Are you looking for a fun, simple, inexpensive project/gift?!!! Check this out! We bought a stack of 10 canvases from Michaels for around $10- then added tape to create a shape/words. I have done this on large sheets of construction paper also, but we wanted to gift these to our aunts and uncles and grandparents.
Washi tape would probably be easier to use to create your design! I put similar and complementary color families together on plates (so that we wouldn't end up with brown!), and this was the result!
Let your imagination run wild and paint with your child! Enjoy!
This holiday break has reminded me about the joys and challenges being a mom. A mom who is trying to get my little business off the ground, a mom who will be teaching 3 courses at 2 universities in a few weeks (and working feverishly to prepare!), a mom who is working on her relationship with her husband, a mom who is working on herself, trying to be the best version of herself. This is a picture of me, working in the car on the way home from visiting my family while my hubby took our 3 year old son into a coffee shop to go to the bathroom and came out with my favorite drink to keep me going. No makeup, messy hair, but full of appreciation. Stress and worry, for sure!
I know that I often put on a mask that everything is great and the images I share paint a picture of a family that has it all together. Truth- we don't. Does my child eat fast food sometimes? Yep. Does my child watch "Mighty Machines" and "Mister Rogers" more than I would like? Yep. Is our house messy sometimes? Of course! Does my son know that he is loved and cared for? Absolutely.
Another truth. I know that you don't have it all together also. And that is good! It is in the moments of being real and vulnerable and honest with ourselves and with each other that have such an impact on our children. Children need to see us as parents with the full range of human emotions. Were there times over the past few days that I saw pictures on social media and felt less than or that my choices as a parent weren't good enough? Oh my word, yes. Instead of wishing for something different, I acknowledge that feeling and then take a deep breath for what we do have and for the conscious decisions we are making in raising our son. A deep breath in appreciation for our health, for a warm home, for friends and family who love us, and for the connection to this big, wide earth.
There are so many people who are struggling with things that we know nothing about. And there are people suffering all over the world in countless ways. Our world needs more people who are real, who show up and who act with love, compassion and respect. By living this way for our children, we are giving them permission to be real and to make mistakes, we are showing them how to be a world-changer within their school, within their community, and within the world.
We love Rachel Macy Stafford (aka Hands Free Mama) - http://www.handsfreemama.com
She has inspired me to focus on what really matters- family. But it is hard- I know how much I use my phone for work and to feel connected to the people in my life. I also know how distracted I am when home with my son and I am on the phone/social media instead of being present with him.
I found this beautiful basket that we keep on our fireplace mantle. It is a tricky balance, and a lesson that I am continuing to learn. I am making a commitment to myself and to him to have designated times (when he is napping) that I can check my phone for emails and social media. I know- I hear you- so many emails and important messages coming in, but think about what message it sends to your child when you value your phone over personal interaction with them. That isn't how you are intending your behavior to be perceived, but that is the message that they receive.
My husband is also going to be putting his phone in this basket once he gets home, and we can take our phones out again after our son goes to sleep to check, but then we will put them back as a commitment to each other.
During this holiday break with your family and when your children are home with you, try to be present and mindful. Baby steps. When you make the change for yourself, you will notice a change in your relationship with your child.
This time of the year is busy for everyone, but I need to give a special shout out and high-five to all of my teacher friends, and to the amazing teachers at my son's school.
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of excitement and energy and teachers work to direct all of that energy towards engaging, meaningful work.... that play or performance that you saw where the children we so cute- that teacher worked tirelessly preparing the children and the environment for that one brief moment. Those sweet homemade gifts that the children are bringing home? Yep- that teacher spent time patiently getting covered in glue, glitter, paint and who knows what else to help create a memento of this year. That picture ornament that now hangs on your tree or on your refrigerator? A teacher made that, probably at home while watching a show on Netflix and unwinding.
We all know it, but please take a moment to say thank you to your child's teacher. A hand written note means so much- I still have a box of cards that parents have given me over the years, ones where the child lovingly wrote "Bef" or drew a picture. So, from one former teacher to another- keep rocking it friends! You are not alone and you are valued, supported, respected and loved. Really really loved.
