Yes Sir, We can Hygge

15th November 2019

Words by Anna Whitaker

Hygge hit the headlines a few years ago, probably not coincidently around the same time as JOMO. It’s the Danish art of appreciating the small, often free, everyday pleasures we so often take for granted. It’s carving out some actual time for them in our hectic lives. It’s getting cosy together as a family and taking some real time to connect.

November is probably peak Hygge season after the last few months of settling into the new school year and winding down before the December rush kicks in. It’s why we’ve decided to go over the basics again here and share a few ideas for how you can bring it home to your family. I mean, what’s better than a Sunday afternoon in the woods, followed by a roast dinner, boardgame and Sunday-night drama on TV. No phones. No distractions. No worries. Here’s how it goes…

Get closer to nature

There’s only so much being cooped up inside kids can take, so the first step to Hygge is to get outside. Wrap up in your warmest gear and head to your local woodlands, perhaps even one of our 10 child-friendly autumn walks near London. Let them run off some steam, build a den, play hide and seek or find the prettiest leaf they can while you make up stories, teach them about the trees and why we need them or even plant one of your own. Whatever you do, just have a proper chat. The aim is to connect, it doesn’t have to be any more elaborate than that.

Set your scene

When you get home, don’t switch on every light in the house all at once. Think strategically about what’s going to set the tone of the evening. Natural lighting is ideal so if you have a fire, fire it up. If you have candles, light them away from the kids’ reach (bonus points for nice smelling ones). If you need sidelights, make sure the bulbs have a low wattage. You could even move them around to get a softer through-light rather than anything direct. You basically want a warm and cosy space to feel enveloped in snuggliness in every way you can.

Cook up some comfort food

After the obligatory post-walk hot chocolate, get started on a meal the whole family will enjoy. I grew up with a roast dinner every Sunday, with a homemade dessert and proper drinks (wine for the adults, something a little special for kids). It sounds totally idyllic now and quite impractical, but I guess my parents never had the distractions of today. We’d help to peel potatoes and carrots, make the crumble for the pudding and set the table for dinner just a stroke before 7 pm. It was the only time in the week we’d all eat together and have a proper conversation. In hindsight, this was much more important than I ever thought at the time.

Snuggle down

This doesn’t have to happen after dinner (although when there’s amazing TV on like His Dark Materials, sometimes a schedule has to be set). This is the time to totally switch off, snuggle up with the cosiest blankets, snuggliest pyjamas and cuddly kids to enjoy something together as a family. Generally, screen time is a Hygge no-go but I would make an exception for a great TV drama or family film that everyone can enjoy. Current faves are still Paddington and Paddington 2, which thankfully we watch over and over again.

Play a game

If your kids can engage with an activity for more than five minutes, get out a board game. There are so many classics you’ll take for granted but your kids might never have seen before. And countless new ones that you can discover together, like the amazing Talu Tales, a storytelling game that you can play whilst staying firmly glued to the sofa. A jigsaw is another lovely way to unwind while using up the last of the week’s brainpower.

Of course, there will be times when the kids aren’t on board or have other ideas for what it means to unwind so take this all with a healthy dose of salt. I guess the main thing is to find a regular moment in the week to just pause and appreciate the little things. Maybe it’s just locking your phone away for a few hours and spending time consciously doing something together. Whatever it is, take a moment to enjoy it. Make it your job (I love ticking off jobs) and find your own peace, whatever that might be.

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