“Don’t be such a Dory, Dory” – Positive Self-talk and Growth Mindset

I usually try to do something productive during James’s long morning nap…but sometimes, if it’s been a rough night, I am just too tired.  Last week I was having one of these days and decided it was the perfect time to watch Finding Dory.  I love children’s movies and was way too excited when I saw that this was available on Netflix!

I absolutely loved the movie, but one line has really stuck in my mind for some reason: “Don’t be such a Dory, Dory.”  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie (you really should!), the main character says this to herself when she is frustrated by her inability to remember something.  Maybe it was just my sleep deprivation, but this line made me so sad and really got me thinking about the importance of cultivating confidence and self-love.  There are a few things I’m trying to do to help little James develop a positive self-image.

Modeling Positive Self-talk

I see James watching me constantly and know that he is taking in everything around him.  What an awesome (terrifying?) responsibility to be someone’s role model for how to be in the world.  With this in mind, I’ve been trying to be intentional with how I talk about myself.  I admit this feels a bit silly sometimes.  For example, I might say to him, “I’m proud of myself for running this morning when I felt really tired.  I feel so strong now.”  Negative self-talk is so prevalent in our society and I want to show him that it’s okay (even great!) to feel proud of himself and to be confident.  Along similar lines, I try to mention when I’ve “failed” at something or made a mistake, and state that it’s okay.  For example, “Whoops, I left too late for story hour and now we’re late.  That’s okay, I’m sure they’ll still be happy to see us.  We’ll just leave earlier next time.”  I personally have a huge fear of failure, which has definitely held me back from trying new things at times.  I want to do what I can to show him that mistakes are a part of life and the important thing is to learn from them.

 

 

I also absolutely love a music company called Growing Sound.  Their goal is to spread positive self-talk in children through song. I loved using their songs in the classroom when I taught and love playing them / singing them for James.  It’s definitely worth it to buy their cds, but you can also stream all of their music online for free, which is pretty amazing!  They have a song called “I Can do It,” and I actually heard one of the girls in my class singing it to herself when she was struggling with something one time – it was pretty incredible!

Growth mindset – Praising Effort

We talked a lot about growth mindset in my Montessori training, and also used the concepts in the school where I taught.  I can’t do this justice without making this a ten page post, but the basic idea is that it is important to praise effort rather than results.  This helps instill in children the belief that they can improve and the understanding that making mistakes is part of that improvement.  I have found this to be more difficult with my own son than it was in the classroom – I want to tell him he is wonderful and amazing all of the time!  I try to focus on acknowledging his effort though.  I tell him I see him working hard at learning to crawl and that he should be proud of himself.  I am obviously proud of him every day for ridiculously simple things, but I don’t want him to get the idea that he needs to do things to make me proud.

Avoiding Name Shaming

This is the idea of protecting a child’s name as a key part of his identity, and thus avoiding using it in a negative way.  To protect his name, you would avoid using it in a negative way or when correcting behavior, to prevent the child from having negative associations with his own name.  This honestly hasn’t come up yet, as James is much too young to “misbehave”.  I do think it is important though and plan to try my best to avoid it as he grows.  For example, I would try to say, “we walk in the grocery store,” instead of “Stop running James!”

I don’t know how much of a difference any of this makes at this point.  I do know that I am forming my parenting habits and language now and it will be easier to start these practices from the beginning than to change habits later on.  I want to do whatever I can to keep him smiling when he sees his reflection in the mirror 🙂

Does anyone have experience with supporting self-confidence in children?

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Thank You Parking Lot Mom

I’m still experimenting with the best way, for me, to take James to the grocery store.  I’ve tried wearing him in the K’tan wrap, but sometimes he’s fine with being in there…and sometimes he’s not.  So I’m always a little anxious if I go that route.  I also haven’t used the wrap all that much so, while it seems pretty simple, I definitely prefer to have a mirror handy while putting it on to make sure I’m doing it right.

The other option is keeping him in his car seat and putting it in the grocery cart.  He always seems okay with this, but it leaves little room for groceries, especially at stores with smaller carts, like Trader Joe’s.  So lately, I’ve put him in the cart and carried two reusable bags over my arms and simply put the groceries in there.

I went to Trader Joe’s on Friday, but as I was attempting to put his car seat into the grocery cart in the parking lot, the cart kept rolling away out of reach.  After this happened two or three times, the nicest mom of a toddler came over and so kindly helped me…without making me feel like an idiot 🙂  I’m sure I would have gotten him in there eventually, but her kindness, lack of judgement, and the fact that she bothered to help when she had her hands full with her own busy little guy, made my day.

I had heard so much about the “mommy wars” and about how judgmental mothers can be of each other, and I must say I have not seen this.  I’m sure it is out there somewhere, but all I’ve seen is empathy, understanding, and humor.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky so far, (or maybe I’m too tired / preoccupied to notice the judgmental ones…) but I wanted to say thank you to all of the experienced mothers out there who are helping out us newbies.  It makes such a difference.

