Ever feel like your home actually belongs to the rest of the family?
That by focusing on creating a welcoming space for your loved ones, you no longer have a space which is just for you?
Ever want to find somewhere to spend a few minutes just being yourself. Not mom or wife or daughter or employee… Just somewhere to breathe and be yourself?
You’re not alone.
I have felt this way in recent weeks, maybe even months – even before Covid 19 Lockdown. But feeling a little lost in your own home is not a position from which you can thrive. This is my journey to turning around that situation – along with tips for creating your own Coorie Corner if this need for your own space resonates.
Looking for my own Coorie Corner
I recently read a Facebook post from a lady who had created a “Corrie Corner” in her home.
I was intrigued – and envious! And then it occurred to me: I could create my own.
Coorie is a word I had discovered when I last visited Scotland and bought a lovely book called The Coorie Home. It was a concept that resonated as one that concept I broadly already recognised, albeit in another language: it, more or less, appears to be the Scottish equivalent of the Danish Hygge.
Cosy, inviting, warm, sanctuary.
The idea of actually claiming a space in my your home got me thinking though: if it is your home surely it is all your own space? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that, despite all of my hygge touches, I still lack my own space, in my own home.
Why was this?! How did it happen?
Before I got married, my bedroom was always my sanctuary. I would retreat there in the evenings, or lie in swaddled in duvets come the weekend. A joyful, introverted place to quietly call my own.
Quiet erosion of our own space…
But, of course, when you get married – for better or worse – things change.
Ideally, you share this space and it should become a joint sanctuary from the world. Ok – so now you need to accept another person’s questionable taste in ornamental swords, travel souvenirs, piles of gadgets and clutter… but that’s what you sign up for, right?!
Then children come along and they want to share this space. Even more – they claim this space as their own: quite literally their birth right! During the day they create merry chaos without a second thought to tidying up after themselves. At night, they get lonely and don’t want to sleep alone… Now, much as this is something I entirely understand from my children’s perspectives: I remember having a room of my own from an early age and feeling lonely as I fell asleep – and scared if I woke at night. This aspiration that children go into their own room from an early age is the way that western society is set up: children must sleep alone, elsewhere whilst the parents enjoy uninterrupted sleep.
And I gently wonder if this convention is for the child’s benefit or the parents’.
When the children were really little, co-sleeping terrified me. Heavy sleeper husband – so we never attempted it. But around the time that I started divorce proceedings, my eldest – then two – had learned to climb out of her cot in the nursery and would appear in my room anywhere between midnight and 3am. With just me now in a king sized bed (and still not a huge fan of sleeping alone) I soon stopped insisting she return to her room. It was painful for both of us – and meant neither of us got enough sleep – so what was the point?!
Streamlining the evening routine
With the baby already asleep in her room, my eldest and I would still start the night in her nursery, where I would read stories, cramped on to her tiny toddler bed as she insisted I put my legs under the blankets and lie with her.
One evening I decided this was too uncomfortable for me – and so I popped her into my bed for stories and cuddles instead. Far more cosy for both of us. So much so that one evening she fell straight to sleep – and I decided to leave her in my bed as an experiment to see whether she woke in the night – and as she had already migrated into my bed, how this would change our nighttime routine.
In the early hours, I felt this little hand reach out to find me. Upon patting my face she was satisfied that she was already lying next to her mom and contentedly fell straight back to sleep. I was also back to sleep within moments. A revelation…
About three months into our mother-daughter co-sleeping, the baby (I say “baby” – she was about 20 months old by then and definitely had a mind of her own) started to stay awake a little later and so the three of us would lie on my bed for stories.
The littlest, having recently been included in this routine, soon got wind of the fact that whilst she was being taken away to sleep in a cot in another room, her sister was being allowed to stay in Mommy’s room.
She made it very clear that she wanted in on this arrangement. And my sense of fairness meant I couldn’t refuse.
Initially, I brought the cot into the bedroom and after stories on the bed I transferred her to sleep in there. But then she wanted to stay in the big bed at sleepy time literally curled up with her sister…
So one night (I was probably too tired to argue) I thought we’d try as an experiment: much to my surprise they would fall asleep next to each other within about ten minutes!
This worked so well, it soon became a habit.
When I came to bed, I would move the baby into the cot as she was already fast asleep… but then, she learned how to climb out and – just like her sister before her – would wake me up to tuck her into the big bed too in the early hours.
Refining the process
It has been a case of trial and error to find how we could make it work. But in order to enable us all to sleep in the big bed, I got an “Extra tall” bed guard which runs along the left hand side of the bed from the headboard. This has been fantastic!
I also soon learned that if I put their pillows sideways along the bed guard – rather than have the three of us sleep with our heads at the headboard – it gave us all a lot more space.
As my youngest became more mobile she would roam about at night. It became apparent therefore, that we also needed blocks at the bottom of the bed to avoid any rolling onto the floor. A combination of the travel cot and laundry basket blocked the way… Very effective.
We all get a good night’s sleep.
Several months later
All in all, I am very happy with the set up. Yes, it does mean they have very easy access to me at 5am to inform me that it is wakey time (I miss my sleep!)
But as a working mom, in the weeks when I have to work longer than I would like, and we don’t see each other as much as I would like, it has this wonderful up side that we have that close contact whilst we sleep.
I like to think that they know I am there right next to them for a good eight (six) hours overnight. For a working mother, this is a wonderful silver lining. For children of a single parent family, having this closeness and stability is not only wonderful but essential.
Losing your sense of space, of self
But -much as I am very happy with this set up and wouldn’t have it any other way – I have now realised that there is the inevitable downside to all this: my bedroom, my personal space, has been overtaken by children and their things. And this has taken its toll on my self identity.
