I suppose the question here may be, ‘What is a third space?’.
Well, your home life is one – kids, family, cooking, laundry, craft, dishes, homework…the whole gamut of raising kids and running a house.
Your second space is usually considered to be your work-space. Where you go from 9-5…or more commonly now 8-6, be that am or pm.
So, your third space is Your Space. Neither family and house nor work and colleagues. We can define your Third Space to be the space absolutely for you.
How you imagine this space is entirely subjective. For me it is running. The trails around Richmond Park or the Thames path, listening to the woodpeckers and the blackbirds, focusing entirely or where I am treading, my breathing and my surroundings. If I need a change I’ll run into town and join the tourists crossing Tower Bridge and enjoy the buzz of the City or West End. Running down small streets and alleyways to find little buildings that have stood for centuries and are now hidden by the modern architectural might of 21st century London.
I never knew that there was a church called Saint Andrew By The Wardrobe, I got to puzzle and chuckle at that as I ran by (was he having a bad clothes day??)….
The most important thing here is that although I am still mum in one sphere and a therapist and teacher in another I have this sphere too. It’s not that I lose the others on route, nor am I running from them, it is more as though I am given the opportunity to leave one room and walk into another for a short time. From here the views are different, my perspective changes as does my level of endorphins. Some parts of my brain relax and quieten down, others light up and fire. My Third Space becomes a mini- break, another me, another place to inhabit and define myself and my thoughts and abilities.
So where is your Third Space?
Is it as simple as a quiet room for a stolen patch of time with a much loved book or magazine? Is it the golf range or the gym? A quiet park bench a few hundred yards from your home? Is it study and learning? A coffee shop or the pub?
On Maternal Mental Health week and with a growing awareness of anxiety and depression in society (Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide – mentalhealth.org.uk) I imagine that this space is growing in importance. Where work and home life take so much from us we clearly need to be carving out some spaces where everything can stop…..or start… Where we can be physically and mentally free, so that when we return to small hands and hugs or the four walls and desks of industry we come with a clear, fresh mind.
We all need a third space, so where is yours?