Easter 2017: a lesson in less is more

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(Photo courtesy of Yann Coeuru, Flickr Creative Commons)

Happy Easter, friends! And, happy spring!

It truly is a glorious time of the year here on the East Coast of the US. Azaleas and cherry trees in full bloom, sunshine, birds singing, new life.  And, Easter, a very special holiday tradition from my childhood, one that I’ve always wanted to share with my own children.

I love traditions, both the high holy religious ones and the everyday ones that give rhythm to our days. And, as the parent of young children I sometimes find myself worrying “we have to create our own family traditions now while they’re young!! What are we going to do for (fill in the blank with a holiday) to make it special?”

(Since Halloween wasn’t really celebrated in my or D.’s families growing up, we’ve chosen to skip that holiday for now. And, we only this past year, E. being three years old, decided to do the whole presents under the tree for Christmas.)

My holding back, so to speak, on the whole holiday celebrations thing stems from my journey into RIE parenting, Magda Gerber’s approach to childcare. One of my favorite quotations of hers is “do less, enjoy more.” That sentiment, together with her reminder to parents that “earlier is not better,” has helped me worry so much less about when my children will accomplish X or do Y or learn Z.

Her words have also reassured me that everything in its due time, including family and religious traditions.

And, so, Easter 2017. My attempt at simplicity and less. Continue reading

A “yes” space: an update one year later

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(Photo courtesy of Donnie Ray Jones, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last winter, I wrote about how the creation and regular use of a “yes” space transformed both my parenting and E.’s independent play. In case you’re unfamiliar with the RIE concept of a “yes” space, you can read about it in depth here.

Today, almost a year later, I’d like to follow up that post with an update to give you an idea of what the “yes” space has meant for our family.

According to the RIE philosophy, a “yes” space is a 100% safe, gated play space where infants and toddlers regularly spend their time. A young child ideally would spend all of his indoor non-caregiving (diapering, bathing, meal times, naps) time in this space. Its nickname “yes” refers to the idea that a child, while in her play space, is free from the “no’s” of “Don’t touch that!” or “Stop doing X!” It is a place where a child can move, explore, and play freely. It is physically safe (furniture is bolted to the wall, outlets are covered, etc.) and safe from adult interference in the child’s play and safe from an adult’s frustration because a child dumped over the trashcan or knocked the dirt out of the plant in the living room.

And, although it may sound contradictory to many (it did to me at first!), the child’s play space is gated to ensure his physical and emotional freedom (Montessori’s concept of “freedom within limits”) and to invite deep and imaginative play. Continue reading

Community and support: Online parenting forums

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(Photo courtesy of Sean McGrath, Flickr Creative Commons)

Two facts I know to be true about parenting:

It’s hard.

It’s not meant to be done alone.

That’s why community is vital in our growth as parents.

Community can come from our extended family helping us as we transition to life with a new baby. Or, from being part of a church, or synagogue, or mosque, or a tight-knit neighborhood.

Community support can also be virtual, on-line.

And, while I know that many parents are skeptical of taking advice from strangers in a parenting Facebook group, and while I recognize that some on-line forums have a reputation of drama, chaos, and lack of focus, I’d like to share with you all a curated (very curated because I have indeed had to remove myself from some “high drama” groups!) list of Facebook groups and pages that I recommend you check out.

They are divided into two major categories, Facebook groups and pages. Within”groups,” there are three sections: respectful parenting, educational philosophies, and multilingual parenting.

The titles with * are my top favorites, ones I recommend with zero reservations, ones that I personally turn to and participate in for constructive advice on parenting with respect.)

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

On my bedside table {current reads}

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(Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn, Flickr CC)

Oh, wow, it’s been a while since I last blogged. Sorry for the radio silence, amigos. It’s been a rough two months with this pregnancy, but I’m feeling much, much better now, and I’m glad to be back again around the blog. The upside to spending a few weeks on quasi-bedrest is that I got to READ!

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you might remember that one of the running series here is “on my bedside table:” books, articles, and other blog posts I’m reading and recommend. Continue reading

My journey through pregnancy: preparing for bebé 2

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(Photo via Frank de Kleine, Flickr CC)

I’m officially 23 weeks and five days pregnant today. That’s over half way to the end!

When it hit me the other day that I’m almost to the third trimester (week 28), I began to think about the difference between this pregnancy and my first. It’s true what they say that no two pregnancies are identical, even for the same mamá. And, this mom has matured and changed a lot since her first pregnancy.

Here’s how I am preparing for bebé número dos (which, by the way, is a boy!): Continue reading

A “yes” space: fostering independent play

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(Photo via Arielle Calderon, Flickr CC)

Let me introduce you to a concept that has been a GAME CHANGER for our family:

A “yes” space for E.

Although I learned about this RIE concept several months ago, I never actually implemented it (not sure why…) until almost three weeks ago. And, the results have been amazing! Continue reading

Do we truly see our children? {Montessori, a point of departure}

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(Photo courtesy of Joe Hayhurst, Flickr CC)

I’m about half way through reading Dr. María Montessori’s book The Secret of Childhood. If you are interested in learning more about the Montessori philosophy of life and learning, then I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s a great place to start!

Instead of waiting until I was done with the book to write a review of it on the blog, I wanted to share with you a page from chapter 2, “The Accused,” that stopped me in my tracks. It’s a section that, in my opinion, adults and parents must understand – a starting point, if you will – before they implement any of the other more well-known, practical, parts of Montessori, like the learning tower, or work trays, or child-sized furniture, or neatly-arranged low shelves. Those are secondary.

To prepare you to read Montessori’s words, consider this question: What if, in order to fully and most clearly see our child, we adults have to be the one to change?

I’ve broken down the rather long quotation into bits to give the words time to sink in, and also to share with you how each particular part has influenced me as a new mother.

Continue reading