When our daughter started to crawl we did what most parents do, we dashed around the house “baby proofing” everything in sight. We moved dangerous things up or to cabinets that could be locked or secured. I installed latches on cabinets containing cleaning products. But as I looked around our home and imagined putting latches on every cabinet and drawer in the house, I got overwhelmed.
And then it hit me; maybe I didn’t actually have to install all those latches! Of course, I realize that I might need to add a few as my daughter grows and gets into things more, but I came up with a solution that is working well and has caused the least work for everyone. I gave my daughter her very own drawer.
As soon as she opened the bottom drawer in the kitchen for the very first time, I grabbed a bag, threw its original contents inside, and then tossed a few of her toys in the drawer. I included some kitchen items like a metal spoon, a set of measuring spoons, and a plastic cup. And voila! She took to it like a bee to honey.
Now, whenever I’m cooking or we’re hanging out in the kitchen, she crawls right over, opens up her drawer and plays with her “kitchen toys.” She hardly even seems to notice that there are other cabinets and drawers nearby!
But I didn’t stop there, I gave her a drawer in the master bathroom and she occupies herself masterfully while my husband and I take our morning showers.
We have also designated the bottom two shelves of the living room bookcase to the little one, and in true Montessori form, I leave new and exciting toys on those shelves to encourage her exploration. She even has two shelves in my office that will have her “work” on them for years to come.
Sure, we also have a basket of toys in the kitchen, living room, and her bedroom too. But she seems to enjoy her drawers even more, and I don’t have to look at the stuff inside when she’s finished, I just close the drawer! Of course, the next step will be to teach her to close the drawers herself. And after that, we’ll begin putting toys into the drawer and closing it when we’re about to leave the room.
If you have an older child who doesn’t yet have any designated kid’s activity areas in the common rooms, I highly recommend you clear some space for your younger family members. Then, stock their shelves and drawers with interesting activities that you’ll rotate when they lose their appeal. And if you also provide a rug and/or a child sized desk or table that they can work at, you’ll be helping your child set up great work habits and helping yourself get some peace and quiet. Because, when kids know where to look for an activity that they can explore on their own, they’ll go back to it again and again, and you’ll actually get some adult work done!
I would love to hear about your own solutions to support your child’s freedom and independence at home. Please leave me a comment!
Have a fantastic week, Shelly