Looking to make the most out of those blustery winter days? Try some family hygge.
If you haven’t heard of the Danish tradition of hygge, you aren’t alone. However, this practice is slowly spreading beyond Europe and is increasingly embraced here in the U.S. It was a runner-up for 2016 Oxford Dictionary “word of the year”, although it was ultimately yet disappointingly beat out by “post-truth”.
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” this tradition is focused on creating and indulging in a warm and cozy atmosphere. While the Danish embrace this feeling year-round, winter is truly the season of hygge. Cozy socks, oversized sweaters (ugly or otherwise), crackling fires and steaming mugs of cocoa all embody the hygge spirit.
In the Danish language, hygge can be used a noun, adjective, verb, or combined with other nouns to describe especially cozy or snuggly items. In addition to the cozy environment, hygge emphasizes togetherness with the people you love and care about. In a lot of ways, it resembles present-ness – being in the moment with the people you care about and creating a warm and inviting environment in which to enjoy that shared space and time.
If you’re intrigued, try out these suggestions to help your family hygge as the temperatures drop this winter.
Since you’re really trying to create a feeling or an experience, it might require a bit of effort to set the scene. If your schedules are overly busy, try scheduling this special family time – maybe on the same day and time each week. If Friday family night doesn’t seem to work, try Saturday family afternoon or Wednesday breakfast – whatever works, works!
Focus on the environment.
While sharing the same time and place is important, what really creates hygge is the surroundings.
Lower the lights, light a candle, tidy up the clutter, and pile on the blankets. Consider dropping the thermostat a few degrees to make everyone more inclined to those cozy blankets you’ve been stockpiling (guilty!). One of the biggest obstacles to hygge is anxiety, and I am certainly guilty of feeling anxious when the room is a disaster.
Put away the phone, keep the tablets and TV turned off. No one ever really feels cozy and loved with their device sucking up all of their attention.
Open up your schedule.
If you’re like a lot of parents, you might set up things that are fun for the kids to do so that they can eventually carry on the activity without you – giving you a few minutes to slip away and do something else. Or, you want to spend some time with the kids, but you only have twenty minutes.
When other things are pressing on your time, you’re constantly distracted. Kids love open-ended time and usually don’t constrain their activities to a certain time limit. Take a lesson from little ones and open up your time. Make room for hygge in your day to reap the benefits and let go of the pressure to always “be busy.”
Choose an activity.
If you wonder exactly what you should be doing as you hygge (with all those devices off-limits), brainstorm activities your family might already enjoy or would like to try. Board games, family cooking or baking, crafts, telling stories, learning how to do new hairstyles and playing beauty parlor, or reading aloud (great for all ages!) are great options. Challenge the kids to come up with their favorite ideas and be sure to rotate the options.
In an oppressively busy world, hygge can be a breath of fresh air. It can also be the permission you’ve needed to give yourself and your family the chance to shut out the outside world and strengthen your relationships and love.