.”

Eventually, not wanting to face the poor sleep situation in conjunction with travel, I decided to try this travel bed. It felt like a hybrid because it is still on the floor and I could leave it unzipped during the day so he could go in and out, or choose to rest. He started taking long naps again from the very first day in his new bed, and we’ve been using it ever since.

I was trying so hard to follow the rules that I forgot to “follow the child,” which is a basic principle of Montessori.

2. Montessori-specific toys

There are so many beautiful Montessori-specific toys for children, starting from birth.

For infants, this includes a beautiful progression of mobiles. They are specifically designed to appeal to an infant throughout his developmental stages and offer an early opportunity for building concentration.

I was gifted two lovely Montessori mobiles, but I did not make or purchase the rest because they are expensive and I am pretty much the worst at anything crafty.

Still, when I watched my son entranced by one of the mobiles or saw beautiful pictures on Instagram of Montessori nurseries with the mobiles we were missing, I felt guilty, like I had somehow failed my son.

This is so silly though. I let him observe the world without interrupting him to build concentration. I made sure he had beautiful and interesting things to look at, whether that was a sunny day through the window or a black and white image propped up nearby. There is no one-way to meet a developmental need, and I’ve tried to remember this as my son has grown.

There are many beautiful Montessori toys that I would love to get for him. However, I also need to consider how much they cost and how long he much he will realistically use them. His room doesn’t need to look like a page out of a Montessori catalog to meet his needs.

3. Anthropomorphic books

Montessori-friendly books for young children depict images and stories from the real world. This excludes things like talking animals or unicorns. It also excludes a lot of the classics like Peter Rabbit and Winnie the Pooh.

The purpose of this is to aid children in discovering and understanding the world around them. Very young children are still figuring out what is real and what isn’t, so having books full of talking animals wearing clothes can be confusing.

I love books about nature and real people, but I also really love some of the classic children’s literature that isn’t so realistic. We read Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, despite the bunnies in clothes. I like to explain, saying something like “animals don’t really wear clothes, but this is a pretend story.”

I’ve become pretty confident about this balance, exposing my child to plenty of real images and descriptions, and also including the less Montessori-friendly classics. It may not be fully Montessori, but I love these books and want to share them with my child.

4. A fully Montessori home

I am pretty much in love with the beautiful Montessori kitchens that I see on Pinterest. These child-friendly setups have a child-sized workspace, a water source for children to get their own water, and low shelves with kitchen tools and snacks for children to prepare for themselves.

I very much want to create something like this in our own home, but simply haven’t had the time. That held me back for a while, but then I decided that there is no need to wait until we can craft the perfect setup.

Instead, I cleared out a low drawer for all of my son’s things (glasses, plates, forks and spoons, a sponge for cleaning, etc.). For now, he can get things from his drawer. It’s not beautiful or Pinterest-worthy, but it does encourage his independence.

Sometimes it’s okay to simplify and work with what you have, even if it doesn’t live up to the images on social media.

While each of these things felt like a failure to me, they’ve also helped me think more deeply about the kind of parent I want to be. I do consider myself a Montessori parent. But being a good parent to my specific child, in my specific family, means so much more to me.

No matter what your parenting philosophy, it can be hard to sift through all of the “shoulds” out there, but it’s okay to be a little bit brave and craft your own style, your own way of doing things, that is just right for you.

You might also like:

  1. Montessori at home: 8 ways to peacefully transition into toddlerhood
  2. 7 key phrases Montessori teachers use and why we should use them, too
  3. My mornings are hectic—and other confessions from a working mom
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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

My kids miss their grandparents on a regular basis. They're obsessed with them in this completely beautiful, loving way. One set lives four hours south of us and the other set lives about three hours north. We all frequently talk about how we wished we lived closer so we could see each other more regularly because even though they're not super far (thank goodness), it still feels far enough.

Far enough to require planning visits in advance, packing our bags for those visits and sleeping over instead of opportunities for weekly family dinners or sneaking out for a midweek date night, free grandparent-babysitting included.

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But even though we don't see each other daily, or weekly even, we all make significant efforts to visit consistently. We always have plans together on the horizon. Birthdays are celebrated in-person, plays or recitals attended and often when our kindergartener has time off from school, we pack up and either go to New York or Vermont to spend our free time with them.

Except right now. Right now—even though our kiddos are not going to school—we can't just pack up and head north or south. Which has been confusing, and understandably emotional, for the kids.

Basically a lot of our conversations lately have gone something like this:

Child: "Can we go to Grandma and Grandpa's house, pleeeeeeease?"

Me: "I'm sorry, honey, we can't right now. Remember how we talked about the germs going around? We have to stay home to keep safe."

Child: "Well, when are the germs gonna be goneeeeeee?"

