Updated: Apr 19, 2021
"The real preparation for education is a study of one's self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit." — Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Now of course Dr Montessori was referring to teachers/guides when she wrote the above quote, but the same can definitely be applied to parents and caregivers.
Parenting can be a rollercoaster of emotions. It can feel amazing, challenging, isolating, exhilarating (sometimes all in the same day), and is without doubt one of the hardest jobs you will ever do in your life. It can feel relentless to many people with little opportunity to stop, pause and reflect. How true the saying that states you cannot pour from an empty cup.
In Montessori the prepared adult influences not just a child’s actions but also the adult’s reactions in handling any situation. And, ultimately, there’s no better help we can offer to children than our own example as humans who stumble, pick ourselves up, and grow.
A lot of parents who become interested in Montessori are also interested in how they influence and affect their children with their own actions and emotional baggage. Often parents are keen to self reflect and work on improving themselves for their children. This is in essence what Dr Montessori was alluding to when she wrote about The Spiritual Preparation of the Teacher. This can include whatever is found to be deeply meaningful for the individual. When we feel calm and mindful, we create a peaceful home and in turn nurture the inner lives of our children as well.
Some of the ways we might seek to improve ourselves are:
Reflecting on our behaviour and how we contribute to issues that may arise
Seeking to understand our own parental triggers and getting help if need be
Remembering to be kind to ourselves when we fall short
Trying to see ourselves and our actions through the eyes on our children
Taking time out to care for yourself can remind you and others that your needs are important too and that you value yourself. These are important lessons to model for our children too, so they grow up inherently knowing that their needs count and that they should never feel bad for placing an importance on attending to them. These are the seeds of good lifelong mental health awareness.
Self-care can look hugely different for individuals. How we chose to fulfil these needs are all unique to us. There's no right or wrong way to go about it. Here are some ideas to try and incorporate into your day to make time for you.
Take a minute upon waking to be grateful for being alive
Try and wake up earlier than the kids so you can have that much - needed cup of coffee in peace
Drink more water every day
Spend a few minutes outside every day just noticing the sounds, smells and sights around you
Set your alarm for every 2 hours and take some deep breaths
Try a free mindfulness or meditation app
Start a gratitude journal
Take up a new hobby
Phone a friend and have a good old catch up
Do something nice for someone else
Go for a walk
Volunteer time to a community project
Be kind to yourself, talk to yourself in the same manner you would a friend
Co-authored and edited by Mie Mari Sløk Rusdal and Jude Saffron
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