DIY Montessori Shelf

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.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

bookshelf with only two items per shelf.
Visually manageable for a toddler

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!

I wasn’t born this way

When my son was born, I was overwhelmed and under prepared for the pressure of being a parent. I made a sound decision: to do nothing but my best for that moment and learn as I went along. Isn’t this what we all do? I originally planned on going back to work after a semester off from teaching. One semester became one year, which became the foreseeable future. I had planned on going back to teach other people’s children, as I put my own child into someone else’s care for education. The pressure to educate my own child is much more intense than when I am doing my job in the classroom. I was looking forward to going back to work and not feeling as if my child’s education depended solely on me. As a parent we feel that we must be infallible, there is no room for error. As we all know, we make mistakes all the time. I have decided to pursue the life of a stay at home parent and deal with the pressures that this brings.

I didn’t originally set up my house for a Montessori environment. It was after a year of watching my son learn about this world he lives in did I see how powerful Montessori is not just for the classroom, but for the home as well. It just made sense (to me). My parenting style is what feels natural to me. I didn’t decide to become the poster parent for attachment theory. I don’t walk around screaming about the benefits of co-sleeping and that we should ignore medical professionals’ advice. I just did what felt natural and right for my family.

The set-up of my house feels natural for not just my son, but our entire family. Allowing him to create his own independence gives me and his father more independence as well (something I crave after a year of intense attachment parenting). Oh, and also we are incredibly cheap. So while I will spend 10 years in an institution of higher learning instead of having a stable income, I will not buy something if I can find it at a thrift store or on craigslist. While I haven’t gone back to my dumpster diving college days, living modestly is a goal (although you wouldn’t say I was a minimalist if you saw my closets that are stuffed from floor to ceiling).

So you do you reader. I am doing me. I am full of Pinterest fails, messy endeavors, and chaos searching for serenity.