Mommy Blogger Kat from motherfunctions.wordpress.com, shares her tips for making sacred spaces for ourselves and our children — especially important during these often crazy holiday months!
There is something to be said for the sanctity of a bedroom. As adults, when the day is long and hectic, we seek our beds as sanctuary from the onslaught of the day. It is our space to put our feet up without people walking into the scene with loud voices, deadlines, and demands.
So here are a few pieces of advice to help kids love their bedrooms:
Make the Bed
First thing in the morning, have your kid make their bed. Don’t make the bed for them. Don’t supervise the task. Don’t even help (unless asked), Of course, their best efforts to do it won’t be hotel-quality, but it is a task that involves patience, focus and a bit of strength to lug all the blankets and pillows into a rough proximity of where they should be.
At the end of the day, when it is time to settle down to bed, that is the time to reward the job. “Did you make this bed? It looks great! You did a great job!” Suddenly the bed becomes a point of pride and comfort. Make a big deal out of how comfortable they made their bed and how much their stuffed animals love the work they did.
This holds true for ourselves as well. When we put time into making our beds, or cleaning our rooms, we appreciate the work we put in earlier to make our experience in this moment even better.
When we go to our bedrooms as adults, we are acknowledging that we need to go somewhere quiet and stimulation-free where we can process our day and put our hectic world aside to focus on ourselves. We may not necessarily fall asleep, but we have a place that is wholly ours, separate from any other communal space in the home.
The same holds true for children. A toy-free room establishes a quiet area that is just for your child to focus on sleep and relaxation. When their bedroom is loaded with toys, there is no boundary between this room and any other room in the house. When the bedroom is filled with quiet books and their most loved possessions, they get the satisfaction of knowing their room is a place of solace and introspection, free of distraction.
A toy-free room also adds to the next point:
By removing toys from the bedroom we eliminate the desire for our children to bring friends up to their bedrooms.
This is a tough rule. Why wouldn’t we want our kids to have their friends playing in their rooms when we have just established that their room should be a place they love?
Our bedrooms often house our most loved items. That ceramic unicorn you got on your 5th birthday may not fit in well with your adult décor, but it has a place in your heart, and in your bedroom where no one will break it or judge you for loving it so much.
Kids deserve the same space. By keeping friends out of the bedroom, we set up a space where a child can house the special items that they don’t have to share. So often our kids are bombarded with the need to share that we forget that not all items should be shared. That very special teddy bear and baby blanket do not need to be handled by a friend that doesn’t understand the special nature of the precious item. That is your child’s possession and we know how their heart would break if anything happened to it; friends in the bedroom adds a risk that that item won’t make it to maturity alongside your child.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean no timeouts at all. Quiet time can be a very effective strategy, but the bedroom should not be a place where your child is sent when they are acting up. Or, not angrily at least, with the feeling that they are being punished.
A timeout in the bedroom establishes a negative association with that room. The bedroom isn’t really supposed to be a place where you go to when you’re scared, crying and worked up. The bedroom is a place that you would choose to be when you want some close distance from a situation.
For some kids, bedtime is a difficult time because they feel isolated and alone, and a timeout in a bedroom just drives the point home that your bedroom is for removing you from everyone else.
A different approach is to provide a close-proximity timeout spot where your child can do their time near you. After a number of timeouts throughout the day and no change in their attitude, it can help to calmly remove the child from the noise and chaos to their bedroom with you. A calm talk on the bed about their behavior, a cuddle, bonding time and a story reinforces that the bedroom is a soothing place and that it is okay to walk away when the stress and excitement of the day can’t be handled.
The upside to a toy-free room means that your child won’t be distracted during their quiet time and also any siblings that have to be lumped into the process won’t cause an issue when they’re playing with toys while you’re trying to give the other child a quiet time.
Sometimes it is hard as a parent with more than one child because there are issues when your older child is trying to play and a younger one comes along trying to snatch the toy they’re playing with. That tends to be the point where we find older kids get frustrated because they understand polite rules of play while their sibling isn’t at that stage yet. The older kid can’t reason with the little one, and they know better than to lash out against them. Often that frustration turns into the oldest kid not knowing how to let that stress out and feeling like they have no place to go.
That is when a bedroom that is a positive space comes in handy. It becomes far easier to suggest to the oldest kid that they might want to take those toys they were playing with and go play with them in their bedroom, by themselves, when they view their bedroom as a nice place to be, rather than a punishment when they obviously haven’t done anything wrong.
Now, this clearly seems like it flies in the face of point #2 where toys have been banned from bedrooms. However, the occasional need to retire to a bedroom with a toy or two is a wildly different experience than having a bedroom filled with toys at all times.
Again, we establish that the oldest child has a place solely for them to relax in while also fostering independence and rewarding good behavior. We are also recognizing their need to be viewed as a separate entity from their little sibling.
The youngest sibling also learns that their sibling has the ability to walk away and can help to establish proper rules of play, a model they can then follow themselves.
Another added bonus is that a separate space for the oldest child can help ease any animosity they might feel towards a younger sibling because they are able to walk away at any time instead of having to put up with whatever the young one decides to put them through.