Healthy Mind, Healthy Mommy

Life Before Kids

August 11, 2020

Last Saturday night, I had the pleasure of driving to pick up pizza for my family. To be clear, the pleasure part was that I was driving to my destination and back ALL ALONE. No toddler. No baby. No husband (no offense, babe).

My mind filled up with all of the things I could do with this new-found freedom. I could go get a latte at Starbucks, swing by Old Navy to get a few sports bras, or go to the top of Lookout Mountain and just stand there in silence. I did none of those things, but honestly, just the joy of thinking about doing them got me excited. I did, however, listen to Jagged Little Pill and catch up with my best friend on the phone for a brief but sweet 15 minutes. It was the little slice of me that I needed to refuel. When I got home, I felt exhilarated. Rested. Refreshed. Dare I say, excited to see my kids again.

I got all of that from just a 20-minute round-trip errand. Which made me realize:

I need to get out more.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things that used to make me “me.” You know, the before-kids me.

Saturday nights were for Karaoke and other shenanigans. I would plan my song ahead of time, drink just the right amount of vodka tonic to get me motivated, and then, step on stage to experience a high that only singing in front of a roomful of strangers could give me. I was good. I was very good. Not at singing, but boy could I put on a show. At one point, I got the whole bar to do chorus line kicks with me to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” I remember stepping off the stage and thinking, “Nailed it.” If Karaoke wasn't an option, there was always dancing. Dancing at bars. Dancing in our apartment. Dancing in the streets. I remember thinking, there will never be a point where I stop going out to dance. Ha!

IMG_5899  IMG_5900 

Friday nights and close-enough-to-Friday nights (Thursday night, Wednesday night) were for going out to eat. My then-boyfriend-now-husband and I lived in downtown Chicago in the West Loop — home to Google, trendy boutique hotels, and some of the most popular chef-driven restaurants in the country. Mexican-Mediterranean-Italian-Japanese food fusion served with spicy Mezcals or 10-ingredient cocktails that took 10-minutes for a well-trained mixologist to concoct. Wood-fired pizzas on rooftops. Sushi rolls with exotic sounding sauces like spicy ponzu or uni butter. The night was ours and nobody else’s. We could talk for hours without bouncing tiny humans on our knees in hopes of “getting through” dinner. I lived for these nights. And took pictures of almost everything I ate, later writing about it here on or posting it on my largely popular Instagram account (kidding). One time, my Insta post even earned us a free meal at one of the best restaurants in the city because…social media influence. (A term that no longer belongs in my vocabulary).

IMG_6924 IMG_6886

Saturday mornings were for the Farmers Market. This was when “Healthy Stacey” was in her element. I would walk to the park, reusable Trader Joe’s bags in hand, ready to fill them up with grass-fed beef, organ meat, chicken feet for my bone broth, and pasture-raised eggs. Of course, there was the locally-grown organic produce — kohlrabi, butter lettuce, misshapen sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and at least eight different varieties of apples. And then there was the mushroom guy. Ah, meaty shitakes, nutty shimejis, and buttery lion’s mane. I would walk the four blocks home carrying this ridiculously heavy load, motivated only by the moment when I would dump my loot out on my kitchen counter to take beautiful pictures of it all. I would then spend hours cooking up a fancy meal with it that night, only to take more pictures of the final product before I ate it. Damn I had a lot of time on my hands.

IMG_2198 IMG_1555

Weekday nights — if I was truly alone — were reserved for my most embarrassing guilty pleasure — 90s TV. I owned entire box sets of Boy Meets World, Friends, and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Full House was easy to catch on TV, as was Home Improvement so the box sets were not necessary. My movies of choice were Father of the Bride, Clueless, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Troop Beverly Hills (what a thrill J). If I was feeling really crafty, I might even try to catch some old Mary Kate and Ashley shows on YouTube (Two of a Kind, So Little Time anyone?), or revisit SNICK or TGIF promos. My little 90s oasis made me feel like I was a kid again. Whenever I was stressed, it was almost like I was hitting the rewind button to go back to a simpler time.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go back for a day. Wait, no — a week. Yes, a week in my old life with the new knowledge that this freedom would be fleeting. That it would only last a few short years. How much louder would I sing? How much more would I dance? How much sweeter would my ginger and herb-infused cocktail taste? And how much later would I stay up to watch just one more episode of Sabrina?

