A major part of hygge is to reconnect with people and stop cutting yourself off from the outside world with a screen and headphones. However, it would be wrong to entirely abandon the wondrous advancements of recent technology. When used responsibly and in moderation, technology, computers, and even phones can promote and enhance hygge in the home. Modern technology can act to bring people closer together rather than diminish feelings of community and togetherness. This chapter considers various ways you can use technology to increase hygge and share experiences, even with those who are absent at the time.
Watch a family movie together
Setting a special time aside, when everyone is free and has made the effort to rearrange their busy schedule, gives a great chance to sit down together and enjoy a film that appeals to all. Many films operate on different levels, cleverly appealing to both children and adults alike. When combined with a treat to eat and drink, this communal experience can be a rewarding one and give rise to interesting and thought-provoking questions afterward.
Deliberately setting time aside to watch a film together as a shared experience is far different from everyone in the family dispersing to separate rooms to watch their screens. Avoid having the family aimlessly turn the television on because they are bored or simply watching vacuous nonsense to pass the time of day. Make it a special occasion and encourage a movie night once a week when you can all come together to enjoy a film. This will quickly become a most enjoyed, established habit for you all and one where hygge is fostered.
Create your movie
A highly creative way of combining teamwork and family time with technology is to create your movie. Sit down together as a family and brainstorm together the idea for a play. Assign various characters and a few lines to each person, have a little rehearsal plus then have someone film the entire production. You can download various apps that will help greatly with the process including adding credits and opening sequences and various filters for any special effects you have.
You then have the great pleasure of showing off your creation to an audience of friends or family after a meal. Add an introduction from the directors or actors and popcorn to accompany the showing. It’s a great way to combine creativity with screens and is a huge amount of fun. The more you can leave to your children to do, the better. They will gain a sense of accomplishment with the completed production and of course the rapturous applause of an attentive audience! You can even post the end product to YouTube for any family or friends unable to attend the premiere.
Video conference with distant relatives
It is a simple fact of life these days that people move away and the practice of extended family living nearby has become rarer. People can move overseas more easily to further their careers or try something new. It is rare to find multiple generations living in the same house together with any more. However, that does not mean contact needs to be lost or that sense of community and belonging must be discarded. I have a family that currently lives in Sydney, Australia. Despite the time difference, we can communicate weekly, free of charge by using video conferencing. My children also speak to their cousins regularly and we feel as much a part of their lives as they do ours.
Decades ago the cost of calling overseas was prohibitive. Once family or friends moved far away, it became increasingly tricky to stay in touch, apart from letters that took weeks to arrive. Moving overseas often meant the severing of ties until meeting again, perhaps years later. It is a wonder of today’s world that we can stay in touch, with video calls, entirely free of charge by using an internet connection.
Set aside a time each week to make a call to a distant relative and stay in touch. Encourage your children to relay important news and developments in their lives to friends or family overseas. The maintenance of these links is fundamental to family cohesion and community and is so easily achieved. It will also give them a glimpse of life overseas and a taste of other cultures which they may visit later.
I talk about the importance of journals below, primarily in terms of their value as a private repository of thoughts and ideas that can help children organize their thoughts and make sense of what can often be a turbulent world. The journal must be respected as a private document, but your children may wish to communicate the exciting and wonderful things they are doing to the outside world and to relatives who may not be in their immediate vicinity.
Creating a blog is a simple, yet highly effective way to manage this. The resources are free and come with several tools that will get you up and running within minutes. Blogger.com is a great place to start. I would recommend having a single blog for the whole family where each person can make a quick post if they have something they think others would love to see. It doesn’t have to belong. Just a few lines with an accompanying picture can be highly effective.
Recounting a family day trip, for example, is easy to do and will mean a lot to distant friends and family. The whole process can be done in fewer than five minutes and everyone can contribute when they like. It can also be enjoyable to look over previous blog posts and remember the fun times that you had together.
Music can be an essential form of hygge and do wonders in creating the right atmosphere. Whether it is some upbeat, party music for a big gathering, or perhaps something a little quieter for more peaceful reflection, then music has its role to play. You may have various formats lying around your home. I have everything from vinyl to old cassettes, to CDs and Minidiscs, not to mention music in various file formats on my computer. This can make it tricky to get access to the music I want, however, I have found the recent advent of music streaming sites invaluable.
Many of these offer a trial service for free so you can experiment to find a favorite. The ease of access to millions of tracks offers unparalleled convenience. Avoid having children cut themselves off from the outside world with headphones. Get them involved in creating a playlist and choosing the music for the family. Everyone can add their personal favorites and give each other some exposure to different genres and tracks.
It is important to make everyone feel valued and part of the joint process here. It may be tempting to override everyone and ensure your tracks play, however, do try to make sure everyone gets a fair distribution. If you are at a loss, you can even find playlists that are curated for you under the hygge title!
Sing and dance
This may sound a little odd, at least to more reserved people, but it can be great fun to get together and have a sing and a dance. It may be more traditional songs or perhaps the latest pop classics, it doesn’t matter. If someone can play a musical instrument to any standard at all, even better. This might be traditional on certain occasions in the year, such as Christmas hymns, but it works at any point.
If you take a car trip, start a song together. Take it in turns to pick the tune and away you all go. Singing together is a great way to feel good both physically and mentally. Your children will love that everyone, regardless of their singing talent, gets involved with gusto. Get the neighbors round for a good old sing-song. At least they can’t complain about the noise that way!
Make your own video game
Video games can be a terrible waste of time when they assume a dominating role in children’s lives. They can take over their passions and enthusiasms and become an all-encompassing focus of attention. However, I have found they can be used constructively if you encourage your children to be creators of content, rather than simply consumers.
These days, it is easy to learn the fundamentals of computer programming in a visual environment. Scratch is a simple programming language to learn. Built by MIT, it uses graphical building blocks to provide a coding development center where all kinds of incredible programs can be made. It is possible to create entirely bespoke games based around your own family and friends which you can then share with others to enjoy. At the same time, it teaches children about problem-solving, interfaces, computational thinking, and ultimately about communication.
Designing and implementing a game can be a great way to get involved with your children in a hobby they love. I have spent many hours drawing together and designing characters and backgrounds, as well as trying to think logically about the functions and actions these characters will carry out.
It may sound initially daunting, however, it is much easier than you think. It is far more rewarding for your children to create a work of art actively rather than passively consume someone else’s creation. It is a great feeling when everyone contributes together and you can work on making something you and many others will enjoy in the future.
Listen to audiobooks
Listening to an audiobook is a great way of taking in a book together as a family. Audiobooks can be used in many locations from the comfort of your own home to a long car journey. They can encourage the rather reluctant reader to engage with and enjoy literary classics or books of any kind, often at a far more advanced level than they can read themselves at a young age.
They are also a great way to replace eyes on a screen. What better way to take your mind and aching eyeballs off a cell phone than to listen to a narrator tell you some of the greatest classics that have ever been written? If you are feeling a little lonely yourself, then a warm, familiar voice can be a soothing experience as well.
Once the narration is over, you can discuss the finer nuances of the novel and what each person has taken away from the book. Talking about the various key points allows everyone to hear differing viewpoints. It also presents an opportunity to understand the feelings and thoughts of those closest to you just a little bit more. I love reading and take every chance I can, but I also greatly enjoy listening to good story-tellers. I am sure your own family will too.