This week, I interviewed Sabrina of @momhappens. She is a trained Montessori guide (0-6) and new mom from Costa Rica. The overwhelming theme behind her posts is the reminder to be intentional and present when parenting. I also love that Sabrina is able to give the Montessori theory and then the reality...we need to be flexible and find balance in what works in our home and family. I really enjoyed learning more about her and how she has created a Prepared Environment for her son. Hope you enjoy as well!
Tell me about yourself...
I was born and raised in sunny Costa Rica. I always knew I wanted to work with kids and wanted a solid base and understanding of their development so I got my undergrad degree (@ Rice University, Tx) in psychology with a minor in Education. During one of my education classes, I learned about Montessori and decided to volunteer at a Montessori school close by. I fell in love with the method and philosophy and decided to get my Masters in Montessori Education (3-6). While working in a 3-6 classroom, I noticed that our first years were having trouble with self-regulation, fine motor skills, and language development. I heard about Virginia Varga and her training course at CMTE, NY and decided to get my Montessori Infant/Toddler certification. After working for several years as a Montessori guide and consultant, I decided to move back to Costa Rica and we decided to start a family. I am now a full time mom who is trying to follow her own advice which is harder than it sounds :p.
How old is your child?
Sebastian is 4 and a half months.
How have you created a Prepared Environment?
I believe the most important part of a prepared environment is YOU. Nowadays it is harder to be truly present. Our phones and technology in general easily distract us and take away from the valuable interactions we can have with our family. When Sebastian is awake, I make an effort to be present and not check my phone. I have also created a simple yet intentional Montessori environment for him to play independently. His space consists of a neutral play mat, a horizontal mirror, a wooden baby gym with whatever he is interested in at the moment (mobiles, teething ring, etc), board books, a couple plants, and a shelf with wooden instruments. As he grows older, we will be adapting his environments to fit his needs and interests.
What are the top three baby items in your home?
Board books: they have rounded edges and thick cardboard pages which he now turns himself. Most of them have real pictures except for a couple of my all time favorites by Eric Carle.
Baby Gym: My ceilings are extremely high so I needed somewhere to hang his mobiles from.
Baby Carrier: We try to do a daily walk and Sebastian enjoys the carrier more than the stroller. We live in a very green area where nature is abundant so the carrier gives him a broader view and a chance to be very close to Mama :).
Tell me about using Montessori mobiles with your baby.
We made all his Montessori mobiles ourselves and modified them to fit his interests. Some he LOVED and some he lost interest in quickly. His favorite were definitely the octahedron mobile and the dancer mobile.
How have you found the transition from Montessori guide to parent?
SO HARD! I was 100% Montessori as a guide and have found a realistic balance as a parent. I caught myself clapping and cheering the first time Sebastian rolled over which I never did with my students in an effort to keep their intrinsic motivation alive. I also have him sleeping in a crib since it is what works for our family and gives us peace of mind. Being Latin is part of who we are as a family which makes it twice as hard to explain to family members why they shouldn't interrupt his concentration or why we do not want battery operated toys. In short, I have come to terms with the fact that school and home can and should be different and try to stay true to the Montessori core philosophy of following the child and respecting him as an individual.
What advice would you give expecting parents about preparing their home for a baby?
Read as much as you can and internalize all that knowledge but once your baby comes, try to be present and truly enjoy (and not just survive) every single stage they go through. Listen to advice but ultimately follow your "mom-gut" and do what you consider is best. In terms of material things, sometimes less is more. Your baby does not need all the "containers" and toys society makes you believe they need. He/she just needs a "prepared you".
What is your favourite Montessori quote?
“Instead of leaving everything to chance, the child’s growth at this time should be a matter for scientific care and attention. This means that something more is needed than mere physical hygiene.”
Absorbent Mind, p.15
I always try to be intentional and be present :)
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for the giving me the opportunity to share my Montessori journey with you and your readers :)
Follow Sabrina's Instagram (@momhappens) to learn more about creating a Prepared Environment for a baby.