I’m getting so inspired on Instagram these days and when I approached Eloise from @mightymother_ if we could take a tour of her Montessori-style home, I was delighted when she said “Absolutely!”.
Eloise (28) lives with her husband, Sam (30), and daughter, Frida (18 months), in London. Eloise is a Hypnobirthing antenatal educator and doula and her husband works in the social sector. Eloise has a lovely blog, Frida Be Mighty, where she blogs about Montessori in the home and gentle parenting.
And this is their beautiful home. You are sure to be inspired by these spaces. I love everything set up at Frida’s height including flowers on her little table and cosy spaces to read. They have taken such care to include her in all parts of their home while having beautiful spaces for themselves too.
To find our a little more about Eloise and her family and to see more of their Montessori-style home, read on.
1. How did you find out about Montessori?
My mother used many things from the Montessori method with me when I was a young child – I still remember the sand paper letters she made for me! So when I was pregnant with my daughter I had a vague idea that Montessori was a positive way to raise and teach children. Once Frida was born I spent time reading some of the excellent Montessori blogs which are out there, I bought a few books, and slowly started to make some changes to our home.
2. What do you find resonates most with you about the Montessori approach?
My husband and I are firm believers in gentle parenting, that is, treating our daughter with the same respect, tolerance, and kindness which we would treat an adult whom we held in high esteem. The Montessori approach fits so well with gentle, respectful parenting. For me, following the child is an essential part of parenting mindfully and gently. Being child-led and raising Frida with a Montessori ethos for me goes hand in hand.
I love that Montessori parents tend to have a high level of confidence in their children’s natural abilities – I don’t mean they are pushy, or that every Montessori parent thinks their child is a genius – but I think that the Montessori approach encourages parents to help children achieve things independently, such as toileting, helping themselves to snacks, choosing their clothes and activities, and so on,from an early age. I find this very empowering. I suppose that’s a long winded way of saying that the Montessori approach genuinely believes in children, and sees them as capable individuals who can achieve brilliant things, fuelled by their own intrinsic motivation rather than praise or punishment. What a wonderful way of looking at young children!
I also find the focus on open-ended, beautiful materials really resonates with me and what I need from our home. I don’t get much sleep still, so I have a need for our home to be restful. People often comment that our home is fairly tidy and calm for one which also houses a toddler! I think that not drowning in a sea of plastic toys is just as good for us as parents as it is for Frida – I don’t feel annoyed or stressed by her toys, and nothing makes a horrible sound when she pushes a button. Her materials engage us as parents just as much as they engage Frida, which makes playing with her a real joy.
3. What is currently your favourite thing to do at home with Frida?
Frida is currently very much in a sensitive period for language, and her vocabulary is just exploding at the moment, with new words every day and longer sentences forming all the time. So my absolute favourite thing to do is just sit and chat to her whilst she plays or uses her art materials. She is just starting to play imaginatively, so she might be serving me tea or cooking me noodles, or she might be putting her baby to bed. I love sitting and just observing her; this age is so magical, and I wish I could just press pause sometimes!
We also spend a lot of time reading – since she was tiny Frida has been a real book worm, which suits us well as parents! Neither I nor my husband have any self control when it comes to buying Frida books so she already has a lot. I love nothing more than pulling a pile of books into bed, getting snuggled under the covers with her, and reading for as long as she likes.
4. Where do you hunt for Montessori style materials and furniture?
Like many other Montessori parents I love IKEA furniture – it sells some brilliant, child-friendly (and pocket-friendly) items.
Although our IKEA furniture isn’t the most beautiful, and won’t live to be passed down to future generations, I love that I don’t get stressed about it getting damaged. It means she can paint messily at her table and draw standing up at her art shelves (which often get covered in crayon, paint, and stickers), and generally really use her furniture as she wants to without me worrying that she is ruining it. I want our space to be one where we say “yes” rather than “no”.
My IKEA top furniture buys are the LATT table and chairs which are the perfect height for a toddler to use for art or snacks, the TROFAST storage units which we use as open shelves in Frida’s bedroom and in her art space, and the POANG child’s chair – we have two of these, one in Frida’s bedroom and one in the siting room, and she loves being able to sit down by herself on a chair her own size.
One of my favourite furniture items has been Frida’s Stokke Tripp Trapp chair – this has allowed her to sit at the dining table with us right from the beginning of her weaning journey, something which was important to us as a family as we always share meals together. We have since removed the high chair attachment, so Frida just uses it as a tall chair which she can climb up and down from by herself.
When we were putting together Frida’s room our “luxury item” was a Waldorf-style play frame. We currently use it as beautiful shelves for her toys, but it will grow with her as it can be covered with fabric and turned into a more enclosed play-house style space.
I always have my eyes open for Montessori-appropriate materials. I really like the UK website Absorbent Minds, which sells Montessori materials suitable for every budget. I also love Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks and Myriad which sell beautifully crafted items for open-ended play and art. Frida really enjoys playing with wooden Holztiger animals, play silks (perfect for wearing her baby in a sling!), and of course Grimm’s toys which are becoming more and more popular now. Melissa and Doug are great for puzzles, and Plan Toys make some lovely items from sustainable materials. My mum is also great at finding lovely things for Frida second hand.
Frida’s materials and toys all tend to be made from natural materials, with the exception of her Scheich animals, and almost all of them are open ended. I hope that most of her toys will grow with her and will eventually be passed to others as they are really beautiful.
5. What’s one tip you would give to other parents wanting to set up their home Montessori-style?
If I had to give one tip to other parents wanting to set their home up Montessori-style, it would be “don’t panic if you don’t have the perfect home”. If you don’t have the space or the budget to buy Montessori furniture, or special Montessori materials, it doesn’t matter – you can still put some baskets on the floor, or clear a little space for some art work to be hung up, or hang a mirror near some natural light. Materials can be as simple as some natural items found outside, or some crayons, or a few flowers to arrange. You don’t need a huge home or lots of money to create a space you can be happy with.
“For me, Montessori is less about the furniture or materials we have, and more about arranging our home so that it is a child-friendly space which has our daughter at the heart of it.
We want our home to be somewhere she feels nurtured and welcome; if we as parents are always having to say no, then to my mind there is something very wrong with the way the space is organised. There is a book which really influenced me called “Simplicity Parenting” which talks about decluttering our children’s lives, both physically and in terms of activities and routine. De-cluttering and creating an orderly, calm space is a process which holds a huge amount of appeal for me, and it’s something I’m still working to achieve.
Wasn’t that just so inspiring. Would you like to see more of these home tours? Let me know and I’ll keep them coming.
I’ll be back soon with more Montessori inspiration. Til then…