Miro’s Montessori journey 15-25 months

As from my previous post about 12-15 months of Miros journey, where I mentioned the crucial importance of movement in his life, the need has just increased with time. There is not a single shelf he has not climbed, not a single fence he did not try to cross or a tree he did not intend to climb. He is so much more into climbing than his sister who was more into dancing and fine motorics in the same age. Every child is so different. I am sure you have not heard a lot about children who go to sleep with their metal pan or bagger, well our Miro does ❤ He in unique in ever sense. Having a strong willed child can bring so many challenges, but it also results in your increase in knowledge and keep learning every day. Most materials that were interesting to Natalia in this age, such as sorting by colour and real puzzles (3 piece etc) are of no interest to Miro. In this regard I really love following Montessori citations:

It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong, and, having become strong, can do even more than we dared hope for him.

I must say especially this phrase resonates with us, we did not have a lot of expectations from Miro, since he loved so much running after ball and dribbling we thought he could be a good football player (for few months he showed interest only and exclusively in ball). We even made fun that at least as football player he ll be able to earn more money and have a decent life, and many family members just compared Miro to Modric (famous Croatian football player).

But the truth is we did not try hard enough to really follow him, especially in those challenging months (15-18 in his case;). He has just suddenly surprised us from speaking only few words in summer to complete explosion of vocabulary in december where he started fluently speaking in 3 languages, speaking actually more than Natalia in that age. Ofcourse, he has an amazing mentor – his older sister, and she did not have this privilege. I would love to add two more beautiful Marias phrases:

The child is the spiritual builder of mankind, and obstacles to his free development are the stones in the wall by which the soul of man has become imprisoned.

“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”

We have discovered the true passion of Miro – cooking, I thought Natalia likes cooking, but this little guy, he adores cooking. Whenever he sees you are taking some pan or bowl to do something in the kitchen he ll just appear there bring his chair and demand he takes part in cooking. And cooking is our main educational tool with Miro – thanks to cooking he is amazing in fine motorics (mixing, pouring, adding, cutting, frying just name it he is an expert) and counting. When we make cakes he counts spoons (he can follow depicted recipe but still doesn’t recognize written numbers so I just draw 5 spoons and he adds than 5 spoons..etc). There is a video in the comments here Miro like pro preparing lunch

https://www.facebook.com/mateahinkoadventure/videos/324110831536517/

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In order to provide your kids freedom and teach them idependence and avoid hearing constantly “Mom ,please give me some water, I’m thirsty – the best ever 4 euro investment was into the water pitcher which is in daily use:D

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About toilet learning – lets say we are not in hurry, whenever Natalia goes to toilet he also has to go and then he really uses toilet, also when we re in restaurants, for some weird reason he loves to do his stuff in restaurant toilets regularly but not at home, hmmm… He still does not self initiate and we do not plan to force it, his time will come, I know when he will be ready transformation will appear in one day.

He loves to help around the garden but most of all he loves to copy paste the work of his big sister, whatever she does he also has to try, one must say he indeed has the best teacher possible, Natalia is so patient and sometimes knows better than me how to avoid any of Miros tantrums 🙂

 

What are your 2 year olds up to?:D

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How to present puzzles in Montessori fashion and what does absorbing from environment actually mean?

In the early phase of development, Maria Montessori distinguished two phases: first one up to 3 years old in which the child absorbs the environment and second period 3-6 years, in which the child realizes the environment by the work of his hands. Also she has already 100 years ago noticed the childs sensitivity for order. Let me make few important quotes:

A childs sensitiveness to order may be noticed even in the first months of his existence. A positive manifestation of it may be seen in the enthusiasm and joy which children who at seeing things in their proper places.

Already from this quote you might notice how important the environment is, since children absorb everything and have a need to find a thing in  a certain spot. Don’t you remember playing hide and seek with your kids when they are young toddlers? They always expect that you will hide at the same spot especially between 1 and 2 years old:D

Obviously the love of order in children is not the same as that of adults. Order provides an adult with a certain amount of external pleasure. But for the small children it is something quite different. It is like the land upon which animals walk or the water in which fish swim. In their first year they derive their principles of orientation from their environment which they must later master. And since a child is formed by his environment he has need of precise and determined guides and not simply some vague constructive formulae.

From my previous blog posts, you already know that Natalia loved puzzles already with 14 months and I have described her journey till 30 months. Even now, every night before going to sleep she takes some puzzles from her shelf (now she takes 30-50 pieces puzzles) and then she has to assemble them at least twice, she is now in this sensitive period for puzzles where she enjoys repetitions. Once done, she says mommy please one more time before goodnight story, and like that usually few times.

