Maybe raising a child and growing up as a person are not that different. Reading parenting books taught me more about adults – most of the time, I just substitute the word “child” with the word “human” and the meaning is not changed a bit.
I learned more about conflict resolution skills and how to effectively communicate by reading How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk than in any self-help book I read.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting taught me how to mirror the emotions of adults and children in my life, with no judgment. As a result, they just keep on talking, revealing more of their internal landscape.
And then, there is Montessori. For a parent lucky enough to be literate, have access to sanitary living conditions and opportunities, it has become something like a rite of passage to get accustomed to the Montessori pedagogy.
In a Montessori prepared environment, all the materials and experiences are always at a child’s fingertips: furniture appropriately sized, shelves at her height, miniature everyday tools, self-correcting materials (think of Matrioshka dolls, if they are not classified correctly, there will be one doll left). This kind of environment improves learning and independence as it enables children to carry out most tasks by themselves.
My adult-prepared environment is a blend of analog and digital. The most important material for me is my daily agenda. After a few tinkerings, what works for me is putting all tasks digitally in Todoist or Google Calendar synced with IFTTT in Todoist. Then, I rewrite manually some of my daily tasks in my daily notebook. I prefer to plan every day in advance, and continuously throughout the day. I think better on paper, so I journal daily, trying to be more careful with how I’m spending my time.
Digitally, I also make sure to always log out from websites after I use them. At the end of the day, I clear my tabs, either using Onetab or just close them. ColdTurkey is enabled by default. The purpose is to have an environment that would lead to…
In Montessori pedagogy, it is paramount to not disturb the child when she is working. Just sit back and watch her. If she wishes to repeat the activity, let her do it as many times as she wants (practice makes it permanent).
When a child is immersed in an activity that captivates her, she displays a surprising capacity for concentration, and she can stay in that activity for prolonged periods of time. Anecdotally, I lost count of hours of watching my child immersed in transfer or water activities. It is obvious that this Montessori idea corresponds to the deep work term coined by Cal Newport.
Sometimes we forget that:
"The child is not an empty being who owes whatever he knows to us who have filled him up with it. No, the child is the builder of man. There is no man existing who has not been formed by the child he once was." Maria Montessori
If you would like to find more about Montessori, I recommend Julia Palmarola’s Practical Guide book, especially for her down to earth approach (you have been warned, there are some blogs or books pushing on “My Montessori is better than yours”).
Just as children thrive on routines, I noticed a vast improvement in my own non-parent life when using atomic habits. One of my best ways to fight procrastination is to have the same productive routine, over and over and over. And over. There is less and less mental friction to just start on something if I managed to do the same thing repeatedly in the past.
Always make a plan. Like every parent knows, leaving the house without having a plan, is a sure recipe for disaster. This does track to what one of the most productive people said
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Benjamin Franklin
Problem-solving, empathy, analytical reasoning, critical thinking, leadership, adaptability, teamwork, efficient communication, all these transferable soft skills are crucial regardless of operating in a high-performance work setting or negotiating going-out rules with a 3-year-old.
Previously published on my blog.
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