Being a MoM – a Mom of Multiples is all about order, routine and some sort of structure. Our structure is having a Montessori environment in our home and having a very high level routine which guides our day. Being a stay at home mom, with three kids, three and under and no help at home, I heavily rely on this structure.
Moms of multiples especially know that the day goes by in a blur because there is always something that needs to be done whether it is holding one or all of your babies while somehow getting food on the table (three times a day for five people). But thankfully, despite my full plate (pun intended), we still get A LOT done in the day! I thank our Montessori inspired environment and our Montessori-esque child(ren) for our productivity and thriving day.
Toddler S will often engage himself in an activity (or work as it is called by Dr. Maria Montessori) that I have set up on his shelves. He has also been such a great big brother and has actually helped to set up his twin baby brothers’ shelf activities too which is a task in itself but we finally got around to putting some thought into it.
The key, for us, in creating a home montessori environment for multiple age groups has included a few key things –
Making a dedicated space for Toddler S aka big brother to play age appropriate stuff without being interrupted by his younger siblings
Keeping things at the appropriate height/levels for each age group (lower shelves for twin babies and higher shelves for Toddler S)
Being open minded and creative about how to multi-use items
Dedicated space for older sibling(s)
For us, our dedicated space for the older sibling is Toddler S. We have a desk for him in our living room where he can bring work, so that the babies don’t grab it, crawl on it or get into it. Toddler S otherwise likes to do his work on the floor on an activity mat but the desk has been a great option for when the babies are awake. One thing that can cause unnecessary tension between siblings or any kids for that matter is being interrupted while they are at work (aka play). This space has been perfect for him to bring his trays that have items that are too small to keep at the babies reach.
Appropriate shelf space per age group
We have two Ikea shelves in our “learning”/”play” space. In our larger shelf, we use the lower level to place activities for the babies while we keep the upper most shelf for Toddler S’s trays. As the babies are becoming more mobile and they are able to reach higher and higher so we have slowly moved Toddler S’s trays to the highest shelf. The mid-level shelves are used for activities all three kids can engage in, of course knowing that each age group may use these activities differently based on their level which takes me to the next point. The second shelf which you can see in the background of the picture on the left, below is primarily used for the babies baskets since it is lower to the ground. This has been great because the babies can sit and engage with the baskets or stand and play with items on top of the shelf. Toddler S will often sit and show the twins the items in these baskets too.
Open minded & creativity
It has been very important for all of us to have an open mind & encourage creativity in how some of the activities are being used by the infant twins vs by Toddler S. The Babies may explore something which is appropriate for them but Toddler S will either play with it “correctly” because he has mastered it or will be creative in using it in a different way. It is fun to see Toddler S explore something which we perceive he has “mastered”. It reminds you that the sky really is the limit because there is no right or wrong way to some of the open ended play items. Their minds are so untainted. On the flip side, a new material Toddler S is learning with, the babies may use to make sounds, or explore at their own capacity. A great example of this was Toddler S’s animal magnets. Toddler S enjoyed learning about the different characteristics of these animals and was sorting them in various ways, or enjoyed playing ‘eye-spy’ with them on the floor or his white board. The Twins on the other hand used these same magnets to make noise with by tapping them on various objects or by sticking them and unsticking them from the dishwasher.
Overall, the Montessori approach has been such a blessing for us. I can’t even begin to imagine what our toy stash would look like if we relied on new toys to constantly keep three curious minds busy. Like most parents, we very quickly learned that the toys are outgrown in minutes. The true entertainment and the endless possibilities are in the boxes these toys come in. They are not age bound, they are not time bound. They encourage hours of entertainment, limitless creativity and have very little limitations. This is where the true beauty of play is.
This too is the beauty of our montessori inspired environment resulting in plenty of learning, growth and productivity for everyone, everyday.
Here is the table which we have in our living space that is used by big brother when he works on things that need to be kept out of the babies hands or when he just needs some space. As you can see, we are already outgrowing it. It will be time to evolve our space again soon.
What does your home environment look like with multiple children? What are some things that have worked to keep the sibling peace while at play?