Updated: Apr 8, 2020
You have suddenly found yourself "sheltering in place", which actually means "stuck at home" with your life, your work and your kid's care and education in one space. So this first blog post is to help you get your home set up so everyone doesn't go insane during this crisis - I mean the world already feels quite insane, right? A big Montessori principle I want to introduce you to is the idea of setting up your child (and your family) for success. So I want to walk you through a process that I hope will help you accomplish this.
1. Where is dad (or mom, or both) going to work? Find a space in your home, whether its an already established home office, or a spare bedroom, or even a corner of a room that is for WORK ONLY. I would put a boundary around this space. No kids allowed. You will find that if the work space has a firm boundary around it and it is not jumbled up in your living space, everyone will be happier - and dad (and/or mom) will actually get some work done. Along with that, establish working hours because just because you have bought your work home with you doesn't mean you have to (or get to) work all the time. Give your family time to work, time to play and time to relax. If your work involves concentration and quiet for conference calls or Zoom meetings then prioritize this space and create it in the quietest corner of your home. Set up your work space with everything you need to be successful.
2. Create a PLAYSPACE for your children. This needs to be a space where they can be noisy and not disturb the workspace of the parents. But lets be practical here: kids are noisy and messy and they need to have a place to be just that. This also should be a place they don't need constant (only intermittent) supervision so it needs to be a SAFE PLACE. So pick your area - a spare bedroom re-purposed into a playroom or the garage - and remove all hazards. That's going to mean covering electrical switches, tying up cords and wires, putting away all chemicals behind a locked door and taking away all tripping or falling hazards. One more thing, if at all possible have this place NOT be your child's bedroom (if it has to be separate play and sleeping areas with furniture). If it needs to be a corner of your living area - place a barrier around it (either furniture or a makeshift fence - you may have to get creative here). This is your child's safe space.
Once you have done this, set up this special playspace so your children have what they need to play play play. You'll know from our school that a large comfortable rug to sit on, low accessible shelving (can be your "barrier") with toys placed thoughtfully each in its own place, and small child-sized furniture is a recipe for hours of happy uninterrupted play. Follow these guidelines and you'll thank me as your home becomes a place of sanity again. In another whole blog I'll talk about what to put in this playroom, but for now - set up the room. If your child has a space like this, they can and should play in there without your constant supervision (just a listening ear and the occasional pop-in is all that's needed). That's right! You do not nor should you have your children climbing all over you all day long. Give them some space. Give yourself some space.
3. Finally, make sure your living area space is just that: shared space for you to come together as a family to hang out, to eat together (and prepare food together - a big Montessori thing as you know), to watch shows, to play board games, to read together and just talk about stuff. These activities are the activities of living - hence they belong in the living room. I've even heard of some families who keep the i-pads and phones out of this room - dad's (or mom's) work calls get taken in the work space, kids play on screens in the kids space (although this should be minimal). The living room can be used for TV and movies of course, and the all important Skype calls from grandparents - a must during this time of social isolation.
So to summarize, set up your home so it is not a jumble of everyone's activities all on top of each other. Separate kids activities from work activities from living activities. Do yourself a favor and stay sane during this time!
Happy setting up..Mrs Jo