I am delighted to be sharing this interview series with you, where I will be talking to a different woman every fortnight about parenting, motherhood, their daily rhythm and what makes a beautiful childhood. So without further ado, let’s meet the mother…
This week, I’d like to welcome Montessori teacher and author Simone Davies to Frida be Mighty. A trained Montessori teacher, Simone is hugely knowledgeable and she has generously chosen to share this knowledge with us through her blog, Instagram account, and recently, a beautiful book. I find her words on parenting young children so uplifting and inspiring, I’m sure you will enjoy reading her answers as much as I do…
Can you introduce yourself and your family?
I’m Simone Davies, born in Sydney and living the last 11 years in Amsterdam. I have been a Montessori teacher for nearly 15 years and love working with toddlers and their parents. I have two children, Oliver (17) and Emma (15).
Do you have a daily rhythm? What do your days look like?
When my children were small, our daily rhythm was very regular. They loved the predictability of knowing what came next and our weeks were filled with slow mornings and afternoons dotted with outings to playgroups, playgrounds, visiting friends and family, and visiting a nursing home. The morning and evening rituals were the same everyday.
Now that the children are in high school, our rhythm is more flexible. However, I still like rhythm and I have a morning routine I like to follow of meditation and writing gratitude before everyone in the house wakes up. Then my favourite part of the morning is eating breakfast together before we cycle off in different directions – the children to their high schools and me to my classes. In the evenings, we eat dinner together almost every night and I have an evening ritual for myself of soaking in a bath, reading, then writing in my journal.
Are there any philosophies or books which have influenced your approach to parenting?
When my children were small, I didn’t like the idea of threatening them, bribing them, or overpraising them to get their cooperation. So I started to search for alternatives. At this time I found How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk a great resource. I practised saying the things in the book, admittedly sounding a little stilted for at least the first few years as this was a very different approach to how I had been parented and like learning a new language.
At the same time, I started attending a Montessori playgroup with my son and my eyes were opened to Montessori, not just as an educational method, but as a way of life. It wasn’t long before I was as assistant in the class and following an AMI Montessori training course.
Your new book The Montessori Toddler focuses, as the title suggests, on very young children. What made you focus on the toddler years?
Toddlers are absolutely my favourite age to work with. I love seeing the world from their perspective and seeing that they are not trying to be naughty. Toddlers are impossibly authentic – they say what they mean and they wear their heart on their sleeve. They don’t try to play games. What you see is what you get. They live in the present moment. They find beauty everywhere. And I love how easily they learn. They are just so much fun to be around.
Toddlers are also very misunderstood. Most people find them hard work and emotional.So I found it so important to write a book to show others a different perspective of being with toddlers.
Which aspects of parenting bring you the most joy?
If I had to choose, I think the most joyful part of parenting has been watching my children grow into their own unique selves. But I love all of it really. They are my favourite people to spend time with whether we are just pottering around home, spending time in the city, or jumping on a train to go on a day trip or further afield on holidays. Even when they are having a hard time, there is so much connection that happens by being there to support them and be a safe place where they can let these feelings out.
Which parts of motherhood do you find challenging?
I think letting go has been the most challenging part of parenting. I’m definitely getting better at it but I do just need to remember I am tending the seeds and letting them grow.
When they take another step towards independence, it’s exciting to watch them and at the same time so hard to sit on your hands and let them go. Whether that’s a toddler working something out for themselves, or a teenager sharing a little less as they get older. I take a deep breath and realise I need to take yet another step back.
How do you make time for self-care, and what does that look like for you?
When my children were younger, I would get someone to look after the kids so I could go to yoga and I would soak in a bath every night. Reading books, meeting up with friends, and watching films are all part of self care for me too.
Now I realise it’s also small moments in the day – having a cup of tea, making coffee on the stove – interesting conversations, riding through the city on my bike, heading to nature ,and (still) having a bath every night.
In the last few years, meditation is probably the one thing that makes the most difference in my day to help me stay calm, grounded and centred.
What do you think makes for a beautiful childhood?
Exploring with all the senses!
If you could share one insight or piece of advice with other mothers, what would it be?
At the moment, the thing I find so important is to own our choices. Instead of letting life happen to you, make the life you want happen. Take ownership of it, be creative to come up with many possibilities, and stop doing all the things you think you should be doing and do them because you love doing them. Then life is filled with joy and every day feels like a special day.
Finally, what is your favourite children’s book?
So many to choose from! I guess my favourites are the ones my children and the children in my classes love to read again and again. So, based on the sheer number of times I have read it in my life, that would make Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell probably at the top.
Thank you so much Eloise for the invitation to do this interview. I love reading your perspective on raising Frida and am honoured to be included in your blog.
Thank you Simone! You can find Simone on Instagram here, read her insightful blog here (I really recommend checking out her resources section – so helpful), and find her beautiful book The Montessori Toddler here. Simone has also designed some wonderful online courses.