How to Hygge with Small Children

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Are you familiar with the term “hygge”?

Chances are you have seen this little Danish word in an article or heard it on a podcast. The idea has become pretty popular recently. And with good reason, too, because who doesn’t want to talk about how we can make our homes cozier and our lives more rich with the things which bring us joy.

If you are unfamiliar with the word, I’ll let you in on hygge, or hygging, or hyggy. (Did you see what I did there? The word can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective– though I’m pretty sure I’m breaking spelling rules with that last one).

In short, hygge means an atmosphere of comfort and coziness, leading to a deep feeling of contentment.

Psssst– it’s pronounced “hoo-guh”.25

I loooove this, because as a former winter-loather, I can see that the reasons behind my change of heart have everything to do with the concept of hygge. Where I used to dread the cold months with their gray skies and the perpetual chill, I now have an appreciation for them and even (gasp!) look forward to them.

Recently I shared an article about how to practice hygge on my blog’s Facebook page, and I received mixed responses. Some were all for it, but others were less than enthusiastic– still in the winter-loathing state and dubious whether hygge would work when there are small children running amok, alternately cooped up inside or requiring approximately seventy hours of putting on hats/boots/coats/gloves before going out each day.

I can certainly sympathize. We have four such children in our home. And as I mentioned before, I am not a natural fan of winter.

But here I am, typing a post in my pretty flannel shirt with fuzzy slippers in my favorite color on my feet, a pot of dulce de leche bubbling nearby, encouraging you to hygge along with (not in spite of) your children. Because as with everything, circumstances are what we make of them, and people throughout time have found that a little creativity and perspective goes a long way in helping anything to be enjoyable.

4 Ways to Hygge with Small Children

1. Embrace the cold.

You may be thinking, no way. Not going to happen. But I promise, if you spend the entire season focused on how you hate being cold and longing for the arrival of Spring, then there is no point in continuing with this list. (Been there. Many years).

Much of my angst with winter was focused on the fact that I hated being cold. But, happily, I have found that if I do a few simple things to stay warm, then I can begin to actually enjoy winter.

Part of adulting, I think, is to admit that t-shirts and the cheapest clothing you can find are no longer all you need. Nowadays, I check the tags, not just for the size and price, but for the wool content. And flimsy little sweaters? Oh no! Give me the wool, flannel, the down vests, and lined leggings!

I have even made infinity scarves using a super simple pattern in almost a dozen colors because they are so easy to throw on with everything and really help keep me warm.

It really does seem like an incredibly straightforward thing– to dress in warm clothes– but if warm clothes are missing from your closet, then enjoying the winter months with a sense of hygge is almost impossible.

2. Institute winter-only traditions with your kids.

Anticipation can be half the fun of doing something, right? So why not think of a few new traditions to institute this winter with your kids to give all of you something to look forward to?

We will be having our annual gingerbread house decorating party in January this year, instead of before Christmas like we have in the past. There simply was not enough time to get it done before Christmas, but I think that is actually going to work in our favor because making and decorating the houses is something we are all anticipating.

Plan a few special events in what can sometimes be the dreariest months of the year. Have fun with a mother-daughter sleepover. Invite friends over to make pizzas. Take your kids to the dollar theater frequently. Read more books together as a family (even better if it’s in front of the fire!).

Whatever it is, find something to make memories and enjoy each other this winter.

3. Use lights and decor to boost the coziness in your home.

I am a fan of taking Christmas decorations down soon after Christmas. I look forward to less clutter and more open spaces. But one thing I am never in a hurry to do away with are the lights.

Christmas lights and candles always make a room seem cozier, and can go a long way to creating an atmosphere of hygge in your home.

In addition to cozy lights, try to bring in some plants to help freshen the air and serve as simple decor. Small potted plants are a really easy way to brighten up a space. Just don’t forget to water them!

4. Keep moving. 

This post sat on my computer half-written for almost two weeks because something just seemed off. Plus, this past week has been really crazy week since we remodeled our kitchen, meaning our kids have been cooped up even more.

