The year has begun...
I haven't found my feet yet. So far I have not been coping very well with the big changes that have slammed our family.
I'm just getting my head around my new job (yikes I hate that incompetent, clumsy feeling of starting something new), having a husband in full time work (I need to adjust my expectations of what he is able to help out with at home), Bear in daycare (just getting to and from in time is pushing me to the limits!! Then I bring home an extra tired toddler two days per week) and gestational diabetes (changing my diet, monitoring my sugars, squeezing in extra appointments, managing my anxieties and irrational fears...).
I am an exhausted, emotional mess. I have only just been dragging myself through the days.
So Bear's Montessori has taken a back seat. I have barely even seen him over the last 2 weeks between trips to Sydney, trips to Bathurst and work! Each time I do get a little time with him he seems to be a different kid.
All of a sudden he's inventing these complicated games that he plays by himself. Like getting his tip-truck out with a basket of blocks. He loads the truck up then tips them all out. Over and over again. I really miss being able to watch him all day and keep up with what he's interested in.
I have made some progress so we can get started as soon as I do find my feet.
I've made room to store Bear's things when they are off rotation so I know where everything is and I can get to them quickly and easily. Board books in one area. Big toys and empty baskets/trays in another.
A music section. Small materials. Art supplies (lots of room for more!). Puzzles. Miniatures.
Finally this week I get to spend some time at home. Our new routine will start properly and give us some reprieve.
We can slow down.
I'm just going to hang out with my boy.
Get to know him again.
No more changes for now.
Bear started walking at 11 months and has become more stable and agile since then. He didn't naturally embrace the independence this mobility offered him in the way I expected him to. I think being quite cautious and anxious he was intimidated by the suddenly larger world he had access to. He was happy to be carried around and still is.
This really didn't bother me until recently. He's petit so he's no trouble to carry. I love his cuddles and he's extra sweet and clingy when he wants to be held. I'd made a few half-hearted attempts to encourage him to walk for himself but it never stuck. The tantrums put me off and it's so much easier to keep him safe when he's in my arms. It's also much quicker to get where we need to go and to get things done!
As with the floor-bed the time has come!
(Poor Bear - he's fallen victim to his mother's whims! I've been re-reading Montessori from the start over our holidays and the time off has really renewed my convictions and resolve. That together with new energy from well management blood sugar levels and some serious nesting instincts with the pregnancy... Bear's being swept along a wild ride!)
Bear is a very good walker. He's stable and has good stamina. His language is good enough that he can understand instructions like "stay on the path" and "hold my hand". I'm getting pregnant enough that carrying him is getting uncomfortable. I was also (as with moving out of the cot) anxious to make this adjustment well before the baby arrives.
Teaching Bear that he needed to walk for himself was one of the hardest things we've done as parents! It definitely took planning and a determined, coordinated approach. I wonder if it would have been different if we did start as soon as he started walking? The first day was the hardest. Bear had big, frequent, intense tantrums. Everything seemed to take so long. I felt like the worst person in the world if anyone walked past. He still looks so little and he sure can look pitiful.
This quote kept coming to mind:
"This independence in the child is not to help make life easier for the adult. In fact at least initially helping children to establish independence requires a great deal of effort and thought on the adult's part. Montessori encourages us to go to this trouble for children so that they will experience the confidence that comes from not having to wait for someone else to do what is needed. It is not to help adults then that we help children to become independent in daily acts; it is to help children."
Thankfully he adjusted really quickly and he absolutely just accepts that he walks for himself now. I think it was as soon as the third day that the tantrums stopped. It felt like a lifetime at the time. He has accepted that when I tell him to hold my hand he must hold my hand. So I can still keep him safe. He's learned the rules like staying away from the road and waiting for me at the top of stairs.
I'm amazed at what his little legs are capable of. I love the way he walks confidently into new places holding my hand. He is able to walk from the library to the car carrying a book he's chosen for himself. I love that he has this independence now. It has changed the way he thinks about himself - he is a capable person who can do things for himself. It was worth the trouble.
If I had discovered Montessori before Bear was born I'm sure I would have started him on a floor-bed. I like the rationale behind it.
"We have mentioned the child-bed on the floor which gives the baby more to see , verses the crib high in the air with a limited view. From the lower position of the child-bed, the child builds a visual map of her room before she begins to move about in it and take in even more. It takes time for the child to build this visual map. Repeated experiences are necessary for the visual cortex to lay down impressions in her brain. These experiences allow the child to add the necessary visual information to her internal map for movement in her room. They build a framework for her understanding of how distance is experienced between points in her map and the relationship of those points to speed and time through movement. Thus from the beginning, they build a sensorial foundation for physics. A child-bed prepares the baby to move about in her room just at the time that her brain is ready for more information to be absorbed through her senses. Thus she can provide for her own needs and continue her own learning. She is happy because her opportunities for learning match her abilities."
However as things turned out we taught Bear to sleep in a cot and that's where he's slept from 3-months-old - until now. He sleeps like a champ and his gross motor skills haven't suffered so I have no regrets.
However the cot has been posing a few problems recently and it's time to move on.
So now's the time. We decided to make the change on the first night back home after holidays. Bear and I took apart his cot and packed it away (no turning back now).
I toddler-proofed the room thoroughly. Emptied all the drawers and cupboards.
We made sure he was well and truly tired at bed-time. Then followed his normal bed-time routine without any fuss. Amazingly he fell asleep on his floor bed after less than 20 minutes of complaining on night one.
It's been a week now and no floor-bed related disasters!! Amazing!! My favourite thing about the floor bed so far was when I went in to check on him during the night and found 2 soft toys in bed with him. He had been able to get them out of the cupboard himself and put himself back to bed without a peep.
Dubbo is a long way from our family in Sydney so we often find ourselves in the car with Bear for many hours at a time.
We have just returned from our second holiday to the South Coast with Bear. We made the same journey this time last year and had such a fantastic time we've braved the drive again. That's a 570km drive (7 hours) according to Google maps. It took us longer than that - but who's counting?
I thought that I would share some of Bear's favourite things to do in the car at 18 months.
*Anything is much more exciting when presented in a mystery bag!
Other games we play together are:
- truck spotting
- legs in, legs out, legs up, legs down
Meals and snacks are a great way to pass time. I save the sweet treats until the last 2-3 hours.
Other ways that we maintain our sanity include:
- We hit the road first thing in the morning
- We make play stops every 2-3 hours - the grown ups eat while the Bear stretches his legs
- We enforce quiet time when Bear gets cranky (Bear doesn't sleep in the car!!)
- I sit in the back and have fun with him for the last hour to leave a pleasant memory for next time :)
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.