How do I make my tiny apartment kid friendly - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DS is 22 months and I am forced to turn on the computer( we dont have tv, and on computer I show him his own recorded Videos) since past few weeks to kill time and I dont want any screen time. He was without it for so long but lately I feel I cant get him busy with anything else.
We go out every moring to playdates and we do lot of book reading and drwaing with crayons. I want to do the cool montessori activities I see on many blogs but here is where I am stuck.

I live in a 1 bedroom aprtment with white carpet. Almost every activity seems to need hardwood floors else the carpet will stain or be impossible to clean. We live on third floor and can not run or make noise. I have a feeling he feels bored at home. I dont believe in too many toys. But I will get if thats the key to keep him happy and occupied at home. He has wooden blocks, puzzles, train table, some music toys like fisher price. They dont seem to interest him much. He used to be a independent player but not anymore. I tried simply activitues like pouring beans, or simple activities listed on blogs. He is not into them as much as I had hoped.

I hear other kids roam around their homes...mine is always by my side...and by 4 pm I end up turning on the computer..please help!

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Old 02-09-2012, 06:57 AM
 
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It can be tough, hey? My dd never left my side either, not until she was at least 2.5. She's three now, and still prefers to have me engaged in whatever she's doing, but I can get 15 minute chunks these days, and decently longer if I am doing something parallel to her. ie: If I set her up to "wash" pennies in vinegar and baking soda, with a rinse bowl and a drying cloth while I frantically accomplish something "grown up", she'll usually last for closer to 30 minutes. I just want to encourage you that it WILL get better. 

We've lived in an apartment for the last two years, with now 2 small people. Never with carpet though, that's brutal. It's probably beneficial sound-proofing though. Do you know what sort of schedule your downstairs neighbours keep? If they're normal 9-5ers, I would strongly suspect that you don't need to worry about the running/jumping/playing noises during the day. 

A few things that have been life savers (ok, maybe just sanity savers!) for us:

-a swing in the kitchen doorframe (yes, we rent. yes, we put anchors in the doorframe. yes, the grownups have used the swing too. we *just* moved in to a house, but it was literally NO trouble to fill the holes and spot paint over them when we left.) Initially, we had a baby swing, but when dd was just over 2, we subbed in a heavy duty normal playground swing. It's low to the ground, and much more self serve this way.

-taking the cushions off the couch and letting them jump on it

-painting the bathtub

-getting outside. everyday.

-lots and lots of books

 

Toys have not really been a boon to our kids' play life.

Are you more trying to have a little break in the afternoon? Does he nap? Can your partner agree to take your son out for 30 minutes after he settles in at home at the end of his work day? Even if it's just to the grocery store to pick up the missing peppers for your dinner, or whatever?

How laid back are you? For example, I have encouraged my dd to cut vegetables for meal prep alongside me since she was not quite two. With a real knife. When I write thank you notes, so does she. When I want five minutes to escape into a book and regroup, we all lie down on my bed with our respective books, and sometimes I get my five minutes before everything descends in to a massive wrestling match. 

Are you looking for more concrete ways to incorporate Montessori activities into your routine? Is there something in particular that you find to be not kid-friendly in your apartment? Other than the flooring, I mean. Speaking of, would you consider buying a remnant or the end of a roll of vinyl flooring? I know it's not at all the surface I'd want my kids playing on, but I think I would go for it if it would mean providing the space for some worry-free messy activities. You can even paint the vinyl, so it wouldn't be boring kitchen floor style. I'd look in to getting a good chunk, as big as you need to cover the bulk of your living space floor. Just roll it up and hide it behind your couch or something when you're not using it.

I'll have to check back and see what other people are suggesting!


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Old 02-09-2012, 07:26 AM
 
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Old 02-09-2012, 09:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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QuantumLeap, thanks for the detailed response! I will try to answer your questions.

He has given up naps. They used to be 2-3 hours but we are all better off with him not napping. So, thats why this extra time has suddenly opened up for me to fill up:(

My biggest problem is the carpet. I would love to do the endless messy activities kids love but I am so frustated that all we can do is clean and neat activities and for a 22 mo those are not many! I am going to look into the vinyl flooring....somewhere like Ace hardware probably? It has to be something he cant pull off else that will be disastrous smile.gif

My hubby is a physician who is doing his fellowship and job hunting simultaneously, so he is on call at nights and weekends.Its a temporary phase but he doesnt have the energy to take him out by himself. He has lost touch with how to handle DS ...he was a involved dad when DS was baby but toddlerhood is a different ballgame:) It doesnt help either that DS clings to me like his lifeline.

