Our Montessori- inspired home. Shared spaces between a 4 y.o. and a 4 months old baby

 
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I haven’t written here since one month. It has been a busy month, and tiring, with busy evenings, walking around the house with our 4 months baby who has changed his sleeping patterns (known as “the forth month sleep regression” :) and busy days preparing for our next move .. to a new country (without knowing which one yet)

In the middle of so many changes, our home environment has been the steady rock providing us the stability and the predictability much needed.

Today I’m showing you around. My daughter is 4 years old now and my son is 4 months old. The set-up in our house being a big open space, they need to share all the spaces so I have adapted the house to suit their needs, despite the big age gap between them.

Our spaces went through many iterations ( here when my daughter was 18 months old, here when she was 3,5 years old. You can also read my guest post for How We Montessori  "A Montessori Home for a Toddler" and this interview I gave for The Montessori Notebook  when my daughter turned 3), These spaces are growing with my children but our family values haven’t change, they are our anchor. Our home is designed ...

  • to foster independence, right from the start

  • to facilitate the children’s contribution to our family's life and show them that no matter how young, they are family members in their own right

  • to infuse our daily life with beauty, to encourage mindfulness and gratitude (towards life and towards each others) - some of the core values of our family

 We have started to prepare these shared spaces before my son was born so that my daughter gradually gets used to the idea

Sharing the Family Table

The Montessori pedagogy encourages us the use of small tables and chairs where children can have their own meal. I think it’s perfect for Montessori kindergartens but might be tricky at home. I did sometimes use these kind of setting when my daughter was about 18 months old and we both sometimes had lunch on a low table where she sat on a children-size armchair and I sat on the floor.

Nevertheless, both my children, since they were only tiny babies, loudly claimed their places at the diner table. There was no way they would be lying on the floor while we were having diner at the table. Nothing could make them (and us) more happy than these messy- sometimes noisy- shared meals around the family table. So we started using the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chairs adapted for babies and then we removed the baby set as soon as my daughter was able to climb it and get out of it safely (that was in her case around 15 months)

 
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Spending Time Outdoors

 
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With the arrival of spring we spend a lot of time in the garden, especially as we know that we might not have one in our next home.

Last summer I have put together a little outdoors kitchen for my daughter. All the kitchen tools are recycled from our own kitchen. Although she takes part in cooking and baking with us in our family kitchen, she also loves spending time outdoors, lost in imaginative play. And here is the place where she plays for hours alone or with her friends who come over. I have just added a blanket close by and my son loves watching the kids playing and they sometimes include him in their play (he gets to be served mud pies and sand ice-creams)

 
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Close to this space, we have a sandpit that we use by any kind of weather. My son is too young yet to get in there but I know they will be soon sharing this space too.

 
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Sharing Self-care Areas

As any parent of more than one child knows, when trying to get two children ready at the same time (in the morning and before going to bed), organisation is the key. For that matter we have chosen to have my daughter’s and my son’s wardrobes and self-care areas in the same place. We have a changing mattress on the floor in the bathroom which allows us to get my son changed and dressed while helping my daughter with brushing teeth and picking up her clothes. My daughter has her morning ritual and bedtime ritual on charts with images from her favourite Montessori books, which helps her follow the same steps every day.

Same for this space in the hallway: they share it. On half of the shelf my daughter has her shoes, hats, sunglasses, scarfs and coats. And my son has a little basket too with his hats and knitted wool stocking

 
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Playing together

 
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Our playroom has changed since my son was born and I’m glad that we have decided to reorganise this space so that they can be together. My son has a mattress, his Montessori mobiles and a little shelf with some Montessori and Waldorf materials and my daughter has kept her tent, her building/loose-parts area and her imaginative play toys.

 In addition, she also has her creativity and crafts space where she draws, create miniature objects for her imaginative play and crafts objects guided by her own imagination, using rice paper, washi tape, fabrics, ribbons, elastic bands and wool.

 
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As my son is not mobile yet, we can still keep in this space all the small objects and loose parts but this will change in the next months as he has already started to roll over. And, as you can see in the pictures above, he is very motivated to get involved with his big sister’s play :))

Music corner

Both my children have started to attend Music Together classes when they were very young. My daughter was 3 months old and my son accompanied his big sister when he was only 6 weeks old. It’s something we love doing togethers. It’s fun and the purpose is their musical awakening and not teaching them anything formal. I found these  music "classes" to be very compatible with the Montessori and the respectful parenting philosophies. 

In our home we have real, children-size instruments (no musical toys) since my daughter was just a tiny baby. In time, we have added more of them while traveling around the world. Our music corner is a space that our family shares. I always prefer to make accessible a space for the everybody in the family, rather than duplicate it for the children. We love listening to Music Together CDs, audio books but I also make sure we listen my favourite music as well when we are at home.

 
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In this blogpost I have given tips about how to create a music corner at home and some of our favorite audio books.

Mindfulness space

I used to (and still try) start my days with meditation and my yoga practice. With two little children it’s hard though, needless to say. Now I share my yoga mat with my little one and I have stuck these Ikea mirrors on the wall for him to explore. I wanted to do this in their playroom where he has his mattress and mobiles but it was impossible due to the room configuration. So we have the mirror here.

 
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This is good though. He explores the space in this mindfulness corner and my daughter has her art space on the opposite corner of the room.

 
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I have written a lot about art spaces as I believe that it's so important to encourage a young child's creativity and imagination. You can see our art space here (when my daughter was 2 years old) and here (when she was 3) and here (when my daughter was 3,5)

In this blogpost you can see how we integrate crafts and handiwork in our daily rhythm and what's on our shelves. And here is an example of a process art project that we did last spring

 

Reading together and sharing our Homeschooling space

 
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Every day we try to read together a bit. When my son was born I have started to use the “Morning Basket” as a way to connect with my daughter. When it was just the two of us at home we used to read piles of books every day. We didn’t have to “plan it”. But breastfeeding around the clock as well as attending to a baby’s needs '(especially in the “Attachment Parenting” way) take a lot of time and energy. I realised we needed more of a structure. This is what the Morning Basket brought to us. Since my son turned 3 months old, he is much more alert and wants to get involved in any activity we are doing. Also he doesn’t enjoy laying down on a mattress so I have started to use a Baby Björn bouncer because he really wanted to see and engage with us and the bouncer offered him a wider perspective. I love our interactions together! He is part of everything and I love how my daughter includes him, explaining what she is doing and telling him stories.

Juggling two very different stages in life at the same time (a 4 years old child and a 4 months old baby), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is not easy. I’m not going to tell you that the way we are doing it it’s perfect. Many days are chaos. Some days we don’t even get to have our meals together, let alone read a book together. I made my peace with it. There are many seasons in life. The season with two little children is not one where you get to be bored…


Would love to hear your thoughts and your way of adapting your house to your child(children), here bellow in the comments or on Instagram where you will find me from time to time