I guess I’ll get my chance again one day, when my kids are grown. But I guarantee you, I’ll be karaoke-ing to some song that I sang with my kids, I’ll stop mid-drink to think about that time my two-year-old ran across the room to “cheers!” me, and I’ll pause that show to scroll through pictures of my babies when they were still babies. I’ll never really go back. Because I can’t. Only forward.


Healthy Mommy

Confessions of a Wannabe Montessori Mom

November 20, 2019
Montessori Mom

This is a piece I wrote for about 7 months ago that never got published. But I found it the other day and thought it sad that it never saw the light of day. Then I remembered, I have my own blog. Duh. So, here it is…

The Montessori life. Loving, respectful children, capable of playing independently, cleaning up after themselves, drinking out of a cup, and climbing on to their floor mattress at bedtime all on their own. Ah. Sounds lovely. I want that for my little girl. I really do. But I have my doubts. Not in the philosophy, but in my abilities to be a Montessori mom. You see, it takes a very special person to do this job. You have to be clean, organized, routine-oriented, and patient. Very, very patient.

I am none of these things.

When I walk in the door, I pull off my shoes using my feet and foot-toss them as close as possible to the shoe area. I pull off my daughter’s shoes and toss them with the same effort.

I walk past the powder room, forgetting that we should make it a habit to wash her hands as soon as she walks in the door. I will remember this important self-care task seconds after I put her down at her appopriately-sized dining table, scurrying her to the bathroom while she kicks and screams because she’s “HUNGY!”

Once that's finished, I begin to say, “Charley, get a plate from your…” Oh wait. I didn’t replenish her dish-setting drawer. There are no plates, no forks, just a lonely bib and a cup that she never uses because every time I try to get her to drink from an open-mouthed cup, she pours it all over herself.

We sit down to eat, and per usual, any attempts to eat with a fork are futile. It typically ends up on the floor or in my face because she wants me to see that she has “FOKE.” I don’t teach her how to use it (again) because I’m more worried about her losing interest in her food than her fork-using abilities.

“All done!” she says. “Okay,” I say. “Let me wipe your hands (yes, I wipe them for her), then you push your chair in.” She pushes it in! Yay! I needed a win. Then, without being asked, she picks up her plate and brings it towards the sink. Yay! Another wi…whoops. She drops the food all over the floor. That’s okay! Learning lesson, right? “Let’s clean it up together,” I say. She stops, looks at me, looks at the plate, then books it to the other side of the room. I don’t push because I know it will take ten times longer for her to help.

She checks out her extremely stale play area while I clean up in the kitchen. There are no trays. No rugs. No wooden shelf. Just a fireplace with six (usually untouched) toys atop, and one pink plastic (yes, I said it) desk and chair next to them. She throws my latest Pinterest attempt across the room (golf tees hammered into the bottom of an egg carton) and circles back around to the kitchen where she can do some real damage (i.e. throw my Pyrex lids like frisbees).

It’s nap time. Thank God. We read three books, sing a song, and I put her in her crib, wondering if she is capable of using an open bed where she would be able to roam freely if she so chooses. Nah. She’s…ahem, I’m not ready. I spend nap time poring over a Montessori book…

Oh, that’s good. I’ll write that down.

I can’t see that ever happening.

Is this author serious? That’s not realistic.

Or maybe it is for other kids, just not mine.

Or worse. Maybe it is for other moms, just not me.

She’s up!! Crap. I forgot to set up a new activity for her. Oh well. I’ll just wing it. We go downstairs and I set her up with a few empty containers and jars with lids. She loves them! Independent-play win. YUSSS.

