For many of us, Winter is fastly approaching, bringing with it a feeling hibernation. Time to snuggle in and get cozy, and get acquainted with what is Hygge.
My kids and I love spending time outdoors. We like hiking and playing in our backyard. When the weather is nice, we go for nightly family walks with my husband. But right now, we are starting to let go of those habits in favor of embracing indoor life as the days grow shorter and colder. We’re embracing Hygge.
What is Hygge?
Hygge is a Danish word that doesn’t have an exact translation to English, but the word basically means cozy, or a sense of coziness. (though technically they stole the word from Norway)
Think chestnuts roasting on an open fire, comfy pj’s, hot chocolate in hand, and the softest blanket keeping you toasty as you read your favorite book. That’s Hygge.
How do you pronounce Hygge?
It looks like it should be “hig” to use anglophones, but really it is pronounced “hew-guh.”
Why is Hygge popular?
I’ve been seeing the word “hygge” pop up all over the place from Pinterest to bullet journal tutorials on YouTube, and had to dig into what it’s all about. Apparently I missed it when it was trending a few years ago, but the concept has seriously helped me put my finger on something I was missing now.
Over the last few years, there’s been a big surge in popularity of minimalism, simplicity, and scaling back thanks to the meteoric rise of people like Marie Kondō.
But one thing I’ve noticed in a lot of the minimalist communities, articles, and videos I’ve seen is a lack of one thing. A sense of charm that extends beyond the physical and into our more emotional and mental spaces.
It’s not just about de-cluttering or simplicity, but rather finding comfort, whatever that might mean for you. Hygge to me has a feeling of nostalgia and release mixed together. Like a hug from an old friend.
How do you live Hygge?
According to Danish writer, Laura Byager, “Hygge is effortless comfort; it has no element of performance. It is absence of all pretence and worry.”
Byager laments the fact that the idea of Hygge was taken over by marketers to sell people stuff. Acquiring more things isn’t really the point.
Instead, Hygge feels to me like it dovetails nicely with another concept I’ve been exploring for myself, which is the idea of depth vs. width, and instead of always buying more, deciding to make do with what I have.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 3 things I’m going to be focusing on over the Winter to try to develop a sense of Hygge in my own life with kids.
1. Learn to say no
December feels like it was conflicting feelings. On the one hand, it’s cold and dark, making it perfect for hibernation. On the other, there are a ton of family and social obligations for many due to the holidays.
While being with friends and family can bring so much joy, it can also mean stress.
That’s why it is key to learn to say no to the things that don’t light you (or your family) up. Are there parties and functions you go to out of obligation that don’t really make you feel all warm and cozy on the inside?
What if you skipped them? Said no?
It can be hard to change the way you do things after following the same traditions for years, but if those traditions aren’t really adding to your sense of joy, then why keep them as traditions?
Consider scaling back.
And this means saying no to yourself too!
I have always had eyes bigger than my stomach, bit off more than I could chew, and never known when to say when.
That’s changing as I get older and become clearer on what I truly love and makes me feel good. However, I have a tendency to underestimate the work something will take and overestimate my stamina.
That means I will push to do ALL the things on my Christmas bucket list even if it means more stress and less joy than if I only did 5-10 of them.
When you are also a mom and have to add kids into the mix, especially small ones, trying to do #allthethings is even more time consuming and stressful.
2. Go inside
Cold weather means spending more time indoors, but this also means going inside yourself. Going deep within to discover what is most true for you.
If the question to what is hygge can be boiled down to coziness, then this is getting cozy with your soul.
To embrace simple pleasures, you have to get really clear on what your mind, body, and soul find pleasurable.
Commercials on TV, perfectly curated IG feeds, other moms who seem to have it all together… these things can create hunger inside of us that isn’t real. They aren’t truly us on a deep level. They are manufactured envy and desire that don’t reflect the truth inside.
If hygge is about removing artifice and enjoying activities that reach the layers of us under the surface, then a period of shedding those layers and getting comfortable in our skin and our true desires is necessary.
3. Be present with the kids
Being stuck inside a lot during the cold months of the year can lead to a bit of cabin fever. We start reaching for distractions to take our mind off of well… boredom.
I know that I personally tend to get caught up on Facebook and other social media and spend way to much time with my head in my phone.
While I don’t think that tech and screen time is quite as terrible as some paint it, I also want to have a balanced and healthy relationship with everything in my life so I can model that balance with my kids.
How can I try to monitor or control the amount of screen time my kids are getting if I can’t even control my own tech usage?
This isn’t meant to be a diatribe about tech, but rather a reminder that all this time cooped up inside with the little ones can be challenging.
It requires mindfulness to really let go of all the things we usually use as a distraction from truly being present with ourselves and our children.
But from what I gather about hygge, it is about engaging in activities that allow us to just feel really good. Distractions can sometimes be a quick sojourn from the day-to-day and give us a little variety. (I’m currently binging the Crown and it is divine.)
BUT those are little pieces of the picture. Like how chocolate should only be a small portion of a healthy diet. Too much and it loses the appeal. It’s no longer special. Same with the little distractions we engage in.
For some distractions like social media, there are simple steps you can take to limit them, like banning social websites on your phone and deleting all the apps. Others you might have to get more creative.
The most effective way I’ve found of limiting distractions from being mindful and present is to crowd them out. So I find fun activities and things to do with my kids. These make me feel more present and connected to them, like painting or playing a game.
It’s a work in progress defining what is hygge for me and how I will incorporate the idea into my life. What about you? Do you embrace hygge? Share how in the comments!
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