Coming back to my apartment, this is a one year lease. We moved to this city just for a year...yeah I had to start from scratch finding playdates, parks, etc:) anyways so I am not keen on making any big changes to the apartment. Else I totally would have dug up holes...lol. Maybe I still will....need to hire a handyman from craigslist. The landlord routinely drops by though....hmmm.

When we go out, which is everday, DS is sooooo happy. But then its time to come back and he starts crying. Lately we have been sitting in the car for 1-2 hours coz he would rather sit in the car and see sunshine and listen to the car stereo while strapped in car seat than go inside our apartment!! Hence I am convinced my apartment is not kid friendly:shy. Its very cold up here and so we cant do walks. Summer was awesome though.

Let me ask some specific questions:
1. Say I ask him to help me baking( which I am myself learning, I am Indian and our cooking is curry and involves green chillies..lol) ...how do I clean him up aferwards and the vinyl flooring? What products do you use? Seems like such a big mess.lol.
2. I am willing to let him help me with kitchen stuff...but our counter is very high. What do you use to make the kid stand On? A barstool or chair seems too dangerous, he can easily lose balance while concertrating hard or am I wrong?
3. I feel like DS has lost his imagination/ spontaneity/ curiosity ...because at home he doesnt " explore" . But if we go stay in a tiny hotel room he will investigate everything and be busy. Again, thats why I think my apt is not kid friendly, I started off by teaching him not to open any drawers or cabinets and making it very baby safe to the extent its boring now I guess.

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Old 02-09-2012, 11:12 PM
 
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I also live in a tiny apartment, a one bedroom actually, and it is SMALL.  Thankfully, we have hardwood floors but I could not do bean activities until recently unless I wanted to be picking them up for months.

 

 My DD has always used a chair and she has never fallen off, and she started useing a chair around 18mo.  Even better is if you have one of those giant rubbermaid bins.  These are tall and have a flat surface to stand on, DD also uses one of these to get up on the counters.... LOL They also sell these: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Partners-LP00401-Learning-Tower/dp/B001ECHXVC   Many people seem to find them useful.

 

Finally, this might sound terrible, but consider how much your security deposit is.  If it is just a month's rent, I would totally pay that to be able to have some freedom to relax over the whole year, and for us a month's rent is a considerable portion of our monthly income.  And even minor wear and tear on the floor is unlikely to cost the entire deposit.....

 

Last of all, some type of toy kitchen is a huge hit with pretty much all the kids I know in the 2yr range.

 

 


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Old 02-10-2012, 07:01 AM
 
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My kids don't go to Montessori schools, but I do incorporate some ideas in to our home. First thing, I would rethink the limited toy thing. Kids this age have a short attention span(2-10 minutes). You need enough for them to be able to rotate through toys. I would try things like Duplo, matchbox cars, little people, plastic dinosaurs/animals, balls, simple dress ups (daddy's shoes/tie), play food/dishes, pegs and peg boards....... 

 

Allow him to help you around the house. Let him do simple things like stir whatever you are cooking (all my toddlers stood on chairs just fine), give him a damp rag to "clean" with, have him help put away laundry/fold laundry (wash cloths, match socks, etc.). I think you would be surprised about how neat kids can be when they are taught to be. I mean they are small they will spill things, etc. But it is not that difficult to teach them how to properly handle kitchen items. Give them very simple jobs to start with. 

 

 I set up a small shelf when my youngest was about 20ish months old. I put out 3-5 different activities a day. She could choose to do them or not. It worked well in our small space. I would open and close the shelf (covered with a piece of fabric) so it kept the toys special. 

 

Some simple fairly neat and quiet activities are

 

-Build blanket forts

-make a basket ball game out of rolled up socks and a laundry basket

-pretend to be different animals

-Bath tub painting 

-long baths lol

-dropping milk caps in a hole in the top of a coffee can (seriously my toddlers loved that lol)

-make different shakers out of water bottles, rice in one, beans in one, water in one, etc. Glue to the tops on

-sticking spaghetti noodles in a spice jar

-simple transfer activities (I used pompoms, "jewels", beans) 2 bowls and 1 spoon. 