So writing about a cozy, peaceful home did not seem to be very authentic.

Even so, as I observed my children yesterday, literally bouncing off the walls and the furniture, I realized what was missing. Part of the difficulty with small children in winter is the decrease in opportunity to work out some of their energy. Leading to hyperactivity and occasional mischief.

Finding ways to keep moving in healthy ways is crucial to enjoying winter. We will feel better and our children won’t be getting in trouble for simply being energetic.

Today, my children and I did an exercise video together. Besides just being ridiculously cute as they did their lunges and jumping jacks, it was a great way to be together getting out our energy.

Other ideas to keep moving are to bundle up and take walks together, buy a small trampoline for a basement or garage, take advantage of beautiful days to go to the park, or try a new sport together like ice skating or disc golf.

I do not know whether you are a fan of winter or are still longing for the return of summer. Either way, I am confident that the season can be what we make of it!

In these next few months, practice looking for ways to increase the hygge in your home. With the right perspective and a few simple tricks, you can make this winter an extra special time for you and your family!

Do you ever wonder how some women make running a home look so easy?

I certainly have!

However, after many years of watching my friends who do this well, and after much trial and error, I’ve boiled it all down to 3 essential daily habits. With these 3 habits in place, a home can function pretty well! Without them, it will be perpetual catchup.

While I used to feel like a failure as a homemaker, I know feel a sense of success and satisfaction.

I’d love to share these 3 simple (secret) daily habits with you. If you focus your energy into establishing them, I believe you will achieve the same breakthrough in your homemaking that I did.

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  1. Monique says:

    I enjoyed this post. Good ideas for embracing this season. A few of my family’s favorites in winter, besides the usual skating, tobogganing and making snowmen: we have a fire pit in our backyard which we keep shoveled off for winter fires (complete with roasting hot dogs and marshmallows of course). On days that are too cold, we play Wii sports or boardgames. Dancing in the kitchen is always a favorite too.

  2. Natalie says:

    I moved to a cold winter place 4 years ago. Growing up in California, I really had no idea what that entailed. And moving here with newborn twins and another child-well-challenging (hello-what are clean runners at school?). But we have embraced the cold weather and done exactly what you discuss here-and perspective is everything. I use it as an opportunity to do things we are not able to do all summer (snow activities, early but dark evening flashlight walks, snow forts). You have to force yourself to be creative and force yourself to get out, but you CAN enjoy winter. And yes, lounging by a fire is really nice-and reading books or having PJ days just seems “right”. And YES-the right clothes make a huge difference (thank you unattractive Sorel winter boots-you’ve kept my feet warm I. Times I wouldn’t have thought possible).
    Happy Winter!

  3. Cathy says:

    This is so helpful thank you. I have to admit that I dislike the winter months even more since having children but the are so many helpful tips here to enjoy it more. I especially love the exercise video and winter traditions ideas.

  4. Sherri says:

    This is actually rather funny. I was complaining to my husband the other day how much I was loathing winter and how I used to love it but now…
    Then I looked at him and realized it was me. I stop dressing for the cold. I stopped living for the temp and the season and instead was living for another season.

  5. The concept of “Hygge” is really new to me, but I love it! I didn’t know about it until I saw some titles with it on Pinterest!

    I love your ideas on incorporating it into life, especially during the winter. I’ve always hated the cold but I appreciate the inspiration to embrace it.

    My little one is only a month old but I’ll save these ideas for when he gets older!

  6. Rachel B says:

    Love this post! Now I have a word for why I almost look forward to the winter months. My kids are fans of herbal tea so in the winter they get to choose one after tub and before the bedtime routine begins. We always add raw honey so of course they get to lick the spoon, which is really why I think they like the herbal tea ritual. But either way it works!

    I love the gingerbread house idea – my kids love doing that and we were thinking since Christmas is over the window had closed. But I will be looking for one (they are all on sale now!) for each of them to do one weekend soon.

    Thanks for the post and the inspiration!

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