“Charley, can you set the table for dinner? “I say. I get down to her level and explain to her to put the placemats on the table. Then, the plates, then the forks. Ugh. That was probably too much information at once. And now I’m wondering, have I ever taken the time to explain exactly how to do that?

She gets the placemats out. All eight of them. I explain to her that we only need two, and to put the others back in the drawer. Next, the plates. This time, I have a pile of clean plates for her ready in her drawer. Of course, that means she takes all three plates out, puts her feet in two of them, and throws the other on the floor. I calmly explain to her that the plates are for eating, not stepping in. I wash the plates, then leave them in the drying rack so she can’t try to use them as footwear again.

I pick her up to her chair at the kitchen table. We sit, we eat, she plays with her food, and turns her fork into a scraping device for our table. I try not to comment on her eating habits, how good the food is, and if she is going to eat those delicious parsnips I spent so much time cutting up into small pieces. I want to make sure she doesn’t feel any pressure, and that she’ll eat if she’s hungry, stop when she’s full.

“All done!” she says and signs. We’re in the home stretch. From here, I set her up with a big bottle of milk (yes, bottle, not cup, not glass) and start cleaning the kitchen. She “helps me” sweep with her adorable Melissa & Doug broom and dustpan. But it’s more of a matter of keeping her busy rather than actually accomplishing any sweeping.

We play a little longer, then it’s time for bed. After our usual power struggle, I get her to her stool at the sink for teeth-brushing time. To keep her there, I turn on Boo, our stuffed toy elephant — an unrealistic portrayal of an animal and one that sings, making it a passive toy. Ugh, the shame.

We change into her PJs. I try to let her help, but honestly, at this point, I just want to get this show on the road. She picks out her books (hey, there’s some independence), we snuggle up, and read. Lights out, a song and a slow dance, and in to the bed she goes. “Nigh Nigh!” she says, followed by a kiss-blow. My heart melts.

Another day in the books of a thousand failures and about three and a half wins. I think I can do better tomorrow. I just have to try harder. And remember — there was a time when she refused to push in her chair, insisted on throwing food during meals, and wouldn’t touch anything that implied the word “clean up.” So I must be doing something right. Right?

Much Love,


In Defense of Salt + Crispy Zucchini Recipe

May 1, 2019

I was at the grocery store the other day, having a friendly conversation with the butcher about the picky taste buds of toddlers. He explained to me that his son hated carrots, until he finally “gave in” and salted them. Then, he loved them. He was hesitant to do so because he was told that we shouldn’t salt our kid’s food because it “ruins” their taste buds and makes them want salt on everything.

I, being the unconventional girl that I am, was confused. Why is that a bad thing? I thought. Salt is good for you.

I told the story to my husband, and he, too, agreed with the butcher. Why would I want to encourage our daughter to eat more salt?

Well, where do I begin?

Let’s start with the fact that we have been repeatedly told that we need to lower our salt intake based on old research that has since been seriously questioned by newer research. Here’s a shortened review.

In Favor of Salt Studies

New England Journal Study

A study from the New England Journal of Medicine looked at the sodium levels of 101,945 persons from 17 countries, examining the association between sodium excretion and outcome of death and major cardiovascular events (sodium excretion correlates directly with sodium injestion). After a little less than four years observation, they found that those with the lowest sodium excretion had the highest rate of death or cardiovascular events. Those who had the highest sodium excretion had a 24% lowered death or cardiovascular event rate compared to the lowest group.


American Journal of Medicine Study

A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Medicine tracked the sodium intake of 78 million Americans (whoa.) over the course of 14 years. The results (in short)? Lower sodium diets led to higher mortality rates among those with cardiovascular disease.


Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Study

With 3681 people as their test subjects, the researchers found that systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic pressure is affected by changes in sodium intake. However, this systolic blood pressure association did not result in higher risk of hypertension or CVD complications. In fact, lower sodium intake was associated with higher CVD mortality.