Now go enjoy your time off and don't go to your classroom over break. You deserve it!
This time of the year is ripe with "best of 2015" lists or countdowns.... countdowns until break, countdowns until the New Year, countdowns until ...... (fill in the blank)
It is hard not to get swept away in all of this looking forward to something else, to the next "thing". It is daily practice to stop and be present here and now. Children need us as the adults to be the consistency for them, in the midst of new people and new situations during this festive season. Mention any changes in your daily schedule that morning to bring an awareness to the change. Think about how your child processes time- it is a very abstract concept, so I wouldn't recommend telling them days in advance, it may cause more stress not knowing when this new thing will happen. As much as possible, keep routines in place (even during this time!) to help your child's inner sense of order. Order and routine helps children feel safe, they know what and who to expect. We found that we needed to wait to decorate our Christmas tree until our son was used to the tree in the room, and the new layout of the furniture, then he was able to participate in decorating. We trusted him with ornaments and involved him in the process of decorating our tree. He adds homemade ornaments made from beads and paper chains to our tree, and takes it upon himself every morning to turn on the lights on our tree. His smile of pride that he is helping our family in his way says it all.
We know his limits and are able to read the situation- do meltdowns happen? Of course! That is a part of children's healthy development- it is our role as adults to respond with support and consistency. We know that he needs to experience working through a difficult situation and understanding that he isn't going to get everything he wants, when he wants it. We also know that taking him to a place with lots of new people/new experiences may be overstimulating, so we are working on finding that balance. We want him to enjoy all that this season has to offer, but we also don't want him to feel the rush and stress of it. That means that sometimes we need to say "no" to other things.
Keep an eye here for suggestions for simple, fun activities that you and your child can experience together while they are on their winter break.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a session!
Earlier this week we had the pleasure of working with a new client- she had two big goals-- tackling the kitchen and working on her ten year old son's room. She took advantage of the Holiday Declutter Special, so during this first session, we took on the kitchen! We worked together cabinet by cabinet, shelf by shelf to take out everything that she wasn't using. She has limited storage, so our initial plan was to store some of the larger kitchen appliances downstairs on a bakers rack that they already owned. This Mama was fearless in letting go of things that they were no longer using- cups and mugs from when she and her husband were in college, doubles of things when they were married and their households merged, and things that were broken or had lost pieces. Her younger son puttered in the kitchen with us while we worked, and it was a very productive time. She let go of so many things that she was able to repurpose other shelves/drawers in a more efficient way and keep things that she often used in an accessible space.
My favorite thing- watching her discover things that she had forgotten about- she has a beautiful fiestaware creamer and mug set in the sweetest shade of turquoise that had been up high in a cabinet with the door closed. She repurposed a cart that was holding other kitchen equipment and miscellaneous "stuff" into a breakfast cart, with her mugs displayed (and used)! Often times as Moms (and Dads!) we forget about ourselves and the little things that make us happy. We are so busy taking care of our children and putting their needs first that we lose little parts of ourself in the process. The little things matter- I encourage you to incorporate one special object/ritual back into your routine and observe how that affects your family.
This session was a reminder for me also- this is big work that we are doing together. You are letting go of stuff and even more significant in my mind, you are reprioritizing what you value in your family. When I left, I had a box and a bag full of things to donate, and their trash can was full of things that couldn't be recycled or repurposed, but the change in that kitchen was palpable and her excitement was tangible. I am looking forward to going back in early January to help organize her older son's bedroom, and also seeing how much progress she has made.
Contact me at (513)873-3591 or message email@example.com to schedule your decluttering sessions- this special expires 12/18/15!
I have had the chance to meet many of you and share my story- my "why"-- but we have new folks checking out Little Acorn Consulting (welcome!) so I wanted to give a little introduction.
My life has been dedicated to working with children and families. I was a Montessori teacher for 18 years before stepping out this past summer to establish Little Acorn Consulting. I believe in the power of family connection, and I believe that you don't have to spend loads of money every year on new toys for your child. I actually promote the opposite- simplify. Quality toys over quantity. Toys and games that encourage open-ended play, allow for exploration and discovery, that don't have batteries. Toys that encourage critical thinking skills and problem solving, process over product.
