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Fairies, Merpups and Finding Joy When Things Don’t Go as Planned

In my last post I promised to give you an update on my use of the playguide in the book Play – The Danish Way by Iben Sandahl. I am not sure what happened but we went on vacation to Cape Cod and now suddenly half the summer has gone by. I am so excited that we have been electronics free for two entire weeks now (two hours after I published this post my kids were watching “Chuggington”… oops)! The absence of electronics has definitely made room for a greater imaginary universe but the summer still has not been as perfect as I imagined: me sitting in a garden chair, reading books while my children would play joyously for hours by themselves. A lot of times, I have had to dig deep in order not to get (too) frustrated with constant requests for help, questions about every possible thing (“why do people have swimsuits?”) and cleaning in 95 degrees fahrenheit with what seems like max air humidity (Maryland summers are tough for a Dane!). But I will save my realization about finding joy on less than imperfect days as a bonus in the end of this post. First, I will tell you how the playguide has helped me have more hygge, fun and play with my kids this summer.

Hygge is the first theme in the Playguide. Hygge with kids is a great way to create a nice atmosphere that will inspire joyful play plus allow the adult some much needed downtime. My favorite way to hygge with my children is to read stories that we all love such as H.C. Andersen’s fairytales, Peter in Blueberry Land or Blueberries for Sal. It is a great excuse to get to revisit stories from my childhood and look at beautiful illustrations. So while you might not get to spend days in art museums or sit and read novels for hours straight, this is one way to get some art into your life that both you and your children enjoy. We also love to dance and go for adventurous nature walks. Whatever you like to do, sharing something you love with your children is a great way of enjoying some togetherness/hygge.

Making things together is another idea from the Playguide. My daughter and her friend love making fairy houses and decorating them with flowers. Tree bark makes great construction material, shells become fancy sinks and bathtubs, moss provide soft fluffy beds and dried flowers add scents and colors to the interior decoration for the fairies.



Our vacation on Cape Cod has revitalized my children’s fascination with mermaids so finally my childhood’s endless hours of practicing how to draw pretty women has come to use. I draw the mermaids and the kids color them. In the end we will have a nice little mermaid picture book. My son’s request for “merpup” drawings (from Paw Patrol) is something I will have to work on later though… I love these kinds of crafts where I do not have to look up ideas on Pinterest and buy a million art supplies. Nice, simple and open-ended so you can truly get to create something out of nothing.


I am hoping that my children will become so fond of drawing at the kitchen table that soon there will be no requests for TV while we cook and instead they will prefer exploring their own creative abilities.

But as I said, our summer has not been all faires, flowers and mermaids. Yesterday at the breakfast table I was finally able to read a few paragraphs in a magazine when my daughter said: “There is something yucky on the table!” Much against my will I took my eyes off the magazine that I had been trying to read for days and saw her pointing at something I badly wanted to brush off as “just some flaxseeds”. After a few seconds my sense of motherly responsibility returned and I had to admit that it sure did resemble feces from a mouse!! On our dining table, in the summer, while we were eating!! It took me up to half an hour to get over the frustration of having to sanitize the kitchen on one of the hottest and most humid days here in Maryland. But magically the children understood my need to recover from disgust and annoyance and started creating a role play on their own in the playroom. Suddenly what had started out as a bad morning became a morning of fun and free play with not a single sibling dispute. I heard them making dramatic and fun sounds for a whole hour while I mopped the floor and spritzed every surface. I even got the chance to play some loud music and think thoughts unrelated to parenting! This is when I realized that all they need to know is that sometimes their parents are not available, parents also have other things to do that are important and that they will be perfectly able to play by themselves. In fact, children have way more fun when they make up their own play and learn so much more from it. Strangely enough, the mouse visit became some sort of odd gift that proved how great children are at using their imagination and playing on their own – and how beneficial it can be for everyone to tell your children to leave you alone every now and then…

To take your mind off mouse feces here is a picture of wild roses on a Cape Cod beach just like on the Danish beaches. There is definitely lots of Danish happiness to be found on Cape Cod and its many beaches…

There are many more ideas on how to inspire more free play, fun and hygge for your children in Play – The Danish Way and I will let you know how it goes trying some more of them out.


Wild Rose on a Cape Cod beach. Photo by Christian West.


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