Cooper the cat doesn't mind the post-holiday mess.
Is your house a mess? Mine is.
Even though my youngest daughter is 20 years old, my post-Christmas house looks no different than it did 15 years ago when she and her sister had lots of toys. Now, we no longer have Barbie dolls and Lego pieces lying about, but we have plenty of grown-up projects waiting to be finished over our remaining vacation days.
Sorting through all of this stuff today got me thinking about how difficult it can be to share space with others without resenting the mess those "others" leave behind. I want my daughters to be able to work together on the puzzle they picked out, and I'm happy they still (mostly) enjoy each other's company, but I don't want the puzzle to still be on the kitchen table next week.
Now that my girls are grown up they are able to respect and care for the spaces we all share. I know that puzzle will be put away before I have to ask, but when they were little it was a different story. I was constantly nagging them to clean up. And the need to nag them really frustrated me. Perhaps you can relate? The most common question parents have after observing their children in our Montessori classrooms is, "I see she puts everything away when she's done using it at school. Why doesn't she do that at home?"
Children put their work away in a Montessori classroom because everything in the classroom is designed to make that an easy thing to do. For example, lockers are child-sized so the children don't need help hanging up their coats. The daily schedule is consistent, so the children are not surprised when it's time to put their work away. And, when a child's work is very important to her and she cannot finish it all today, she puts her name tag on it to remind everyone that she will be working on it first thing tomorrow morning. Also, the guidelines for the classroom are the same every day and everyone follows them (eventually) so cleaning up is just a normal part of the day.
A nametag on a child's unfinished activity shows ownership and that the child's work is valued.
If you would like to learn how to use these and other Montessori practices at home, please join us for the upcoming "Bringing Montessori Home Parent Development Course on Practical Life" on Wednesday, January 27th from 6 to 8pm. This event is open to the public so you can invite your friends and you can follow the link above to sign up online. Learn how to improve household organization by creating child-friendly spaces and nurturing your child's independence in the areas of self-care and food preparation.
In the meantime, check out these articles that offer alternatives to nagging kids to clean up. In "Here's an Idea...Don't Clean Up!" Rachel Cedar invites us to look at a child's play as his work, much as we do in our classrooms.
In "Why I Stopped Asking My Kids to Clean Up," this mom describes what happened when she stopped resenting clean-up time and allowed her kids to follow her lead.
Finally, Sandra Gordon offers sound advice for teaching children to take on different household tasks based on their age and level of ability in this post for The Children's Trust.
Do you have ideas to share about living with and cleaning up after your family? Please share them in the comments below!
A car full of goodies is ready to be delivered to a local family sponsored by MSGL families.
A Lafayette mom got a big surprise Thursday night when Montessori School of Greater Lafayette (MSGL) teacher, Kelly Sallee, and her husband Randy delivered a car full of holiday cheer to her front door. Evelyn (not her real name), a 33-year-old mother of four who was recently diagnosed with cancer, knew the Sallees were bringing dinner and a few surprises for her older children, but she wasn't expecting armfuls of gifts and personal items for her 10-month-old baby, her husband, and even herself.
"She knew nothing about this," Sallee said of the mom's reaction. "She said she feels so grateful and blessed."
After being diagnosed with cancer in the fall and going through two surgeries, Evelyn worried that she and her husband would not be able to give their children a happy Christmas. Her husband works full-time and also helps her get to her treatments in Indianapolis every week. The travel expense and taking time away from work has made it difficult for the family to pay their rent and other bills, so Christmas presents were out of the question. When Evelyn reached out to local assistance groups in early December, she learned she had missed the deadline to apply. So she turned to a local Facebook group to see if anyone knew of an organization that could help her give her children just a little something to look forward to on Christmas morning, and that's where Kelly found her.
A basket of items just for mom.
"I called two local agencies to see if they knew of a family that my family could sponsor for the holidays but they didn't respond," Kelly said. "So I thought, I'm going to go find my own family."
When she saw Evelyn's post on Facebook, she sent her a message and they started talking. Kelly was moved by the young mom's situation and decided this was a family that could really use some help. When she shared the young family's story with the families of her Willow preprimary class at MSGL, they were eager to help. Teachers and families from other classes and Kelly's mom and sister also joined in, and that's when the fun really started.
Taylor and Kelly preparing to wrap packages.
"I am so overwhelmed with the great response," Kelly said. "I received so many gift cards in my mailbox and there were new items in the collection box every day. I am thankful for the classroom families and teachers who have contributed to this cause."
The box Kelly put in the hallway to collect items for the children was soon overflowing and the items had to be stored in the school's conference room. Although Evelyn was only hoping to have a few items for her 6, 8, and 11-year-old children, the outpouring of love from the MSGL community included items for the baby, a gift card for dad, and a basket filled with lotion, fuzzy socks, and candles to pamper mom. The family also received gift cards for gas to help with driving back and forth to Indianapolis for Evelyn's treatments. Classroom parents and Kelly's mother and sister wrapped all of the gifts and made stockings personalized with each child's name.
MSGL families sponsored a local family that could use a little extra love this year.
The family celebrates Christmas, so families donated gifts and stockings.
On Thursday, Kelly and Randy packed up the gifts, picked up pizzas for the family's dinner, and delivered them to their home. The children had to stay in their rooms until everything was hidden because mom and dad want the gifts to be a surprise on Christmas morning. Evelyn had just returned from having a port implanted for chemotherapy that day and was not feeling well, but she thanked the Sallees over and over again for everything they had done. She was especially touched by the handmade cards made by the MSGL children.
Cards made by the children of Willow class.
"She said she was surprised that the kids had made the cards just for them," Kelly said. "And she hung them up with all of her other Christmas cards."
Kelly hopes the MSGL family can reach out to a local family again next year and she intends to start planning in the fall.
"Not only did it bring so much joy to my family and myself to be able to help this sweet family this holiday season, but it was equally priceless to see how well-received this endeavor was at Montessori. I signed one of the cards on behalf of the school so that the family knew our community came together to make a magical morning for this very deserving family."