-stinging beads

-drawing

-collages (use a glue stick and it's not very messy)

-pouring activities( I started with a small amount of beans/rice in a small pitcher and one cup to pour into.)

-let him play in the sink and "wash" dishes.

-magnets w/magnetic and non magnetic items (make sure they aren't small enough to eat!)

-reading

-puppets

-dancing

 

 

For messier things throw down an old shower curtain to protect the floor or do your projects in the kitchen. Teach him to walk to the bathroom with hands in the air when he is messy. Some "cleaner"(as in they won't stain lol) sensory ideas are grass seed, oats, noodles, rice, lentils, beans. Also I found 18mth-3ish to be more demanding ages all around. Around 2.5-3ish my kids all started playing much better by themselves and for much longer periods. :)

 

 

 

 

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Old 02-11-2012, 10:36 AM
 
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Is your home set up so he can put his shoes away himself, hang up his own coat on a hook, get his own dishes out from a drawer, that sort of thing?  My 10 year old has been in Montessori her whole life, and the classroom doesn't have a single toy, but it has plenty of "work" to do.  Activities in her toddler and preschool classrooms were, for example:

 

A tray with a small cup and a pitcher for learning to pour water

3 cups with a spoon and 3 types of beans to sort with the spoon

A tray with a banana and a butter knife for slicing onto his own cereal

Flowers to arrange in a vase

 

A big part of Montessori work is that the adult demonstrates how the task goes and the child learns to master that in the same way, then they can try it other ways after that, but the idea is that they master the particular skill the adult is demonstrating. For example, they sort with a spoon first, then maybe try doing it with fingers.

 

Also, in the Montessori classroom, there are thin mats that the child can pull out, unroll, and create a workspace.  They are expected to put one task away before bringing out another, and they keep the work contained on their mat.  Multitasking isn't particularly encouraged, and by that, I mean that if they have materials to move from one side of the room onto their mat, the guide will have them set up kind of far from the materials, have them go get one item and walk it to their workspace, then return for the next and then the next and then the next.  They aren't encouraged to heap up a bunch of materials and carry them all at once.  One of the reasons for this is that the materials are so specifically made to be a certain size, shape, and weight that they carry one item at a time and begin to see the relationship between one unit versus two units versus three, etc. This way they quickly learn the abstract concept of half and double and squared.  It's pretty amazing to see, even if you're skeptical at first about some of it. 

 

My suggestion is to create real world tasks for your child to work on, things that teach him real skills.  Of course he should play, but kids have so much fun learning real skills, that this is a type of play, also.

 

 

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Old 02-11-2012, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by cyclamen View Post

Finally, this might sound terrible, but consider how much your security deposit is.  If it is just a month's rent, I would totally pay that to be able to have some freedom to relax over the whole year, and for us a month's rent is a considerable portion of our monthly income.  And even minor wear and tear on the floor is unlikely to cost the entire deposit.....

 

 


Thats actually a brilliant idea! I dont know why I never thought of it. We dont care if the entire deposit goes. Thanks for pointing this out..I already feel " freedom" joy.gif

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Old 02-11-2012, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by RubyWild View Post

Is your home set up so he can put his shoes away himself, hang up his own coat on a hook, get his own dishes out from a drawer, that sort of thing?  My 10 year old has been in Montessori her whole life, and the classroom doesn't have a single toy, but it has plenty of "work" to do.  Activities in her toddler and preschool classrooms were, for example:

 

A tray with a small cup and a pitcher for learning to pour water

3 cups with a spoon and 3 types of beans to sort with the spoon

A tray with a banana and a butter knife for slicing onto his own cereal

Flowers to arrange in a vase

 

A big part of Montessori work is that the adult demonstrates how the task goes and the child learns to master that in the same way, then they can try it other ways after that, but the idea is that they master the particular skill the adult is demonstrating. >


You are very right. I have actually seen a high quality montessory school in action. DS was in it for 5 weeks before I decided he is too young to be away from me for 10 hrs and not worth the crying and heartbreak. But thanks for reminding about the lack of toys.

Meeto, thanks for your list! I have printed it out and going to try each of these!

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