I started a Montessori and Simple Family living series of Interviews with the hope, as Readers, you may gain some information, encouragement, support and inspiration and just maybe, a way to connect with other like-minded families.
Today I am introducing you to Australian mum, Megan from Montessori and Me. Megan is a Parenting Consultant, 0-3 Montessori Directress, Yoga and Mindfulness teacher and mother to three children.
Q1. Dear Megan, would you like to share a bit about yourself, your family and what part of the world you live in?
In 2007, I moved to Sydney, Australia to marry my husband. We now have three beautiful children; Lachlan (2009), Noelle (2011) and Oliver (2013). My degree is in Human Development and I work as a consultant to help families best support their child’s development. I hold a Montessori 0-3 Diploma and a 3-6 certificate. I also work as the Infant and Toddler Directress at our local Montessori school. I am really passionate about empowering parents and supporting them on the most important journey of their life- raising a human being! It’s very rewarding to see parent-child bonds grow and tensions ease as parents allow independence to flourish in their young children.
I am also the author of a Mindful parenting blog, Montessori and Me. I share my experiences as an imperfect parent and how I navigate through that. I also try to inspire parents and professionals to set up environments that will allow children’s independence to flourish.
Q2. How did you first start on a Montessori path and what does this journey mean to you and your family?
Years ago after I completed University, I began researching different learning theories as part of my practice. Montessori Philosophy was always one that resonated with me the most in my developmental studies of the human being. It seemed natural and made sense! The more I learned, the more I realised how much of it was the same practices in which I guided families in my care.
When I became a parent, it was very clear that a Montessori Education was the path that was best suited for our children and our family’s personal values. I think it’s very important when possible to select a school where you are surrounded by like-minded people as well. Not only do I know that the teaching staff are upholding the same values that come with ‘peace education,’ I know that the majority of the parents hold this belief system too. This is something that makes Montessori schools really unique; it creates a very special, close-knit community.
Q3. How is your parenting influenced by Montessori (or other Methods/Philosophies) and what have you found to be the most challenging part? Do you have any tips for others?
Montessori is so such much more than a method or philosophy; it’s a lifestyle. Once this is realised it changes the way you see everything in your world. It changes your interactions towards others, how you carry yourself and of course how you value the children in your lives. You learn very quickly that each individual in the family is equal and while mom and dad will of course have the final say in life-changing matters, it is a team effort.
From the moment that our first son came home, we knew that this place was no longer just ours, but his too. And he and our family grew we’ve had to make a lot of changes and compromises in how the house should be decorated and designed. Many modifications had to be made so that our children could do what they have the right to do- live in their home! Things need to be at their reach and easily accessible; they also deserve to have input in changes that we make to our home as well as it’s shared living space. I think parents struggle with this a lot. We do have to let go of some of those ‘old life’ desires to accommodate for the new ‘shared life’. However, in the end I think we have really built a home where we all thrive. Sure, with a house of five it’s not harmonious all the time but it’s a space where you can see the personalities of all who inhabit it. I think that’s really important and it’s worth the effort to be flexible and to get it right.
I think the largest challenge in parenting is self-care. We often forget how much postnatal depletion affects us. Society constantly tells us how draining and challenging it is to be a parent like it’s something we just have to deal with regardless of the costs. I think this is a very dangerous message. Yes, we keep trucking along as parents as we have no other choice but to keep on going; however there are always options. We seem to think the path has to be linear and we often forget to stop and examine the obstacles on the road that are prohibiting us from having the best possible ride. It’s ok to take a pit stop, it is ok to recharge and refuel. It’s also acceptable to take a new road if one is too rough. If there is a street that offers a less stressful job or more personal or family support, take the detour.
I know if I don’t care for myself, my whole family suffers, especially my children. I can hold all this great parenting knowledge and training, but If I neglect myself I’ll never be able to share it in the most beneficial way. This sort of behaviour will only ensure that neither I nor the children will be able to reach our full potential on this journey. Being more mindful and responsive to our own needs opens the door to caring for others in the most joyous and peaceful way.
Q4. What inspires you? Do you have any goals or intentions for this year or the next that you would like to share with us?
I’m most inspired by nature and my children. Watching the two together warms my heart so much; they are both full of awe and wonder. I spend as much time outside as I can as it is where I find rejuvenation.
As for goals, there are so many! However, I have learned that there is a season for everything and timing if not often my own. As my Montessori 0-3 Diploma is not from AMI, I’ve been waiting for the time when it will be offered in Sydney and work with our family demands. I am excited to say that in August the season was right and I commenced the course. It’s intense but I love it. It’s so uplifting to be surrounded by people who are as passionate about Montessori from birth as much as I am. I’ll look forward to holding that AMI Diploma in January 2020!
Starting this course has meant that at the end of the school term, I’ll need to step down from my Montessori Directress roll to focus all my energy on the course. This was a hard decision for me as I love the families in my care but it all comes down to striking a balance and remembering that self-care I advocate so much. I’d be stretched too thin so I’ve made the choice to focus on one thing at a time.
Q5. Are there any books of resources you would like to recommend, Montessori or other?
I won’t be doing my job as a Montessori Directress If I didn’t recommend Dr. Silvana Montanaro’s, Understanding the Human Being to parents with infants and toddlers. Montanaro’s role in researching and supporting children under the age of three has been instrumental in educating professionals and parents all over the world. As a professional with an interest in emotional intelligence, I also highly recommend literature from Daniel Siegel. His book The Whole-Brained Child is a wonderful resource that can help parents better understand how children process experiences and emotions. If you feel like you have a hard time connecting with your child when he’s in an emotional state, this is or you!
Currently, I am reading The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach. It’s a fascinating read that has been helping me better understand the long lasting postnatal effects that have been contributing to low energy levels and hormonal changes in my body that that triggered anxiety after the birth of my third son. It’s really allowed me to pin point some particular areas that need attention to get this mommy back to being the most healthy and stress-free me I can be!