My growing family and I live in Maine, where the winters are freezing cold and there is very little to do. Over the years, we’ve made mundane things magical by celebrating every day acts. It helps keep winter from getting us down. My two sons recently planted grass in small terra cotta pots that line our dining room windows and every morning we peek to see signs of green life springing from the soil. When we make hot chocolate, we sit together and tell stories and hold our mugs of chocolate tight as if being hugged by comfort. With mindfulness and an eye toward creating simple comforts that feel like love and define our family, it turns out that we have been practicing this funny concept called “hygge” for a while now.
If you’ve been online at all in recent weeks then you’ve likely heard about hygge (pronounced hue-gah). On Instagram alone, the hashtag #hygge has more than 1.6 million posts. So, what is it? Hygge is a lifestyle trend here in the West, but it has old Danish roots around the concept of adding warmth and meaning to the otherwise mundane, particularly in the winter when boredom and depression are more common. It’s about living in the moment and enjoying it for what it is; savoring the cozy feeling wool socks offer, for example, instead of just putting them on to keep your feet warm. You don’t need to buy cool gear, expensive sweaters, book time for it, or live in the Alps to enjoy it.
As winter wraps its icy clutches around our busy schedules the concept of hygge feels like a lovely respite. The problem, though? Whenever hygge pops up in social media feeds or on GOOPish sites the general perception is that hygge, like everything else seemingly Zen and holistic, is probably stupidly expensive or time-consuming. But have no fear, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 ways to embrace the hygge movement when you’re a mom who is tight on money or time (or both).
1. Create a cozy spot in your home. This could be as small and easy as adding a wool blanket to a plush couch. Or, you could design an entire room around comfort, with a fireplace, soft pillows, foot rests, and lots of blankets.
2. Stock up on candles. The warm glow of candles is totally hygge. But for kids? Try flashlights. You can change the color of the light by taping pieces of colorful transparent plastic over the bulb casing.
3. Use natural materials, wherever possible. We already mentioned wool socks and wool blankets so you get the idea about how important natural fibers that bring warmth and comfort are for creating an authentic hygge feel.
4. Serve up your favorite comfort food. Make eating it feel like a ritual. Try serving your favorite baked macaroni and cheese or pizza delivery on plates and use cloth napkins to make the meal feel more like a special event.
5. Use the proper stemware. Put the juice glass down and pour your wine into a proper glass and really try to savor the flavor and experience of that red or white.
6. Linger often. This is key. Whatever you’re doing, really take your time and try to enjoy it. Curl up and read a book, and slowly sip your tea. Take a mental snapshot of how you feel and use that memory later when you’re harried and stressed.
7. Practice rituals centered on togetherness and comfort with your kids. Think cooking together or curling up in warm blankets and reading silly poems.
8. Play old-school games together. Shadow puppets are a great way to get your kids to slow down and interact in a fun and calm manner. They rely on using imagination and creativity and can bring a family together for some much-needed quality time.
9. Spin a yarn worth remembering. Storytelling with your kids using story cubes or reading books, making up tall tales, or interviewing each other is a wonderful way to pass some time while bonding and having some cozy fun.
10. Soak in the tub. Forget that lightning fast shower or that baths are for the kids. Run a steamy hot bath, toss in some bath bombs, and soak in the quiet comfort. Bonus points if you add wine and candles. Hello, relaxation.