I’ve officially fallen off the Nablopomo wagon, but I will still attempt to post more frequently than I usually do. With Thanksgiving coming up, I doubt I would have been able to keep it up anyway.

One of the parenting sites I follow posted this blog post on setting up your toddler’s environment in a Montessori way. I finished feeling guilty because we definitely restrict Monkey’s access to certain areas in our home. It made me wonder how many parents are actually doing things this way.

We keep Monkey completely out of the kitchen using a baby gate. There are two reasons for this:

  • The litter box is in there (far from our food prep area – it is next to our washer and dryer at the far end of the kitchen). The thought of him messing about with litter or worse just makes me queasy. Toddlers and litter boxes do not mix. And no, there is no other place in the house for it. Our 2 bathrooms are too tiny to hold one and when we did our remodel, we had a space fashioned specifically to hold the litter box.
  • The oven is in there. One of my major Mama paranoias is scalding by pulling a pot of boiling liquid off the stove. Even though Monkey isn’t in there, I am in the habit already of pointing the handle to the inside of the stove.

We also keep him out of our office, but we are readying that room to be Monkey’s room in the coming months, so that will soon be a non-issue. We used to close our bedroom door, too, but he can open it now, so that’s free territory. To put things into perspective so y’all don’t think Monkey is closed off in a single room, he has free reign of the living room, dining room, and entry (and now our bedroom and master bath). He also gets taken out to Monkey-specific activities (park, Gymboree, indoor playroom, swimming when the weather permits) twice a day, and naps for about 1.5-2 hours each day. So he isn’t really “stuck” in one spot for hours and hours.

Still, this post got me thinking about ways in which I might make things more interesting and interactive. I’ve been feeling bad lately, too, that we have no space to do things like set up a water table or more sensory-type activity play areas. We have outgrown our condo, but aren’t going to be moving until DW can get back to working part-time (we’re thinking when Monkey starts pre-school next year).

Do you have your kids shut off from certain areas of your house? How do you handle things like litter boxes or other icky or dangerous items? Any of you living in small spaces able to do the Montessori thing successfully? Inquiring minds want to know…


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7 responses to “montessori

  1. Jdz

    I’ll have to research this a bit more when I’m home but what a neat article.
    My only comment is that I would NOT put a mattress on the floor! Yuck – it can sweat and grow mold. We bought S the KURA bed at I.kea and hacked it (will post pics soon). It is super low to the ground and is a twin not a toddler bed.
    Although we’re in a house we actually live in the upstairs appartment so we are limited on space too.

  2. I think it’s fine to have areas your toddler shouldn’t be- it helps teach them boundaries. That said, we have been keeping ours out of the downstairs office until recently, but are now opening it up so he can have more floor space (maybe set up a train set in there). Our house is small so we don’t cut him off from very much, but at the same time, he is nearly always supervised because of our close quarters. We only have one childproof lock in place, and that’s under the sink because of all the chemicals.

  3. We live in about a 1000 sq. ft. apartment and give The Bean free access to everywhere but the dining room when he’s awake. We use the ottoman and a pack and play to block off the dining room because 1) That’s where the litter box is and it also creates a safe haven for the cat and 2) That’s where Jen’s computer and some other electronics like the phone and modem are and it keeps him from yanking on wires. I think it’s okay to keep a few spaces as toddler-free zones. When they’re old enough to understand you can open them up to those areas.

  4. next in line

    Bee has free run of our house. I childproofed a few cupboards in the kitchen but that is it. For the litter we have the smart cat box. I think that is what it is called. They climb in from the top. Less messy. Bee doesnt go in it. Thanks for the link. I am going to take a look and change things up a but at our house.

  5. first, let me tell you i had a panic attack last night after reading this post and thinking about scalding water hitting a child in the face. thanks for adding that one to my list of middle-of-the-night-can’t-sleep-neuroses 😉

    aside from that, i really enjoyed this post. 🙂 i have a co-worker who is expecting right now, and they are setting up their nursery in this style. i find myself silently/internally shaking my head in that obnoxious btdt kind of way parents do. i can tell you, without a doubt, none of my children would EVER sleep if they weren’t in cribs. naptime would become party-without-the-parents time. joy would try to claw her way out of the room, then curl up by the door to cry, while bird and blossom tore the room apart. *maybe* if we had enough space for three separate bedrooms and *maybe* if the kids enjoyed napping/bedtime… but alas, none of those things are true for us currently. also, i can’t help but picture small babies falling off those mattresses. even a 12inch fall can hurt…

    re: the rest of the house, they pretty much have free reign of whatever floor we are on (the stairs are always gated, whether we are hanging out upstairs or downstairs). we do have play areas in the two main living spaces and in the kitchen, so there is stuff at the appropriate level to allow them to play freely. we pretty much watch them constantly, so when they get into stuff they shouldnt, we are there to redirect.

  6. Jen

    Well, chunk has pretty much free range of the house, although I do have cabinet locks installed and baby-gates installed across the tops of stairs because we live in a split-level and with our hardwood floors, I don’t like him walking down the slippery steps by myself. That said, every area on the level that we are on, is open to him. For some reason, he has never been interested in the litter box and it has never been an issue. He knows to stay away from the stove while I am cooking, although I do need to get knob-guards because he is now tall enough that these are interesting. I have basically baby-proof as needed but have never blocked off an entire room.

  7. I know an older post, but finally got around to reading the article and thank you, it is great. We limit Little Monster’s access to some rooms as well, interestingly enough the same rooms you seem to restrict Monkey, lol. He does have full access to the rest of the house and we have a HUGE yard that is his to roam and collect sticks and dirt and such. I agree with you, it seems Monkey has lots of things to do and places to go so I do not think he is stuck in one place. The Montessori ideas look great though! Also, looking forward to your TTC #2 journey, we are on TTC#2 ourselves right now!

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