Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

My childhood bedroom: a blast from the past

with 2 comments

When you go back to your childhood bedroom, do you feel like you are stepping back in time?

Have your parents kept your room as it was when there were Adam and the Ants posters adorning the walls and a record player under the desk with a stack of dusty 45s and 33s?

Apparently there are more than four million of us who are transported back to our formative years when we visit our parents because our bedrooms are decorated the same.

And how weird must that be when you stay overnight? Does the child in you come out again?

A survey by Prudential has revealed that 4.6 million UK adults have their former bedrooms preserved by parents who cannot quite let go of earlier memories of their children.

But, just as importantly, almost half of UK adults whose parents still live in the family home say they still regard their childhood bedroom as their room despite moving out.

But is that so strange? I live close to my parents, so when my children go for a sleepover they choose which room they want to go in: mine or my brother’s.

My bedroom has changed a little (there are new curtains and carpet), but it has the same furniture and bed and the book shelves that once housed my revision notes, dictionaries and text books are still strewn with remnants from my past, including my game of Toggle (I think it was called), a couple of animal figurines and a photograph of me and my mum.

When I open the cupboard door there is still the large poster of Dougal from The Magic Roundabout I stuck on there in a fit of teenage irony; there are games under the bed that I used to play with (Sorry! – which I hated; Ludo; Monopoly; some fuzzy felt).

The lamp is the same. My first record player is hidden away (a red portable one; it was great. You could put your favourite record on repeat and listen to it for hours. Drove my parents mad) at the back of the cupboard.

Even in the drawers there are items of clothing that tell the story of my life: my old Brownie uniform; a purple knitted sleeveless cardigan that seemed to grow with me between the ages of five and ten; hair ribbons from my “Like A Virgin” incarnation; even a rotting dummy from when I was a baby (honest).

The Prudential survey found that many of us are faced with our past when we return to our childhood bedrooms. There are toys, certificates, trophies, photos and school books adorning the space.

Having such a familiar space is comforting for the vast majority of us who enjoyed happy childhoods. We like thinking about our past; it makes us who we are.

I’m not going to go into childhood psychology, but suffice it to say here that our memories fashion our adult life.

I like looking at the things in my old bedroom: they bring back memories (not always good; I don’t have a rose-tinted view of my childhood), make me feel part of a secure unit. It makes me feel safe. I know I’m lucky; others wouldn’t necessarily that point of view.

Nothing, however, could have prepared me for how odd I felt when I stayed in my old bedroom (with the same single bed that I had as a youngster) the night before I got married.

It was weird. I felt at odds with myself: here I was on the verge of embarking on a very grown-up adventure, lying in my childhood bed in my old bedroom, surrounded by my memories.

Now, years on, when I walk into that room, I remember that feeling still. It has taken a place in my memory bank and it is there, nestling for attention alongside the homework books, the teddies and the Dougal poster.

Written by CommonPeople

December 11, 2008 at 1:02 pm

2 Responses

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  1. No such luck, I’m afraid. My folks have moved twice (or is it three times?) since I was in my early 20s so all memories of childhood are largely gone (but not forgotten).

    In one of the moves they did unearth all my old school reports, which I now have.

    My English teacher once wrote that I had a real problem with the English language and struggled to string coherent sentences together – Mr “Nostradamus” O’Donaghue was clearly a man of insight.

    Paul Groves

    December 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm

  2. I find this an amazing thought. My family moved about seven times during my childhood and there was no family home for me from the age of about 18. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a family house to go back to, much less a bedroom. How different would life be if you had all that behind you?

    Jo Ind

    December 15, 2008 at 3:24 pm


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