KonMari and Montessori

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(chaos of family life! 3 years ago!)

I have another confession to make. First, when I started my #montessorihousechallenge, I was very focused on my children’s belongings, their tidy up habits, their independence skills. You see, since becoming a mother, I have focused most of my attention towards my children. Meanwhile I have developed skills and a business related to parenting and children. So I have always observed children; how do they play, can they tidy up, can they do this independently. If you go to my blog post here, you will read that I was failing at this task for around 18 months, mainly because we moved from London where I had a good network of friends and support to the countryside and also because I went back to work full time (well school times hours but the kind of job that I was committed to and I was bringing a lot of work at home).

While going through each area, as planned in the challenge, I started to face the ugly truth. Most of the clutter/belongings/objects were mine and were preventing me to organize my house to suit my children’s needs. Note that I have always been aware that I’m a “hoarder” and worst, an unorganized “hoarder”. I could go in a deep analysis to explain why I’m that way and why I was not tackling the issue but it’s not the object of this blog post. Let’s say that I have finally seen the light and faced the truth. I suppose I was ready (to make it short, let say that these past two years, I have worked on many issues and I have now a clear mind-set of what I want in life and it’s not the clutter).

Now you might be surprised that a Montessori teacher is a hoarder. I admit that even me, I was under the impression that most Montessori teachers must be very orderly, organised and borderline OCD.  I thought I was an exception. However, I have noticed over the years that many parents (and potentially teachers) are attracted to the Montessori education to teach the opposite of what they are to their children. Maybe also because they want to overcome their own issues and deep down, crave order and organisation. It was totally my case and since I have explained this a bit on my Facebook page, many parents have come forward, admitting the same difficulties.

Sometimes, parents also become a hoarder after having the kids. Let’s admit it, children bring lots of joy but also lots of chaos! How do we control the amount of toys, clothes, kitchenware, babyware that come with having children? No everybody is a born minimalist so it’s very common to be drawn in an incredible amount of objects after having kids.

In my case, I was using my children as an excuse to fulfil my hoarding tendencies: it’s for the kids, I can use it in the Montessori playgroup, it’s educational, children never have too many books, etc…

Also a classroom is not a home environment. When I worked in a school, it was easy to organise and keep everything in order because it’s only the Montessori space and none of my personal belongings.

Well while I was in the middle of decluttering my children’s toys in January, somebody mentioned to me the KonMari Method. I checked the lady and her books and decided it was not for me as she wasn’t a mum (well in fact she is now, but she was not when she wrote her books and she didn’t explain much about children in her books). In the end, I finally gave the method a go and let me tell you that it has already changed my life. And my children’s life too. I’m documenting this process and especially I will show you how I make some decisions regarding my children’s belongings based on the Montessori principles. As Marie Kondo doesn’t give any tips about what kind of toys to keep. This is the area that I feel able to make a judgment based on the Montessori principles.

I help parents on a regular basis to design their children’s play space at home, I also help homeschooling families. Just before I started my KonMari process, I was reflecting on this service as I have noticed that families who are quite organized for their own belongings are well able to tackle the changes that I suggest for their children. However, some families had great difficulties making changes and those families had many belongings and clutter.

Let’s say that  I am now sure that even if many parents will come to Montessori first for their children, at some point, the Montessori education could help them to realise that their own life is full of clutter and until they declutter their own belongings (and life and parenting, but more on this in another post), focusing on the children only might be pointless and counterproductive. It’s a least what I felt and observed in my own house. So I urge you if you have started the Montessori house challenge and you’re feeling overwhelmed to have a go at decluttering your own belongings first. Follow my progress here and on FB and comment down below about your journey!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever

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Positive songs

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In addition of being a Montessori teacher, I have recently qualified as a Yoga teacher for children. In the yoga children classes, I use lots of music. I started to be very careful choosing positives songs only. Some popular songs with the tween/teen have such a degrading message so I have started to listen carefully to the lyrics making sure I make them listen only to songs that are appropriate.

At the same time, at home, my 9 years old started to sing loudly all the songs on the radio. Very popular songs… And one more, most of the songs have content that are not appropriate (heavy sexual content, lots of sad songs, crude words…). And I was constantly explaining the meaning of those songs as my daughter was asking questions.

