When life gets stressful for Mary
Kammerer, she retreats into a spare bedroom in her house. She lights candles or
burns incense, listens to meditation music — sometimes she talks to her mom,
whose ashes she keeps in the room.
She doesn’t allow any
interruptions. Her husband and pets know to stay away and she leaves her cellphone
in the other room. She lies on the air mattress, closes her eyes and lets the
music take her to a place where only she lives.
“It puts me in a whole new world,
where I can relax,” said Mrs. Kammerer, 51, of Rockledge, Florida, who works
for Bridges, a community organisation for people with special needs. She goes
into the room two or three times a week for an hour, more if she is stressed.
“It’s better than a bubble bath.”
For years, men have retreated to
their “man caves” to watch sports, play video games or shoot pool without their
wives or girlfriends around to bother them. Women who needed time alone had the
kitchen; a place associated more with work than relaxation. It’s now the social
centre in the home, so there’s no privacy there.
But these days, women are
chiselling out their own sanctuary, taking over a room, nook or even a closet
and making it their “mom cave.”
A mom cave is the place where the
woman who nurtures everyone goes to nurture herself, said Elaine Griffin, New
York City interior designer and author of Design Rules: The Insider’s Guide to
Becoming Your Own Decorator. She coined the term mom cave with HomeGoods. (It’s
really a woman cave, but mom cave sounded better, she said.)
It’s a natural evolution from man
caves, the saying “If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy,” and the idea that it’s
OK to have me time, she said. The next logical step was a space for the ‘me time’.
“We saw women all over the country
beginning to take that space for themselves, whether it was an extra room they
could actually dedicate to themselves or just a space they could carve out for
themselves,” she said.
“It’s a space a woman can go to and
say, ‘All right husband and kids, when this door is closed I’m off duty.’”
A good mom cave has a place to sit,
a place to store things, a place to work and a place to visit, Griffin said. It
also has to be pretty — you can’t relax in chaos — and personalised, mementos
on the wall, for example. When you open the door, you should go, ahhh, she
A place to work
It’s not simply a room for doing
nothing. Unlike men, women relax by doing things, so they need storage and a
place to work, Griffin said.
“We never just sit there and watch
endless TV. We’re watching TV and knitting. We’re talking on the phone and
balancing our checkbook.” And since women are social, they need a place where a
visitor can sit, even if it’s an ottoman, she said.
Many women use their mom caves to
pursue their passion, like Marjorie Mulla, whose former laundry room has two
sewing machines, fabric, yarn, storage boxes filled with patterns and other art
supplies. Some days she goes in her cave simply to sew a button; others she’s
in there for hours working on a project.
Mrs. Mulla, 52, of Palm Bay, an
intake paralegal, said she always has had a space in the house, but when the
family relocated to Brevard, there were no extra bedrooms. Her husband, who had
a man cave for several years, moved the washer and dryer into the garage.
“It provides me with an opportunity
to tune everything else out,” said the mom of four. “It’s sort of like an hour
at the spa. Nothing else really matters, because my focus is on what my hands
are doing, so I’m not stressing about the every day, how much laundry is piling
up, how many errands I need to run.”
Suzy Moore, 59, of Merritt Island,
Florida, uses her mom cave to make costumes for shows and her grandchildren’s
performances. Her cave has gone from a closet to a corner of the playroom to
her son’s room and back to the playroom.
It’s an all-purpose, let’s-have-fun
room when her grandkids visit. And her mother loves for her to move the spare
bed into the room when she’s there.
“It is my world,” Moore said. “It
is my true creative world. It is truly my own little sanctuary.”
Women need that sanctuary more than
ever, the result of leading increasingly chaotic lives, Griffin said. Men have
been much better at staking a claim to a space and saying, “this is my space, do
not bother me.”
Laura Scott, 49, a mom of two in
Satellite Beach, Florida, said when she and her husband built their home seven
years ago, a mom cave was a requirement. He had his big office. Her retreat has
a desktop computer, couch, television and a meditation area.
Even when she’s paying bills, she
burns incense and puts on her crystal salt lamp. “It makes it a lot easier and
a lot nicer.”
The mom cave does have rules. Men
sometimes want to be in the space, too, but they’re allowed only by invitation;
the same goes for the kids, Griffin said. “It’s not a family room.”
Sylvia Hampton said no one is
allowed in her mom cave, which has an old fashioned wooden single bed, a
keyboard, a small antique mirror and an old-fashioned table with a doily on it
that her son crocheted. She has Elvis books and photos — of Elvis, her husband,
“This is my retreat,” said the
71-year-old Melbourne, Florida, resident. “It’s cooler and darker and quieter
than any other room in the house. Even though it’s small, it’s fine for me.”