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Independence

The Montessori Toddler’s Closet

When I first walked you through Annabelle’s nursery, she was three months old and there was nothing Montessori about her closet. We’re renters, and had plans to move out of our current house a year later, before Annabelle would really develop any interest in getting her own clothes out or dressing herself. So, I decided not to make any major modifications to the closet itself. Now she has nearly reached the ripe old age of seventeen months and we’re still here which is a topic for another post, but means that it’s time to make some changes. This week, I have finally Montessori-ized her closet and I thought I’d share with you how it was done.

The closet itself has two sides with sliding doors, and one side is dedicated to storage. The other side has a rod for hanging clothes, but it is at adult height, of course. In order to make it toddler-accessible, I purchased a tension rod – the type designed to serve as a curtain rod in your shower – and placed it at Annabelle height, toward the front of the closet for easy access. It is adjustable and doesn’t require any hardware, so I haven’t made any lasting changes to the house that I’ll need to undo before we leave, and it only cost about ten dollars. Easy!

Because Annabelle’s closet is so narrow, the stall sized shower rod worked perfectly, but there are longer rods, made for full size showers, that would work for a larger closet. If you have the type of closet that extends for the entire length of a wall, however, you may have to get creative. One idea would be to place a heavy piece of furniture, say a bookshelf or cabinet, inside the closet and set up a tension rod between one closet wall and the edge of the furniture.

Annabelle was in the room when I set everything up, so she saw me hanging the clothes and immediately came over to try her hand. She hung one thing and signed “more” until I handed her something else. This continued until all of the clothes were put away. She loved it! I made sure to put only clothes that are suitable for everyday wear so that when we’re getting ready to go someplace and Annabelle chooses an outfit, I’ll never be tempted to veto her choice, because it will always be appropriate.

I placed baskets in the bottom of the closet for items that don’t go on hangers. On the far left are waterproof trainers for when we’re going out, then there is underwear for when we’re home (side note: I have discovered that bloomers are perfect infant/toddler underwear. Why didn’t I think of this sooner!?), then there are pants, and finally socks. In our house, shoes are near the front door, so they didn’t require any consideration here.

The only thing I’m trying to figure out now is how to utilize the storage space that is above toddler height. Good spots for storage and organization are hard to come by in this house, so I hate to see any closet space going to waste! If you have any ideas, let me know!

I have been busy transitioning just about every area of the house to accommodate Annabelle’s ever developing independence, so I should have a lot to share with you in the near future. I was caught a bit off guard, since I didn’t expect to be here in this stage of toddler-hood, but I have really enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to adjust and organize things to suit Annabelle’s changing needs.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for creating a closet or other dressing space for a toddler or young child? How have you made changes to your living space to accommodate your children at various stages? I would love to hear from you!

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I’m linking up with Montessori Monday over at One Hook Wonder and Living Montessori Now!

My Declaration of Independence

Oh, speaking of independence, if you’re curious about the babe’s first 4th of July — she was quite predictably unaware that it was different from any other day ; )  We watched the fireworks, but were far enough away that we didn’t hear loud noises.  She didn’t notice them, and was content to watch whoever was talking at the time.  Anyway, on to my blabbering on and on for the day…

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I am frustrated.  Becoming a mother changes you, of course.  I think everyone knows that.  I’ve always been a bit anti-mainstream, and now that I have Annabelle to consider as well, I have so many more choices to make.  And all of my choices end up being un-mainstream.  When it comes to things that people aren’t used to, many immediately jump to criticism without really thinking deeply about the whys of the situation.  Others may not be judgmental, but immediately file the person who does these things under, “People who are not like me,” and happily move along.  There are those who also tend to question what has come to be accepted as normal by our society, and they may actually agree with the seemingly wacky decisions of a person like me, or at least find themselves intrigued by their different-ness.  I don’t feel like I meet anyone like this anymore, however, and I am exhausted.  I’m exhausted with being an oddball, with feeling like I can’t talk about most things having to do with my life with most of the people I see, because they’ll think I’m totally nuts.  I am most definitely not going to change things for anyone, however.  I just need to put it all out there, and remind myself why I do things the way I do to get myself back into happy, confident mode again.  I think it’s sad that most of the people I associate with on a daily basis know very little about me, because I don’t want them to file me under, “People Who are not Like Me” straightaway.  It’s not that I misrepresent myself, it’s that I just plain don’t represent myself at all, unless someone asks outright.  I’m beginning to realize that this does not facilitate the building of strong friendships, so I’m at an impasse and am thinking that I need to just be open, and allow people to cast me off as someone they can’t relate to if that’s what they’re inclined to do — because those who don’t are probably people I’d really like to get to know.