Unlike Natalia, her brother is not interested in puzzles at all. And that is fine, we are all different. World would be so boring if we would all have the same interests.

It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong, and, having become strong, can do even more than we dared hope for him. M.M

So far he has enjoyed only wooden puzzles and shape sorter, and thanks to observing him I have realized puzzles should always be presented in assembled and not disassembled fashion. In that way they are much more appealing. At least, they are to my children. You might wonder how did I notice it?

I ll give you few examples. When  Miro was 14 months the circle puzzle presented in such a way that circles were in a separated basked and empty puzzle on a tray he never took it. Whenever I would leave it intact, he would take it to the table and play for 15 minutes, repeating the assembling and disassembling process.

Or one more recent example – on our table we have a decoration in which we place tooth-picks, it consists of few flower petals which you can assemble on the top of each other. Miro just takes it and from time to time reassembles. Few weeks ago he replaced the petals of this plastic decoration with the petals of the real flower since he found it more appealing. I was not very happy he destroyed my plant but I kept my emotions for myself and told him we do not want to hurt plants:D

 

 

 

 

How do I use my fifteen to thirty minutes of self-care per day

Self-care is crucial throughout all our life. Sometimes when metamorphosing into parents we forget about its importance, which can result in negative consequences.

So how does my me- time look?

Sometimes my self-care does not necessary mean that I need to do it without the presence of my children. What I found out recently, and works great for us,  is every morning when they wake up (between 5 and 6 since the time change) we do at least 30 minutes of Yoga. And we all have fun. I must say I am super happy with the Children Yoga cards I bought for my kids which makes it inviting for them to join me in doing some yoga exercise. (e.g. lets pretend to be a cat, let’s be a leopard, lets be a tree etc. Natalias favorite is leopard and Miros cat licking milk pose:P)

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Sometimes after we practice yoga they go to their own room to play with some duplos or other open-ended toys we have available. That gives me time for some extra exercise:D Here are my favorite tools for doing my pilates excercise:D Miro likes some of them as well (especcially wobble) 😉

After they are asleep, depending on how much energy I have left I try to read some of the books that relax me:D

How do you spend your self-care time?:D

books i like to read
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Dealing with a strong-willed child or how did I hide crocs from my son

Before having Miro, I thought “strong-willed child” is a term invented by modern society to justify complaining of modern parents about their children due to lack of discipline.

Oh, boy was I wrong!

As defined by psychologists strong-willed children are people who are not easily swayed away from their viewpoints.    

On contrary to Natalia, who was an extremely calm baby, after being fed sleeping for 4-6 hours, her brother had to be fed every 30-45 minutes, constantly carried for the first 6 months and required a lot of attention. And hey ,we are the same parents, one would say with second one it should just get easier due to having experience already, right? Well, not truth in our case;) Do not get me wrong, I love him with all my heart and this is not a post to complain, just to empathise with all my fellow parents of strong-willed children and give a small piece of advice how to survive two first 2 years:)

How to notice if you have a strong-willed child?

From the first day in the hospital – baby will require much more attention than other babies, hysterically crying if separated from a mother just for a short period of time. Needing constant contact, CONSTANT CONTACT.

Any piece of advice to survive first few months?

Get a great baby wrap and baby carrier, it will make your life so much more pleasant for the first 6 months of babies life. When you cook, go shopping, write grant proposals, wherever, whatever you will need a baby carrier with a strong-willed baby.

Give up from the idea of putting a strong-willed baby in a baby bed,,,it will simply waste too much of your energy and it will not work out. Co-sleep with your baby, enjoy the cuddle, time will come for your little one to be ready to separate for the night from you (with Miro I had to wait 19 months:P).

Ask for help. Anyone. A friend, neighbour, family. In order to have a normal shower without a screaming baby, having few minutes of peace, especially during first 3 months you will need help and do not be ashamed of asking for it. There is a reason why we have a phrase: It takes a village to raise up a child.

It will get better. Remember that. Stick it as a magnet on your fridge!

But it does not mean it gets much easier. Each development mile brings new challenges. They are very stubborn. When they want something, you can not simply rationalise it, offer a different choice or any other parenting trick that works with your other child. It just does not work.

