“A Place for Everything, Even Me,” Ensign, Oct. 1984, 66–67
If your home seems to have more human feet in it than square feet, finding private space may be a challenge. Arranging for privacy may take several steps.
1. Evaluate your needs. Where, when, and why does each member of your family need time alone? Mom and dad may need a time and place for planning or discussion; students may need a distraction-free area for study. Brothers and sisters may need a place to practice musical instruments, work on hobbies, or play with friends. A place for study, meditation, and prayer may also appear on your list of family privacy needs. Older children may feel strongly about the need for a conversation area for dates and friends, or just a place to be alone and dream.
2. Once you know your needs, try to meet them using the principles of sequencing and flexible planning. Sequencing is carefully ordering events to make the most sense and to accomplish your purpose. For instance, after dinner when students need to study quietly might be the right time for mom and dad to schedule quiet activities and a story time for younger children in another area of the home. At our house we have to carefully orchestrate a morning routine in order to provide time for prayer, music practice, and scripture reading with dad.
Flexible planning combines the ability to adapt plans and use different rooms creatively. We have used flexible sleeping arrangements to meet our family’s privacy needs. When our children were young they all slept in one room with bunk and trundle beds to free another room for toys. In our student apartment, we used a sofa bed in the family area so we could set aside a room for studying and sewing. Currently our boys enjoy sleeping on a pullout bed in the living room, leaving more floor space for play in their room.
We also use different areas for the same activity. Each of our rooms has a desk, chair, and bookshelf, and by using a small equipment box, activities or studies can be moved from one area to another as needed. “Picnicking” in a bedroom, practicing in the kitchen, or dressing in the laundry room can provide an unusual but private place for an activity or free up other areas of the home for different members’ needs.
3. Establish family policies. Practices such as leaving doors closed that are shut for privacy, speaking in soft voices, or restricting noisier activities such as television or loud music can cut down on confusion. Privacy can also be enhanced by simplifying the surroundings. Discarding or moving items can create the order and space necessary for a positive environment. Family members can be encouraged to find a special place they enjoy. As a child, my favorite “retreat” was an overstuffed chair next to a lamp where I could read.
Finally, we don’t need to restrict ourselves to a small indoor space. Christ went into the mountains to be alone; Joseph Smith went to the Sacred Grove. We can take advantage of yards, parks, libraries, or other resources our communities offer.
The Lord counseled us to enter into our closet, shut the door, and pray in secret. (See 3 Ne. 13:6.) Providing such a place for ourselves and our children is important and can be done in most circumstances. We should remember that the joy of a family is in living together, and privacy may be as much a function of careful planning, cooperation, and training as space. Julie H. Olson, Salt Lake City, Utah