How Montessori Has Made Parenting More Fun

This feels taboo but I think it’s important to normalize: parenting, especially toddlers, can be monotonous. It can also be incredibly challenging. It can also be absolutely wonderful! While those might all sound like opposite experiences, most of us experience a range of all three emotions, and then some. Let’s start with the monotony: Children thrive on routines and toddlers love reading the same books and doing the same kinds of activities over and over. This doesn’t mean we do. Sometimes keeping up with the routine and the sameness feels boring. Other times there just isn’t time to feel bored because parenting feels completely overwhelming. Toddlers are figuring out who they are, how to navigate big emotions, and where their place is in this world. That process is intense and challenging. Whether you feel bored, overwhelmed, or any other “negative” emotion in your parenthood journey, know you aren’t alone. Especially in the time of a pandemic, parenting is HARD.

What we don’t want though, is to be in such a rut or so frustrated that we can’t ever enjoy our time with our children. We want to experience the joy too. I have personally found that Montessori has given me more ways to stay engaged, more tools to deal with challenges, and more joy to our days at home together. Sometimes it’s a shift in our routine, sometimes it’s the kind of activity we do, and other times it’s simply a mindset switch. Below are a few of the ways Montessori has helped me to find more joy throughout my parenting journey.

Photo by Megan Hooks Photography

Photo by Megan Hooks Photography

Geeking out on child development - The more I read about child development, especially from a Montessori viewpoint, the more interested I am in my own children’s development. When I have a better understanding of what changes are happening in their brain and body, it makes it even more fun to see how that unfolds in their play, behavior, and interactions. Understanding sensitive periods makes me appreciate what my children might be especially drawn to or needing at different phases. You can check out my favorite child development books on my Bookshop storefront.

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The power of observation - Observation is a key piece of the Montessori philosophy, and I find that the more I observe my children - their new skills, interests, challenges - the more interested I am in their play. I enjoy making little mental (or physical) notes about how they engage with materials or what new way they use their hands or body. It can be so interesting to see how they find new ways to use an old material or experience an “aha” moment with something they previously ignored. It can also be telling when I simply notice they need more time and space to use their imagination through open-ended and pretend play!

Photo by Megan Hooks Photography

Photo by Megan Hooks Photography

Rotation to Spark Interest - Rotating materials and toys based on my children’s interests and development can spark interest for them, as well as for myself! I am usually just as excited to see my children engage with a new material as they are. Of course, it’s important to note that we never want to rotate materials that are still being enjoyed by our children, even if we, ourselves, are bored with them! But when it is an appropriate time to rotate in some new/old materials, it’s okay to enjoy that process too. Sometimes I make DIY or themed materials simply because I enjoy doing so!

How Montessori can Make Parenting More Fun - Montessori in Real Life

The Value of Planning - Part of observation and toy rotation involves planning ahead of time. I find it extremely helpful to have a place to jot down notes at the beginning of the week, during the week, and at the end of the week. Making plans, observing, and reflecting at the end of the week can give even more meaning to my days at home and the skills, activities, and challenges I am working through with my children. If this sounds like something that might interest you too, check out the new Montessori Parent’s Planner, free when you sign up for my newsletter!

How Montessori can Make Parenting More Fun - Montessori in Real Life

Finding joy in everyday tasks - Doing chores is not something that innately brings me joy. However, I have a newfound appreciation for these tasks since having toddlers. They do find pure joy in practical life tasks such as sweeping, scrubbing, and doing laundry, and therefore I find meaning in modeling these everyday chores and letting them help in small, or big, ways. It helps me to see the value in contributing to and keeping our family’s space beautiful. The more I model, the more they participate. And even when they don’t join me, they often use this time to play much more independently. What’s more, I often end up quite enjoying the calming process of cleaning once I get started!

How Montessori can Make Parenting More Fun - Montessori in Real Life

Following Each Child’s Path - Parenting, especially with the influence of social media, can feel like one big competition. We see every other child’s highlights and milestones and we make comparisons. The more we compare, the less content we feel, and the more pressure and less joy we feel in parenting. If Montessori has taught me one thing, it’s that every child is different and that we wouldn’t want it any other way. Children have their own interests, their own timelines, and their own challenges and strengths. Embracing my own children’s unique personalities and paths has made parenting much more enjoyable.

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Doing Things With and Beside Them, not For Them - As parents, we give so much of ourselves to our children. As we should. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also maintain our own hobbies, work, and time. Montessori emphasizes helping children help themselves from a young age. This gives toddlers a strong sense of control and satisfaction, but it is also meaningful for us as parents. My children know that I will play with them, but they also know there are other times we will work alongside one another. They know I am not going to do things for them that they can do themselves (but that of course they can ask for help.) It is so important for all of our happiness and sanity to have a balance of playing together, apart, and alongside one another.

How Montessori can Make Parenting More Fun - Montessori in Real Life

Appreciation for the bigger World - Montessori philosophy emphasizes the importance of connection to the natural world and one’s community, large and small. As I teach my children about new places, plants, people, and animals, I often learn (and re-learn) right alongside them. Not only does this keep things interesting for me, but it is such a delight to see the big world through my childrens’ eyes. There is such a look of wonder as we take a walk in the woods, see a caterpillar up close, or travel to see new places and meet new people. I can feel that wonder too.

How Montessori can Make Parenting More Fun - Montessori in Real Life

There are a hundred more ways I find joy through Montessori and parenting and also a hundred ways I struggle with parenting. My experience and your experience is valid. But when the days are especially long and hard, I hope this helps you find a few more ways to find and spark that parenting joy. And to remember we are all in this together!

How Montessori Has Made Parenting More Fun