Lucas is turning one in four days. We had planned a fun camping trip with his cousins. Enzo had a grill made, we ordered picnic blankets, prepared a few games and prizes, I ordered souvenirs, and reserved a venue. Sadly, that is not going to happen.
It’s been a crazy tough week for everyone. In our part of the world, we are in an enhanced community quarantine. A lockdown, basically. Because of the increasing threat of COVID-19. NCoV, Coronavirus, or “veerus,” our president calls it. My family and I are all safe, grateful that we have ample food and essentials in the house. While we entertain ourselves with funny memes about this pandemic, we are seriously anxious about things. The husband’s work–our livelihood–is dependent on live shows and mass events, which for sure will change once this is all over.
It’s just been a week. We’re in it for the long haul. As they say, it will get worse before it gets better. For now, we’re using this time to plan our next steps and making the best of what we have now. Enzo has been busy tinkering with his tools, while I finally had the time to clean, fix, and take photos of the baby’s room.
I read several books on Montessori parenting when I was still pregnant. While I’m not as strict as other Montessori moms, I do appreciate many of its principles. One thing that I practice is the concept of having a “prepared environment.” The goal is to promote independence and encourage learning through exploration within boundaries. A baby’s room should be safe, simple, clean, and orderly.
A prepared environment is this: even if you leave the baby alone for a few minutes, he’ll be safe. You may find him crying, hungry, and with a soiled nappy. But he’s safe.
This is really important for me because how many times did I have to take a few moments to pee, have a drink, or talk to the phone? Sharing a few details of how we assembled this area, for mamas who are planning to do the same during this crucial time of social distancing:
1. Large floor mat with a thin foam
Maria Montessori also advocated mats over beds. I agree. More floor time for baby means he’ll develop motor skills and independence faster. However, Lucas still sleeps with us in our room, on our bed. When he does sleep here though, we just lay him on the mat. We ordered that from Shopee. The bed here is more for when we have guests sleeping over because we only have two rooms in the house.
2. Mirror with a bar just beside the mat
Here’s another Montessori principle that we adopted early on. Having a mirror beside a baby’s sleeping mat encourages self-awareness and space consciousness. We put a bar when Lucas was around six months, just as he was trying to grasp things and pull up. This bar is life-changing. He’s been happily pulling and standing up since he was six months!
3. Pikler triangle with ramp
Dr. Emmi Pikler was a pediatrician and infant educator, and she believed in the child’s innate ability to learn through independent playing. She designed a climbing triangle, now known as a Pikler, so babies can learn to navigate spaces at their own pace. Like the bar, this has been life-changing for Lucas. He was already pulling up when we first introduced the Pikler to him, but he seemed uninterested at the time. We didn’t force him. “Observe more, do less,” as RIE parenting advocates would say. After a few weeks, we caught him attempting to climb up–one to two steps at first until he mastered going to the top. We attach the ramp from time to time to practice his uphill crawling.
We also did not show him how he’s supposed to use the Pikler. Sometimes, Lucas drops toys inside the triangle and crawls through it as if it’s a tunnel. We’ve had a few frustrations–he gets trapped most of the time–but if I didn’t interrupt, I’ll see him solve his own problem and get out after a few attempts. It’s amazing how imaginative babies are when they’re learning.
A few moms who have seen this Pikler at work on my IG have asked me where I got it. Enzo actually made it using dimensions I found online. We actually wanted to order from an online seller but found the price too steep. I’m lucky my husband is a carpenter. If you want to have one made, DM me and I can send the dimensions. :)
4. Walker wagon
Montessori also discouraged the use of contraptions such as traditional walkers. According to her studies, babies develop motor skills in a specific sequence and it’s crucial not to restrict or skip these steps. A walker wagon provides babies the freedom of movement to develop their standing and walking skills at their own time. I ordered this wooden wagon from Happy Story Co.
5. Bookshelf and knickknacks
On the other side of the room, we have a shelf and a comfy chair I used for nursing. We’ve had that tall bookshelf since forever, and while most Montessori rooms you’ll see have low-lying shelves, we decided to just use our existing one. I just put all the books and toys at the bottom rows, so Lucas can easily reach them when he’s playing.
On the upper rows, we have some classic books we hope Lucas will be interested to devour once he’s reading. That cute portrait is made by a former colleague who’s now a mom of three. You can ask her to paint your baby or godchildren (drawings make the cutest gift!)–see her other works at Selah Soul Art.
We love this room because it’s safe and we can leave Lucas on his own here with minimal supervision. I’ve even napped while he’s awake, playing on his own. If you’re keen on setting up your own Montessori nursery, I strongly recommend that you read this book. Also, follow other moms who have done it so beautifully. I personally follow How We Montessori.
How are you spending your quarantine time, mamas? Are you also busy with baby projects? Share them in the comments below!