I love my work with families- coming into a home and meeting each family, hearing their story, and seeing the connection that the family has together. My mission is to serve you and help you make some adjustments to what you already own so that you can focus on your family.
My other "why" is in the picture below- this is a picture of my son and I. I started Little Acorn so that I could spend more time with him and be able to witness his growth in another way. This work is all about connection, my friends. It is an honor and a privilege to know you and your families and work with you. Call me today to book a session! (513) 873-3591 or message firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you looking for a way to incorporate more independence in your home? Try creating a simple shelf that contains some basics for your child.
* Cloths for spills and also to serve as napkins (they can then learn the complete cycle of washing/folding/using!)
* child size glasses- IKEA has great ones that are $2.99 for a pack of 6. Yes, they are glass, but your child will learn control of movement and care of fragile objects. If you aren't quite ready for glass- I LOVE little enamelware cups- we used these with our son before the glasses (found on Amazon)
* Pitcher- again- IKEA has this great latte steamer pitcher that is great for serving water, but a simple little creamer pitcher works also. Check out your local thrift store for a sweet little find for not lots of money!
* Child size plates and utensils-- we have the ones from IKEA, and we also LOVE the appetizer plates from Crate and Barrel
* Container that your child can open- we have used a few different ones and this seems pretty sturdy. We don't leave this out all the time, because we try to focus on healthy food choices. Place a small bowl of fresh fruit on the tray, or even better--- involve your child in snack prep by chopping veggies or washing fruits in a child size colander.
You don't have to spend tons of money to create a similar set-up for your child. Again- there will be spills and crumbs! We have a little area set up with a bucket and sponge for wet spills, and a small handheld broom/dustpan and a Hokie push vac.
"We must give the child an environment that he can utilize by himself" -Maria Montessori
Contact me to schedule a session together! email@example.com
"My kids absolutely love their new rooms! They used to watch TV or play on my phone non stop, ever since they got their new rooms, they are completely off electronics now. Highly recommended" - Mom to a 3 year old boy and 18 mo old girl, client of Little Acorn Consulting
I met a mom at a recent "Montessori In the Home" presentation that I gave, and she booked me on the spot! She knew her children needed their own space to play and knew that she needed help creating that space. She and her husband gave up their home office and dedicated this room for their children. During my first visit, we came up with a plan. They cleared the room of all of the furniture, and I gave them a shopping list of shelves/toy suggestions. I created a private pinterest page and added things to that page so that they could get a good idea of quality toys and products that were developmentally appropriate, toys that allowed for creativity and open-ended free play.
During our second session together, we arranged the shelves, and I brought baskets to arrange the toys that we brought. Every single thing that we added into that space had a clear purpose. We didn't add things just because they were cute, or because we liked them, we kept both of her children and their needs in our minds. Each child got their own shelf and work table. We added a little bean bag chair under the window as a nice spot to curl up with a book from the basket. We created an art area and organized all of their markers, crayons, paint and play dough. Each child had a shelf on the art cart for their own supplies, and there was a shared space on top with the drawing material.
During my third and final visit, we put the finishing touches on the room. The 3 year old boy was shy during my first visit and didn't really want to be near me. During my second visit, he would come in and out of the room to get things, but didn't really stay long. On that last visit, he was sitting on the steps waiting for me to arrive! We walked upstairs to his new playroom together and he ran over to the beanbag chair and curled up with a book and a huge smile on his face.
We also created a children's eating/snack space off of the kitchen, next to the formal dining room. The children now have a low table to sit and eat snack, and their own shelf with supplies for snack.
This is what fuels my work. Creating spaces for children and then hearing from the parents how much the children love the space. Creating a playroom doesn't have to be expensive, but what a gift to give to your child. Their own space that is theirs.
Contact me at (513)873-3591 to schedule your session. I am running a special right now- 25% off all packages- but hurry- this special expires December 18! Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The pictures taken below were prior to our work together during my second visit. The train tracks were unpacked and set up on the table, and the trains were put into a basket. We moved a few of the items out of the room, and the parents installed a dry erase board next to the window, below the telephone.
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.