My place of sanctuary, traditionally just for me, does not reflect me anymore.
I am not complaining – but that doesn’t mean I don’t notice that erosion of myself. And when you have noticed that loss of self, you can’t unnoticed it.
Does your home decor still reflect who you are?
I looked around recently and noticed that the decor in my bedroom hasn’t changed since the day I decorated.*
Bedrooms are so personal – and as I looked around I wondered who this room really reflected. My identity as a wife is almost gone. The imprint of my children was everywhere. Cuddly toys everywhere. The cot wedged at the end of the bed: I now needed to climb over my bed if I wanted to open the curtains or the wardrobe. It was practical but chaotic. Mess everywhere. And not even my mess…
The opposite of hygge for me.
Time for intentional change
And so this morning, I made a change.
It wasn’t my to do list – but suddenly I felt compelled and it became my top priority.
I put on a three minute alarm to get me started and within moments, almost all the children’s bits and bobs (which had felt like an immovable feature of the room!) were returned to the nursery.
Now there is just the bed guard. The cot was removed and suddenly I could walk around my bed for the first time in months (and of course immediately noticed the other side could do with a damn good clean!!)
My Hygge, Coorie Corner
When we first moved into the house, I was heavily pregnant and lovingly decorated the nursery. It was my favourite room in the house. I would sit there for hours in the nursing rocker, wondering whether we would have a boy or a girl and what our lives would be like as a family.
When I reorganised my bedroom I wanted to embrace just that kind of feeling of joy again – so I brought in the rocking chair. This was not about trying to reclaim who I was a single person, no.
It was about ensuring my space reflected who I am now.
In the ultimate hygge move, I found a much loved blanket that my Nanny had crocheted and used it as a throw over my rocker. Dug out a cloud photo that I love and hung it above the chair – and created a cosy little coorie corner just for me.
When you don’t have your own space in your own home, you can feel a little lost. Having claimed my Coorie Corner (Mummy’s Seat – as it is known) I now feel that I have regained something of myself again. After I made the changes, for the first time in a very long time, I spent the afternoon in this room, reading, chatting and writing. I feel I have carved out my own space in this room that I happily share – and consider my sanctuary – with my girls. And if any of this resonates with you – I can wholly recommend doing the same in your home.
Create your own Coorie Corner
What constitutes as Coorie or Hygge will differ from one person to the next – but here are some suggestions for creating and claiming your own area:
- If you can find a small space in your home which was largely unused so much the better – but not essential. (There was a chest of drawers where my rocking chair now sits. I moved that elsewhere, creating a neutral space that I could now call my own. If you have a cluttered corner somewhere that is largely avoided, clear that and stake your claim. You only really need a couple of square metres for your corner.) If that isn’t feasible, think more along the lines of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory – and pick your spot – and make sure everyone knows you have first choice priority to sit there.
- Claim your most comfortable chair as your own. This may sound selfish – but realistically as we are all shapes and sizes – just like for Goldilocks, what is perfectly comfortable for you, won’t be for others in your home so you (probably) won’t be depriving anyone else.
- If you have a throw you love – use that. Also, I like to have a blanket in reaching distance for feeling comfortable when it gets chilly.
- Put a small table next to the chair for cups of tea, piles of books, your knitting or current craft… and some foraged flowers, if you have space.
- If you have managed to reclaim a clutter corner – take the opportunity to think if you’d like a picture or photos on the wall. If you don’t want to make holes, no problem – put up command hooks which won’t make a mark on the wall when you take them down.
- Other than having a lamp, try to avoid having other electricals or technology in this space. This should be a space for you to live more intentionally and not to sit with your phone out of habit… Good for an old school natter on the phone (or a Lockdown Family Zoom) – but avoid the mindless scrolling in this space. Associate it instead with things that feel like a luxury because it is tricky to find time for them: reading a real book, journalling, or meditating for example.
- Make the effort to spend time in your corner doing your own thing, so you start to associate the space with special time just for you.
- Train your family to refer to this space as your corner or chair – to be left alone. Definitely not to a place for them to pile clothes or clutter. It needs to be inviting for you to just go and sit to take a moment – even if you only have a minute to relax.
Recently my eldest asked to sleep in her own room again. Although she changed her mind again before bedtime, the idea brought tears to my eyes. Things were changing again. Soon the girls would be older and no longer want to sleep with their Mom. (Or taller and Mom wouldn’t want to sleep amidst all the kicking – but anyway!)
And perhaps one reason I felt bereft at this idea of having my own room back was because, when they left, I would once again have to work out who I am now. Constant change and evolution can be tiring!
But with my Grandma’s crochet covered rocking chair now in the corner of my room, I feel more secure. Like there is a piece of history here that has endured – and will endure. I suspect this will be a feature in my room now until the end of my days.
Life is moving on. My girls are changing, growing. I am evolving. I feel a sense of relief that this small thing, this huge thing, of reclaiming a little space for myself – will help guide me as I move into the next chapter.
When I wrote this piece at the start of March, I could not have known that the Covid Pandemic was about to put us into lockdown. Since then I have been so incredibly busy at work that I haven’t had the brain space to write, until now.
In the subsequent six weeks, I have continued however to reclaim space after space in my home. Bringing hygge to every corner… decluttering, clearing, painting, gardening… but the first place I started was the unused Nursery. That room is now “Mom’s Office” 🙂
*(with one exception: I took down the beautiful photograph of the Dubrovnik sunrise I took on the day of our wedding… Funnily enough – 18 months later I realise I need to find that photograph and put it back up because I love it!)
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