Friday, 3 October 2014

Montessori my kitchen

I don't have a typical kitchen. My kitchen is the smallest room in the house (toilet is in the bathroom, laundry is only slightly bigger). I do have a rather big diningroom. This post is about both as to me, they are the same room.

Seb is doing the dishes for me! 

So the kitchen itself, is really what I think used to be a walk in store room. It's a step lower than the rest of the house. It's pretty simple, but perfect. Oven, dishwasher and lots of cupboards. The bench is quite deep on the stove side, which is great for cutting up things. On the other side, it's quite narrow, which is great, because that's where the dishes pile up. The less space, the less dishes you can pile!
See, it's tiny! Only a little chair for my little man as nothing else fits

Because I was nervous about Seb hurting himself on the oven, or being in the way while cutting, he was never permitted in the kitchen. I used to feel very proud when he'd tell his friends "out of the kitchen!". Having the step there made it easy. When I was cooking, he'd sit there and I'd sing and dance and chat for him. The step itself was enough barrier.

Of course, Montessori changed all this! Very reluctantly I let him into my child free haven and let him help with the dishes. First he stood on a normal chair, later he got his own little seat, which is easy for him to move to where he needs it to be. The room would never fit one of those awesome kitchen chairs you see on other blogs!

Once I got used to him helping with the dishes, which he absolutely loved, there was no use stopping him. He loved watching me prepare food and cook. I relented, but after an accident where I tried to turn on the gas, but it didn't work well and made a big flame, I keep him at the other end of the bench while I'm cooking. He's also not allowed in the kitchen when I'm putting things into a hot oven, or taking things out. I'm quite fortunate that he's a tea drinker (I drink mostly herbal in case you wonder). So he's very familiar with hot and that he's not to touch hot cause it hurts. He's quite good in cooperating with me.

Slowly, over the past few months, I'm letting him help more and more. He's already used to knifes, so when there is something easy to cut up, I let him do it. banana, avocado, those things he can do easily now. I'm still nervous about the rest. I realise this is more my problem, than his capability, though! He's a careful and gentle kid who understands danger better than anyone. He's the one who tells me to be careful at every opportunity he gets and he's always right!

The only issue we sometimes have in the kitchen is the bit where he gets into food. He has access to all the food I'm happy for him to eat, but every so often he gets out dry lasagna sheets and wants to eat them too. It won't hurt him, but it annoys me. something else I need to get over.

Dining room

Dining area,  with access to craft supplies. He now paints every morning! 

The dining room was a bigger project. It was fully child proofed. everything was out of his reach! So I spend a day or two moving things around. Now he can reach all the plates, cups, cuttlery, bowls, and whatever you may need on the table. Initially Ihad also put the breakfast tray within his reach, thinking he could set the table. Of course, he discovered that when I'm not looking he can go in and eat the hagelslag (dutch chocolate sprinkles) and margarine. Those two are well out of his reach. I wouldn't mind if he gets stuck into the peanut butter or appelstroop (Apple syrup, which is really more like molasses with a bit of apple in it). Both are healthy.

I'm a bit disappointed that he can't get into the fridge. It's one of those that is hard to open at the best of times and seals vaccuum when you least want it. Usually when I'm angry and impatient! I think it would be great if he could have his tray of fruit and other frigdy foods in there. It would save a lot of spoiled food! But I'm not buying another fridge, so this is how it is. He'll need help opening it until he's 10 or so. well, I doubt the fridge would last another 7 years, but, you know, it's a stupid thing.

All our plates, cups, bowls and cutlery are here. It's great that he has access. He can clean up and set the table.  Sure, he's broken stuff, but I do that too every so often. He's very careful. 

Another cupboard in this room houses the cleaning materials and craft stuff. Paint, pencils and paper. I prefer him to do these crafts on the dining table. It's been quite liberating having given him access to paint. He never really painted. Again, I was all nervous about it! But now I've got 5 jars of paint and one of water, on a tray, he's really good and enjoys it. He probably paints once a day! He's very careful and I have no idea why I was nervous. Just because other people's kids are messy, doesn't mean mine is. Don't feel bad if yours is messy, mine is not within the normal range. This is the child who, from the moment he could walk, would carry mess to the bin and insist I open it for him. Who'd put mess in the other bins without me realising. Who, once he could talk, would say mess and bin as one of the first 10 words. Not normal indeed! Not that I'm complaining, of course!

Lastly, we have his play kitchen, which houses trays for pouring and spooning stuff. I change it around, sometimes it's lentils and buttons, other times it's beads and rice.
oh, and of course, we got his own serving table. We never did the weaning table. He had a high chair, but from 12 months insisted he'd sit in the fake tripp trapp without straps. ah well, you do what they want. A few months ago he decided that chair is for babies and he sits on a normal adult chair. half sits, half stands. I decided it's not my problem whether he's comfortable or not, I'm not going to fight him. He's got good manners, and that's what counts. It's rather nice not to have to bother with a special chair! anyway, his little table houses a drink cup and jug of water, some fruit and at the moment a basket with flowers so he can do flower arranging. This is also where he does his pouring and stuff.

I think that's it. in summary, the main changes I made were:
- granting access to the kitchen
- putting everything within his reach, except for the chocolate
- getting over my own irrational fears and anxiety about I'm not even sure what.

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