A while ago I wrote to you about the chaos toys create in my house. I’m an official type A, high-strung, easily stressed, girl. Sometimes I really feel for my family; messes drive me crazy, and I, in turn, drive everyone else crazy with my clean-up rampages.
My husband does not share my need for clean, and my kids are, well, kids. Sooooooooo, after a lot of gripping, complaining, nagging, and yelling, I decided I needed a new plan to reduce clutter while keeping the peace. I don’t want to grow evil horns every time my kids are being kids and making mess in their rooms (or the kitchen, living room, bathroom…).
We need a system that is easy to clean up. A system where EVERYTHING has a place. A system where kids can easily access AND put away toys. A system where mom is less the center and responsibility can be taught and passed on.
I started researching toy organization on Pinterest, and came across the concept of a Montessori bedroom. Bugaboo goes to a Montessori preschool, which we love. The classroom feels calm, organized and kid friendly; plus the systems are already familiar to Bug, so I decided to learn more about how one creates such an environment at home.
My big take aways for all my reading are that a Montessori home is one where kids can “do-it-themselves”, where there are fewer, more learning focused toys and projects, and where kids can choose what to play with and then then be responsible for putting it away.
Bingo. It sounded great!
My first step was to take a hard look at their rooms and figure out what was really frustrating me. I decided there was TOO MUCH stuff. Both kids, but Bug in particular, would pull EVERYTHING out of a bin to find the one toy they really like, and ALL the other toys would stay scattered on the floor, and gradually make their way to other rooms. This was especially true of doll accessories.
I decided to take almost everything out of their rooms and leave just a few favorite things– on low, child friendly shelves. I boxed up and carefully labeled all the extra, so every few weeks we swap out a few toys, doll clothes, puzzles, dress-up stuff, etc. That way they always feels like there is something new to play with.
I have to say, I new system isn’t strictly Montessori, it is more Montessori inspired, but I LOVE it! Not only are all the spaces in our house staying tidier, but the toys are getting played with more. I think both kids were overwhelmed with the number of choices. They’d get something out, play a few moments, and then abandon it for some else.
Now, this still happens, but with fewer options, I notice they play with a toy longer and stay more engaged. Plus, when it is time to pick up, it is easy peasy. Everything has a clear spot, so it isn’t overwhelming.
Here are some pictures, so you can better see what I did.
In Bug’s room we pared the dress-up clothes waaaaaay back, only what fits on the three hooks and the one small accessory bin. Every few weeks, she can decide what she wants to swap.
On the top shelf you’ll notice a rolled up mat, she lays this out on the floor each time she plays with these toys. That way everything stays together and is easy to put away. (Though the apple pie and tea set (in the round box) don’t follow those rules). There are blocks in the flour canister.
This system works great in Guy Guy’s room too. I wanted his room to have the same feel, so I used shoe racks to create low shelves.
He can operate the lamp himself, which is nice! I also noticed he was overwhelmed with big quantities of toys. For example he didn’t know what to do with a huge pile of Duplo blocks, so I filled a small white tray, and now he plays with those ALL THE TIME. I did the same thing with train track and cars. I love how Guy will disappear to his room and play for 30 or 45 minutes, all by himself! He NEVER did that before!
I also love that each room cleans up in no time!
I also created a Montessori project space in our kitchen and I’m working on the playroom, but I’ll save those spaces for another letter!