Me: "We aren't sure. We just have to try to be patient."

Child: "Why can't we just go to Nana and Poppas nowwww?"

And after I side-step the whining, I want to burst into tears. Because I don't know. I don't know what to tell them exactly. I don't know when we'll see their grandparents again.

I simply don't know when this will be over.

And while the kids are used to frequent FaceTimes with Nana and Poppa to stay in touch and they know they have to go through stretches of time without visits from Grandma and Grandpa, they're not used to stretches this long or only having FaceTime as an option for connection.

Even though this is our new (and temporary) normal, it doesn't feel normal. The uncertainty isn't normal. Long periods of isolation isn't normal. Only being around each other—and no one else—isn't normal.

Celebrations that were planned and family visits that had been marked down in our calendars have been canceled and crossed out. Baptisms, birthday parties, Easter gatherings—all gone.

This Easter, a time when we usually gather with at least one set of grandparents, will be celebrated by the five of us, in our home without any extended family members. We'll still hunt for eggs and eat too much Easter candy, of course—but there will be a piece of our puzzle missing in the shape of a chocolate bunny from Poppa and a ricotta pie from Grandma.

We don't know when we'll be together in person again and it's breaking our hearts.

Because they miss Grandma rubbing their back and earlobes (this is a true request) while she tells them bedtime stories.

They miss going on adventures to the farm with Grandpa.

They miss cuddling up with Nana on the couch for movie time.

They miss going on walks with Poppa to visit the ducks.

They miss smelling Grandma's meatballs and sauce cooking in the kitchen.

They miss building blocks with Grandpa in the living room.

They miss painting rocks with Nana at the kitchen table.

They miss Poppa sneaking them M&M's.

I can't help but pause and think to myself how lucky they are they get to miss these people—as strange as that sounds. I'm so proud of the relationship they have with their grandparents, how close they all are, and I know this strange period of time could never take that away from them.

The other day, my father-in-law read about five books to my 2-year-old after she grabbed my phone and demanded, "Gandma, Gandpa! Read book!" to me while dragging me over to her little fox chair in the corner. She plopped herself down—snacks included—and I adjusted the phone so she could see her Grandpa's face as he started reading. She was proud as a pickle. Happy as a clam.

She knew this was an option, because last week Grandma did it, and the kids loved it.

So for now, we'll have virtual storytime instead of in-person bedtime stories.

We'll have videos of Nana and Poppa reading and checking in with the kids instead of catching up under a cozy blanket on the couch.

We'll talk on FaceTime over dinner at two different tables, chatting about our day instead of sharing a meal together at one.

We'll have a Zoom Easter party virtually connecting under different roofs, instead of celebrating under the same one.

We'll send colorful pictures or handwritten notes in the mail instead of delivering them with our own two hands.

We'll figure it out. This is hard. But we can do hard things.

We can still laugh.

We can still see each other's faces, hear each other's voices.

And we can still stay in touch.

The connection may be virtual right now, but it's not virtually impossible. Thank you, grandparents, for still supporting our families—even from a distance.

Love + Village

Pregnancy brings so many questions, but giving birth during a pandemic can be plain overwhelming. It likely seems as if your questions are never-ending, and the more answers you get, the more questions come up.

There is likely so much on your mind right now:

Will I need to give birth without my partner?

Will I have limited pain relief options?

Am I going to be separated from my baby?

It's so much to think about, and it can feel scary.

As you think about your birth, one of your biggest fears is likely a sense of having a lack of control throughout this process. Mama, you are not alone. Thousands of couples are in the same boat, and I want to share some ways to cope with this shift.

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Ultimately, I want you to know that it is still possible to have a good birth, even if it is different than what you had originally hoped for.

As a doula, here are tips for giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Grieve for the experience you didn't get.

Hold space for yourself. Hold space for the expectations that you had for yourself and your birth experience. It's okay to be sad, or mad, or scared, or even a little resentful that this pandemic has disrupted your perfectly planned birth goals. One of the best things to remind yourself is that while you can't control what happens, you can control how you react to them.

If your difficult feelings are impacting you significantly, don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health therapist for help via virtual services.

2. Prepare for a new kind of birth.

More important than grieving the birth you won't have is finding the energy to adapt. Now more than ever is the time to get creative with how you will adjust your expectations to help you have a controlled birth experience despite the current outbreak.

A great way to start is by taking a birth class—there are plenty of online classes like Motherly's Becoming Mama™ Online Birth Class. Books can help, too, like The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, which releases on April 14th, 2020.

The Birth Lounge Membership for expecting parents is another great service to check out. Surrounding yourself with positive, evidence-based information will help you feel more confident during this uncertain time.

Look for resources that comfort and inform you.

