Grace. What does that word mean to you?
For me, grace is not just an adjective, or a noun. Grace is a verb. Grace is messy. Grace is that thing that I tap into when I need to tackle a challenge or something I am afraid of. Presenting in front of a new audience, standing at a social event to promote my work, having to say no to someone when I know that it will disappoint them, but knowing it is what is best for me/my business/my family. Grace is that thing that holds me together at times. That space to breathe. That gentle reminder of my own strength.
Grace is also something to recognize in someone else. Not to put them up on a pedestal, but to recognize that they are working through their stuff also. They are in the arena, they are showing up. I can hear Brene Brown speaking about daring greatly and referring to Roosevelt's words:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms; the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the high triumph of achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails; at least fails while daring greatly" - Theodore Roosevelt
How do you show grace to your children? To your partner? How do you show your child how to show up and be in the arena? To face their fears and block out the opinions and voices of others? To live their truth. To make mistakes. To give others the space to do the same.
This might sound like something that isn't possible or important with children (especially young children). I believe that emotional health and is just as important for children as all of the "academic" subjects. Our children absorb everything in their environment, from our little idiosyncrasies to the way that we put ourselves down or the way that we interact with other people. Do we practice grace with our child when they don't measure up in our eyes? Do we practice grace with our partner when they do the same thing you have asked them not to do, for the tenth time?
Grace is hard work. It is not all flowery and pretty, like the image above suggests. But grace is beautiful. Grace in action is something to behold. When I think of grace, so many images come to my mind... the parent with the sick child at 3 am, the nurse in the hospital room listening to someone's life story, the teacher working with a child whose needs she is trying to meet, the adult child helping take care of their parent; the crossing guards all across our country who stand out in all types of weather to protect our children, the armed forces who protect us at home and abroad, the emergency service providers, the people who actually pull over when the ambulance or fire truck approaches...
I encourage you-- start looking for grace each and every day. It is there. It is something you can practice and talk about with your children and as a family.
Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to add warmth to your home? Plants!!!
This is also a great way to include your children in care of your home-- plant care.
Have a little caddy with a small spray bottle or plant mister, some q-tips, small flannel cloths and a small hand towel folded.
Show your child how to mist the plant, then use the q-tip, cotton ball or cloth to wipe the dust from the leaf. "Leaf cleaning" is a popular work in the Montessori classroom, and one that can be translated easily to home. You can also introduce plant watering, have a small tray, small pitcher, and some sort of "watered" symbol- I use popsicle sticks. The child feels the soil to see if the plant is dry, pours water into the pot, then places the marker/stick into the soil to show that the plant has been watered. It is a good visual cue to children to stop before watering again to check the moisture of the soil.
As the weather begins to change, you can involve your child in care of your garden, or give them their own container garden. They can choose the plants that go inside and take the ownership and responsibility to water their plants. Involve them in weeding- show them what the weeds look like and work side by side. I will never forget when I was teaching in Charlottesville, I took my group of 8 Kindergarten age children out to one of the plant beds that needed attention and they worked so hard- they were so careful to only pick the weeds, and they loved having child-sized gloved on!
I love the work that I do with families. I love connecting and helping create solutions. I love sharing ideas, but I especially love figuring out how to meet each client's individual needs. This was one of my favorite projects so far. Lovely family with three girls. The three girls share a bedroom, and have one main play area. The three girls also have different developmental needs, so my goal was to give each girl her own space that celebrated her uniqueness and interests.
During the first session, mom and I re-worked the layout of their bedroom, giving each girl her own dresser (thank you to her husband and my husband who lent their muscles to get a dresser from the basement up to their room!). We then eliminated extra furniture, re-purposed some furniture, and really made sure each girl had her own space. We went through all of their clothes and mom made a pile for donation and then another pile for consignment.
That evening, I received a phone call and pictures from the mom showing the work that her daughters did together to make a little "doll clubhouse" for daughter #3. They all worked together and mom said the girls were so excited for their newly purposed space!
During our second session, we tackled the play room. Mom had moved the large piano out, and in its place, placed a re-purposed crib that she built into a daybed. Now the girls have a cozy spot to sit and read! We cleared the bookcases and gave each girl her own shelf to display whatever she wanted to- framed pictures, special little treasures or books.
We then made piles for donation, consignment and storage. We re-organzied the shelf that was holding all of their stuff, and just kept out a few games. The other games are nearby under the daybed for easy access.
The goal was to simplify and make this space usable and encourage order and creativity. The floor space is open now and allows for lego creations and room for board games. We had re-purposed a small nightstand and centralized all of the dress up items to that location.
The mom took advantage of our decluttering special and partnership with Rhea Lana's of North Cincinnati. I dropped off her donations to St. Vincent, then took all of her items for consignment to Nikole at the shop in Forest Fair Village. Nicole logged and tagged everything, then at the end of the sale, will mail a check to this mom. Win all the way around!
Contact me at 513-873-3591 to book your session. Let's work together to create a space for your child!
Beth is a mom first and foremost. She is also a trained Montessori teacher who is passionate about making the lofty ideals of the Montessori philosophy more real and manageable for families.