Leo is officially walking. He started cruising back in November. Around the first of the year he started toying around with the idea of taking a step or two every now and then. But as soon as he turned 11 months old (and I mean that day) he started to walk. And that’s all he has been doing for the past week. It has been amazing to watch his progress from day to day as he figures out his balance and gait, how to change directions, and so forth.
I have been mentally preparing for this stage for a few months now. There are a few key changes that I wanted to make around the house to accommodate his new physical skills and foster his independence. He is entering a phase where he will be increasingly more capable of what us Montessorians call Practical Life or Everyday Living Skills. Thus my main objective for the past week or so has been to create an environment for Leo that will allow him to be more independent in the areas of self-care and care of the environment.
First, I made small changes to his bathroom about a month ago. I bought a small potty from IKEA and a step stool off of Amazon. Next to his potty is a small basket containing extra cloth diapers, wipes, and a book.
I don’t really think we will be doing any type of toliet training until Leo’s second birthday, but you never know when he will show an interest. I bought the potty because we were at IKEA and it was only $10. At first I sat him on there a few times just to get him acquainted with his little toilet. Now I sit him on the toilet before almost every diaper change just so he’s in the habit of doing so. Then I thought, well if he is using the toilet he needs to learn to wash his hands when he’s done, hence the step stool. So now we wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom and before meals, with our assistances, of course.
Next I wanted to make a few small changes to Leo’s bedroom. In order for him to become independent in the areas of dressing and grooming he needs to be able to access the tools needed to do so. So Leo’s room got a mini-makeover once again. I swapped his dresser for a cubby organizer style storage shelf which holds baskets for his clothes.
His dresser now resides in his closet and is perfect for storing extra clothes, seasonal items, extra sheets, cloth diapers, etc.. The ability to store extra clothes conveniently will be key when he actually starts choosing is own clothes because I will only have a handful of each item out at a time to make choosing easier for him (i.e. five shirts, five pants, five pairs of socks, etc.) I also put his nightstand back in his room. It will be a perfect grooming station for Leo. Right now it only holds a basket for his brush and comb. I have a mirror coming in the mail that I will mount on the wall above his grooming station. Eventually I will add a small bottle of lotion, lip balm, and a small bottle of coconut oil for his hair. I know we are months away from him being able to dress himself independently or comb his own hair effectively, but he has to start somewhere and accessibility is key.
I also made some changes to the shelf in Leo’s room. Before he had a shelf full of toys in his room and a shelf full of toys in our family room. Now the shelf in his room has only a few toys on them and the rest are all items that will give him the opportunity to practice self-care skills. Right now I have out a basket containing one cloth for wiping his nose, a basket containing one pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and a winter hat.
I was trying to think of what early self-care skills he might be interested in doing and these are the ones that came to mind. Right now his idea of putting on socks is to literally place his socks on top of his feet, but at least he knows where they go. I figured with these items out it gives me the opportunity to practice doing these skills with him regularly, not just when we are headed out the door. And one day he will try to do them on his own. One day.
The last area of our house that I wanted to update was our kitchen. Leo already has a shelf in the kitchen. Right now it holds a basket of cooking utensils (silicone spatulas, a whisk, and a wooden spoon), a basket of measuring cups and spoons, metal nesting bowls, and a basket of cloths.
Overtime the Practial Life area in our kitchen will be where we keep all of the items that Leo needs to be helpful in the kitchen, but right now these items are more for exploration. But there are a few items that I think Leo is ready for us to add to his kitchen self. The first thing I would like to add is a small hand broom. Leo’s definitely starting to imitate our actions and I figured sweeping is a good introductory cleaning skill. Yes, he will probably spend the first few weeks mouthing the broom and banging it on the floor. Yes, when he actually begins to attempt to sweep he will simply be spreading the mess all over the floor. But, like with everything else, you have to start somewhere. Wiping up spills is another good introductory cleaning skill, hence the basket of cloths. And eventually we will get Leo a kitchen helper step stool so he can observe us when we are cooking and be a more active participant when we are preparing meals.
All of the changes I have made and plan to make are all just preparation. I’m just trying to maintain a prepared environment for my soon to be toddler that provides him with the opportunity to develop the skills that spark his interest. For now, though, I know that walking is his main motivation. He is in the age of exploration and movement (gross motor in particular) is king.
Like the Edwin Starr song goes, “So I got to keep on walkin’. I got to walk on. I, I, I, I I’m so tried but I just can’t lose my stride.”