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No strife, no food allowed in the woman cave; decaf tea OK

NEW YORK – When people find out that I’m an empty nester with a “woman cave” in my New York City apartment, they seem to have a lot of questions. So I recently created this FAQ about it for Facebook friends, which led to a whole other round of comments and questions.

If you’re curious about woman caves or maybe you’re dreaming of creating your own, here’s my FAQ and the comments and responses it generated.

Woman cave faq

1) Where and what is this woman cave?

It is a bedroom in my apartment once occupied by children and other people who no longer live under my roof. At least at the moment, they don’t.

2) Why do you need a woman cave?

Because the TV is often blaring sports in the living room (my husband lives in the apartment, too) and the kitchen’s not comfy and my bedroom is for sleeping.

3) What do you do in the woman cave?

I sit on the futon and enjoy the calm. I do projects like organizing recipes. I write lists. Occasionally I nap or read. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of (mostly joyful) commotion in this relatively small three-bedroom apartment – including a few periods when we had five people living there, sharing one bathroom – so it’s just nice to have a tranquil spot to relax now.

4) What is not allowed in the woman cave?

Food. Strife. Clutter. Noisy things. No beverages other than decaf tea.

5) What is in the woman cave?

A futon with nice pillows. A really good reading lamp. Beautiful things that loved ones have given me: a bowl, art, scarves (one draped on the sofa, one on the wall). A coffee table with a TV and old laptop that my son set up for me so I could watch a movie or show, but so far I haven’t. Bunches of lavender and mint that I picked from my windowbox after the first frost, hanging upside down to dry.

6) Do you socialize in the woman cave?

No. It’s a solitary place. Though I might consider letting my friends from high school visit.

7) Is there anything missing from the woman cave?

No. It’s perfect.

Comments and questions

Comment: “No food or beverages other than decaf tea?? I could forgo the food but would broaden the beverage menu.”

Comment: “No cheese?”

Response: My husband once brought me a snack to be nice, but it spilled and then I had to clean it up. I just want the woman cave to be neat and clean without any effort.

Comment: “Sounds blissful. What about a few joss sticks? Or would incense be distracting?”

Response: I have a tiny lavender pillow if I need aromatherapy. That’s enough.

Comment (from a neighbor): “I’d like to invite you up to my woman cave. The thing I like most about it is that it’s always clean. No one else’s stuff.”

Response: Exactly.

Comment: “There was a commercial a while ago that called it a ‘She Shack.’”

Response: That suggests disorder and crudeness. Neither is allowed in my woman cave.

Comment: “Those are practically the same rules I have for my man cave/media room.”

Response: Perhaps we are descended from the same cave dwellers.

Comment: “Because my dad is severely handicapped, they created a bedroom for him downstairs in the old den of my childhood home. My mom now has the whole upstairs to herself, so she converted my sister’s old bedroom into her woman cave (although she doesn’t call it that).”

Response: Women give a lot to other people in their families and sometimes a small tranquil space is really essential to keep them going. My years in this apartment are often a blur from when kids were little and there were never even five minutes of quiet or an inch of privacy. Part of the trance I go into in there is just processing all the memories and the ups and downs. A room of one’s own is not just a metaphor (or the name of a book).

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