Everyone needs a place to escape. Somewhere that we can call our own, have time just in our head rather than surrounded by people. Call it a sanctuary; call it an oasis in the middle of the bustle of everyday life – but the principle remains.
The same is true for children. As adults, we have a tendency to remember childhood as a stress-free time. We think of how we didn’t have to pay bills, be responsible for our financial help and our only “job” was to go and learn. What’s so hard about that?
We’re remembering with memories dimmed by time. Being a child – especially in the modern world – is stressful. Kids are tested academically more than they ever have been before. They feel more pressure and have lower self-esteem than the generation that came before; their body image issues grow worse every day. So maybe they need a little sanctuary as well, rather than just “their room”.
If you have the time to give your child’s room a facelift, then this is a concept it’s well worth remembering. It’s not just about throwing ideas, colors and furniture at the wall and see what sticks. Instead, you can focus on creating a haven that is going to benefit your child (or children) in a multitude of ways. All you need to do is follow this step-by-step plan, and your offspring will have a room to treasure.
Step One: Think Uses
As adults, we tend to spend most of our free time in the living areas of our house. Maybe you have a full family room, a living room or a conservatory – but mostly, we won’t choose our bedroom as a place to hang out.
It’s different for kids. Their bedroom is also their living space, where they sleep and it might even be their library. Their room is somewhere they can take ownership of, which means it needs to reflect the different aspects of their life.
A desk is useful for their student side, but so is somewhere to decompress. You can have their bed convert into a sort-of sofa, or look at Comfy Sacks for ideas to incorporate a more relaxed vibe. Make sure you give them plenty of storage too; it’s a lot easier to keep a room clean if everything has a designated place.
Step Two: Give Them Privacy
The idea of a lock on a child’s door is terrifying for many parents, but it’s something you should consider. This is particularly the case as the kids you still think of as your babies get closer to being a teenager. At this age, it’s entirely expected and normal that they will retreat a little and want privacy.
The key to the lock argument is, to be honest, mendacity. Sometimes, you do what you have to do as parents, right? Install a lock and give your child the key – but only when you have got a copy of it. If asked by said child if you have a key, deny it until you are blue in the face.
This way, they get the illusion of privacy and you get the surety of knowing you can get into the room in an emergency. Just ensure you only use your key in a dire, life-or-death situation – don’t blow your cover on something small.
Step Three: Get Their Input On Decor
Yes, even if it’s terrible. If they decide they want bright orange walls, then that’s their problem to deal with.
As your children start to feel more of a sense of their own identity, the idea of having decor choices foisted on them is really going to jar. Try and be as flexible as possible. This is not a room you’re going to spend much time in, so even if you hate it, you’re not going to have to see it much.
Only draw the line when an idea is not easily rectified. A dodgy paint color? You can repaint it should you come to sell the house. Don’t get hung up on the details so long as you know how you would put the room back to “normal”. Any permanent changes that are suggested should be subject to scrutiny.
Step Four: Don’t Insist On “Educational” Things
It might seem tempting to try and inject a little educational flavor into the decor of your child’s room. For example, a world map poster is going to help with their geography – so what’s the harm in that? Or perhaps a bed cover set of the periodic table – it’s functional and you learn something, it’s perfect right?
Some would argue yes, it is perfect, and you should go ahead and do it. And who knows, maybe it would suit your child and they wouldn’t mind. However, I’m trying to focus on the aspects of creating a sanctuary the same way that we adults try to create with our own bedrooms.
Put it like this: remember when I said a child’s only real job is to learn? How would you feel if your bedroom was piled high with spreadsheets from your office, ostensibly there to “help” you. Would it feel like a sanctuary – or just another place where there was no escape?
While it may be tempting, unless your child agrees, then keep the educational items to a minimum. Instead, let them choose decor that is fun, makes them smile and they want to see every day. Anything that lets them close the door and be happy to be there, rather than reminded of all the stresses they may be under.
On a final note, I just want to reinforce the idea of letting your child guide your eye on this. You might have something in mind, some style you have read about online – but this shouldn’t really be about you. The more input your kids have in the choice of how their room looks, the happier they are going to be there.