With just one child our rhythm was very relaxed and flexible. Except for our “Quiet Time” followed by our tea ritual and our bedtime ritual (and of course our 3 meals), who gave our days a bit of structure, we went very much with the flow. The flow of learnings, discoveries, readings, nature walks and playdates. I was very available almost any time for my daughter and could immediately respond to her questions, invitations to read or to go outdoors.
With more than one child, and especially with a newborn, things have changed though. The truth is that, from my daughter’s perspective, I am now less available. With a newborn that nurses around the clock it’s pretty easy to forget to sit down with a book with my 4 years old. Especially as she enjoys playing independently for hours and she is autonomous in our Montessori-inspired home.
I still wanted us to spend time bonding, wondering, laughing, discovering things together and I realized that we needed a structured time when both of us were available and mindful. That mostly happens after we had breakfast and I have nursed my son. He peacefully sleeps in my baby sling and I can focus on my daughter. It is important for me not to multitask and be fully present with her so I didn’t wanted to create this special, structured time during breakfast or while I breastfeed.
I have called our special time together “The Morning Basket”, “Le Panier du Matin” in French. The name was inspired by Lisa Winter, that I have interviewed here. Lisa sets an invitation to imaginative play and storytelling for her daughter in a basket. You can see Lisa’s beautiful invitations to play here and here. Our Morning Basket is a bit different. It includes:
exploring a current interest
Each evening I prepare the Morning Basket for the next morning. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to do it. I pick up something for each category: books, Montessori-cards, puzzles, games, etc.. Usually these materials and books are already available on my daughter’s shelves but I might also rotate some of the materials we have and bring something “new” from our storage. My daughter loves to discover each morning what’s in the basket, even when she already knows the books and materials inside. I also ask her if she wants to add something
I’m going to show you what was in our first Morning Basket:
Art/ Music. I select one of the Usborne Cards as staring point for a discussion about a painting or a painter. For others Morning Baskets I have also chosen audio books that we have listened together, CDs, books about an artist, … For our first Morning Basket we have discussed one of Vermeer’s paintings and we read about Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian painter that I love. We read in German this very interesting little book made by Anna from Eltern von Mars and then looked for more paintings in an Art Book we had at home about Hundertwasser.
Exploring a current interest: it can be anything my daughter is interested in: numbers, birds, animals, geography, human body, the solar system… I select one or two books, a puzzle, Montessori cards (like the Montessori boxes by Eve Hermann on Birds, Animals, etc…). For our first Morning Basket we learned more about the Barn Owl. I have also added a fiction book that includes a white owl, this gorgeous book “Coeur des Forêts a parlé”
Seasonal books: At the moment we are reading books about winter (you can see our favorite winter books here). For the first Morning Basket I have chosen a book without text where we had do guess which animals of the forest let the prints in the snow. I have added some stamps with animal prints and ink so that she can explore more animal prints
Our storytelling was based on a seasonal book “Guess how much I love you in Winter” by Sam McBratney. I have added two wooden hares from Ostheimer. We read the book and then played the story by using the two wooden figurines. In the end, I have invited my daughter to imagine her own story with the two hares.
Game. We end up our Morning Basket with a game as my daughter loves playing games at the moment. I choose between memory games, bingos, collaborative games, etc. You can see our favourite games here.
It has been a month since we started this new ritual in our daily rhythm. We truly cherish it as our special time together. There are days when we don’t manage to do it in the morning and therefore it becomes the “afternoon basket” . And sometimes we just pick one book from the basket to be read as bedtime ritual. It’s not always perfect but the intention is there: mindfully spending some time together. And even when the Morning Basket stays intact on the hectic days, we know it’s there waiting for us on the next morning. As a reminder of our commitment to take this time together.