Have you had a Hygge yet?
You’ve got to hand it to the Danes. Denmark has been voted the happiest country in the world AGAIN. For the 40th year in a row. Wowsers!
As you may have seen in one of my earlier posts, the Danes are fantastic at putting a positive spin on words and now they’ve proven that they know what’s important in life. The thing that makes us all richer but that money can’t buy.
It’s all about the Hygge
For Danes, family-time is ingrained in their culture and they make it part of daily life. They even have a special word for it – Hygge (pronounced hooga) meaning ‘having a cosy time together with friends or family’ which sounds magical in itself.
I’m always on the lookout for lovely ways to make our lives a bit calmer and this seemed the perfect antidote to a busy or stressful day.
We decided to try Hygge, or ‘Hoogie-time’ due to my mispronunciation. Tiddler, being a clever button renamed it ‘boogie time’. Thankfully our hoogie’s are a bit more chilled out and don’t involve bopping around the room manically to cheesy disco music.
The whole point of Hygge is to create a warm, cosy atmosphere and enjoy quality time together. No screens or other technology, just the four of us chilling out. This also means no boisterous behaviour or unkind words, from adults or kids.
What happened when we tried Hygge
The first time we tried our Hoogie was after dinner hoping to chill the boys out a bit before bedtime.
I set the scene to get us going.
Danes burn more candles per head than any other European country according to the European Candle Association. So to get in the Hoogie-mood I lit tea-lights and burned some lavender oil to create a calm, warm atmosphere. I also moved the bean-bag chair back into the living room.
It was nice to reclaim my bean-bag chair which I’d bought with the intention of creating a calm space. The boys have hijacked it for the summer holidays to act as a mountain for their Lego mini-figures. Before I could sit down however, both boys jumped on and promptly started arguing about who was going to sit there. So much for calm.
In the end we agreed they could each sit on the chair for 5 minutes. Our Hoogie was only going to last 10 minutes so that seemed fair. We talked a bit about what we’d done that day and what the boys had enjoyed most. All nicely chilled so far.
Then the boys lost interest and the next 8 minutes consisted of me and Mr N telling them through gritted teeth to stop seeing who could do the best handstand on the chair or sofa.
Aarggh. I felt so annoyed by the end of it I had a large glass of wine after the boys were in bed.
Shall we Hygge again?
Still, not one to give up easily, we tried again the next night. In fact the boys were already asking before they’d finished dinner if it was Hoogie-time yet. They’d clearly enjoyed it and were eager for more.
We set a new rule this time – only one child on the bean-bag chair per Hoogie-session, so they’d have to take it in turns each night. Thankfully they were OK with this set-up. This time I began by asking the boys to take deep breaths and do a star-fish meditation. Then we had a nice chat about our day and finished all cuddled up on the sofa reading a book (Tiddler had migrated from the bean-bag chair by this point).
From arrggh to ahh. No wine needed this evening.
By the third day the bean-bag chair had been banned from Hoogie-time in favour of cosying-up on the sofa. This also saved us having to remember whose turn it was to sit where. Again the boys were asking when it was Hoogie-time and we followed the same routine.
Our Hygge routine:
- Cosy atmosphere – drawn curtains, one lamp on and tea-lights lit
- No raised voices, arguing or fighting
- One person at a time saying what they’d enjoyed about their day
- Finish with a story read by mummy or daddy
It seems to be working. The boys love Hoogie-time and it really calms them down before we start the bed-time routine. It hasn’t all been plain-sailing. Boo refused to calm down one evening and kept jumping around and shouting. We remained calm but asked him to leave the room for a few minutes.
Seeing him skulking by the living room door trying to listen in to what we were saying proved to me that he felt he was missing out. So, on the promise of using a quiet voice and gentle hands he was welcomed back in. That did the trick and Boo enjoyed his Hoogie as much as the rest of us.
A lovely Hoogie-calm-way at the end of our day
I’m not sure what it is about Hygge. But in our technology-infused, busy and distracted lives taking 10 minutes out each day to just talk or enjoy being together in a respectful and calm way is a revelation.
We’ll definitely be continuing with Hoogie-time. It’s a lovely way to end the day.
And those Danes are genius. From their ability to frame words positively to their innate love for family-time. No wonder they’re some of the happiest people on earth.
Have you got a chilled family ritual that you do daily? Or have you tried a Hygge? Tell me about it below!