Thanks to Regina, a Montessori teacher and new mom in Lake Bluff, IL, for sharing real life with us during this Shelter At Home period.
I snapped this photo a few days ago, sometime between video call Number 5 and 6 of the eight I had to get through that day, while simultaneously caring for my four month-old.
This main living area of my 1200 square-foot condo now has to function as a living area for our family of three and also my “office”, from which I now remotely teach 27 Montessori children between the ages of 9 and 12 years old.
My husband’s office has been relocated to our bedroom so that we can conduct his work calls over his 12-hour day.
When you are making 50-60 calls per week while rocking, bouncing and entertaining a four-month-old, this scene inevitable. I am not even going to pretend that this was a particularly messy day; this is just our new normal.
While I did take some time to pick some items up off of the floor and counter over the weekend, the reality is that the mess will return as soon as the work week resumes. Fortunately, I have fully embraced the mess. I want to give my students the time and attention they deserve in these virtual meetings, and the time in between them is fully dedicated to observing sweet Inga smiling, giggling, grasping and admiring herself in the mirror. Any extra downtime is spent walking outdoors to maintain my sanity, rather than trying to keep a pristine home.
I am very aware that order is so critical for my baby’s developing brain. So throughout the day, I do make sure to keep her play area tidy and then do a more thorough clean up in the evening. It is easy to do so, because of the simplicity of it. Our little play-mat is nicely tucked between a changing table and our chest freezer (living in a condo we do not have the luxury of space).
A short tour of our play space
- My husband mounted a mirror onto the wall and Inga just loves seeing the cute baby in there during her tummy time!
- On the other side of the mat we have placed her topponcino just below her play gym. This way we can easily go back and forth between tummy time and using the gym for mobiles and grasping toys. (Topponcino is an Italian term for infant lounger, used in the Montessori world. You may be familiar with Dock-A-Tot, Boppy, or another brand.)
- Beside the play-mat I keep a small wicker basket filled her Monti Kids items from Levels 1 and 2, a few other simple toys, and a small collection of board books. I find that having those items nearby makes it easy to rotate her toys and books.
- I also keep some burp cloths nearby for quick clean up!
- In addition to my Monti Kids materials, one of my favorite aspects of the play area is a small floor chair, so that I can be physically close to her and still comfortable, even when I do need to work.
At a time in which I am all about keepin’ it real, I am allowing myself to lower my expectations in the rest of my home because I know I have created a lovely but simple area for my child that is easy to maintain. Just as Inga is beautifully oblivious to the hardship and tragedies facing the world right now, her play area is her little oasis from the mess and chaos in the rest of our home.