Hygge for the Big Family
With colder weather just around the corner, I’m already planning up ways I can make our home feel more cozy. Hygge—the Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment as cozy, charming or special—has been they key word for the last few fall/winter seasons, and I totally get why. After living in Lansing, Michigan, while Joel was in law school and working at the hospital, I saw how seasonal affective disorder is a very real thing that can have far reaching effects. People need to come home to a cozy, warm environment after being out in the cold (and often dark) world all day.
But here’s the part where I need to get really honest with myself about how “cozy” my house can actually be. Because no matter how much I love the idea of lounging in front of fires all day in my pj’s while I sip pumpkin spiced lattes, the reality is that if anyone is lounging around our living room, it’s my kids. And they’ve usually made a giant mess of crumbs and blankets strewn everywhere. Also, they take every single pillow off the couch and throw it onto the floor so the bulldog (who incidentally smells like a garbage can) can lay on them. I drink coffee, but not quickly enough; and then I try to reheat it in the microwave but forget it’s there until late that evening…oh well! So how can we create a sense of hygge in a home with so many things going on at all times? I realized last year I needed to reframe my expectations and work within the realities of how we (ALL) use our home.
Create a warm drink station on the kitchen island.
I bought our first box of powdered hot chocolate yesterday at the grocery store and I’m not even embarrassed. I’m sure it’s full of fake ingredients and fake marshmallows and real sugar, but I can’t tow the line in all areas. This is last year’s station, complete with Andes mint chips, candy canes, and sugar for those of us who were actually choosing coffee over hot chocolate. We also keep decaf coffee and packets of apple cider for the non-hot-chocolate drinkers. This one little step, which served double duty as a centerpiece and a drink station, was probably the thing my kids remembered the most when fall and winter were over. They still talk about how special it felt and how they can’t wait for cold weekends again so we can have our hot cups of whatever with all the fixings again.
2. I buy every single fall or winter scented candle I can.
For a long time, I felt like spending money—which, let’s get real, is always tight when you have plenty of mouths to feed—on candles was wasteful. So I started being really intentional about looking for coupons for candles, and then buying them. I was AMAZED at what a difference it makes to have candles lit in my home while I’m there. Our home is not big, a lot of people and 3 inside pets live in it, and it can often smell like dirty socks and dirty dogs. But in 2 seconds, with such little effort, our home goes from locker room to cozy nest. With just a couple candles lit in strategic places, our main living spaces feel to me like they serving us the way I want them to. I also keep one on my side of the bed and light it every night when I climb into bed, so that while we’re watching tv or talking for those ten or so minutes before we’re asleep, it smells good. The few dollars I spend on these candles every month feels like money well spent!
3. I cook A LOT of soups.
One time I heard a wellness specialist talking about how healthy soups are for our body during the colder months when our bodies naturally retain less moisture, because the air is so much dryer and most of us have heaters in our homes that suck the moisture out of the inside air. Truth be told, we don’t usually even have to run our heater very much in south Georgia during the colder months, but I like to feed my family soups during those months, anyway. I like the slower rhythm of making soup and letting it simmer on the stove all day, and my family has come to associate soup with fall and winter. Whether the temperature is below freezing or just kind of chilly, there’s something so comforting about coming inside to a pot of soup simmering on the stove and a loaf of French bread. It’s a super easy dinner that adds a coziness to the kitchen. Plus, soups are so economical; so eating this way helps us save money for all those Christmas and winter birthdays!
So those are the three ways I’m trying to add a touch of hygge to our home this fall and winter! Once I let go of all the “add more cozy pillows and blankets” and “minimize the clutter” ideas that work really well for some families and honored our crazy busy household, I was able to see what seasonal changes would doable. And really, there’s nothing cozier than being home with your people and being thankful for the natural rhythms that their sports seasons or their school performances or all the other things that naturally happen throughout these months bring.