For example, Miros favorite outdoor shoes are crocs. And as you can imagine I was not very happy that still in November he was going outside in Crocs. Natural consequences do not really work (hahah ) – even if his feet are frozen he will not admit it! He will want to show you that he is right! So the only way to get rid of crocs before the advent was to hide them in our basement. Sometimes, you just need to be radical:D

Your strong-willed child will test your limits (and nerves) on daily basis. Hang on there, and let them learn from their own experience whenever that is an option.

Encourage independence of your strong-willed child – it will make your life so much easier.

Routines are the key for the dealing with strong-willed children, and this is a tough one for us due to our passion for travelling. But we try to stick to the routine as much as possible, and we are aware of tantrums to appear when we break the routine too much.

What are your challenges with your strong-willed child?

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Impact of social environment on our children

As most of you already probably know – I am not a big fan of pink. It turns out my daughter is. If it would be on her to choose, everything would be pink. Luckily my son is not a big fan of pink so I do not need to suffer from seeing their room painted in pink, since if they would agree they would probably end up in pink room and my eyes would hurt every time I would enter. Another thing – somehow, definitely not my influence, she has some specific fashion taste and knows well which colour go well together and which not. As you can imagine I get very criticised o daily basis for my fast suggestions on what she could dress that day, sth along lines : Mooom, that does not fit at all together! Oh, well what can I do, I just like as many colours as possible but seems I am really tasteless according to my three-year old professional.

But what shocked me lately was her replies to her brother what he can not do or be cause he is a boy. So apparently Miro can definitely not be a ballerina nor a princess (of course he claims it very often since he hears it often from her). And apparently her brother is too stupid to be a pilot since boys are stupid. what??? She has never heard that word from me, neither in any of the books she read there is a single note that boys are more stupid than girls. More shockingly this weekend they were playing mommy and daddy and Miro wanted to prepare dinner and Natalia forbid him cause apparently dads do not cook. It was kind of funny cause at that very moment my husband was preparing pancakes for breakfast. I asked her, but Natalia do you see that your dad cooks. She stopped for a second, and said Dads should not cook. I have no clue how or where my little girl picks up these conclusions, but I guess from her friends in KG. I still remember this summer when one boy approached her to play with and brought her various cars with which she was very happy, but then his sisters criticised him, something along the lines how could he bring her boy toys. She apparantely should not play with boy toys.

Woow, parenting journey is really tough, it is not only us parents who are raising our children but also all their friends, teacher, doctors, cousins.

I really hope I will manage to raise my kids that they can always have a different opinion and follow their dreams😀

Wish luck to all my fellow parent warriors!!!

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The importance of self-care or how I lost my summer due to lack of it

Some of you might have wondered why I did not write any post in the period between June and September. Maybe you thought I managed to follow my dream and tour the world.

But no, the truth is – I started having health issues. In June I started suffering from insomnia. When my son got up during the night in order to breastfeed, I could not fall back to sleep. So I had only a few hours of sleep. In the beginning I thought it was something that would go away by itself – but it did not. I started reading about insomnia and how to treat it naturally – I tried with Valeriana, melatonin, various herbs, exercising only in the morning, not watching any movies right before going to sleep – literally everything I could find online but nothing helped. After 2 weeks I had the idea that maybe I should just stop breastfeeding and it would all disappear. I stopped breastfeeding in 2 days – which is extremely fast considering my son was still breastfed twice during the day and multiple times in the night. Not only it did not help, on the contrary it worsened my insomnia. I was completely lost at that moment and had no clue anymore what to do. My  energy levels were extremely low – and from that moment I needed help with cooking and taking care of my kids. I am lucky to have an amazing mom and mother-in-law who could jump in. But still I could not understand what was going on. I started searching online and I found one article which linked too fast weaning with depression. But I was in denial that I could have depression, even though symptoms were there. I assigned everything to the lack of sleep – you can imagine if for a month you sleep only 3-4 hours a day, you are not a fully functioning human being. I isolated myself from all social media (I used to chat with 10 friends at the same time in free moments), stopped inviting friends for coffee, stopped having enough strength to prepare an educational environment for my kids. I slowly started fearing that I would lose my kids. They were becoming more attached more to my husband, willing to go to sleep only with him. I had a feeling I had reached rock bottom. I went to my GP, who recommended I take a blood test. Everything seemed fine except my sex hormones were extremely low – which was not surprising considering my period had not yet returned since my pregnancy with Miro, my youngest child.

