Attempting Hygge With A (Poorly) Two Year Old

Porridge and fruit

Last week, Matilda picked The Little Book of Hygge off the shelf and asked Steve what it was about. I don't know exactly what his answer was (I think I was scrolling social media napping in our bedroom at the time), but, later, he suggested to me that we do a couple of purposely hygge things with Matilda at the weekend.

As it happened, this was perfect timing. It was absolutely pouring with rain on Saturday, drizzling all day Sunday, Matilda was full of the cold (so much so that The Kid With Boundless Energy decided not to go to her beloved dance class), and Steve and I both had low level headaches. None of us wanted to go outdoors; all of us wanted to snuggle up at home and do something comforting. "A couple of hygge things" quickly turned into "The Hygge Weekend".

So, how do you do hygge with a two year old? Here are the things we tried:

Candles and bowl of porridge

Dining By Candlelight
Not real candles - the odds of getting through a meal without either a small child or a cat setting fire to themselves were too low - but, each time we ate, we put LED candles in the middle of the table. The room was otherwise quite dark, thanks to the pouring rain, so the fake candlelight was pleasingly moody; Matilda was thrilled.

And on that note:

Eating At The Table
Instead of spooning yoghurt into our mouths in front of the telly. Eh... not that we ever do that...

And Comfort Food
Porridge for breakfast (Matilda loves sprinkling the fruit on by herself); cheese and beans on toast for lunch; homemade popcorn as a snack. Matilda was too wiped out for a family meal on Saturday so she just had a toddler freezer meal, but Steve and I enjoyed our homemade pizza. On Sunday, we had a simple pasta dinner; Matilda was able to stir the pasta, slice the tomatoes and steam her homegrown carrots (so proud!) - cooking with Daddy is one of her favourite things to do, and cooking together is a hygge staple.

Brushing Daddy's hair

Putting Our Phones Away
Steve and I both try to limit our phone use in front of Matilda; instead, we find ourselves logging in behind her back, while she's distracted by the TV. This weekend, we barely checked our phones at all and - much to our surprise, given how tired she was - she only asked for the telly a couple of times.

Focus On The Moment
We do prefer to let Matilda take the lead when we're playing, rather than trying to direct her to do this and learn that and ensure her toys always behave in species-appropriate ways. That said, it takes conscious effort to actually engage with her games - and to remain focused on them for more than about fifteen minutes! By putting our phones away and telling ourselves that this weekend was about togetherness, we found it much more enjoyable letting her brush Steve's hair, playing her xylophone with a stick, colouring in, reading books we already know off by heart and letting her imagination run wild with her cuddly toys.

Sarah Rooftops
Baby doll

Any Beginner's Guide To Hygge will mention cosy blankets. We didn't have to take the lead with this one; a sure sign Matilda is feeling sleepy is when she starts playing at putting her toys (and often herself and us) to bed. Lots of blankets were tucked around her teddies this weekend.

Beans on toast
Washing dishes

Doing Things As A Team
Matilda was thrilled to help with the washing up (yeah, kids are weird). Sharing the workload is great for turning chores into something much more pleasant - a chance to chat and have a giggle whilst ticking things off the mental to do list. And nobody has to feel taken for granted if everybody else is helping out.

Glowing fire; jigsaw

Puzzles (and Glowing Fires!)
Board games get mentioned a lot when people talk about hygge, but not many two year olds could follow the rules of backgammon! However, Matilda does love doing jigsaws - it was the perfect hygge moment, walking into the living room on Sunday morning to find it lit only by the glow of the fire, Steve and Matilda sprawled on the floor, putting a puzzle together.

Comfy Clothes/Pyjamas
I mean, we wear comfy clothes every day in this house - why would you not, when you don't have to be in an office? We also occasionally have pyjama days, if we don't have anywhere else to be - these don't happen often, though, as even on empty days, we tend to head outside at least once. Still: it's very hygge to lounge around in thick cardigans, baggy trousers and handmade (by Elise) woolly socks (which I completely failed to photograph - gaaaaaaah!).

Cutting up felt shapes

Simple Crafts
I finally got round to cutting out some more shapes for Matilda's felt board. I made it for her when she was about a year old (I suppose I could get a whole blog post out of this but: I stuck a large piece of felt to some cardboard, then cut out lots of simple, primary coloured felt shapes for her to stick on it) and she was definitely ready for a larger selection of shapes and colours to play with. It took me about five minutes to get this ticked off the to do list, and Matilda spent ages arranging the shapes into faces, making me feel like some sort of WonderMum for having thought of it.

We got out Matilda's play tent - we don't do this often enough as it's absolutely massive and she never wants to put it away - which had her dancing around the room with glee. Hiding in a small, cosy place with a bunch of soft toys and a big bowl of popcorn made her day.

Play tent
Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows

Hot Drinks
Hot chocolate with mini marshmallows for Steve and me; warm milk with cinnamon and a few mini marshmallows for Matilda - she had only had mini marshmallows for the first time the previous weekend and still thinks they're the most amazing thing (to be fair, at 38 years old, I'm inclined to agree). We also sometimes give her "a cup of tea" which is my pre-squished decaf tea bag quickly dunked in a mug of warm milk - she loves it.

Warm milk

So Can You Do Hygge With A Two Year Old?
A quick google search on Friday told me "NO!" - apparently their short attention spans, love of all things garish and careless handling of delicate ceramics mean that toddlers and hygge don't mix.

I disagree.

I mean, it helped that Matilda was a bit under the weather so didn't once ask to go to the park, but we managed a calm, cosy weekend full of family time - and all without doing anything out of the ordinary.

So, what's the key to experiencing hygge with a small child? Putting your phone away, giving yourself over to their games, and popping corn in a pan.

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