3. Advocate for yourself.

You may find that your appointments with your doctor or midwife are canceled or rescheduled. This doesn't mean you no longer have access to your medical provider—it just means they don't think the prenatal appointment was worth the risk of exposure for you.

However, you can request that a nurse, midwife or obstetrician give you a call to answer the questions you were planning to discuss at your appointment. You aren't alone, and help is still available to you.

4. Brace for the aesthetics.

When you arrive at the hospital to have your baby, you may see a different set-up than you are used to. There may be tents set up outside, security guards and nurses at the doors checking everyone's temperature, and medical staff in what appears to be hazmat gear! What a shock this will be. So spend some time coming to terms with it, and remind yourself that even though it looks scary, its intention is to keep everyone safe.

Say to yourself, "I am safe. My baby is safe."

5. Labor at home as long as possible (with your provider's approval).

This pandemic is changing the way that people birth in so many ways. We've already seen nationwide restrictions to hospital policies, as well as restrictions around the number of support people allowed at the birth. Providers are asking patients to call before coming to the hospital and are providing screenings to all partners to assess for coronavirus infection.

If you are low-risk, your provider may encourage you to labor at home for a while.

Laboring at home can help to reduce your risk of exposure and it will also allow you to labor in your own space with your own rules and with your own people without the energetic weight of COVID-19 hanging over your head. Many providers are recommending such already.

Remember, you need to check in with your provider when labor starts. There are some essential questions they need to ask to make sure it is safe for you to labor at home.

6. Know your options.

Be mindful of the information you take in so you can make educated and informed decisions when it comes to your birth. This includes unfollowing or unfriended certain people on social media if you find that their content is unhelpful or stressful. Try to focus on reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or the March of Dimes.

One of the tough aspects of this pandemic is that expert recommendations are changing day to day—you will notice that even these organizations have opposing recommendations.

For example, the CDC recommends separating new moms and babies if coronavirus is suspected, while the WHO suggests leaving the two together for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding. Consider what options feel best for you, and speak with your provider about your preferences, understanding that hospital policies may vary.

Something else to think about is pain medication. For example, some hospitals have suspended the use of nitrous oxide as it is an aerosol comfort measure, and there is a concern about the transmission of coronavirus.

7. Find the control.

When you notice yourself feeling anxious or worried about your birth, try finding the control in the situation.

Does your control lie in laboring at home for as long as possible?

Is your control in the fact that you've prepared for months for this moment?

Maybe you've realized that not that much will actually change for your birth plans, and that's what makes you feel in control.

Remember that you still get to have a say in the care you receive. You get to decide where you birth, and you get to decide what happens to your body during this time.

If you haven't heard the recent news, the Governor of New York put out orders declaring that one support person should be allowed for every laboring person—this extends to postpartum and recovery.

8. Remember that you are not alone.

There is power in numbers. There are so many parents who are on this journey of entering parenthood during a pandemic. While this is a difficult time, it's comforting to know that you're not the only one feeling this way.

Social distancing doesn't have to mean isolation. Take advantage of the technological advances we have in 2020 to harness the power of human connection. Your online village awaits you!

This is a scary time to be pregnant, but you are strong. You are not alone.

Thousands of parents across the country are navigating this story alongside you. While this is very different from anything you could have imagined, it doesn't have to be a bad experience. You still have so much control. The choice is yours. Take the time this quarantine has presented you with and use it to prepare for this new birth experience. You can do this.

Life

Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West have four young children and after self-isolating with her kids during the coronavirus pandemic Kardashian says that's probably as many as they'll ever have.

Speaking on The View this week, Kardashian explained: "Being at home with four kids...if I ever thought for a minute that I wanted another one—that is out the door. It's really tough. Really tough."

She continued: "My newfound respect for teachers—it's like, they deserve so much. It's been tough juggling it all and you really have to put yourself on the back burner and just focus on the kids."

Kim Kardashian West Shares Social Distancing Experience | The View www.youtube.com

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"I've been doing laundry and cooking," Kardashian West explained, which suggests that her household staff is not working during the family's self-isolation.

"Today was the first day that I actually brushed my hair and put on some makeup," she explained, adding that her sister Kylie Jenner came over to do her makeup for the TV appearance, and aside from their mom Kris Jenner coming over for a 6-foot-apart chat, that's the only extended family company she's had in a while.

Her kids, 6-year-old North, 4-year-old Saint, 2-year-old Chicago and baby Psalm have not been able to see their cousins, which is hard because they're all so close. Kardashian West told The View's co-hosts that while she actually enjoys the break from her family's usually jam-packed travel schedule, she's running out of activities around the house, and that her family has watched "every single movie that you can imagine" already.

There's nothing wrong with a little extra screen time during this challenging time Kim, but if you need more activities we've got plenty of ideas!

News
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