Two years ago, we stopped listening to the news on the radio. I was in the car with the children much more and I was able to tune out when there were the news, the kids were not. At least twice a day, they were exposed to local news of murders, kidnappings, war in the world, news about cancer. While all that is the reality of this world, my then 7 and 3 years had no need to be exposed to it every day. They were anxious about it, asking questions: “where did it happen? will they die? will I have cancer? Is it dangerous to do this or that?”. After two years without news (as we don’t listen to news on the radio as a family and us, parents, we don’t watch, read or listen to news otherwise), we feel much better, less concerned on a daily basis and we have less fear and anxiety. It’s such an habit that as soon as we hear the news jingle, we turn off the radio and my daughter makes sure she reminds me.

According to a survey, one of the biggest contributors to daily stress is watching, reading or listening to the news (see here).

If you’re interested, read here how we can be literally addicted to the news. Very interesting!

Since I make sure I read good news on my fb feed through pages such as Uplift connect, Good News shared, Actions for happiness, etc… They are many others! That way my feed is covered of ultra positive stories of people helping the best way they can their direct community.

So, on the same principles, I started to question the songs we were listening to. I noticed that I had a tendency to listen to sad love songs, melancholic songs about life (lost of youth, regrets, past mistakes and failures were recurrent themes of those songs) or politically engaged songs (but with no positive solutions more about the world is damned, what are we gonna do!). And as my children were more able to understand the lyrics, the messages started to concern them too.

Clearly I was raised with those songs. But clearly they were not uplifting songs and I started to notice how much they were impacting my mood. I think I noticed it more recently as I was using positive songs in my “work” and coming back to my “sad classics at home” or enduring songs that I didn’t choose on the radio. It’s new for me to spend so much time driving so I’m more exposed than ever.

So recently, I have consciously decided to listen to positive, uplifting songs “only”. I have created my own playlist and if my mood is low, I put those songs on and quickly my mood changes for the better. It makes me sing, it makes me dance, and my children love those songs too. They also have a positive message about appreciating live, about trying, about pursuing and accomplishing your dreams. They make me strong, fearless and happy!

Studies have found that hearing happy songs can raise heart rate, lower stress levels, and increase immunity to illness. Check this article about the surprising health benefits of listening to music.

So here my playlist in no particular order:

  1. Robbie William: Love my life. I use this song in my yoga class and we practice the 3 warrior poses with positive affirmations, my 4 years old knows it my hearth and what is a better message that to say “I love my life, I’m beautiful, I’m powerful, I’m free, I love my life, I’m wonderful, I’m magical, I am me, I love my life”
  2. Marvin Gaye: Ain’t no mountain high enough. It seems to me that it could be a message from a parent to his child, it’s how I understand it and it’s the message I want to send to my children
  3. Pharrell Williams: Happy. Just a happy song!
  4. Happy days (generic of the tv show): because every day is a happy day (good bye the argh it’s Monday!)
  5. R Kelly: I believe I can fly: If I believe it, I know it’s inside me… I believe I can fly!
  6. Louis Armstrong: What a wonderful world.
  7. Lou Reed: Just a perfect day
  8. Jimmy Cliff: You can get it if you really want it. Another one that my two children sing along. They keep saying what they want to do with their life after singing this one and how they will achieve their goals! Yes even my 4 years old (he will be a builder, build an entire city named after him so he has to be strong and to be strong, he has to do sport and eat lots of proteins!)
  9. Israel Hawai: Somewhere over the rainbow
  10. Katrina and the waves: Walking on sunshine.
  11. Shakira: Try everything. (and if you have seen Zootropolis, you can use the story of the rabbit becoming what she wanted to be to reinforce the message of the song)
  12. Bob Marley: three little birds. I’m sure you will agree, that using “Don’t worry about a thing, because everything is gonna be alright” is surely uplifting.
  13. Bobby Mc Ferrin: Don’t worry, be happy.
  14. James Brown: I feel good
  15. Josh Groban: You raise me up. This is the message I want my children to get from me. I would feel that I have done my “parenting job” properly is as adults, they want to sing me that one!

They are some other on my list that are more for me to listen to as part of the text is not enough children orientated like Cold Play: hymn for the weekend (as telling to teenagers in my classes that love is like a drink, and life like a drug is not a great message) or Relax from Mika (I love that song so much! I danced during my first pregnancy daily on it and with my daughter in my arms for months but there is a sad side in it and as my children are very inquisitive, I don’t want them to question too much about the meaning).

What about you? Do you have positive songs that you like to listen to? Share in comments!