Before I go getting all Food Babe on you (i.e. self-righteous blogger), I think it’s only fair to present the studies that still find the fault in salt.

Fault in Salt Studies

New England Journal Study

Combining data from more than 100 sodium-related studies in 66 countries, the researchers found that there would be 1.65 million fewer deaths per year worldwide if the average sodium intake was decreased to 2,000 mg a day (the average sat at 4,000 mg a day).


Trials of Hypertension Prevention (TOHP) Studies

Researchers in the late 80s/early 90s tested the impact of lifestyle changes on people — one of which being to reduce sodium intake (this was tested independently of other changes so the results could be controlled). Over the 18-36 months of trials, results showed small decreases in blood pressure with sodium reduction. Ten to fifteen years later, the researchers checked in on their participants again to find that A) participants in the sodium-reduction groups were 25% less likely to have a heart/blood pressure-related conditions or to have died from them, and B) the higher the potassium to sodium, the lower their chances were of said conditions. Coming to the conclusion that both lowering sodium and increasing potassium is the winning combination.

Both of these studies bring up some interesting and valid points. The potassium/sodium balance discovered in the TOHP trial is a huge finding (and this is just one of many studies that have found it). We’ll come back to this. Promise.

Secondly, one very important point is missing from all of these trials, and that is the importance of the type of salt consumed.

Salt Jekyll and Salt Hyde

There are two types of salt: Refined salt and unrefined salt. And the fact is that they could not be more different from each other.

Refined salt (i.e. table salt):

  • 97.5% sodium
  • 2.5% man-made chemicals
  • 0 minerals
  • Causes acidosis (lowered pH) (source)
  • Excess leads to fluid accumulating in your tissues

Unrefined salt (Real Salt, Himalayan salt, Celtic salt):

  • 84% sodium chloride
  • 16% naturally-occurring trace minerals
  • Carries nutrients throughout your cells, helping to maintain your acid-base balance
  • Increasing the glial cells in your brain (in charge of creative thinking) and necessary for firing of neurons
  • Maintain and regulate blood pressure
  • Helps your brain talk to your muscles through the sodium-potassium ion exchange
  • Supports adrenal glands

Source 1

Source 2

The Sodium-Potassium Love Connection

As discussed in one of our previous research studies, the key to reduced blood pressure and relaxed arteries is not to take salt out of your diet. It’s to add potassium into it (source).

Salt does not work well alone. It needs it's laid-back buddy Potasssium. Potassium lives inside your cells, unlike sodium, which lives outside them. Its job is to relax the walls of your arteries, prevent muscle cramping, and lower your blood pressure.

A 2014 study, found that women without high blood pressure who took in the most potassium had a 21% reduced risk of stroke. In addition, a meta-analysis (dissecting 29 trials) also found that low levels of potassium resulted in higher systolic blood pressure readings.

The most common recommendation is that you keep your potassium to sodium ratio at 5 to 1. This works great if you’re consuming a mostly unprocessed, home cooked diet. But if you’re eating a lot of canned soups and using store-bought salad dressing, then that level of potassium is going to be really tough to reach. In this case, the first step is to eat more real food. Sounds simple. I know it’s not. But I’m telling you, the more unprocessed, home-cooked meals you’re eating, the less you'll have to think about it. The correct balance will happen on its own. Here’s a few food items that really pack in the potassium.

  • Swiss chard, 1 cup = 1 gram potassium
  • Lima beans, 1 cup = 1 gram
  • Avocado, 1/2 Florida variety = 0.8 gram
  • Dried apricots, 1/2 cup = 0.9 gram
  • Baked potato, 1 large = 0.9 gram
  • Winter squash, 1 cup = 0.9 gram
  • Cooked spinach, 1 cup = 0.8 gram
  • Beets, 1 cup = 0.4 gram

So let’s sum it up.

