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On Montessori at Home, With Chris Longo
Dadditude Newsletter #28
Dadditude interviews dads (and mums) from different backgrounds, professional fields, and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a parent in the current moment.
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On Montessori at Home, With Chris Longo
Chris became a stay-at-home dad 2 years ago at the start of the first covid shutdown after years of managing his family’s 40-year-old florist & photography business. His son is now 3 and they’ve recently welcomed a baby daughter. After falling in love with the Montessori philosophy, he set up a blog and Instagram account to share his passion with other parents.
We spoke with Chris recently about the challenges and rewards of being a stay-at-home dad, his love of Montessori, and not taking things too seriously.
What’s the story behind your passion for Montessori and early childhood education?
To be completely honest, I had never even heard about Montessori until right before my son was born. My wife is a professor and assistant dean in special education for teachers pursuing teaching careers and she was the one who introduced me to the subject. One day, she handed me a book and told me to read it. After seeing it in action with my son and seeing what a child of his age could do, I fell in love with the philosophy. Things that look insignificant to us as adults like doing laundry, pouring their own drink, grabbing their own snack, cleaning up their own mess are so beneficial to them in developing their independence. After setting up a variety of activities for him, seeing his increase in focus and learning is what really made me want to continue. It all started with my wife poking holes in a shoebox and giving him q-tips to insert. I was like ‘wow, something so simple’, and he was absolutely loving it. He was so focused and determined to get them all in. It made me want to create new ways to challenge him without spending a boatload of money on Montessori toys.
What is some advice you could share with young dads on the fence about investing time into Montessori?
To me, it’s not an all-or-nothing kind of thing. Like anything, I would say take from it what works best for you and your family. You don’t have to follow every part of the philosophy, I definitely don’t. I take what I like and what I think works best for my family, and we make it part of our daily lives.
Tell us about your kids.
I have a 3-year-old son (Bubby). He is full of life and energy and always on the move. He surprises me every day with what he says. It's like talking to an adult. He loves the outdoors and is all about trucks, trucks, and more trucks.
I also have a 5-month-old daughter (GG) who is amazing. Always smiling and trying to eat everything she sees.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
I do it all for them. Every decision I make is what my wife and I think is best for them to thrive.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
Not taking things too seriously. Sometimes, you just have to laugh about it and try to remain calm. Although still something I’m working on every day, not having that ‘oh my god’ reaction keeps things a little calmer for everyone.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
Getting the kids down for naps is the most stressful part of being a parent. My 3 year old fights it and says “no, I want to skip nap today”, and my 5-month-old just takes a lot of them. So having to put her down for the nap while keeping an eye on my 3-year-old is tough.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kid recently?
It’s the small things that really stick in my head. For instance, it was really cold the other day but we really needed to get outside. It can be exhausting getting both kids ready even for a 15-minute outing in the snow. After coming in, I laid my 5-month-old down on her floor mat, then I got my son’s winter gear off while she was complaining in her snow gear. After getting everything off, my son ran over to her and helped her with her pacifier.
Thank you Chris!
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