I felt completely lost – the GP gave me a prescription to see a psychiatrist. Both my husband and I were still in denial that I could suffer from any kind of depression since I was the most optimistic person he knew. The truth is I started being pessimistic and I stopped looking forward to our travels – at that moment my better half knew something was really wrong. We went to a psychiatrist who prescribed me Mirtazepan and told me to  come back if I don’t start sleeping better after 3 days. So I came back- my sleep had got even worse. This time without any talk with me he prescribed another antidepressant. That was ofcourse a reason why I lost my faith in psychiatrist –  how could I trust someone who did not even have a conversation with me but just asked why I came again and prescribed another drug? I decided I should go to Croatia with my kids and I was convinced that with sun and sea I would get better.

I did not.

I was just feeling weaker with every day. I went to see some other psychiatrists, which after a 30 minute talk prescribed different drugs. Since I have pharmacophobia (I do not take even paracetamol unless I have really high fever (over 39 C)), I did not take those drugs for more than 3 days – which was weirdly what those psychatrists all said, that in 3 days I should feel some positive effects (and I did not). The truth is my parents were also not encouraging me to take drugs. The reason is personal – we thought we lost my uncle due to drugs used to treat schizophrenia which he was diagnosed with after his last breakdown and after taking experimental drugs for 3 months. He is still alive – but it is like he is not there. If you are a fan of Pink Floyd and you know the song “Wish you were here“, you know it was written in honour of Syd Barret who they “lost” due to schizophrenia. Sufferers simply lose contact with reality. My uncle had a really hard time after his divorce – it was turned into a tabu topic and no one was allowed to mention it. He had four breakdowns and not a single talk in his life with a psychotherapist because in Yugoslavia back than and still nowadays people with mental diseases are stigmatized. He was the one who passed on to me a passion for books and theater. He also taught me English. But then his last breakdown happened just after my wedding. He went to the hospital and after a year there turned worse than ever before – there was no real connection with him anymore. I love him just like I did before, but it breaks my heart to know he is not the same person, not a person with whom I can have amazing philosophical discussion with. Because my father was convinced that my uncle’s condition worsen just because they put him on strong experimental drugs, he refused every suggestion of looking for help in Croatian hospitals. My mom and dad just said there is no reason to worry and I should try to think about something positive, which in that moment was not helpful at all. I started being very anxious and my amygdala was working like crazy; my cortisol levels were insane. So to a person who is anxious the worst thing to say is ‘you have nothing to worry about’. It is better to say you seem scared, etc. because that helps to sooth the brain. Or ask them to do mindfulness exercise together, but do not tell them not to worry. After two months of misery I begged my dad for help, even if it was some strong drug to help me finally sleep one night through. We went to the hospital – I did not get the help I needed. Also, the doctors were not honest with me, I told them about my fears and they wrote me a random diagnosis which they did not even bother to explain to me. After another month of misery, I started having memory problems. I wanted to prepare dinner for the kids, but I would forget I turned the oven on and started reading them some book. This was the alarm signal for my husband that I urgently need to seek better help in Austria. So I did – and it was so much better than in Croatia. I had an amazingly open talk with a doctor at the University Hospital in Graz and was prescribed, as Dr said, a Mickey Mouse dose of antidepressant – actually a drug that in that dose is given to children who have problems with peeing in bed. Additionally I got my blood checked and realised that I had a severe lack of vitamin D, potassium and calcium. It turned out my pessimistic state was worsened by severe lack of vitamin D. After a week of taking pills I started sleeping better (I reached 5 hours which was -woow!- a reason to celebrate). I could finally think normally. I started exercising again. I finally got my period back (for the first time in my life I was happy to have a period again!). We moved to another town, I made some new friends and everything went back to normal. But what helped most was that I started having me time again. Somehow over the period I had got stuck in the roles of only wife and mother and forgotten to have that so important time devoted to myself. 15 minutes of just me time a day, where I pray, relax or read a book. It makes such a difference.

If I could talk to younger me, I would ask her to SLOW DOWN, not run like a squirrel from one project to another, and also to worry less.

I would love to once again thank my amazing family and friends who supported me so much during this difficult time in my life. Thank you so much, without you I would not have managed.

Please share this post if you can , because  I thought I was the only one having this issues and I know how alone I felt.

 

Things I wish I knew before I had my first baby

Since at the moment lots of my friends are pregnant, I realised there is actually no online summary of useful stuff you would like to know before you step into this amazing journey of parenthood. Ofcourse, there are lots of parenting books and websites out there, but no book will really prepare you for this jungle journey of parenthood. Also, there are numerous parenting experts out there, with advice that collide with each other (e.g. some suggest to put your kids always at 7 pm to sleep, some suggest to wait till your kid is tired etc.). Truth is – you as a parent will find your own unique way, combining the wisdom and making some new wisdom of your own.