The following is my personal Declaration of Independence.  This is the what and why of my biggest eccentricities.  I may be strange, and I may even be crazy, but everything I choose to do and be is well thought out!  I certainly don’t think any of this makes me better than anyone else.  I just want to put it out there — for myself — to work toward openness and freedom in my everyday life as a mom.  
I don’t eat meat, eggs, or dairy.  My husband does, so don’t go thinking I hate on people who do.  Everyone makes their own decisions on these things and it’s not for me to criticize, but this is my choice.  Why?  Meat: It’s flesh.  The idea of consuming flesh makes me uneasy.  Most of the meat consumed by Americans is factory farmed, and the animals it is taken from are treated in a shockingly inhumane way.  I cannot, with a clear conscience, add to the demand for such a product, or use my money to support it.  It also takes a whole lot of work to digest.  I find that my body likes a plant-based diet much more. Eggs: I never much liked them anyway, but the chickens from whom they come are treated just as poorly as the animals I mentioned a moment ago, so I feel better avoiding them.  If we raise our own chickens one day, well, we’ll see.  Dairy: I make milk.  My milk is specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of my offspring.  It is a complete food with the perfect balance of protein, fats, lactose, sodium, etc for a growing human.  My milk even has stem cells.  Cows make milk, too, and I suspect that it is just as amazing and perfect and complete a food for their offspring as mine is for mine.  I find the idea of drinking udder milk (or anything derived from it) just as off putting as most adults would find the idea of drinking my milk.  Of course we all know that a nursing human has to be careful about what medications she takes, and most would stay far away from the massive amounts of antibiotics and hormones that are given to dairy cows.  Yikes!

I will never have another child in the hospital, if I can help it, and my next pregnancy will look a bit different from my previous one, too.  I believe that pregnancy is a natural state of being for women, and is not inherently dangerous.  In the absence of complications, it does not need to be a medical event.  By placing normal birth in hospitals, we create fear — the fear of liability on the part of hospital staff, who begin to feel that they need to “manage” a natural process with interventions in order to eliminate hypothetical risks and the fear of these risks and the interventions that are intended to eliminate them on the part of birthing mothers.  Fear is the enemy of the birthing woman.

I am adamantly opposed to circumcision, and if I should be fortunate enough to have a son one day, he will remain intact.  This is something I am unapologetic about and it is, at its core, a human rights issue.  Until I became pregnant and started researching, I, like many Americans just saw it as a fact of life.  However, it is, in actuality, a choice and I don’t believe that ANY parent has the right to make the choice to amputate a part of their child’s body.  There is absolutely no medical reason for circumcision — all of the lies we have been told about it continue to float around, but if we look, we can find the information disproving them.  As many infant boys die from circumcision related complications as from SIDS in this country.  It’s a tragedy. Here is a great article with facts on the subject: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/05/death-from-circumcision.html 

I co-sleep  Yes, I know that this can be dangerous.  I also know that it can be safer than placing an infant alone in a crib if done properly. I will avoid going on and on, but will link you to another great article from the same amazing resource as the above in case you’re up in arms on this one and would like some more info: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/cosleeping-and-biological-imperatives.html

I practice EC instead of traditionally diapering.  I discussed this at length already, so I’ll avoid going on and on.  If you missed it and want to know what the heck I’m talking about, look over to the right and find the “labels” in the side column of this blog.  Click on elimination communication and you’ll find more information than you probably want!

I don’t use any bottles.  At all.  Don’t even have any.  Don’t want any.  I have no issue with them, really, and understand that they come in quite handy for some, which is great.  They are, however, merely a replacement for (or in addition to) the breast.  I have no need for a replacement, because I’m always with my nursling.  I’m just that lucky!  I think it’s sad that we’re made to feel like we need to buy a bunch of plastic junk to feed our kids.  There’s enough plastic junk floating around in the ocean and littering the side of the road anyway.  When it’s time for other liquids, Annabelle will use a glass.  Yes, a glass – not a sippy cup, or a plastic cup : )  That’s another Montessori thing that I’m sure I’ll bore you with a discussion of later…

I don’t have a stroller.  Or an exersaucer.  Or a jumperoo.  Or a swing.  Or…  Don’t want any of those either.  I don’t have any of these things because they all restrict free movement.  While some encourage movement, they do so in an unnatural way.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with them, and again, I understand how useful they are for many people, but they’re not useful for me.  I prefer to keep Annabelle as free to move about as is possible, reasonable, and safe. I don’t like seeing infants moved from plastic contraption to plastic contraption.  I feel like it’s more natural to have them close to their caregivers, on a level that allows the infant to closely watch what their caregivers are doing, and to interact with them at will.  

My daughter’s “infant carrier” has never left the car.  Aside from the fact that she hates being in the car seat anyway, there are the reasons stated above.  Additionally, the medical community has come to frown upon the use of car seats outside the car as well, as they lower the infant’s oxygen level and can, with overuse, contribute to plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome).

I don’t have a crib.  I have already talked about this one, too, when giving the tour of Annabelle’s Nursery, so I won’t go on and on. It essentially comes down to the same issue of allowing freedom of movement, and to fostering independence. Oh, and co-sleeping sort of eliminates that need, too!

Fortunately, Annabelle seems pretty content with life, despite mama’s wacky ideas.

How about you?  What are some things that you do, or decisions you have made that have caused people to look at you like you were nuts?







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