Creating Soulful Bedrooms for Children
A child represents “a shift, a celebration, a milestone” in the life of any family, remarks author and artist Jill Butler. In her recent book, Create the Space You Deserve, she explores how loving parents want their little ones to feel happy at home every day in a loving, nurturing safe place, where they can grow into the fullness of who they are meant to be.
“All kids need a space of their own, a sacred place, where everyday realities like peer pressure, family issues, bullies at school or low self-esteem cannot penetrate; a place of comfort and creativity that reflects and encourages their own positive intentions and beliefs, values, goals and dreams for life,” elaborates Kellee Katillac, author of Kids’ Sacred Places: Rooms for Believing and Belonging. She advises that no matter what is going on in the outside world, the interior world of a child’s room should be a refuge of calm, comfort, creativity and renewal.
“Their rooms are like the French expression le jardin secret... their secret garden,” continues Butler. “It’s their most basic nest, so encourage and allow it to grow into their space just as they want it.” Making a child’s room such a soulful sanctuary is an ongoing project, as periodic changes reflect the individual growth and changing interests of a child, from the crib to a teenager’s digs.
An infant’s room needs to be soft and soothing, so a baby can adjust to the “less-cushioned” life outside the womb, note Laura Forbes Carlin and Alison Forbes, authors of The Peaceful Nursery. Babies are stimulated enough by modern lifestyles; the one place they should be able to simply drift off to a peaceful sleep is in their room.
Feng Shui principles can help parents create the environment that promotes quiet calm and sleep. To encourage relaxation, consider painting the baby’s room a soft color, such as cream, pale blue or lavender. Add soothing artwork, monochromatic or pale, printed bedding and gentle aromas from traces of essential oils (chamomile, rose, vanilla or lavender) in baby-safe products. Position the crib so that the baby can see the door to help quell anxiety, and remove or push a distracting mobile to the side when it’s not playtime. Also, choose furniture with rounded edges and keep a window open or a ceiling fan on low to let air and energy circulate through the room, suggests Rodika Tchi, a feng shui consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Toddlers and grade school kids need calm and quiet periods, too, but they also require a place to be creative. “Children paint every day, and love to show their works on walls and refrigerator doors. We assume, I suppose, that children are just learning motor coordination and alphabets,” comments Thomas Moore in his classic Care of the Soul. “But maybe they are doing something more fundamental: finding forms that reflect what is going on in their souls.”
Mimi Doe, publisher of the online magazine, agrees. “Allow your child’s room to be a safe base for soulful exploration,” she counsels. “Give him a choice in color, fabric, and furniture. Allow her to decorate the door with silver paint, if she so desires, or collage her closet with images she loves, cut from magazines.”
“Children are far more concerned with what they can make than with being neat,” observes Katillac. “Like magpie nests, their rooms are typically a collection of favorite things—baubles, souvenirs, picture of their heroes: scientists, superheroes, athletes, musicians and movie stars. They collect stamps, dolls, rocket ships, planetary models, horse statues, records and books. Ant farms and musical instruments sit side-by-side.”
Over time, however, all those dinosaurs, pretty rocks and doll clothes can pile up. More and more stuff can crowd a room and seem chaotic, so a good storage system is a must. Closet systems, bookcases, toy chests, bulletin boards and shelving can help corral kids’ collections and art projects. “Kids like structure, although they would never ask for it, so giving it to them in their room is a real gift,” says Butler.
She suggests making an art project space out of a closet or a corner space in the room. “Keep it set up so it encourages art to be happening at any moment.” For example, the door can be removed or closed when not in use. Mount an extra table on the wall to be dropped down as needed, like old ironing boards did. “There are never enough tables,” says Butler, “so find clever ways to create them and teach the kids to clear them while waiting in anticipation of the next project.”
From junior high through high school, privacy and respite become crucial for children weathering the turbulent adolescent years. Doe suggests that “If your child wants a cozy, private, snug nest, suspend sheets from the ceiling on all four sides of the child’s bed. Purchase curtain rods from the hardware store that screw into the ceiling; sew tabs on the sheets and hang them up for a low cost, royal canopy bed. If two or more kids share a room, ensure that each has privacy—bookcases or rice paper panels to divide the space is one solution.”
Adolescents also need as much freedom as possible to change room colors and posters, arrangement of furnishings and even bedding, in order to reflect their growing individuality. Thus, their room becomes a welcome respite from the peer pressure to be just like everyone else.
Judith Fertig is a freelance lifestyle writer in Overland Park, KS; for more, see .