I discovered hygge on Pinterest (where all of the other fleeting trends live) and I found it underwhelming. I have a toddler, two jobs and a whole host of washing to do – am I wrong for feeling like investing my time in candles and cosiness is hit and miss? Probably not, but what I had managed to do at first was miss the true meaning of hygge. I discovered that true meaning in The Little Book Of Hygge, and life = changed. For fear of getting a little bit too deep here, hygge is a feeling, rather than a lifestyle. It is not so much a warm and cosy physical space, but a comfortable and welcoming psychological space to enter in to as a family. It all sounds a bit fluffy, but stick with me, I promise it’s much simpler than it sounds. While it is a lifestyle trend here, it’s a way of life for the Danes, and given that they are one of the happiest nations on the planet – it’s no surprise we’ve all caught on. Hygge with a toddler is slightly more daunting, but even moreso worth it, and we’ve been implementing this year in five simple ways.
Bake (in my case, try to). A big part of hygge is embracing good food. Whilst the cooking is left to dad in this household, baking is a time when we can come together. We don’t bake fancy cupcakes, there are no french gateaus’ in sight and I am almost certain we won’t be giving Mary Berry a run for her money anytime soon. Baking is not necessarily stress free, quite the opposite given that I am useless in the kitchen and the toddler wants to grab everything and anything. But while it may not be stress free, it’s an activity that allows us all to be fully present, fully invested and to work as a unit. We’ll buy a cheap and cheerful box of easy bake cupcakes, put on some Disney music and embrace the challenge that is the toddler versus the wooden spoon.
Get Outside. I once thought that the main concept of hygge was cosiness, of being indoors, but that in itself is one small aspect. The Danish motto is ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothing‘ and I cannot think of a better one to live by. It’s been snowing, raining, freezing in Scotland in the New Year, but we’ve not missed the chance to get outside and to throw snowballs, or to chase the ducks at the pond. We’ll kick a ball about and we embrace the weather for what it is – a bit shitty, but perfectly do-able with the right hat on.
Or, Stay Inside. Sometimes, the last thing we need to do is to go outside. I for one, will be the first to put my hands up and stay sometimes we all just need a couch day. We all need to slow down and do a little less at times. We’ll light some candles (placed high and as far away from little grabby hands as possible), cuddle up with the blankets and embrace the ambient theme tune of the Teletubbies. I feel like television may go against some of the basic principles of hygge, but as much as I would personally love to spend my Sunday night delving into a novel, my toddler would not, and so we adapt the basic principles to suit our family. By doing so, we remain present and able to spend quality time as a family, whilst also allowing the drug-like fix that is Tinky Winky.
No-Go Phone Zones. It’s very difficult to be truly invested in the moment if your phone is continually buzzing in your hand. I’ll be the first to say that phones, tablets and televisions very much play a role in modern families now, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a part of every waking moment. We made it one of our resolutions this year to have two no-phone-zones in our household. The first being at the dinner table, the second being during bath time. It’s a simple step, and one we have faltered on a good few times already (snapchat is a problem, I’m working on it) but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s so simple, but with a little bit of awareness and presence in the moment, the difference can be a big one.
Take A Hygge Oath. There was a Hygge Oath published in The Danish Way, and I think the oath alone sums up the way of life better than any book could have done. Think of the oath as a (less constraining) contract – a promise made as a family and a will to live a happier and more content life. It lays down the ground rules, not one of which feels limiting or restrictive. It suggests positive steps, such as switching off phones and iPads, leaving negativity and drama at the door and to enjoy food and drink. The ‘oath’ itself is not a rule book, but rather a friendly reminder of the steps we need to take towards a happier space. We have ours somewhat crumpled on the window sill that looks over our dining table, a constant reminder that the dinner table is a hygge space, and one we need to act consciously in.
Hygge is meant for ‘we time’ rather than ‘me time.’ These five steps are five extremely simple changes that we can make, that will ultimately make us more present and a more positive household. We are not Danish, nor will we ever be, but bringing our son up with some of the values they live by can only mean a happier life. Let’s face it, even if it doesn’t quite go that far it gives us an excuse to cosy up on the couch, chase some ducks and make some cookies – so is it really going to be a bad thing? Believe it or not, hygge is more than just a hashtag on Instagram for your cosy candles and curated coffees – it’s a way of life, and one I am firmly in favor of.
Have you tried to hygge yet ?