  1. Salt isn’t bad for you.
  2. Multiple studies have challenged the claims that salt is “bad” for you or increases hypertension.
  3. There are studies that have concluded salt is bad for you. And they're right, it can be. But what hasn't been addressed in these studies is…
  4. There’s a big difference between refined salt and unrefined salt. As much as you can, put yourself in the unrefined camp. The best options for this include the following brands: Real Salt, Himalayan salt, Celtic salt. And no, I am not getting any money for you to click on these links. You're welcome 🙂
  5. Up your potassium level. Salt works its best when it has its sidekick.

Long story short, yes, I am happy to salt my daughter’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No guilt. Not sorry.


Slightly Crispy, Perfectly Salted Zucchini



  • 4 zucchinis
  • Unrefined salt (I use Real Salt here, but also recommend Celtic Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt) to taste
  • Avocado oil spray (or a very light use of the bottle)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Prep a baking sheet with parhment paper
  3. Slice zucchini into small cubes (about 1/2 an inch thick). Do this by first slicing one in half. Then into planks (i.e. flat pieces, cut vertically). Then cut your planks into sticks. Then cut your sticks into cubes.
  4. Spread the zucchini cubes onto the parchment paper so that they have room to breathe
  5. Spray with avocado oil or very very lightly drizzle with oil from bottle and spread evenly over cubes. The light use of oil is imperative here. Too much oil and you'll drown them, resulting in mooshy non-crispy zuchinni. 
  6. Sprinkle with unrefined salt, and don't be shy about it.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, check on crispiness. If they still aren't slightly browned at the sides, stick in for another 5 minutes and continue to do so until they're done. I know this is a pain in the butt, but it is the best way you can get them at their best possible texture and taste. 


Much Love,






Healthy Mommy

Crunchy Parenting Philosophies 101: Montessori

April 11, 2019

My first exposure to Montessori was through a friend who was trying to help me through my toddler-food-throwing woes. She told me how her daughter doesn't use a high chair, and instead sits at a child-size table and chair for all her meals. She had found that her daughter fought a lot less at meal times when she was in control of sitting down and getting up. The idea sounded so simple, yet profound. Her own table? At 14 months? Isn't that too early? I thought. But I decided it was worth a try. 

So glad I did because it made all the difference. You should've seen the look on Charley's face when she set eyes on her very own Charley-sized table, and her very own Charley-sized chair. She inspected it, she sat on it, she got up, she sat again. And come meal time, she was actually excited to sit at her table. I'm happy to say that the food throwing has significantly decreased (she still has her shining moments every once in awhile), and overall, we enjoy meal time. We've even added a plant she named "Ned" that serves as decor, but also her responsiblity to water (with my help). This concept, in my opinon, is the cornerstone of the Montessori philosophy: independence for the child (as much as they and you are able). 

Over the next few months, I couldn't help but learn more. I got books, read blogs, found online courses, and talked to other Montessori moms. They were on to something. And maybe you'll think so too. If you don't already know about the Italian-inspired education philosophy, today I'm going to shine a little light on Montessori parenting.

Montessori Parenting

In a nutshell:

Education with a child-centered environment where children have freedom within limits. Freedom to choose their work (i.e. play) based on their age/developmental level and interests. But limits for their safety and their comfort level.

Known for:

It’s specialty schools and wooden toys.


Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator who used observational research to create an educational method based on the way children learn naturally. Her first school was founded in Rome in 1907. Today, it is estimated that there are about 4,500 Montessori schools in the US and about 20,000 worldwide (source).

Popular Resources:





The Basic Principles:

  1. Independence
  2. Observation
  3. Following the child
  4. Correcting the child
  5. Prepared environment
  6. Absorbent mind


The first step to incorporating Montessori-style parenting into your house is to provide your child with as much autonomy as possible at their current stage of development. As old Maria says, “never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” How do you provide your toddler or even a baby with independence, you ask? Opportunities. Keep your eyes open throughout the day of any opportunities that allow your child to do things on their own, or with little assistance. When you do this, it increases their self-confidence, and according to Montessori, this confidence will carry on with them as they become an adult.

