Montessori-ing my home (the particulars and the pictures, part I)

… but first, a confession:

When I show you pictures of my creations or home improvement projects, I do clean up a bit before taking the pics. Not that I’d have you believe that my house is always pristine, but I don’t want you distracted from the main point by bits of, oh, let’s say dessicated play-doh studded with forgotten cheerios. From now on, if a photo I post represents how things actually look, I’ll say so. Otherwise please assume that some cleanup happened.

I think we’ll begin our tour of my montessori-ed home (and yes, as I’ve explained previously, that is a verb) in the kids’ room. There are a few minor improvements, a big build, and a couple of things that are simply organizational changes.

The bed

Hardcore Montessori parents eschew cribs in favour of a mattress on the floor, in keeping with the principle that children should be free to explore their environment. That’s all fine and good, and if I had thought of it before we had K, I might not have bothered buying a crib. But I did, and so the baby is in a crib while K sleeps in the snazzy toddler bed I built her. In my interpretation of montessori principles, it was important that K have a bed that is scaled for her, that she can enter and leave easily by herself (not that she’s allowed to, but that’s another post!), and has bedcovers of a manageable size. K was delighted with it from the moment she laid eyes on the raw lumber, and it’s been the site of many bedtime group hugs (yes, it supports two full-grown adults and a kid). Here it is again, the 5-hour upholstered toddler bed:

Grooming station

In montessori, children learn to care for their home, their classroom, their earth, and themselves. K hated having her hair brushed, and it occurred to me that she should have an opportunity to brush her own hair. Using a thrifted mirror and a section of picture-ledge shelving I created a vanity station. K keeps her brush and comb here (we used to keep hair elastics in a container on the shelf, but she just couldn’t resist pushing the elastics into the heating vent, and so when the elastics had disappeared we chose not to replace them on her shelf) as well as some decorative items of her choosing. She seems to enjoy seeing herself in the mirror and now stands much more patiently for her morning ponytail.

Dressing area

Okay, I actually didn’t change anything except how I use this area. The change table has been with us since K was about 2 weeks old, and we store the baby’s clothes here in bins with graphic labels. Diapers are in the drawers, wipes on top, and two diaper pails – one for ‘sposies and one for cloth.

After reading the blog of a montessori teacher who is now also a parent, I finally realized there was a solution to my recent dilemma – how to let K choose her clothes without letting her walk out of the house looking like a walking goodwill store? I do believe kids need to learn to choose their clothes and dress themselves, but I’m just not able to go all the way and give her free rein when it comes to her clothes. Anyhow, the solution was to offer her a selection of pre-matched outfits. When the kids’ laundry is done, I choose five outfits, put them together on hangers, and hang three of them on the drawer knobs. When she wakes up in the morning she can choose her outfit. It saves time over having to match, and then argue about, clothes in the morning before school.

This is what her selection looks like now, ready for the beginning of a new school week:

I think that’s pretty much it for the kids’ bedroom. Next time on “Montessori-ing my home” I’ll take you into the kitchen.

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