So here goes my “wisdom” list:

  1. Do not believe uncle Google to have all the wise solutions of this world prepared for you. If you have some worry during your pregnancy do not ask Dr Google – ask the midwife who is taking care of your pregnancy. For example during my pregnancy with Natalia for the first 20 weeks I had light bleeding. First time I asked uncle Google – he pointed me on all possible negative outcomes, starting from miscarriage. From someone who has experienced already one, you become kind of paranoid. Luckily, I had the most amazing midwife Joyce, who has forbidden me to ask uncle Google any more questions. She convinced me everything is ok with my pregnancy and it is just the way my body reacts to it. We almost canceled our trip to China cause of my bleedings, but she convinced us to go and in case somethings does go wrong just to go immediately to the hospital. The truth is if you start reading and asking uncle google about miscarriage and pregnancy it turn out that even biking and eating spinach can cause it – so please ignore Uncle Google.
  2. Enjoy pregnancy!!! Go to the cinema as much as you can, enjoy all the alone time with your partner, travel, cook new dishes, go on as many dates as possible – because soon you will not have that much of free time;)
  3. Prepare for delivery. Talk with your partner and midwife about all possibilities. Choose the one that fits you the most. We are all different and only you know well enough your body. I always knew I wanted a natural delivery without epidural (mostly cause I get freaked out from needles I would prefer giving birth 3 times in one day than getting an epidural injection;). Write everything down. I can recommend a book I got as a present from my midwife – Birth from within – for the birth preparation (psychological preparation).  Do not stop with exercise just cause you are pregnant, pregnancy is not a disease – but a divine state. Practice as much yoga and pilates, it will help your delivery to proceed smoother. Buy yourself pads for after delivery, you ll be heavily bleeding for 4-6 weeks. I have tried various and I can only recommend Chicco mama pads – they were the only ones that could hold for few hours. Get some nipple cream to be able to put before every breastfeeding especially during first two weeks.
  4. Do not hurry to the hospital on the delivery date – that was the best advice I got from my midwife. She told us to prepare for the day by borrowing some nice movies we enjoy and to watch at least for 4 hours when the first irregular contractions start. On 6th June at 6 am my first contraction started followed by bleeding. First thing I did – went back to bed and tried to get some sleep – BEST decision I made in my life. I was waken up every 40 min by strong contraction, but my dear husband would press painful spot on my back and I could go back to sleep. At 9 am we stood up and had breakfast. Honestly, I was sceptical and wanted to go to hospital but my better half convinced me it’s not the time yet and to wait at least till lunch time and to have a nice warm bath. So at 12 we had lunch, my contractions started to be every 10-15 min and at 13 we headed to the hospital. That day at 17:55 Natalia was born. I can not imagine that on that day my better half would not with me. His hands were completely blue – so I guess his advice for dads would be – cut your wife’s nails before entering hospital:P He has helped me to reach whatever position I wanted to be and it was exhausting for him just as much as for me. It was one of the most beautiful days in my life, and at the same time the most exhausting.
  5. If organising baby shower – ask your friends to give you as a present their time after you give birth! Especially if there will be no family member to help you around – any help with cooking and cleaning is much more valuable than any other present for newborn. Maybe during baby shower you can organise cooking time where your friends help you prepare food stocks for the first month of your mom time and freeze it cause you will NOT have time for it.
  6. Do not buy lots of baby clothes – actually if you can do not buy any clothes. Ask your friends and cousins to borrow you. Do not buy some sweet looking clothes. You want some practical clothes that you can easily take off, that is also comforting for your baby. Your newborn baby will mostly sleep, poop and eat – really no need for fancy clothing, just need for clothing that you can change as fast as possible when poop explosions arrive. Your newborn baby will grow up fast (first size clothes will be outgrown in ca 2 weeks).
  7. Get a good quality baby carrier – every child is different and maybe you will not need it. With Natalia I actually did not need one, but she was a super easy baby in every sense. But baby carrier saved me with her brother, who required to be breastfed every 30-45 minutes for the first 6 months. Do not be deceived by brand – Chicco, Maxi cosi and Bjorn carriers are not ergonomically correct and will cause you lots of back pain. I can recommend Ergobaby adapt, but there are much more good quality baby carriers out there. I am too lazy to use RS or wraps, I wanted something that I can place my baby in within seconds;)

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