For us, creating a Montessori-inspired nursery for Liv was a clear choice. The goal of this prepared environment is to gift the child autonomy, not only in play, but in their daily life as well. The ability to get in and out of bed on their own, dress themselves, retrieve their belongings with ease.
Of course, Liv is too young for most of these things at the moment. She’s simply happy to lie on the carpet in front her floor mirror, getting to know her body and experimenting with the way that it moves.
But it won’t be long before she begins walking, and suddenly her belongings, including furniture, become key components of her daily life. So when choosing furniture for her room, toddler accessibility was an important criteria for us.
A Montessori prepared environment is very much a “less is more” approach. The room is simple but beautiful, free of unneccesary clutter. The space is organized so Liv can move around freely, with little to no assistance needed from us. Objects that are meant for her, are placed within her reach. Toys were chosen with care; their meaningfulness, simplicity, and naturalness were carefully considered. Toys that don’t hold her interest, or are too advanced, we put away to rotate back in at a more appropriate time. Artwork and plants are displayed at Liv’s eye level, not ours.
The furniture is child-sized. Liv can get in and out of bed on her own. The table and chairs are low to the ground, so the Liv can easily climb on and off of. If it’s not meant for Liv, then it’s placed out of reach. If it is meant for the her, then she can access it easily and freely.
Why are these things important? Why does autonomy matter…isn’t it a good thing that my child has learnt to ask for help when he/she needs it?
Autonomy and asking for help are not mutually exclusive. But consider it from your perspective: how frustrating would it be to go through your entire day unable to do anything without someone else’s help? I have no problem asking for help when I need it, but spending my entire day reliant on another person would leave me feeling both aggravated and defeated. I wouldn’t feel very good about myself or my sense of worth. I probably wouldn’t feel very motivated either. Why would it be any different for children?
A Montessori prepared environment, one that allows your child to complete as many things on his or her own, gifts that child a very rewarding sense of independence. They grow confident in their ability to master new skills and resilient enough to keep trying when they don’t get it the first time.
And I get the pleasure of sitting back and simply observing her as she moves about, playing and learning and growing into her self.
So without further ado, here is a small tour of the Montessori room we prepared for Liv:
Although Liv still sleeps with us, I opted out of a crib in favour of a floor bed. This way, once she’s mobile, Liv can get into bed without any help when she’s tired, and get out of bed when she’s not. The idea of Liv learning to listen to the cues her body gives her, rather than relying on someone else to tell her when she’s tired, is a step towards her gaining a sense of independence.
I spent a long time searching for a dresser without any drawers. I prefer to use baskets so (when’s she’s older) Liv can pull them out onto the floor to gain easier access to what’s inside. I intentionally place her cloths folded lengthwise, as opposed to pile on top of each other, so she can see all the options and choose accordingly. The same can be said about this wardrobe I asked Liv’s Opa to build her: her clothing clothing is clearly displayed and she can retrieve what she wants all on her own.
Since this space is ultimately for her, I placed the artwork at her eye level and not mine. It’s simple and nature based: some flowers that I pressed the summer I was pregnant. Once she’s a bit older, I look forward to switching the artwork out based on the season.
At this age, a rug on the floor where she enjoys lying for hours at a time is where we spend most of our time. I’ve already spoken about how important her freedom of movement is, and I’m steadfastly against jolly jumpers/exersaucers/swings/bumbos etc. Babies don’t need them, moms do. Lots of research coming out these days about how bad these things are…how much they mess with your child’s natural muscle development. Since Liv has never known anything other than lying on her back, she’s happy to do that for hours at at time. Becoming familiar with her body, figuring out how she can move it, getting stronger every day, all on her own, is more than enough to keep her busy.
I built this suuuuper easy floor mirror for her (plywood, a mirror, and some non-toxic glue) and alternate between attaching it the wall, or letting her lie on top of it now she can roll onto her belly on her own. It allows her to focus, track movement, and gain many different perspectives of her space.
Since Liv can’t crawl or sit up yet, her toys are placed on the carpet within grabbing distance. I only introduced toys to her around 4 months of age, when I noticed she was able to reach for and grasp objects on her own. I try to make sure she only has a few toys around her at once, so that she’s not overstimulated. I also make an effort to always place her toys back in the same spot she found them when we’re done on the rug…given that babies are faced with thousands of new experiences each day, it’s comforting for her to know she can expect some familiarity and predictability when she returns to her space.
For me, the biggest perk of a Montessori bedroom is that it makes Liv rely less on me and more on herself. The room, out of all the rooms in the home, is suited to her growing and developmental needs. But most importantly, it gives her a sense of empowerment knowing that she can move around freely and engage in activities without constantly needing someone else’s assistance to do so.
Interested in creating your own Montessori bedroom? Here are a few tips:
- If it’s meant for your child’s use, place it somewhere they can access it on their own.
- Toys that no longer hold your child’s interest should be taken out. Less is more. Children engage with their belongings longer, and in a much deeper way, when there are only a select few to choose from.
- Use child sized furniture.
- Place art work at your child’s eye level.
- Everything should have its place, and be put back in the same spot each time when tidying up.
As parents, we can never be perfect, and we shouldn’t kill ourselves trying. But we can create a perfect room in our home for our child. It doesn’t matter if your budget is big or non-existent, if your child’s room is spacious, small or shared. Work with what you have. Consider moving objects around to make them easier for your child to access. Consider taking some (or a lot) of things out, especially if they don’t get used anymore. Then sit back and revel in the extra mom time you’ve gained yourself as your child enjoys a space catered just for them!