do you have a self room?

A few Christmases ago, Robert was asking the girls what they wanted to give me. After thinking about it a few minutes, Caroline announced that she wanted to give me a “self room.” She explained, “Sometimes Mommy gets mad at us, and she needs a place to go and be by herself where nobody can bother her, where she can do what she wants and be calm.”

Robert reported this to me somewhat sheepishly, but I was elated. I had never thought about a “self room” but found myself desperately wanting one. The truth is, I do get mad at my kids. That’s not a sad truth, it’s just the truth. My friend Stacey, who teaches parenting classes, says, “Getting angry (appropriately) is great for our kids because it shows them that there are limits to what they can do and what we can tolerate.”

Having said that, I am the first to admit that patience is not one of my virtues. I have been known to put myself in timeout when my irritation gets the best of me. My children typically respond with grace… and no small amount of bemusement.

I am touched to think that my oldest child has already realized what it has taken me decades to learn—that people need a place just to be and breathe. Timeout in our house isn’t a punishment, it’s a little slice of Sabbath–and I use Sabbath not in the gauzy-pop-spirituality sense but in the stone-tablet-commandment “you have to stop NOW” sense. We don’t always want to go into timeout. But we’re better off having done so.

I was reminded of the self house this afternoon. We spent our vacation with another family last week, which was a total blast and I can’t wait to do it again, but I think our little firstborn introvert got peopled out a couple of times. Today during James’s nap Caroline built a little nook on our big chair using pillows and an umbrella, where she spent the afternoon reading with a flashlight.

I’m thinking about what my self house should look like. And I invite you to build a self house for yourself… even if it’s made of couch cushions.


7 thoughts on “do you have a self room?

  1. anne says:

    when our kids were about the ages of your kids (maybe even a bit younger) we had ~30 minutes of quiet time most days—when we each had to be in our own place doing something non-electronic quietly . . . alone. we could read, play, do crafts, nap, meditate, write, or just do nothing. it proved to be very worthwhile. we all noticed that if we skipped the quiet time, mom was much less patient and we all suffered.
    it was nice to be reminded of this w/ your post.

  2. Kathleen Lewis (Cummings) Murray says:

    Your post reminds me of a book my children (now 39 and 33) read entitled “Evan’s Corner” about a little boy living in poverty with a large family in a small one-bedroom apartment. He would bet “Peopled out” and need a place to go for solitude, so someone, probably an insightful mom, instituted Evan’s little private space in the corner of the living space. Thus, “Evan’s Corner” became a code word in our family whenever somebody needed a little time alone. Now that I’ve got grandkids, I believe I’ll go to Half Priced Books and see if I can snag a used copy of this dear book.

    Thanks for the topic. I’ve been needing solitude a lot lately with my son moving from Conroe to Pearland to fill the pulpit of a young Presbyterian church, Peace Church. More time with grandkids and their mom and dad causes me to appreciate my quiet spaces. I am blessed.

  3. jozie9 says:

    Your topic is a little along the lines of the blog I posted today titled “My Hiding Place.” I hope you’ll take a look. It’s at

    I think we have similar styles of writing. Would love to email with you for writing support and encouragement.

  4. Kelly says:

    What a great idea! My whole condo is a self room, I guess, since I live alone. I think I have the opposite problem – I need to invite people into my home more often to keep from becoming too isolated. Maybe Caroline should come visit me – it would be a win-win!

  5. Silent says:

    I wish my hubby would get this about me. I need a space that’s mine–partly for the solitude, partly for the fact that I like order and knowing where things are. And he doesn’t need solitude or order–which means the whole house doesn’t exude any of those things! We just moved into a new house; I have to think about how to make a space mine. Thanks!

    • mamdblueroom says:

      I have a friend who turned a small closet into a spiritual space–it’s not fancy but it’s all hers. Little table and writing area, filled with pictures and icons of things that matter to her. It’s very cool–I hope to have something like that some day. Our blue room is great but it’s multifunctional…

  6. […] to Win It,” resonated with me on many levels: the fact that the author David Gessner has a self house, for one, which is something I covet. But also in this tangled-up stuff about achievement and […]

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