Graduating Your Child’s Room

Graduating Your Child’s Room

I’m not an empty-nester (yet). My oldest is still hovering on the front end of high school, and I have a few years left before I have to start worrying about prom dates, SATs, college admissions and graduation parties. I won’t pretend to 100% know how it feels to watch your kids move out and move on with their lives. It’s hard, I imagine, to let go on an emotional level, and hard, on a practical level, to know when exactly to do it.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I walk upstairs in a house, long free of teenaged occupants, and find the perfectly preserved bedroom of a seventeen year old girl in 1998, complete with teddy bears and Backstreet Boys posters, across the hall from the guest bath I’m supposed to be renovating.


Now, unless you’re planning to open a time-capsule as a tourist attraction, there’s really no excuse for this kind of thing. Your kid’s moving on, which means you should too. I’m not saying, chuck everything and turn your kid’s childhood room into a new yoga studio. I am saying that you can be an easy-going, accommodating, hospitable parent without creating a perma-shrine to your son’s tenth grade tastes.


Growing up your teenager’s room is a transition. It doesn’t need to happen overnight. For one thing, if you’re kid is moving into a college dorm or apartment, she probably won’t have much space, which will likely make your house her de facto storage unit until she finds herself in a more permanent environment.  You don’t have to pressure a recent graduate into a “how much of this do you want to keep?” conversation the week after she finishes final exams, but long-term, it’s something to think about. For example, non-collectible, non-useful kid stuff can be donated. If that giant pink teddy bear has been collecting dust in the corner of her bedroom since before she hit puberty, it might be time for him live somewhere else. That suit you bought him in the eighth grade before the last growth spurt is never going to fit him again. In as much as it is possible, minimize your own sentimentality about things, because it might encourage them to do the same.


You can involve your kid in a bedroom renovation, even if he’s not planning on moving back after college. Ask for his opinion about paint color. See how he feels about new bedding. It doesn’t have to be exactly his taste—he’ll have his own space to decorate (or not) as he pleases—but it can feel slightly more personal than just “a guest bedroom.”


Here’s the thing: even your kid does spend summers at home, even if he moves back for a month or year after college, he’s already outgrown the soccer ball wallpaper border and the bedspread with the frog motif.  He’s grown up. It’s time for you let his room grow up too.  An end result that gives you a room you can use and your kid a room he can relax in is not impossible.  A little work and communication now might just give you a room most likely to succeed for years to come.


Now back to that adjacent hall bath. You want me to renovate? Do we need to talk about your daughter’s enormous hair care product collection under the sink? Surely those dated and dusty products will not be missed.

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