Four simple strategies to beat the winter doldrums and create a feeling of hygge in your home!
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Last night we had collard greens with our dinner. As I dished out a third helping of the greens, I thought to myself that if you tried to tell my teenage or even young twenties self that collards would be one of my favorite vegetables, I would have called you crazy. I just did not see that coming.
Another thing I definitely did not see coming? Looking forward to winter.
Just a few years ago I was still a card-carrying winter loather. I hated being cold, mostly. But I also missed the sun and park and warm-weather foods. But, as with so many other things, you simply have to look for the good and learn to find enjoyment in whatever season you’re in.
My newfound appreciation for winter can be explained by the concept of hygge. This little Danish word has experienced a surge in popularity over the past few years, and with good reason. In short, hygge refers to a feeling and an atmosphere of contentment, comfort, and coziness. You can encourage hygge in different ways, but it has to begin with choosing to see the good. (In other words, if you are determined to be miserable, you will be).
Pssst: hygge is pronounced “hue-gah”.
I am sure there are ways I can improve upon the level of hygge in our home, but I generally know what to do once Christmas is over and the longest stretch of winter arrives. And it makes all the difference in beating the doldrums of January and February.
Now, while I think creating a cozy and comfortable environment is important for every family, I think it is especially worthwhile for homeschooling families who are much more likely to spend a majority of time at home.
I made the decision yesterday to make our living room into our school space for the next few months. After all, I’m certain we will be gathering in front of the fire for picnic lunches and reading stories anyway.
How to Beat the Winter Homeschool Doldrums with a Little Hygge
Here are four simple things I’m doing to help these next few months be cozy and enjoyable, rather than long and dreary.
Creating a space I want to be in.
This is at the top of the list because to me, it’s crucial.
I redid my mantle yesterday with a “school” theme (a first for me), and cleaned up the small table under the window. The mantle holds many of our read alouds, our new microscope, and a small globe. It’s both nice to look at, and useful for keeping school items accessible.
The table will serve as a possible workspace, though I am certain we will also do plenty of work on the couch and in front of the fire.
Enjoying great books together.
We spent two hours yesterday sitting together, playing and resting, while listening to a book on Audible. No one asked about watching television. They simply kept asking for “one more chapter please!”.
Winter can be an excellent time to introduce some of your favorite books and series! Reading together definitely promotes feelings of comfort and contentment. And the long days of winter all of sudden seem shorter when you’re all enthralled by a great story.
Right now, my kids are listening to the Wingfeather Saga for the first time. (I’ve read them and count it as one of my most favorite series). Last year my husband introduced The Hobbit to them, and every year the Little House books continue to be family favorites too.
Other books to consider are the Little Britches series, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter books, Little Women and Little Men, and many more in this list of first read aloud chapter books. You can also find a list of all the audiobooks we have listened to together in this post.
Our Chatbooks also make for very hygge-ish reading!
Light and warmth.
These two elements are in shorter supply in the winter, but making sure they are present in your home goes a long way in finding hygge.
Staying warm in the winter was the first step for me to start enjoying the season. I know, duh. But really, investing in warmer clothes, wearing scarves around my neck everyday, and a great pair of house slippers have made winter much more enjoyable. And, of course, a fire all day in the fireplace doesn’t hurt either.
Adding extra lights to decor at this time of year is helpful too. White Christmas lights, fairy lights, lamps, and so on, all contribute to the cozy feeling we all love our homes to have.
I’m not sure I can write a post and not mention food. Food blogger rules, or something. But sharing healthy snacks and treats, hot soups, and filling meals together can’t be left off a list of how to enjoy winter.
There is certainly the nutritional aspect to consider. Eat the rainbow and be sure to get all the protein and healthy fats you need to feel good.
In addition to feeling good physiologically, though, sharing good food together is simply a great way to bond and make memories together.
Here are a few recipes to make and enjoy as a family:
Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts (always fun and the filling options are endless)
12 Must-Have Instant Pot Soups (of course soup)
Collard Greens (abundant and inexpensive this time of year, and PACKED with vitamins!)
Apple Brownies with Maple Frosting, Guilt-Free Chocolate Pudding Cake, Almond Joy Brownies, Cheesecake Makeover (four Instant Pot desserts that you can make while still keeping your resolutions to eat better this year)
One-hour French Bread (a great recipe for all skill levels!)
Hot Chocolate (make your own mix: Homemade hot chocolate mix: 2 C unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 1/2 C turbinado sugar. Use 1 heaping tablespoon of mix for 1 cup of warm water.)
Yes, you still will have your schoolwork to complete, but following these four simple strategies will help you to to beat the winter doldrums and to have a cozy and peaceful winter together!