Create a calm space to help you and your kids de-stress
April is national stress awareness month which means lots of people are talking about stress and how to find relief from it. In a recent post I mentioned how some lovely Twitter followers had recommended installing a peaceful place in my mind to help during stressful times. This is working really well for me; my castle by the sea continues to be my favourite place to think about when I have a spare minute or two.
I’m constantly on the hunt for calming ideas and inspiration, and stumbled upon the idea of creating a calm oasis at home. Finding a place to sit and be peaceful is a great idea. Context-dependent memory is the phenomenon by which our memories are the strongest if we’re in the place where the memory was formed. So if you always meditate in the same chair it follows that you’ll find it easier to get into a peaceful state by sitting in that chair.
Zen-place, Calm Space
I love the idea of having a Zen space of my own where I can chill out other than on the sofa while Mr N watches the football. I’m a realist though, I know it’s not going to be a Pinterest-style minimalist zone, the kids would take care of that in less than 5 seconds!
If my home is anything like yours, it’ll be organised chaos with varying degrees of trip hazards – usually Duplo bricks casually strewn across the floor. Or wooden train track snaking its way out of the living room and down the narrow hallway, the bridge in the perfect spot to trip me up. The dining room no longer an eating sanctuary, instead a homage to textiles with rows of laundry driers packed with school uniform and tiny socks.
Aside from the piles of toys and laundry, there are boisterous children racing from room to room, shrieking and shedding yet more toys as they go. In short, not a place you’d imagine one could find a peaceful space (other than hiding under the duvet with the bedroom door closed).
The great news is, I managed it! Using these home organisation tips, I created a little zone of calm. The best thing is it can be moved should the laundry need to take over again.
5 Tips to creating your own calm space at home
1. Find your space
A calm space doesn’t have to be grand or a whole room in itself. An alcove in a quieter part of the house is fine and you can even choose a space used for other things. I chose the alcove in the dining room otherwise known as the ‘laundry rack space’ – regularly requisitioned by Boo and Tiddler to make a laundry-based rocket ship. The racks are only temporary and easily moved. As are the boys if a 20-minute TV watching bribe offer is on the table.
2. Fill it with comfort
You want this place to be super-comfy and relaxing, so use an armchair, beanbag or floor cushion. I went all out and bought a bean-bag chair. It could do with a few more beans to prevent me sinking to the floor but usually it’s fine after a bit of squishing about and adding a cushion. The great thing about my bean-bag chair is its light weight so I can move it when the laundry needs to take-over again.
3. Calm colours
Pastel colours are very calming, especially blues, greens and purples. I haven’t picked a colour yet, but will probably go with green – a green throw and rug will be perfect and won’t clash with my cream and red feature wall.
Mess doesn’t equal calm in my opinion. Keeping the space clear of clutter adds to the peaceful atmosphere. If clutter is a problem in the surrounding area, keep a basket on hand to chuck stuff in before you get comfy.
5. Make it a relaxing place for all the family
I wanted this space to be somewhere the boys could chill out too, should they want a bit of quiet time (they’re not always haring around at 100 miles an hour you know). Sensory tactile objects or ‘fidget toys’ are great for helping kids to relax. Used by occupational therapists, these help little ones to regulate their emotions, release stress and calm down. Squeezable, squishy, fluffy, hairy or rubbery toys are great for this and don’t need to cost much. Try the party favour section at Wilkinson’s, they usually have these types of toys. Check out the tactile toys on this site for inspiration.
With this in mind, I’ve started keeping a few toys in a box near the calm zone. The octopus is a baby toy we kept hold of – it has scrunchy, rattley bits – perfect for the boys to get their hands on.
Ground rules for your calm space
Obviously the first thing the boys wanted to do was dive-bomb that lovely squishy bean-bag chair, so I had to set some ground rules.
I told them the calm space was for ‘quiet-time’ and the chair is not a trampoline, so no jumping allowed. They both immediately wanted to sit on the chair. I compromised and got the pouf out. They were then allowed 5 minutes each on the chair while the other sat on the pouf.
I explained what quiet-time meant and that the space could be used if we were feeling tired, angry or upset and needed a bit of time out. Boo wisely asked what would happen if someone else was in the room when someone wanted quiet-time. I suggested he politely ask the other person if they’d be quiet while he sat in the chair. Amazingly, when we tried it out, both boys understood and respected this rule! Tiddler and Boo had 10 minutes chill-out together reading a book – Boo asked me if I would be quiet while they did this! Yep, I’m still picking myself up off the floor at this sudden bout of politeness and cooperation.
The boys also loved the idea of using the different toys to calm down, though this ball got a bit of a battering. Instead of feeling the bumps Boo decided to re-purpose it for an impromptu game of football. Well you can’t win them all.
Overall, having a little space dedicated to calm has been a winner. It’s not Pinterest-perfect, but then what is (apart from stock photos)?
Have you got a calm space in your home? Let me know how it’s worked out for you!