The day our Time-In Toolkit arrived, it felt like a holiday come early. I’m not sure who was more excited, my two-year-old son or me. The blue and white box sat on our porch, smiling back at us.
But while we were rich in enthusiasm, we were poor in extra floor and wall space. Our home is 900 square feet. That’s tiny. Where would we find room for the six posters and the many fun calming tools that came inside the box? How would I create our Calming Corner without a corner?
Just as stress was finding its way in, my son’s excitement brought me back to the present moment. I found myself laughing. Just open the box. Let go of creating a perfect space. Just focus on creating a playful experience with my son using the space that we have. No pressure, mama. Just jump in.
So I decided to consult the expert.
“Where would you like to create your Calming Corner?” I asked my kiddo.
Together we scouted the tiny nooks of our home until my son abruptly halted.
“HERE!” he screamed, so excited that it came across more as a yell than a statement.
We landed on a small area in his room, basically just a small gap of wall space and the floor between his closet and the bedroom door. At long last, our Calming Corner had a home within our home. Now, it was time to create.
Still, the question of how to best use the limited floor, and wall space remained. Like the planner I am, I made a list to generate ideas.
Chair? Beanbag seat? Mat?
Hang the posters on the wall without frames?
Use the single big poster or maybe just the smaller posters?
Rotate the posters?
We ended up selecting three of the six posters to fit within our allotted space. Again, I consulted the expert to help us decide. “Which do you like?”
Being that my son is two, we chose the two larger posters that came in the Time-In ToolKit box showing all 32 emotions (32 Feelings Face poster 12x16), the four mood groups (happy, sad, calm, and mad/scared, and the suggested calming strategies in picture form, so even my pre-reading son could easily guess what they stood for (20x30).
With my son in the captain’s chair, we began our Calming Corner journey. We first went to Ikea for frames and together placed the posters inside. And for those who want to skip this step altogether, Generation Mindful has a ready-to-hang version of the ToolKit with all the same goodies inside.
Once framed, my son and I organized the posters on his wall the way HE wanted them. His new Purple Owl SnuggleBuddies was invited into the space, along with some puzzles, crayons, and trucks, which were placed in a nearby bucket. Because we didn’t have room for the placement of a chair, we opted for a colorful alphabet mat. We put the PeaceMakers cards and stickers from the kit in a simple basket, along with his favorite books and a small puzzle.
Somewhere in the midst of our co-creation, I realized that the size of the space was far less important than the feel of the space. Big room, small room – the point was moot. The spirit behind the Calming Corner, the love and connection we spilled into it, was where the value lived.
And the manual! That night I printed off the many coloring sheets and printables that came with the kit and read the 30+ page manual front to back. I’d been attempting to use time-ins in the past without a clear understanding of just what exactly I was doing. The detailed explanation of why to use time-ins and the many activities in the ToolKit, alongside the tips to ensure the experience was child-led, bolstered my confidence.
We not only had our special space now but a plan. By morning I was feeling confident that I would be able to use the space to help my son practice naming and sharing his emotions not only in the hard moments but in playful ways that brought us closer.
That morning, as the manual suggested, my son and I colored the “Mistakes Help Me Learn and Grow” coloring sheet (one of the printables). We hung it beside the other posters, and with my son in my arms, we stood back to breathe in our new space. I couldn’t help but notice the smiles we were both wearing. In simply creating our Calming Corner together, we’d already begun to deepen our connection. I chalked it up to a major mom win. I was happy. My son was happy. And we enjoyed the process together. We were safe, powerful, and connected, loving our small (and cozy) Calming Corner!