In practice:

In our house, Charley can do the following things by herself:

  • set the table (i.e. bring her plate, fork, and placemat to the table)
  • bring her plate back to me at the sink when she’s finished eating
  • push in her chair when she’s finished eating
  • bring me her shoes and help me put them on
  • hang her coat on the chair by the door
  • turn our lights on and off
  • help me unload the dishwasher (after all the knives have been removed)
  • peel a banana
  • mash a banana
  • stir eggs (we’re not quite to whisking)
  • “sweep” with her broom and dust pan (actually collecting the dirt off the floor is another story)
  • “wash” her table with a sponge (I typically go over it after her)
  • and water her plant.

All seemingly menial tasks, but for a 1-and-a-half-year-old, these are huge. When I first started practicing independent tasks with Charley, I almost threw in the towel (literally, the sopping wet towel from all of the mess she was creating). About three months later, however, I’ve seen how much she’s accomplished and I’m amazed at what she’s able to do if I give her the tools to do it (more on tools later).


Sitting, watching, observing. This is how Maria Montessori started all of her research. In her opinion, this is the best way adults can learn about the child — their needs, their likes, their dislikes.

In practice:

Charley is fascinated with shoes, and really all things feet. I don’t know where she got it from because as somebody with very flat, size 12 feet, shoes have never been something I enjoy. After noticing this, I decided to give her a “shoe playground” by laying out a variety of shoe options — my yellow converse shoes, her dad’s blue running shoes, flip flops, and her orange boots. To see the look on her face when she came down from her nap. Ah. It was pure bliss. She spent the rest of the afternoon traipsing around in shoes that were way too big for her feet. I also capitalize on this when it’s time to get ready. When she’s dragging her feet, all I have to say is “Charley, get your shoes!” and she’s on top of it. Because I observed, I understood what fulfills her.

Following the Child

Now that you have observed your child, follow their lead. I don’t mean this when it comes to dangerous, destructive, or untimely undertakings. But when it’s play time, let them be the leader. If they want to climb, let them climb (on a safe-to-climb surface). If they want to play with their boat upside-down, let them do so without telling them or showing them the “right” way to do it. Present them with options, and then let them choose what they want to do. After all, the whole point of playing is so they can discover, learn, and enjoy themselves; not so you can tell them how to.

In practice:

Charley and I attend an activity called Tumblebugs every Friday. It’s a real-deal gymnastics gym, complete with all of the bells and whistles — uneven bars, vaults, balance beams, rings, a giant trampoline, a jumping pad, tunnels and ramps made of cushy mats, a thick hanging rope that leads into a and a humongous foam ball pit that will make your inner child want to do a cannonball. When we arrived, I couldn’t wait to see what Charley would do with all of it. You know what she spent the majority of her time on the first three sessions? A red plastic rocking boat. I was annoyed. I remember trying to pull her off it and show her how cool all of the other apparatuses were. She would kick and scream and inevitably, run right back to that stupid boat. Right around the same time, I was reading all about Montessori. And so, the next Tumblebugs session, I let it go. She rocked and rocked that boat for what felt like forever with a big grin on her face the whole time. But you know what? Eventually, she got off. And she went to explore on her own. First, the mat made to act as a slide, then the trampoline, the balance beam, and back to that boat. I guarantee she had much more fun that day, and guess what? So did I.

Correcting the Child

We all make mistakes. But children make them more than anyone. Not surprising considering their brains are not fully developed yet and this world is still pretty new to them. All this to say, give them a break. Montessori doesn’t believe there is any reason to correct your child or scold them if they spilled milk or accidentally broke a plate. Instead, recognize it as an opportunity to do some practical work and let them help you clean it up (unless it’s broken glass or ceramic obviously). The theory goes that constantly correcting your child will make them more hesitant to attempt anything on their own for fear of making a mistake.

