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'…nice to get some alone time': children’s spatial negotiation of alone time needs in the family home

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sandra Costa Santos, Professor Rosie ParnellORCiD, Dr Husam Abo Kanon, Dr Alkistis Pitsikali, Heba Sarhan



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article exposes the spatial dimensions that children seek to support their alone time needs in the family home, based on empirical data from the At Home with Children research project. Normative ideologies of domesticity problematize child alone time at home as a threat to family togetherness. In turn, domestic space foregrounds this idea through the contemporary move towards open plan living and the lack of attention paid by housing overcrowding policy to children’s ‘alone space’ needs. This article offers new thinking by exploring the perspectives of children and teenagers on the everyday spatial negotiation of their alone time needs while at home with family during COVID-19 lockdown. These perspectives are drawn from semi-structured interviews with 45 families living across England and Scotland, UK. The findings reveal that both children and teenagers seek spaces for alone time because they enable four core experiences: privacy, agency, ownership, and restoration. The article discusses associated dimensions of space identified by children and teenagers, contributing new understandings to the under-researched realm of children’s domestic geographies. The findings show the relevance of space for alone time, to children’s well-being, fundamentally challenging adult-centred constructions of family togetherness. Finally, the article highlights the way in which this focus on the voiced needs of children sets a new agenda for the housing standards, with major policy implications for measures of occupation density and for housing design which enables children to maintain their well-being.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Costa Santos S, Parnell R, Abo Kanon H, Pattinson E, Pitsikali A, Sarhan H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Children's Geographies

Year: 2024

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 08/02/2024

Acceptance date: 09/01/2024

Date deposited: 10/01/2024

ISSN (print): 1473-3285

ISSN (electronic): 1473-3277

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/14733285.2024.2310566


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