We caught up with busy boy-mom of three, Stephanie Baswell to learn about how she adopts the Montessori philosophy into her family’s everyday life, her motherhood journey, and rules to live by.
Be sure to give Stephanie a follow on Instagram: @southsidemomma.
What’s been the biggest surprise in your motherhood journey? I think the biggest surprise is how babies and children teach us to believe in the possibilities of the future. All the world seems new and possible when you look at their faces and experience life with them for the first time. I never dreamed that my boys could capture me so deeply and change my entire life completely. When I hold them I know I have everything the world could possibly give me. I feel like I am the richest and luckiest person because I have them.
What are some simple ways families can incorporate Montessori principles from birth? The simplest way to incorporate Montessori from birth is by preparing an environment where your child can practice independence from an early age. When they are infants you can simply begin with freedom of movement by not constricting the child to a chair or swing, but allowing them to explore their environment at their own pace. Placing a limited amount of toys at a level that children can reach gives them freedom to choose what interests them. Continue this practice of giving freedom within limits as they continue to grow to foster independence and a love of learning.
What inspires you most about your children? I adore how eager they are to learn and help. Especially when it comes to practical life, they love being part of what I am doing, whether it's cooking a meal, washing dishes, doing laundry, etc. To them, it's an opportunity to learn something new and find reward by doing it themselves. I have to remind myself to slow down and forget about efficiency to allow them to have that pleasure of learning alongside me.
What Little Partners products are your favorite and why? We absolutely love our Learning Towers, we use them every single day. I love the Learning Tower the most because it allows me and all the boys to work beside one another in the kitchen. We prepare our meals together, wash dishes, share snacks, etc.- It’s just the perfect piece of furniture to allow the children to be more involved. We also love our Learn 'N Climb Triangle, children need a lot of movement and this will enable them to fill that need regardless of the weather outside. Lastly, we love our Grow with Me Chairs. We use them daily in our homeschool room. They are sturdy and very comfortable, having a chair that is adjustable to allow children to place their feet on the ground is very important for developing correct posture, especially when they are learning to write.
What advice do you have for parents who want to incorporate more Montessori practice into their lives? I would start by focusing on taking a Montessori approach to tasks your child already does on a daily basis. For example (you can provide 2 choices): Getting dressed in the morning, allowing them to pick their clothes or letting them put on their clothes by themselves, offering minimal assistance. Look at every task with a fresh set of eyes – don't focus on getting things done fast and efficiently but slow down – and allow your child to do as much as they can by themselves.
What are some rules you live by?
Live each day like the gift that it is – life should be lived as a celebration. I know we don’t always feel that way because life does have lots of ups and downs, but if there’s one thing having little children has taught me, it's that life goes by fast (too fast) and if you don’t make a point to take each opportunity to live with gratitude, and live in a way that shows you to appreciate the gift of life, you will miss whole seasons of it. And life is too short to do that. ;)
What is your favorite way to create a strong family bond?
I am very intentional about learning each of my son’s love languages. This way I can create stronger relationships by meeting their love needs, whether it is with quality time, touch, or words of affirmation.
What are some other motherhood-focused Instagram accounts you follow? I tend to follow accounts mostly focused on Montessori education. My ultimate favorites are @lilamontessori and @homelearningstudio