We’ve all been told the phrase “If you want something done right, do it yourself” at least once, if not multiple times. There is nothing farther from reality when teaching a toddler how to do chores. Today we worked on hanging our laundry outside. I didn’t plan on doing this, it was my son that taught me that he was ready and that I needed to include him.
My son was standing beside me fussing and whining. I was focused on the task of getting the laundry up and trying to get him to play independently (i.e. chase our dog around the yard). When he wouldn’t let up, I gave him one of his shirts and told him to put it on the line, gently guiding his hand. He beamed with pride when it stayed up! I handed him another one, he focused on getting it on the line, it fell, but he just asked for another piece of clothing.
I know that I need to be more patient and slow down. I can thank my son for helping me to teach him. Sure he piled the clothes into one area or half of them fell down and I had to go back later and fix them, but that was not what my son saw. He learned how to do something new, he enjoyed working alongside me, and he felt pride in his work. Perhaps next time his coordination and his attention span will be longer.
Adult to toddler hack: In order to make our clothesline toddler friendly, we just added a rope at his height at the bottom. Cost= $0. Time=5 minutes
Advanced Lessons: for older toddlers and children you can incorporate lessons on solar energy and/or practical life of folding clothes after they have dried
It’s hard to be a little kid in an adult world. Everything is made for big people and you are working so hard to navigate this world but don’t seem to fit in. Having a toddler sized layout is important for building self-esteem and independence. Unfortunately, it is surprisingly counter intuitive and difficult to do as an adult that has had adult sized items for so long. One way I like to help myself navigate this new world better is to crawl around and see what my son’s perspective is and how I can better create an appropriate environment for him. It is not something that has happened quickly, but I like to give myself credit even for the small things. My house doesn’t look like a Montessori classroom or a toddler oasis but I am trying one item at a time. One rearranged item is better than none I tell myself!
It’s a small change I made. I happened to have this non-glass mirror hanging above my dresser so I could put my earrings in. It was very useless since I can’t wear earrings anymore unless I want to risk losing my lobes. I decided to hang it low in my son’s bedroom so that he can see himself in the mirror.
The first time he got a peek he did a double take. He smiles when he sees himself. He gets joy from seeing me in the mirror and then turning around and seeing me right there. Sure it’s covered in finger prints most of the time and doesn’t entertain him for more than a couple minutes, but I believe having this at his height is one small step I can take in making him feel confident in his environment, making him feel that his room is his.
Future goal: a brush on a shelf so he can learn to comb his hair
Wouldn’t we all love to spend endless money on the perfect setup for every room? If I could, I would have bought this Montessori infant shelf from Sprout. I found this brand when I was searching for a toddler table (blog post coming soon). I decided to convert a bookshelf that we had in his room. We had LOTS of children’s books on the bookshelf, and my son liked to create chaos by pulling all the books down on the ground… over, and over again. I found myself constantly putting the books back on the shelf multiple times a day. This appeared to be a waste of my time and my sons’ time.
Then I started to think about it from my son’s perspective. If I saw a shelf full of books stacked really close together, wouldn’t I have the urge to pull them off the shelf as well?? Looking at adjacent photo, what can a child actually process? This shelf is overwhelming. The books aren’t viewed as single items but as a large unit built up of building blocks- and what do toddlers like to do with building blocks? Knock them over! Break them down to their smallest part to try to understand their structure.
Wooden bookshelves are expensive. Even before I decided on a Montessori set-up, I knew I wanted a real wooden bookshelf. Buying new was way out of our price range, so my mother in law found this wooden bookshelf at a consignment shop for us.
The first of every month, I rotate the items that are on the shelf. Every item on this shelf was a gift we received. I keep his books in the top shelf of the closet and his toys in a toy box. I am no longer putting handfuls of books back on the shelf multiple times a day. My son now goes to the bookshelf and actually looks at the different items. He will normally just take one item to play with (or throw on the ground, let’s be honest). Even though the top shelf appears out of his reach, he actually really good at reaching to the top and likes getting the book up top. We did secure the bookshelf to the wall with cables for the day he decides to climb up the shelf.
His bedroom is less messy, I am cleaning up less and we are all much happier!