Creating order with a chaotic spouse - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 06-11-2011, 05:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently read Montessori from the Start, and I've become acquainted with the general principles of Montessori education and upbringing. In particular, I do believe that an orderly environment with a place for everything is a good way to raise children.


However, my husband is the kind of person who just leaves things ...wherever. He's the kind of person who never makes the bed because it's just going to get slept in again. He keeps asking me to buy a second laundry basket, but I resist because if we had two, he'd never put his clothes in the drawers. We have talks/fights about this from time to time (often including him reminding me that "entropy is the law!"), but they seem to have little lasting effect. He and I spend about equal time taking care of our 9-month-old son, since we each work from home for half of the day and are in the office for the other half. When I get home to take over after a morning in the office, there are toys everywhere, the baby's baskets of clothes are off the shelves, and sometimes the potty (we do EC) still has the morning poop in it! 


I also should add that he has a traumatic brain injury, and I'm never really sure how much of his quirks have to do with that, how much have to do with just being a guy, how much is just how he is, and how much is trying to drive me crazy.


I've accepted the fact that I'll never change my husband, though I do point out when he is making my life more difficult. However, I really want to raise my children to have a respect for and inclination toward order. Among other things, having some help reversing the entropy around here would be pretty awesome.


I would even be ok with my kids having two ways of being--a different set of rules for mom and dad.


Has anyone attempted to have an orderly Montessori-in-the-home environment when your spouse doesn't really see the value in an orderly lifestyle? I could use some advice/help/assistance.

Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.

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#2 of 8 Old 06-11-2011, 05:58 PM
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Can't help you, I'm in the same boat.  (the entropy comment too...aargh!)

I'll be enjoying any feedback and advice you get!!!



ok...but seriously, I have learned one thing..


I learned that I can't control his behavior, and it's unrealistic for me to have the entire house the way I would like it, but I have managed to establish "calm" areas...spaces that need to be ordered and peaceful.  (in our case, these are the kitchen when not in use-it must be neat and clean when I come down in the morning, the dinning room table, DD's play area when not in use and the front hall)  The rest of the house, well, let's not go there. 

I selected these areas for the importance in our daily rythm.  They didn't get neat and order overnight..nnooo way!! But I found that now that they are, it seems easier to keep them that way. 

It did involve a pretty big purge to get rid of anything that was cluttering the space.


I'm not going to fool you in thinking this turned my DH in some magical tidy man (oh how I wish!!!), I am the one who does most of the picking up (DD is still just a toddler), but I will admit that I find that DH has a lot more respect for the order in these spaces than he did before, and he will even tidy up every once in a while! (which is something he never ever did before)


Like I said, the rest of the house can be a disaster, but somehow these spaces can be brought back to order and peace and that feels good, you know!


I keep reminding myself that it's a process.


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#3 of 8 Old 06-19-2011, 09:57 AM
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I'm that person - and I know it was much to the dismay of my ex. Just a few random thoughts.

You won't necessarily change him, but you can help facilitate a more orderly environment. I think children want order and if you can help the child be orderly then that's half the battle. Your son is 9 months old, but when you arrive home and put things aways "hi son, since we're done, we're going to put things away".

The second laundry basket/hamper is a great idea - we implemented that and it's a small step above clothes on the floor so now my little one knows that clothes go in the hamper. We have a hamper upstairs and downstairs.

I think of putting things away a lot like point of sale candy racks. We purchase what's in front of us. Similarly, if there is an easy way to put things away, then I'm more apt to do it. I have a lot of bins, bring them out for my daughter to put her puzzle pieces, etc.

Cubby holes - shoes, purses, gloves all go in the cubby (not always first try), but takes a blitz through the living room to put everything away in the entry-way - these don't have baskets so they don't need to be pulled out to access something.

Low shelves and bins - I found some very nice ones for a reasonable costs - again, nothing needs to be pulled out

One nice thing about cubby shelves and bins - your husband doesn't need to pull out the basket to reach the items.

I know your son is 9 months old - but, within a year, he should be responsible for HELPING to put his own things away. I started at about a year and a half.old, before bed we'd put things away.

Last thing - and I cannot emphasize enough - less is better. If there are more possessions than can be put on the shelf and in a set of bins, it's more than a child needs. Invest in a plastic tote to put away the extras.

I hope this helps - my home certainly won't be in a magazine, but now that I have cubby systems and shelves, at least things are off the floor and it's easier for me and my daughter to put things away.

