I’ll never pretend to own the key of success in education or saying that our principles will do good for every mom and child. But I want to share with you a little bit of our experience as a family, hoping that these little things we do will help someone who is struggling with their little ones.
First of all, it all starts during pregnancy, or even sooner. The reality is that in parenting you first take the exam and then you learn the lesson that makes you go “Aaaah, that was it!” Still, there are things you can do and learn ahead of time, so that you don’t lose you mind later.
1. Read, read and read some more
I read many books and articles, many were in vain, until I realized that only authorized people and specialized doctors are capable of teaching me about my baby’s sleep and development, about breastfeeding and things that a woman goes through during pregnancy and after. Someone else’s experience may be of great use, of course, but it’s better to search for an uninterpreted, correct information in a veracious book.
Also, I think that everybody knows the benefits of reading with your baby, even from birth: developing the imagination, memory and subsequent vocabulary, increasing concentration, creating a peaceful environment and a healthy ritual that may influence the baby’s future. It’s amazing for me to see how passionate Emma(3 years old) is about books and not only stories, but books about maths, astronomy, biology, zoology, calligraphy and many others that are right for her age. Basically, we do “lessons” almost every day, only if and what she feels like, but usually I have to decline her because it’s what she wants to do all day. But I always find something interesting for her to do around the house hold and she’s sold. That brings me to the next idea…
2. Involve you child in your daily routine around the house, anytime he or she wants
Emma was about 6 months old when I started looking for activities that she might enjoy, in accordance with what I was doing at the moment. For example, I was asking a 6 months old baby to help me place daddy’s socks back in the drawer after they’ve been washed. Of course they ended up scattered across the house, but one day, don’t know how and when, she understood the idea of order and she found great satisfaction in doing her job. Now she loves doing things her own way and I rarely interrupt her. Sometimes she finds better solutions than me and I love seeing her mind at work.
3. Respect your child if you want to be respected
I will be respected by my child if I first show respect, keeping my authority as a parent but considering my child’s wishes and personality, and counting all the extra factors.
Until now I never faced a tantrum that I couldn’t control, but hey, I don’t know what the future holds. Still, I think that treating Emma with respect help build her lovely character today. I always thank her for doing something I asked, without falsity, I always say “please” and I ask for permission to pass if she’s in my way. Also, I never say “Don’t!” without explaining the cause and effect problem. For example, I don’t say “No.” and that’s it, I usually say “If you have another snack you might feel ill later and even if you don’t, it’s not healthy for you.” I hold her anytime she needs me to, I always tell her how much I love her and assure her that I understand her wish but we can’t only do what we want to, we have to do what needs to be done. And that pretty things might actually be bad for us even if they look appealing. And so on, until constant communication, expressed love and shown respect are the 3 main pillars in our relationship.
4. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’
This is a Biblical perspective, but trust me, it’s such an important thing to apply in the relationship you have with your child. Emma still asks me only with a look if she’s allowed to do something, and I give my answer the same way. Usually she obeys but sometimes she keeps bringing arguments by whispering from a distance and I love it. I have to use that “No.” tone very rarely, but when I do she knows it’s something important, because she doesn’t hear it very often.
She listens because she trusts me. Because I always kept my word ( I hope so 🙈) and she saw that cause and effect thing, that I was talking about earlier, is real and exactly how I described it. This is probably the hardest thing I do everyday, in my relationship with my toddler. For example, if we cook and she drops something on the floor I politely ask her to put it back up. When she was maybe 12-18 months old I had to go there, stay down at her level and explain why she needs to pick things up. With a very sweet and tender voice. I never pick things up for her, the only exception is if she can’t do it or asks for my help. It’s hard but so worth it! She cleans up after herself now without me asking and she does it because she understands, not because I push her to do it.
5. Declutter your home from unnecessary things and let your baby explore the house, not only the crib
Well this is a hard one. 😅 It’s easy to forget the baby’s right to explore and learn about the world or at least about the house. It’s hard to give the baby the possibility to learn what’s allowed in the bathroom, kitchen or hallway. It’s hard to be there, constantly explaining why it’s not ok to do or touch a certain thing, especially when the baby seams too little to understand. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t put a stop to my life just to crawl with my baby all day long 😅. But I tried to teach her about everything surrounding us. What’s positive about this is that after explaining the same thing a couple (or hundreds) of time, your baby won’t be interested in the same object again. Soon your baby will learn your home and will observe very quickly if something new appeared. So you can let your baby play with plastic bowls while you happily do the dishes. 😊 Emma sleeps in a floor bed since she was 4 months old and Anna didn’t have a crib at all. That way, when they wake up, they can go and have some water or play a little until they get changed (that’s for Emma and what I’m hoping for Anna in the future). It’s so easy! Especially while breastfeeding during the night.
There are many more things to say but I’m gonna stop here. I will talk later about our experience with the Montessori method. Until then, it’s important to remember that we as parents need to put some extra effort in the relationship with our children. Maybe it’s hard to give up on our comfort and time, but the fulfilment in our familial relationships it’s so rewarding. It’s amazing to see how children learn from us and build their character. We are partly responsible for the adults that they become and that’s huge!
You know, some things work and some don’t. But seeing my children happy and well makes me look forward and I realize how blessed I am to be their mother, even if I’m constantly exhausted, truly sleep deprived. These years will pass and I don’t want to look back and think that I should have known better. I want to be able to say that I did the best I could and that I tried. I tried to be a good mother. Don’t know if I succeeded, but at least I tried.