By Lisa Burns, Contributing Writer
Are you familiar with the term “hygge”? Chances are you have seen this little Danish word in an article or heard it on a podcast. The idea has become pretty popular recently. And with good reason, too, because who doesn’t want to talk about how we can make our homes cozier and our lives more rich with the things which bring us joy.
If you are unfamiliar with the word, I’ll let you in on hygge, or hygging, or hyggy. (Did you see what I did there? The word can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective– though I’m pretty sure I’m breaking spelling rules with that last one).
In short, hygge means an atmosphere of comfort and coziness, leading to a deep feeling of contentment.
Psssst– it’s pronounced “hoo-guh”.25
I loooove this, because as a former winter-loather, I can see that the reasons behind my change of heart have everything to do with the concept of hygge. Where I used to dread the cold months with their gray skies and the perpetual chill, I now have an appreciation for them and even (gasp!) look forward to them.
Recently I shared an article about how to practice hygge on my blog’s Facebook page, and I received mixed responses. Some were all for it, but others were less than enthusiastic– still in the winter-loathing state and dubious whether hygge would work when there are small children running amok, alternately cooped up inside or requiring approximately seventy hours of putting on hats/boots/coats/gloves before going out each day.
I can certainly sympathize. We have four such children in our home. And as I mentioned before, I am not a natural fan of winter.
But here I am, typing a post in my pretty flannel shirt with fuzzy slippers in my favorite color on my feet, a pot of dulce de leche bubbling nearby, encouraging you to hygge along with (not in spite of) your children. Because as with everything, circumstances are what we make of them, and people throughout time have found that a little creativity and perspective goes a long way in helping anything to be enjoyable.
4 Ways to Hygge with Small Children
1. Embrace the cold.
You may be thinking, no way. Not going to happen. But I promise, if you spend the entire season focused on how you hate being cold and longing for the arrival of Spring, then there is no point in continuing with this list. (Been there. Many years).
Much of my angst with winter was focused on the fact that I hated being cold. But, happily, I have found that if I do a few simple things to stay warm, then I can begin to actually enjoy winter.
Part of adulting, I think, is to admit that t-shirts and the cheapest clothing you can find are no longer all you need. Nowadays, I check the tags, not just for the size and price, but for the wool content. And flimsy little sweaters? Oh no! Give me the wool, flannel, the down vests, and lined leggings!
I have even made infinity scarves using a super simple pattern in almost a dozen colors because they are so easy to throw on with everything and really help keep me warm.
It really does seem like an incredibly straightforward thing– to dress in warm clothes– but if warm clothes are missing from your closet, then enjoying the winter months with a sense of hygge is almost impossible.
2. Institute winter-only traditions with your kids.
Anticipation can be half the fun of doing something, right? So why not think of a few new traditions to institute this winter with your kids to give all of you something to look forward to?
We will be having our annual gingerbread house decorating party in January this year, instead of before Christmas like we have in the past. There simply was not enough time to get it done before Christmas, but I think that is actually going to work in our favor because making and decorating the houses is something we are all anticipating.
Plan a few special events in what can sometimes be the dreariest months of the year. Have fun with a mother-daughter sleepover. Invite friends over to make pizzas. Take your kids to the dollar theater frequently. Read more books together as a family (even better if it’s in front of the fire!).
Whatever it is, find something to make memories and enjoy each other this winter.
3. Use lights and decor to boost the coziness in your home.
I am a fan of taking Christmas decorations down soon after Christmas. I look forward to less clutter and more open spaces. But one thing I am never in a hurry to do away with are the lights.
Christmas lights and candles always make a room seem cozier, and can go a long way to creating an atmosphere of hygge in your home.
In addition to cozy lights, try to bring in some plants to help freshen the air and serve as simple decor. Small potted plants are a really easy way to brighten up a space. Just don’t forget to water them!
4. Keep moving.
This post sat on my computer half-written for almost two weeks because something just seemed off. Plus, this past week has been really crazy week since we remodeled our kitchen, meaning our kids have been cooped up even more.
So writing about a cozy, peaceful home did not seem to be very authentic.
Even so, as I observed my children yesterday, literally bouncing off the walls and the furniture, I realized what was missing. Part of the difficulty with small children in winter is the decrease in opportunity to work out some of their energy. Leading to hyperactivity and occasional mischief.
Finding ways to keep moving in healthy ways is crucial to enjoying winter. We will feel better and our children won’t be getting in trouble for simply being energetic.
Today, my children and I did an exercise video together. Besides just being ridiculously cute as they did their lunges and jumping jacks, it was a great way to be together getting out our energy.
Other ideas to keep moving are to bundle up and take walks together, buy a small trampoline for a basement or garage, take advantage of beautiful days to go to the park, or try a new sport together like ice skating or disc golf.
I do not know whether you are a fan of winter or are still longing for the return of summer. Either way, I am confident that the season can be what we make of it!
In these next few months, practice looking for ways to increase the hygge in your home. With the right perspective and a few simple tricks, you can make this winter an extra special time for you and your family!