Hope this helps - I struggle a great deal with entropy so I had to create the environment that accommodated it. I hope it's not against TOS to post links to products, they were just included to illustrate how cubby shelves, bins and low shelves make it EASIER to put things away.
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#4 of 8 Old 06-24-2011, 02:29 PM - Thread Starter
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First, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful post. I've been working way overtime lately and hadn't had a chance to respond. I really do appreciate your presenting the other side of this, and in such a kind and rational way.


Wow, what you said about the baskets is SO TRUE. We have these cute little baskets under our changing table, with all of DS's clothes and diapers in them. DH gets them out to find an outfit or whatever, and never, never, never puts them back on the shelf. He says it's just so much easier to leave them out like that. 


I'm going to try to get some cubbies like the ones you linked to. We rarely have so many toys out that they wouldn't fit in there (although, when I ask DH to *rotate* the baby's toys...he just gets out more. Without putting any away.)--in fact, they all fit into a picnic basket. It's just a matter of putting them there! I've read all these Montessori books that talk about how babies are naturally interested in "in and out." Well, mine is just interested in "out!" I'm hoping soon he'll find "in" compelling, and then we can toss his toys in the basket together.

Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.

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#5 of 8 Old 07-18-2011, 06:20 AM
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What a fantastic post!  My first inclination is to say "It doesn't really matter what your husband does" because your kids are going to have their areas and he will have his.  Moving has shown me and my husband what a difference separate spaces can make in a house.  My little boy has two rooms for himself and a space in the kitchen just for him.  Everything else is family space. Here is how we did it.


In his Room:  

His drawers are 3 with underpants and socks in the top, shirts in the middle and pants on the bottom.  These drawers are labeled and not over packed.  He can put away his own clothes AND get dressed all by himself in the morning.  

His toys are in specific places- even the different types of engines have different spaces.  One at a time on his play rug and put away after (I'll be honest, one at a time doesn't always work but it helps!)

Basically a place for everything and everything in its place.


His second area is an all family creative space where he has a set of shelves and a small desk.  These shelves are amazing!  A bin for crayons, a bin for scissors, a bin for puff balls and felt and fun foam, etc.  On another shelf, he has all his personal cooking equipment.  On another he has science experiments.  


In the Kitchen, he has one cupboard all to himself.  In this cupboard, he has 3 bowls, 3 plates and 3 cups.  He has granola bars, cereal or other special snacks.  WHENEVER he wants, he grabs one or gets his own drink.  awesome.  He also has a similar situation in the bathroom.  


This is why what your husband does doesn't matter to your children's Montessori method; All they have to worry about is their space.  Try to ask him to confine his mess area to his bedroom or study.  

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#6 of 8 Old 07-18-2011, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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My husband does generally confine his personal mess to his "man cave." I guess what I'm going crazy over is his inability to manage the baby's mess. DS is only 10 months old. He's not really capable of putting his own stuff away reliably. When I come home after DH has spent the morning with the baby, there are Cheerios all over the carpet and DS's toys scattered everywhere--because DH doesn't do a good job of putting stuff back where it goes. I hope that I'll be good enough at modeling order that DS will be able to keep his own spaces orderly someday, but right now, his spaces are orderly only when he is with me AND I have found the time to clean up from the baby mess that DH has left all over.

Mama to Silas Anansi, born 9/9/10 and Petra Eadaion, born 10/1/12.

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#7 of 8 Old 07-25-2011, 01:58 PM
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It seem that you are going to have to carry the burden of the physical environment on your own until you can teach your DD to help out.  I just want to add that order in the child's routine is also extremely important.  Meals, bath time, bed time routines etc. need to be consistent and orderly.  Children are happier when they know what to expect.  (Plus, I always get compliments from babysitter about how easy my children are to put to  Good luck to you!

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#8 of 8 Old 08-15-2011, 06:30 AM
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I have the same situation. My husband cares for our daughter when I'm at work and it's like he is allergic to routine. I'm not even a neat person, and it drives me crazy. He also has some impairments, so it is hard to know what is going on. Some of the things that have worked for us is having it come from someone else "an authority figure" about how important the orderly environment and routine are for children -- in a book, a therapist, professional organizer, etc. We hired a professional organizer which really helped. We couldn't afford for her to organize the whole house, but we paid to have certain areas done and it really helped since she could listen to him and how his brain worked and set things up in a way that he could manage. Those areas after nearly a year remain fairly organized. Another tip is labels. I label everything so it has a "home" and I notice when the label is starring him in the face, he puts the object where the label is which is so nice because I can find it later! Yeah!! Good luck. I know what a challenge it is.


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