My daughter recently turned three. I’m learning that as awesome as Three has been so far, three year olds (and thirty-somethings, for that matter) can be extremely particular and demanding. For several months before her birthday, SB had become increasingly interested in what she was wearing AND extremely stubborn when I chose the “wrong” things.
For our family, we’ve found that giving her autonomy helps make the day go smoother. I started thinking about how we could prevent the daily meltdowns related to getting dressed by giving her more control over what she wears. What we needed was a closet where she could be in charge but not be overwhelmed by too many choices. I began scouring the internet for ideas. Although I found bits and pieces here and there online of Montessori-style closets, I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for and decided to wing it instead. Here’s what I came up with:
The first morning this closet was in place, she woke up to the new setup and was amazed. She looked through her outfits, selected one, and I watched as she began dressing herself and helped only when needed. I walked her through how to put her underwear on and asked her to put her shoes on once she was dressed. It was like a dream compared to the morning before. She was dressed and ready for preschool without a fight, and in an outfit of her choosing – we were both happy!
This Montessori-inspired closet has worked wonders in our daily routine. The first week or so, she had several wardrobe changes each day because she was enjoying the access to her clothes so much. As far as upkeep, whenever about half of the hangers are empty, I dig through the clean clothes basket and put together more outfits. When she gets undressed, I remind her where the dirty clothes go. Honestly, it’s been about a month since we changed the closet around and it mostly all happens without any prompting anymore. I wish we had done this earlier, even though she may have needed more help, there certainly would have been less tears (on both our parts)!
So, what do you need to set up a Montessori-inspired kid’s closet?
- A shower rod the width of the closet
- Baby hangers
- Clothespins (while I love traditional clothespins, chunkier ones like these are easier for little hands)
First, I hung the shower rod at a height where she could reach her clothes. Although she can hang from it, I talked with her about how it could fall down and she has left it alone. If you’re setting this up for a young toddler, please make sure the rod is secured to the wall.
Then, choosing from all her clothes, I selected only items that she can put on themselves (this is important!) to make complete outfits. I decided to hang about 10 outfits at a time, and included a variety of outfits. For my girl, I have a couple long dresses, a couple of shorter ones that require leggings, some shirt/skirt combos, and some shirt and shorts combos. For the two-piece outfits, place the shirt on the hanger and then pin the bottom piece of clothing to the hanger.
On the right is the dirty laundry hamper. In the larger bin on the floor, I placed all her shoes she can easily get on by herself. In the smaller bin are her underwear. I’ve since placed a second large bin on the floor of her closet that holds dress-up accessories. Speaking of dress-up, I chose to leave her dress-up outfits on the higher clothing rod or she’d wear her mermaid tail to school everyday!
Interested in learning more about Montessori in the home? Check out this post on The Montessori Bedroom.