While hygge is often portrayed as being cozy, warm, and snuggled in front of a log fire, that is only one aspect of it. Many hygge activities take place outside, regardless of the weather. Something is exhilarating and exciting about being exposed to nature, even in the depths of winter, and returning to a warm and inviting home afterward. That warm cocoa and cake taste even better having braved the bracing cold and dark outside.
We know how beneficial being active is in our everyday lives. It increases our sense of well-being and reduces stress. It makes us less tired, more creative, and releases dopamine into our bodies, nature’s way of making us feel good and alive. Physical activity is vital for us to remain balanced and content and should be encouraged, even more so during the winter months. It can be too tempting to wallow for endless hours in the warmth at home. Heading outside and facing the elements, making yourself endure the weather, no matter how inclement, will only make you and your family appreciate the coziness and comfort of your home even more.
As winter closes in, it can be difficult to get much sunlight at all. It can be tempting to remain inside all day with the blankets and hot cocoa. Having said that, it is still vital to get outside, exercise, and reconnect with the natural world wherever possible. One of the easiest ways is simply to take a walk with the family. Ensure you leave all electronic devices at home, wrap up warm if in winter, and head out to the local park or even just around the block. It can be good fun to walk together with other families as well for a more community-based adventure.
Away from technology and screens, you have the opportunity for meaningful conversation and a chance to make a genuine connection. Once you feel able, you can up the stakes still further and go for long walks or even hikes for the afternoon. Adding a slow-cooking meal to the oven that is ready for your return will reward you with a beautiful and warming dinner to be devoured by all.
Take a bike ride
Heading out on a bicycle trip can be a great way for the whole family to get some air and exercise, no matter what the weather. It allows exploring the local area and gives children a sense of freedom and independence. You can even use a bicycle rack on your car to head out to less-explored areas and see what is around you. If you feel you are not quite up to huge treks or particularly hilly terrain, you can add a motor to your bike as well at a low cost. Cycling is a great chance to get out into nature and experience some fresh, clean air together.
You can build cycling into daily life easier by choosing to take the bike rather than the car at every opportunity. If there are smaller trips that can be made on a bike, then encourage your children to cycle. Not only will it be good for them, but it will also help the environment and air by avoiding unnecessarily polluting journeys.
Do check out local cycling groups to engage in rides together. There will be lots of experienced riders here who know the best routes. In my experience, riders in groups are very generous with their time and expertise and are more than willing to help the less confident cyclist. If you haven’t been on a bike for a while or you want to ensure your children will be traveling safely, this is a great place to start. Cycling in a group together, enjoying the outside, in summer or winter adds to a sense of community and togetherness your children will feel. It is a great hygge activity.
Go on day trips
Children love heading out for a trip, whether it is mid-summer or in the winter. Don’t let the cold weather put you off. Have a chat the previous day with all involved to explain where you are going and what you will see to get them excited. Take on board any suggestions made. If there is disagreement on the best destination, then perhaps you can do two places in one day or agree to do both over a couple of days. You might head to a museum one day and the cinema the next for example. In many ways, it is as much the sense of being together as the destination that matters. Embarking on a trip and enjoying the shared experience is invaluable for wellbeing.
Take a picnic
There can be little more delightful than sitting down to a lovely picnic in glorious sunshine and celebrating your efforts together. From the time spent preparing the food, to packing the basket, to the walk to your desired destination and the consumption of your well-earned meal, the whole event is a true family experience. Grab yourself some comfy rugs or throws and savor being outside together.
Don’t limit yourself to sandwiches either. Immerse yourself in the deluxe version of the picnic by bringing along more exotic foods and family favorites. Ensure you have both mains and a dessert of course. Don’t forget the flasks of hot water for tea or coffee and enough cold drinks for the children to stay hydrated. Having a hot drink ready for everyone if the weather is cold but clear, is a great way to keep spirits high.
If the weather is truly horrible and has scuppered your chances of a lovely day out, then you can always opt for the indoor picnic instead. Choose a different room in the house and clear away the furniture to make it a fun experience. It makes a change from eating in the usual place and the kids will find it exciting for a change of scenery and something different.
If it proves impossible to make a trip far away for whatever reason, then don’t abandon the picnic idea entirely. Simply relocate to the garden and try it there. Eating outside is fun for all and will extend hygge from the inside, outside. You can cover your garden furniture with blankets and cushions and recline comfortably.
You can cook outside as well with a wide range of barbeques and outdoor ovens available now at affordable prices. Cover a table with a simple cloth, bring out the various accompaniments to the meal, and enjoy the great outdoors with a home-cooked meal. You can add an outdoor heater if it feels a little on the cool side to keep everyone together as long as possible.
Be sure to bring the marshmallows for afters. Sitting underneath a blanket toasting marshmallows and enjoying the outside together is an experience that will live long in the memories of all present.
Make an outdoor cinema
Outdoor cinemas are very popular these days in parks for large groups, but they are simple enough to create yourself. You can buy or rent projectors at a low rate which cast huge screens and have inbuilt speakers. Use the back wall of your house with a white cloth hanging from the windows as the screen. Snuggle up under a warm blanket and get some hot water bottles to enjoy a family favorite together outside.
If that might prove a little tricky, then Nature itself provides a wonderful cinema itself with a clear night. Gaze up at the stars and teach the children the various constellations that appear. The night sky is a never-ending source of amazement and beauty and is guaranteed to entrance younger children. A night spent outdoors together camping, even if only in your garden, is a lovely way to enjoy family time together.
Try winter sports
Winter sports make up a huge part of Danish and Nordic lifestyles in general and are a great chance to meet up with friends or family for enjoyable exercise. In the middle of winter, there will be all kinds of different sports available from ice skating to skiing to ice hockey and more. Give your children a chance to experiment with these sports through local clubs or societies. They may well find a lifelong passion here which will provide them with exercise and a chance to meet new people in the community for years to come.