OUR MONTESSORI HOME: THE IMPORTANCE OF SCENTS

Scent is extremely important.

When I was training for massage (certified and licensed therapist), we were informed that we should never wear perfume and should only wash sheets with unscented detergent. Scented oils should also be avoided, unless for particular treatments, like aromatherapy. It’s a general rule to just avoid any scents, natural or not, all together. Why? Because scents are often influential and/or associated with certain memories. While someone may have wonderful memories and love the smell of cedar or vanilla, someone else may not feel the same.

There are many things we do to prepare ourselves, mentally and physically, for certain activities or events–like changing into a certain pair of clothing when working out. Yet we often forget how olfaction impacts us, or just don’t realize it.

You’d be surprised at how strong smell association really is. In college, when studying, I would burn a vanilla candle while drinking coffee with vanilla and then wear a vanilla scent on test day. While I can’t absolutely say it had an impact on my test outcomes, it sure helped calm the nerves. (It was this candle, which also has a prize inside–never my size, back when they were random, but still fun. Burning it only when studying encouraged me to study more, haha.)

When E and V were born, I was cautious about smells, focusing on the girls being exposed to my scent and not an odd variety. Prior to their birth, I slept with their topponcinos, as was recommended, so that it would smell like me and bring E and V comfort upon birth.

There is our natural scent, the smell that our bodies produce, but what about scents that we don’t make but come to be know as “our” scents–like the scents that are found in our deodorants and shampoos? Even unscented products often aren’t completely odorless. Even though our bodies don’t naturally produce these scents, the aromas in the products we regularly use become part of our distinct scent. And did you know that a single perfume may be used by many, yet still smell different on each as it mixes and is altered by each individuals natural smell? It is actually really interesting!

When it came to deodorant and shampoos, I decided to go with unscented or, when that isn’t an option, an aroma that brings me comfort. For instance, lilac and lavender. Being Autistic, I rely on these scents in moments of upheaval. While I normally just have a small roller containing these smells, I do spray my pillow with it at night to help induce sleep. This, of course, greatly increased the likelihood that E and V will recognize these smells as being part of me–which can actually be beneficial. You see, I can’t bottle my natural scent to spray in their room to bring them comfort, but I can spray a touch of *lavender–which isn’t just calming for me, but considered a “safe” scent.

Being that E and V are accustomed to these particular smells being associated with mama, they are familiar and help ease their time without me, like sleeping in their room. Once it was safe, I would spray (just a tiny bit) of lavender in their room when it was time for slumber. A scent of comfort to them, since I also wear it. Again, while our natural scent is obviously preferred, I can’t bottle it and we chose not to have E and V sleep with anything, not even their topponcinos, without supervision.

Scents are so powerful. In our home, a grapefruit and cinnamon candle means it’s time to clean. For years, whenever I did chores, I’d burn this scent. I stopped when the girls were born, to be safe as there are certain oils and such that should be avoided with young ones around. But, a few months ago, I started to burn this candle again, to help get myself in the cleaning mindset. It seems that the girls have started noticing as they immediately came to join. V will often tell me, “clean clean,” and, a few times, has pointed to the candle when cleaning up a spill on the floor.

As we are slowly adjusting our routine to include more time spent in the homeschooling room downstairs, I’m reminded that I need to incorporate this important sense to help. So I bought one of my favourite scents in candle form which I will begin burning when we are going to be spending time downstairs. This will help all of us as it will be comforting and get us in the homeschooling mindset.

The only downside to this method is making sure you don’t overlap scents. I wouldn’t want to choose grapefruit for chores AND for studying as it would create different moods and just be confusing and lose its effectiveness.

Do you have particular scents that specify particular activities?

*It is recommended that essential oils should be avoided until 6 months of age and even then it is encouraged that a provider be consulted as some oils aren’t safe for children.

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