There is one word you will hear over and over again in Denmark: “Hygge”. It is hard to translate correctly because it is a uniquely Danish term but “coziness” or “togetherness” is the best I can translate it. It is at the core of Danish culture to have a good and cozy time together. This could also be part of the reason why Danes are so happy. They take the time to just “be” together.
This leads me to another point. I think Danish parents generally speaking are good at taking their time to “be” with their children. Time to just “hygge”/be cozy and relax together. Not that they don’t live busy lives like everybody else but I guess it is a question of priority. Hmmm… personally I find it hard to drop what I am doing to listen and “be” with my children. It is sad to admit but my head is constantly wrapped around practical stuff and to-do lists – so how do I find time to just sit down and be cozy/”hygge” with my children?
I remember when I asked one of my friends in Denmark – a young mom of three – if her children never threw tantrums. She looked a bit mystified at me and really had to search her mind before she answered that sometimes one of them would be a little sad after daycare but then she would just sit and cuddle and talk with her and it helped. But the kind of tantrums I am used to with my toddler did not sound familiar to her…
After reading “The Danish Way of Parenting” I have tried to prioritize togetherness and coziness over everyday tasks and it has immediately brought us closer. My daughter is less likely to throw a tantrum on me if we have had some “bonding” time of just us being cozy together.
Maybe it is exactly what “hygge” does to the Danes. They “hygger”/are cozy over coffee and cake or with a nice home-cooked meal with friends and family. They relax and enjoy the time together and talk about whatever comes up. Problems and conflicts are put aside during “hygge” and I think this produces close social bonds which are really important for our well-being (you can read more about this in “The Danish Way of Parenting”).
So the answer to my question about how Danes get time to connect and “hygge” with their children must be that they prioritize it really high and know that it will make everyone feel happier. In the long run this prevents tantrums because everyone feel happy and secure in their home and know that they will be listened to and that there is room for their needs and emotions.
And the same goes for adults. We are also happier when people around us take their time to listen and be with us. It is just a lot easier to see the effects of “hygge”/coziness on children because they haven’t learned how to hide their emotions, yet…