 

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Preparing for Solid Food

Preparing for Solid Food

I can’t believe it’s almost time to start giving James solid food!  While our pediatrician said it would be okay to start now, we’re following the WHO guidelines and waiting until six months (or at least close to then).  I want to wait until he’s sitting up on his own anyway.  That doesn’t mean we haven’t started preparing though!  I’ve been doing several things to start familiarizing James with food and the eating process, and so far it’s been lots of fun.

Grocery Shopping

For a while, I was grocery shopping on my own, usually early on a weekend morning while James was asleep.  This was certainly easier and quicker.  However, I do think that involving children in grocery shopping and cooking can really encourage them to be adventurous eaters, so why not start now!  I admit, I feel a bit spacey when I take him grocery shopping, mainly because I’m trying to get it done quickly, but I do try to talk to him a little about what we’re buying and show him some of the beautiful produce.  I may get some crazy looks from other shoppers as I talk to little James about sweet potatoes, but that’s okay 🙂  I’d like to make it to the farmers market with him soon too, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Including him in Cooking

I love to cook and can’t wait for the days when James can help me in the kitchen!  For now though, I try to include him by placing him on a blanket right outside the kitchen, in a way that he can see me.  If he’s not busy doing something else, I’ll bring over the ingredients, especially fruits and vegetables, for him to look at.  I also talk to him about the smells and sounds he may be noticing.

Including him at Meal Time

We do not always manage to eat dinner before James goes to bed, but at least a few nights of the week, we try to have a “family dinner,” where James sits on my lap.  It’s so sweet to watch his eyes intently follow my fork to my mouth as I eat.  He’s just started trying to grab my food off of my plate too (though he grabs everything, so I’m by no means assuming that he’s trying to eat it).  This may be a less relaxing way to eat dinner, but it is definitely entertaining.  When we don’t manage to have family dinners, I at least try to eat a snack while sitting with him at some point during the day.  He always seems highly interested.

I have no idea if any of this makes a difference, but I enjoy it and see no reason not to include him in daily life as much as possible.  It seems to me like maybe eating will be more fun and make more sense when the time comes if he’s already somewhat familiar with how it works.  I would also love to find some beautiful photos of food to give him, or a book about food with great pictures, but haven’t done that yet.

Does anyone have any tips on including babies / children in meal time and preparation?

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Thoughts on a Floor Bed

I have pretty much zero talent with design.  I am simply not a visual person.  However, I very much believe in the impact of a well-designed environment, on adults and children alike.  I certainly saw this when teaching in a Montessori classroom, where simple tweaks in the organization and flow of the room could alter behaviors and classroom dynamics.  Thus, I was excited to design the little buddy’s room when I was pregnant.  I read many blog posts and articles about Montessori baby rooms, and couldn’t wait to put it into practice.  One thing I was the most excited, curious, and anxious about was the floor bed (a simple bed or mattress on the floor, rather than a crib).  I loved this idea, but wasn’t sure how well it would work in real life.

While I planned to use a floor bed, I had read that new babies liked to be in more confined spaces.  I also wanted to keep James close for the first few months, so we chose a lovely bassinet, gifted to us by my parents.  We set up James’s floor bed in his room, and put the bassinet in our room by our bed.  I chose one of the larger bassinets, with hopes that he could stay in there longer, until he was ready for his floor bed.

Things did not go as planned (shocking, I know).  When we brought James home from the hospital, he slept terribly the first few nights.  I put him in the bassinet awake; I put him in asleep; every time resulted in crying within a few minutes.  I thought he just had his days and nights reversed, as happens with many newborns.  One night, when he started crying, I took him into his room, figuring that at least this way, my husband and I could take turns sleeping.  There was no reason we should both be up all night.  This was what led me to first put him in his floor bed as a newborn.

It was an instant change!  He still of course woke often to eat, but he slept for hours at a time, for the first time since we’d brought him home.  No more constant wake-ups and tears!  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m still not sure what he so strongly preferred about his floor bed versus his bassinet, but he certainly made his opinion clear.  Perhaps the mattress was more comfortable, perhaps he liked being closer to the ground, perhaps he could see me better and felt safer.  I have no idea.  I feel so lucky though that we had that option available, or who knows how long it would have taken him to accept sleeping in the bassinet.

Another benefit has been the ease of comforting him when he has trouble to fall asleep.  It is so easy to lie next to him and put a hand on his belly (or back, now that he rolls over), without having to pick him up.  I think this has helped him learn to fall asleep independently (though this is still a work in progress).  I imagine this would be far more difficult in a bassinet or crib.  Also, since he has been sleeping in his own room from the start, we won’t have to deal with the struggle of transitioning him out of our room when he is older and more aware.  As he goes to bed around seven o’clock, we don’t go to bed with him, so he is already used to going to bed in there on his own.

The only downside has been that, due to the SIDS prevention recommendations of sleeping in the same room as the baby for the first six months, either my husband or I sleep next to him on the floor on a camping mattress.  This is obviously not ideal, but it’s only for a few more weeks.  We considered moving his mattress into our room, but didn’t want to create a future challenge of transitioning him to his own room later.

