Creating a Safe Place for Alone Time
In the fast-paced world we live in, it is important to give the children in our lives a peaceful place to come home to. Becky from a Sweet Hot Mess is with us today to share some tips on creating a space that nurtures our children’s inner lives.
Even when my children were very young, I recognized they were very different personalities who responded to their environment differently. My daughter will never tire of our house, stimulation, noise, chaos and the like. She likes to read curled up next to me on the couch, paint her pictures at the kitchen island and drag all her toys out to the living room to play within inches of all the hustle and bustle of life. When I make dinner or clean the bathroom – she’s suddenly there and willing – spatula or toilet brush in hand, read for whatever life throws at her.
In comparison, my son prefers a quieter life. While he loves to play loudly, build forts, play games and help around the house, his nature is deeply founded on very-necessary-to-him tenets of privacy and quiet re-booting. In the midst of any day, at any time – he will sneak away to his room and re-charge his batteries with a quick chapter in his latest book or a silent lego building session. More recently, my son has started to turn away from painting/drawing/cartooning with us in favor of quiet time in his room. It was then that I realized that I needed to set up a creative space for him in one corner so that he would continue to be able to express himself and still maintain the privacy and quiet he needed throughout the day.
Here are some of the details of this space we were able to create for him.
We have large, long room that was perfect setting up a bed on one wall and a study space on the other. I specifically chose to put the desk near the window so it will soak up all the lovely morning sun.
I chose to only put things in this space that Luke would actually use – as well as things he loves at the moment.
Luke likes to read, write, draw and play legos at this table, so I make sure to keep these things close at hand. I tried to keep the space clutter free (he hates clutter) and not fill it up with all the things I hoped and dreamed he would us – but only with the tools he actually uses on a day to day basis – from his ball point pens to his skinny markers.
In addition, I moved his tub of legos closer so that he could reach down and pull up pieces as he builds. And bonus, the table top is far more forgiving on my feet than the floor (those Harry Potter pieces just blend into our floor – lots of internal cursing)
I specifically chose to use a pouf for his seat. Most children respond better to soft seating and are willing to sit longer. I made sure it was made of outdoor fabric that is stain resistant (food is not allowed in our kid’s room, but still – things happen…more mommy cursing).
Where my daughter would require reams of paper and a massive marker jar and piles of water colors – Luke’s artistic needs are simpler. He is a journal boy, forever surrounded by piles of journals. I recently found this tool caddy on our family road trip and knew it would be perfect for containing his journals and keeping them from cluttering the surface. It also serves as a storage for his beloved ukulele – win, win.
But for when friends come over, I painted an old set of school chairs so that everyone would have a place to sit. We pull the table to the center of the room and set up the chairs. Luke loves having his own space to share with his friends and family.
And last but not least, all the color so far. In the midst of a large remodel, I painted EVERYTHING white so as to simplify the touch-up process. I know it’s extreme to some, but it’s how I survive – though at this point I probably should have chosen a dishwater brown. Live and learn. But to my son it is VERY EXTREME. He craves color and texture and layers – and he begged me to make his room as colorful as possible. While I couldn’t nail down an accent wall color that fast, I could add large doses of color wherever I could – starting with the large map on the wall, which I edged in washi tape to “frame” it out.
I don’t want anyone to think that creating these personal spaces for our children is not possible due to individual circumstances. When we approached this corner of the room, we were able to put it together for nearly free – minus a half-off pouf. Get creative with what you own, turn to craigslist free items and get friendly with your colorful stash of spray paint (and if you don’t have such a stash, start one now – you won’t regret it).
But beyond the aesthetics of it all, the most important aspect of creating a safe space for my loner child was love. I love my son and have learned to see him as an individual with individual needs. And from this knowledge I was able to create a space that would allow him the privacy he craved as well as an outlet for his more quiet artistic and creative endeavors.
Well, I’m off to create a new space for my daughter as well. Once she saw his, she demanded one of her own. There is a lot of pink and purple in my future.