Expectations can halt our progress

by Mary Ann on January 11, 2011

study material picture

Closets vary from family to family

One of my all time favorite books is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I have read it about 5 times and have seen multiple movie renditions. I really enjoy that book. I read it for the first time in high school and while most of my peers were bored stiff I was mesmerized with the writing, the language and the humanness and tragedy of the main players. It was one of the first classics to come into my life.

There are many themes to the book and lest anyone think that I just haven’t gotten it yet I want to tell you that I am going to pick just one, a very plain and surface one, to talk about today; expectations can sometimes halt our progress.

When we have an expectation of how a thing ought to be, feel, or work out, if it isn’t exactly that, then we often just stop. We cannot see how to move forward, how to have success despite the roadblocks that we perceive are in our way.

That is true when it comes to putting the tool, the Closet, together. The perception that many have is that our Closet will be an actual Closet, with a lock, in the room our family studies in. People go to great and sometimes silly lengths to play out that specific expectation. It would be wonderful if we all had a Closet in our study room that had a lock and enough room for all that we hope to put into it. It would be wonderful. The reality is that for most families this is not how it will be.

I am going to share a thread of a conversation held on the Yahoo group for my Closet Mastery Pilot Program. It is humorous, poignant and instructive as to how expectations can halt us in our efforts to move ahead with things we care about and also how the movement of one, even a small movement, can motivate and help many to make progress. You will LOVE the end result of this conversation.

Jarvis Phantom Tollbooth Closet picture

Jody's family's Phantom Tollbooth Closet in progress

painted closet doors photo

The Phantom Tollbooth Closet - now this is fun!

“I’m stuck… I had my closet picked out but haven’t finished because it now seems inaccessible. The kids are afraid of the room the closet is in. We do our structured learning time in our family room and off of it is our storage room that has a closet at the back. I’m considering just putting it in a dresser and shelves right in the family room, but then it’s not locked. I could put the dresser right inside the storage room. I’m frozen by this decision. Silly I know, but I can’t get passed it.”   Steph

“Dark storage rooms are no laughing matter. My grandmother had one and so I know! If I were you I would use the dresser and the shelves. As I said it doesn’t have to lock. If you have very small children then get a safety lock  for the shelves. As for the dresser they won’t be able to access that. Any child over 4-5 can learn to stay out. Really, once they feel the excitement they will respect the rule and keep it special. I have a number of families I have worked with, all with children under 8 and their children don’t open the Closet. Try it, it will work.”   Mary Ann

kids making posters picture

Annette's Closet

“Steph, I’m so glad to know someone else gets hung up on “where” to put the closet. I started mine this summer in a dark spidery closet off of my family room….it’s really a root storage type cellar if you can imagine that….I know, I know….my poor kids. It worked well but there were no lights…it was cold…hard to get to…plus I had all of our family games piled on the top shelves. So what do you think…we just slowly stopped using it very often.

I have a dresser with drawers and some shelves right in my family room that I have decided, after reading your post, to just buckle down and convert into my closet once and for all! I’ve been sitting on the idea cause I want to make sure it’s gonna be “perfect”….but for crying out loud…people keep their closets in plastic totes….so why not a dresser?

Does it really matter what you keep it in? No! Just that you are using it and

closet picture

Andee's Closet

being present with the kids! Who cares if it can be locked, right? They will learn to not touch unless its learning time…..I may keep brightly colored baskets on the shelves on my dresser but not have them be see thru so there is still an element of surprise when they finally get to play in there. Thanks for your words….just what I needed.”   Leah

“You guys are so funny and you make me laugh. I can relate to the “I want it perfect” syndrome. The thing to remember is that this isn’t about a storage space, it is about creating magic. You are creating a magnificent learning environment; plastic tote, dresser, none of that matters. Keeping it simple, keeping it special, planning ahead, structure and consistency and most of all, your presence, ah, these are the things that success is made of!”   Mary Ann

“…remember you can kind of lock dressers with rubber bands (loop over knob handles) or tying the handles between the drawers together.  Kids will learn it’s off limits, but until the 2 year old figures it out… :)”    Molly

learning material picture

Leah's finished Closet

“… after reading all of these posts I got motivated to overhaul my closet tonight…I just “overhauled” my closet from freezing cold, barely lit, spider filled food storage closet TO…..an old dresser type piece my neighbor had given me this summer (which I had conveniently already sanded and painted and attached to the wall a few months ago!). I literally threw in a few things from the old cold storage closet (maybe 2) and then just grabbed a bunch of other things I have been thinking about putting in but just haven’t because I didn’t even want to open the frigid doors to the old closet because of the draft it let it! Took about 45 minutes (including cleaning out the dresser) Stephanie – thanks for the inspiration and the kick in the butt I needed…I feel like I am moving forward with this program! Thanks ALL and Mary Ann (“did you even know that you’re my hero”?) – seriously!

kid closet pictures

Jen's Closet

Now I will have space to store potatoes, carrots and onions all winter long and my kids won’t have to wear gloves during learning time!!! :)”   Leah

“Thanks to all of you for being so brave to share what’s keeping you from getting the closet set up!  You have motivated me because I don’t feel so alone, and I feel so inspired by your burst of energy and inspiration to get your closet done last night Leah!  Way to go!!!”  Love, Linda

Parents don’t get stuck on the details. Just get a space and begin to create MAGIC! I want you to see Jody’s families Closet – The Phantom Tollbooth. They have had a ball creating it.

You can do this if you will look at your family carefully and see what they need, remember the five “must have” rules and stay present. Tomorrow I am going to share a wonderful story of a fabulous Kid School and how they use the Closet, Learn to teach the way they learn.

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