So far, our experience with the floor bed has been overwhelmingly positive.  I’m curious to see if this remains true as he gets older.  James is fighting every day to become more mobile.  His crawling attempts right now look more like swimming, with only his belly on the floor, limbs flailing, but I know it won’t be long until he’s moving about freely.  I very much hope that he adjusts well once he’s mobile and that the floor bed continues to work so well for our family.  We shall see!

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Welcome Little One!

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On September 27 we welcomed little James into the world.  He arrived at 10:31 AM at 8 pounds, 10 ounces.  This is the story of his birth.

We headed to the doctor’s office on Monday, September 26 for a regular morning appointment.  Nick decided to come along for this one, since it was getting close…thank goodness!  My doctor told us the disappointing news that I had made no evident progress toward going into labor.  I was two days away from 41 weeks, when they normally induce, but the doctor said she could do an ultrasound to see if baby could hang out in there a little longer.  The ultrasound showed that he was running out of fluid and I would need to be induced that day!  This was a bit of a shock but I was so excited!  I had been waiting for this day for so long and couldn’t believe we were going to meet him so soon!

getting-started

We went upstairs to the hospital and were told we were in for a long day of waiting around.  Since I was hardly dilated at all, they were giving me a drug called Cervidil to try to move things along.  I would have to be on that for 12 hours before starting Pitocin, the main induction drug that prompts contractions.  It sounded like a long day of waiting around, so Nick headed home to get the iPad so we could watch Longmire, our Netflix obsession of the moment.  By the time he got back an hour or so later, I was in so much pain!  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had had an extremely strong reaction to the drug and was having intense contractions about a minute apart.  I didn’t even know they were contractions because I could not feel any break between them.  This was unusual as this drug does not even usually cause contractions.  I stayed on this drug from 10:45 AM to around 5:30 PM, at which time the baby’s heart rate dropped, a million people rushed into the room, and we went through one of the scariest moments of our lives.  A nurse pulled the drug, put an oxygen mask on me and someone gave me a shot to slow down the contractions.  They were too frequent and intense, and it was cutting off the baby’s oxygen supply.  This was terrifying as no one told us what was going on, since they were rightly focused on making sure the baby was okay.  I searched the room for Nick, but all I could see was medical staff and equipment.  I was so scared for the rest of the night and prayed that he would make it out safely.  My contractions continued steadily, so I did not need the Pitocin for another twelve hours.

My parents arrived soon after the scare – it was so nice to have them there!  They hung out with us for a few hours and then were back first thing in the morning to await the baby’s arrival.

My water broke at around 2:30 in the morning, making me throw up and shiver all over even though I was not cold.  It was a very strange feeling.  This made the contractions even more intense and I asked for an epidural, which they agreed to even though I was discouragingly only two centimeters dilated.  I had been having strong, frequent contractions for about sixteen hours at this point.  Fortunately, I had my favorite of all of the wonderful nurses during this part of the night and she made me feel one thousand times better.

The epidural brought immediate relief.  I still couldn’t sleep, but I rested and thought about all of the excitement to come.  At this point, I was thinking I might have to have a C-section as I didn’t seem to be making any progress and the baby’s heart rate would periodically drop, though never so dramatically as before.  My doctor arrived to check on me at eight in the morning and let me know I was nine centimeters dilated and it was almost time to start pushing!  After virtually no progress the entire night, this was exciting news!  Things moved quickly from there and once I started pushing, he was born in about 40 minutes.  I was so determined to get him out before his heart rate dropped again.  I could not believe how perfect he was when he was placed on my chest.  I have never been so excited and happy in my life.  Things have only gotten better since then, as we adjust and welcome the newest member of our little family.

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The Beginning

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Two weeks ago, I left my job (for a while, not forever) and am now sitting at home in an empty baby nursery waiting.  Waiting for my first baby to make his appearance and looking around the room wondering what else should be done.

I am a Montessori teacher, AMS certified for children 3-6.  I also attended a wonderful Montessori school from preschool through middle school.  My mom and sister are Montessori teachers as well.  Now that I’m a little over 39 weeks pregnant, I am thinking a lot about how to apply the Montessori method with our little one when he arrives.  This blog will chronicle my attempts to transfer the philosophy I love and believe in to raising our son.

In my last few weeks of teaching, a few of the parents commented that I must be so prepared after working with so many young children.  Yes and no…I feel very prepared for a three or four year old, not so much for an infant.  I know that the philosophy is the same, but in terms of specifics, I have a lot to learn.  My hope is that I can share what I learn along the way, while gaining advice from others.  I also plan to post copious amounts of baby pictures and general life updates, because I know I won’t be able to help myself.

Why the “ish”?

At the heart of Montessori is of course observation and experimentation and that is how I plan to approach this next step in my life.  I assume that this will often be in line with traditional Montessori ways…and sometimes not.  I’m definitely going into this journey with an open mind, rather than following a set formula for how to raise a child “the Montessori way”.  I will always do what I think and believe is best for our family, and will share our struggles along the way.

Thank you for joining me and welcome!

Up next…the nursery, Take 1

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