Does anyone know the process of migrating to Denmark? I want to move there lock, stock and barrel. My inspiration is from all my research about how the Danes are using Hygge in their lives and parenting. Hygge? Apart from sounding like a really difficult & funny word to pronounce it really is the coolest thing ever. After all, it makes Denmark the happiest country in the world. Hygge Parenting rocks and it doesn’t have to be restricted to the borders of the country. You can Hygge it out wherever you are.
What is Hygge?
Almost all the Danes will agree first hand that the concept of Hygge is a little complex to explain. It’s a bit abstract they will say. But they do admit one thing that it is a feeling, an emotion, a sensation. Confused? Well, they did say it was difficult.
Let’s start with the very beginning and firstly try to pronounce it, shall we? The Hygge pronunciation abounds on the internet but one very reliable source tells me that it is pronounced “Hooh-Guh” Not Higg or HaiGGe.
To put it in relatable terms if you have ever spent time lovingly making a cup of tea and then sitting by the window sill watching the birds chirp while you sip the tea, immerse yourself in the aromas and felt the warm liquid comfort your heart, you’ve probably experienced Hygge. This warm and cosy feeling you get inside is what Hygge is.
And if you can do all this by candle-light, then it’s even more Hygge. But I’d prefer a glass of red to go with that, please.
It is about the simple things in life, dwelling at the moment and simply adding more joy to your life. It doesn’t mean you cannot indulge and be lavish, but do it in the company of your friends… Hygge is all about togetherness.
Hygge is a very important part of Danish culture. Just like freedom is to the Americans and tradition is to the British, the Danes have Hygge. And you better believe it, because it has made Denmark the happiest country in the world. Despite their weather, that too!
Fine, but isn’t your blog about Parenting?
Sure you can Hygge your way into Parenting!
The Danes love Hygge in every aspect of their lives and they have certainly adopted it into the way they raise their kids. Once again studies show Danish kids are one of the happiest lots in the world and what’s more Danish babies also cry a lot less than the norm. I think that’s a win there!
There is no mom-competition here
Danish women are mostly on the same page about parenting philosophies. They believe in breastfeeding and natural, instinctive care. (Think Attachment Parenting) They also get one year of Maternity leave and use that time to be attached to their babies and bond with them. Fathers also get extended paternity leave and both parents can take leaves together or separately. Thus making sure there is a great time for bonding with baby in the crucial first year.
Danish lives are also very low in consumerism and so too with having a baby. There is no mad rush to stock up on the latest baby products. Minimalism is at the core. Toys are basic and wooden. The simple stuff matters.
Overall there is less competition and one-upping among the mothering community. There is no shaming or judgement. But a whole lot of support. This helps moms give their 100% and very best to childcare, in turn leading to a satisfied and in tune baby. Less crying!
Leave negativity at the door
The Danes love to spend time together as a family. They truly do enjoy each other’s company. Board games, singing, even watching a favourite movie together with kids is high on their fun list.
It’s not like their work is less demanding or stressful. But Danish adults choose to leave all the negativity and stress outside the door before they step into their homes. Time with family is to cherish and enjoy with each other and not an opportunity to discuss office politics or such negativity.
Danish people also actively practice being positive. They prefer not to dwell on the shortcomings but use language and words which don’t put down and undermine themselves or each other or children. Instead of saying something like “I am not a good painter” they will talk about how they can be anything they want to be and opportunities to be your best are abundant.
Still, there is no pressure to achieve. At the end of the day, happiness and contentment are what matter.
Life isn’t all “haha-heehee” and that’s ok
Do you remember reading Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales? He was a Dane by the way. One of his most famous tales was The Little Mermaid and it certainly did not have a happy ending until Hollywood came along. In this tale, the Little Mermaid who has been transformed into human form does not win the love of her life and there is no happy ending for her. But this was real.
Danish parents are big on keeping it real. There is no twisting and retelling of stories just to make kids happy.
Happy endings are great but they don’t happen every day. And even if they don’t, there sure is a learning from it.
Similarly, Danish parents are not overgenerous with praise. But they do make sure to praise the hard work and skills that a child put in to achieve his small goals.
Touchback upon D for Discipline to see some more ideas in practice.
Empathy can make the world go around
One of the biggest qualities that is missing in people and the world today is empathy. Life mostly is about me too and me first, rather than understanding someone else’s perspective.
This is where the Danes score high. They help their children to understand emotions early on. They support their children to give a name to their feelings. Before reacting they are encouraged to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes.
This makes kids more mature, understanding and you will definitely see fewer tantrums.
Mutual respect over harsh discipline
Every parent has to discipline – sometimes the good stuff (like brushing your teeth every night) and sometimes the difficult (tidy up the room) But what matters is how you do it. Most of the times discipline is one way and harsh.
But not with the Danes. Discipline is mutually agreed upon. It is firm but supportive. There is a lot of respect at stake and both parents and the child are at the centre of the equation. There is no need for total obedience. A mutual middle ground is a happier place for everyone.
Now let’s get the Hygge into this
If you have Danish parenting, can Hygge be far behind? And the Danes sure do know how to Hygge it with their babies.
The Danish way of Hygge’ing tells us parents that we should:
- Not stay back late at work, come home at a decent hour and spend happy time with your family.
- Make a cosy atmosphere – Throw in the candles, get some cosy pillows and rugs, bring out the board games, bake together, lounge around in your PJs and look at some old photos, tell the kids some stories from the time you were young.
- Hygge time must be planned, but not staged – Hygge largely has to “happen” at the moment. It cannot be faked. But you must devote exclusive time to this. Evenings and dinner time with the family across a well spread out table even with dal chawal are perfect for this. I have a free printable to inspire you to Hygge. See below.
- Keep away the technology – no phones, or iPads or such technological distractions. Talk, laugh and tell jokes. Make merry.
Incorporating Hygge into your parenting is easy and a joy indeed. I made a list of some of the activities you can do together as a family to Hygge. These are ideas which may inspire you to create your own Hygge moments. The printable also contains sections to help you plan for a week and make a note of some of the wonderful memories you made.
Download this printable here Hygge Planner
Now that you’ve read this about Hygge, what do you think of it? Does it remind you of mindfulness? Living in the moment? Or Scandinavian wood furniture, lots of rugs & socks and warm hot chocolate?