Important Prep for Parents To-Be

parentpreoAsk anyone, and the answer will be the same. Parenting AND Marriage… take work, and likely lots of it. Alongside life’s greatest joys, come challenge, stress, guilt, tears, worry, fear, compromise, doubt, and learning. I don’t say this to discourage the weary, or swallow the bliss, but simply to embrace reality and help others prepare as much as they can as a couple before their family expands.

No matter your age, your degree, your confidence or parenting prowess, talking pre-baby about how it will rock your world (and bank account), is so healthy and truly a must! Where to start though?

Here is an activity I can recommend as a great way to break the ice. Make it a “romantic”  date night .. or plow through it practically with laptop and lists in hand.

WHO:    BOTH parents. Speak individually, but share as a couple.

WHAT:  Brainstorm a list of things you liked and disliked about how you were raised and parented.

WHEN:  Pre-baby is a great time to start, but it’s never too late.

WHY:  By simply rattling off memories, you may end up honing in on actual practical parenting “yays” and “nays” you and your partner can run with (i.e. you loved family walks after dinner or game night, or hated hearing fights about money).

Sometimes too theoretical to agree on the kind of parents you wish to be, or the type of kids you hope to raise. That can also is the easy part.. Who doesn’t want well-behaved, curious, kind, independent and big-hearted children and a healthy marriage encapsulating two individually fulfilled, happy and content spouses?

Like with any goals, the hard work is in the details and all the baby steps and decisions along the way. Hopefully, this activity sets the groundwork, encourages healthy and productive conversation and helps makes “the work” that comes with parenting and marriage fun and rewarding all the same!

By Christy Mraz
Christy Mraz is mom to an almost one year old baby girl. She’s also the most recent addition to the Mamajamas team. She is the eyes, ears–and typing fingers–behind our social media. A self-proclaimed foodie, addicted to cookbooks and Epicurean magazine, she’s very excited about contributing recipe ideas for baby and busy families…. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and you’ll see (or rather read) a lot of Christy.
For great gear recommendations from Christy, check out her Mamajamas List.

My Introduction to Montessori

montessoriintroAs you may have noticed from my many previous references to “Montessori,” my husband and I are big believers in the Montessori philosophy of education and parenting. The approach, developed over a hundred years ago by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational philosophy that emphasizes a high level of respect for each child, and allows children in a properly prepared environment to develop at their own pace.

Montessori believes that children are naturally good, naturally peaceful, and naturally motivated to learn. It doesn’t see children as blank slates to be filled up with knowledge by teachers, but rather sees them as little people in the process of constructing themselves. The teacher’s role in a Montessori classroom, is to prepare the environment and remove the obstacles for that important job of self-construction.
Montessori classrooms are characterized by freedom within limits. Children have the freedom to choose their work, and to work on it for as long as they wish. They also have the freedom to work alone or in groups. But they do not have the freedom to make the classroom unsuitable for the concentration of others, by yelling or running, or by joining somebody else’s work without asking. When they start to hit those limits, the teachers respectfully give them reminders. The consequence is an amazingly peaceful, serene environment where children are all engaged in what they’re doing, and respectful of one another.


Dr. Montessori’s ideas really started to gain traction when she successfully taught sixty, thought to be “unteachable,” children in the slums of Rome using her methods. Since that time, the Montessori approach has been widely credited for producing especially enthusiastic learners and creative thinkers, and counts a disproportionate amount of successful entrepreneurs among its alumni (including both google founders, the founder of amazon and Julia Child).

While my husband did spend a couple years in Montessori school early on, our obsession with it came about almost randomly. We were looking for activities to do with our 10 month old when we first moved to Boston. We discovered the Montessori Parent Child Center in the South End. While we expected our son would an engaging experience through the once a week parent-child classes, we were shocked to find that they were life-altering for us as well. We felt that through these classes, we learned how to be better parents.

After my son grew out of the amazing parent child classes, my husband decided to start his own Montessori school for our son. It combined an authentic Montessori environment with more parental involvement than the traditional Montessori school. The school has been open for one year now, and it’s been incredible. Always a sensitive and cautious soul, my son has blossomed into a confident and social four year-old. I’m so grateful to the Montessorians who have helped to provide him (and us) with an environment where he could thrive.

I wanted to give this brief introduction to Montessori, as well as tell you why I’m such a big believer. It will also give context to some of my future posts that will explore more in depth some of the transformative things I’ve learned from the method.

As a rule, I believe that any philosophy is only as good as it’s execution. But if you are looking for an environment for your child that sounds like what I describe above, and you have Montessori in your area, I really recommend you check it out.

Keeping Memories of Our Loved Ones Alive for Our Children

grammyThough I had felt my daughter’s kicks on other occasions, never were they stronger, or more chilling, than at my Grammy’s funeral mass. Seated in the front row with my entire family, I was almost winded by my soon-to-be-born daughter’s presence; a reminder that as we said goodbye to the matriarch, role model and rock of my family–a new sweet life would soon be on its way.
Now that she was physically gone, how could I keep my Grammy’s memory alive for my daughter?  How could I make her more than a beautiful woman in a picture frame in our living room?
While webcams have helped make long distance families closer, there is no technology that will bring our deceased loved ones into our children’s tangible life. That said, there is so much we can do to build a relationship and connection, even when a hug can never be shared.
Having been raised in a very Italian-American family, both being in the kitchen and respecting and creating traditions, are important parts of the culture. This has led me to develop a favorite, and most instinctual way to bring my Grammy into my daughter’s young life.
Celebrating my Grandma’s birthday…
grammy bday 2014Every 26 of September, I pull out her old Sunbeam mixer–the one she used at my age religiously (it still works!)–put on old school Italian music, and bake a birthday treat that I know my Grandma would have loved. While my daughter was only 3 months old when I started this last year, and was still a young toddler for year two, I like to think that this annual celebration will give us an extra special reason to pause and talk about my memories of her and share the life lessons she taught me.
From the thrown flour and sing-song, to the serious reflection, my hope is that my daughter will, in a way, have her own special memories of her great grandma, honor her legacy and look forward to her birthday every year too!

By Christy Mraz
Christy Mraz is mom to an almost one year old baby girl. She’s also the most recent addition to the Mamajamas team. SHE IS THE EYES, EARS–AND TYPING FINGERS–BEHIND OUR SOCIAL MEDIA. A SELF-PROCLAIMED FOODIE, ADDICTED TO COOKBOOKS AND Epicurean MAGAZINES, SHE’s very excited about CONTRIBUTING RECIPE IDEAS FOR BABY AND BUSY FAMILIES…. IN the MEANTIME, FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND PINTEREST and you’ll see (or rather REad) a lot of Christy.