In practice:

Just like many kids Charley’s age, she has her own special way of saying words. “Wawa” is water, “Bee” is bib, “Kock” is sock (yes, I realize what that sounds like), and “Woof” is dog, and “Deeg” covers a wide range of animals. Instead of correcting her on any of these, I just repeat the word back to her in context in the correct form. Honestly, I’m just happy she’s talking and not worried in the least that she won’t learn the correct way to say "sock" (otherwise, she may end up in the principal’s office on the first day of school).

Prepared Environment

Montessori believes the development of the child is dependent on the environment that he or she is in. They emphasize beauty (wooden toys versus noisy plastic ones), simplicity (less is more — when it comes to toys and clutter), and activities that are intended to challenge the child at the age and/or development level they are at. If you want to visualize what I’m talking about, just Google image “Montessori shelves,” “Montessori kitchen” or “Montessori bedroom.” You’ll get the idea. Here’s a short list of some things that make a “Prepared Environment”:

  • A low shelf that displays 5-7 toys at a time, with the intention of rotating these toys every 2 weeks or so to keep things fresh and exciting (and no overflowing toy box in sight).
  • A self-care area complete with mirror, brush and comb, tissues, and maybe a seat so your child can start to explore what it means to take care of their body.
  • A play kitchen turned “real kitchen” stocked with real plates, silverware, a place mat, cups, and maybe a few kitchen supplies that your child can use to set his or her table before meal time.
  • A small table and chairs, easy enough for your child to get in and out of by themselves. This is to be used for meals instead of a high chair, empowering them to set the table, sit down, and get up independently.
  • Low hooks for their coat and bag by the entrance, along with a small basket for their shoes.

In practice:

I find this principle to be the most off-putting and intimidating of all the Montessori tactics. It’s not that I don’t believe it could be beneficial. I would to have some Montessori consultant come redesign my home to be more accessible to Charley. Or go to town on Amazon and buy all new beautiful wooden toys that keep her occupied for half-hours at a time. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the Montessori toys and tools or write it off all together because you can’t afford such an investment. I try to implement some of these ideas in little ways throughout the house, spending little to no money to do it. For example, I keep a low drawer stocked with plastic plates (not ceramic because I am just not that brave), 1-2 forks, and a place mat so she can set her table when I say lunch or dinner is ready. I use our fireplace as our “low shelf” to display 5-6 toys on. And I rarely rotate the toys because we just don’t have that many toys. Especially fancy wooden ones. And any effort to give her a self-care station has resulted in torn tissues all over the floor and a brush tangled up in her thick curly hair.

Absorbent Mind

This one is actually pretty cool. Through her research, Maria discovered that children under the age of three do not need to be taught in order to learn. Learning is achieved through absorbing their environment. In fact, research shows that children develop 85% of their core brain structure by the time they are five years old (source). Much of this, as you can imagine, is just by taking it all in — the way mom walks, how brother jumps, the way Dad’s lips move when he speaks. Keep in mind, though, every time you say Sh#*, or tell them “No!” soon enough, they will be spitting the words right back at you.

Montessori Tip: instead of constantly saying “No,” try to replace it with the thing you want them to do or try “Stop”.

In practice:

That’s the beauty of this one. You don’t really have to “do” anything. At least not intentionally. A few months back, I got really caught up in the idea of making Charley a lesson plan. I felt that she wasn’t getting the “education” she could be getting if she attended daycare. It took me poring hours into this three-ring binder (complete with activity list and inspirational quotes) to realize that she doesn’t need a lesson plan. Waking up is a lesson. Spilling water is a lesson. Listening to me talk is a lesson.  

Stay tuned for the next philosophy breakdown: RIE. Thank you so much for reading. 

Much Love,


p.s. If you live in the Denver west suburbs, and all this Montessori talk piqued your interest, I've got something for you. I'm running a workshop with this incredible Montessori teacher from Longomont. It's happening May 20th, 7-9 pm at the Golden Community Center. Here is the link to get tickets. Would LOVE to see you there. 

proposal (2)