"Hibernation has been a joy this year. I think I haven’t enjoyed winter so much for ages. Giving myself permission to feel low has perversely helped me to feel less low." -Jo Kneale, How to Hygge the British Way
What she says in that quote is so important!
I have advocated a hygge hibernation this month, and all winter long, if and when you need it. I have even encouraged homeschool hibernation for other homeschooling moms during the toughest days of winter.
But does it work? I think the best way to start is with the awareness that it is an experiment that you hope will lead to an easier month or an easier winter, and with permission to feel whatever you are feeling.
When it has to work, that pressure alone could put the kibosh on it. Just having the idea that I would see what happened and knowing that whatever it was, it probably would not be perfect was very freeing for me.
Here's what I realized this week...
The One-Minute Hibernation Video Report
"Danes absolutely love candles, but they also go for having a lot of lamps dotted about, creating soothing pools of light for reading or just lounging. You can play around with the combinations until you find the perfect hygge setting for every occasion: crisp mornings, rainy afternoons, winter evenings." ~ Pooky.com
The day was dark and dreary. I'd known it was raining when I woke up and had resigned myself to not having any sun, but I wasn't expecting it to get darker in the middle of the day.
I got ready and sat down at my desk at the back of our living room, computer on, light box sending out its light right next to my laptop, and settled into the dreariness.
But comments from friends reminded me that I was committed to making each winter day a cozy, hygge one. It was never just going to be about survival again!
So I turned on soft lighting in a couple of places, as I might usually do, and lit the tealight candle I always keep at my desk. I was about to make my gingerbread tea as I usually do.
But it just was not enough light. So I added two additional candles elsewhere & fished out my lantern from its hiding spot in another room, which would accommodate one more.
Once my tea was made, I sat back down and noticed I felt a bit better. But within an hour, I realized I was actually cheerful! And it just got better from there.
That rainy, dreary winter day turned out to be quite a happy one.
What I realized is that for light therapy, the light box is not the main meal, with candles or fairy lights becoming the hygge dessert you can add or not add. On a day like that dark, soggy weekend day, the "extras" need to become part of the meal. And they can be part of the main meal every single day to make each day more special than it would be otherwise.
So, you might be thinking, "didn't you know that already? Isn't that kind of what you're on about all the time?"
YES! But I have winter blues. And it lies to me and keeps secrets. Does it to you, too?
I had slipped back into survival mode that day, and thought I could just turn on my light box and be done with it. And I could have.
If I had, though, I would have missed out on that wonderful day. Do you ever miss out, too, during winter, because you believe the lies? Because you slip into survival mode without even realizing it?
I am so grateful for that dreary day, last weekend, and what it taught me.
Now, here's what else I learned...
"Here’s the thing: homeschooling is a journey and there is a learning curve…not just for the kids, but for the parents. The sooner we embrace that and realize that all the experiments along the way with this that and the other thing is what teaches our kids how to be resourceful. They learn how to solve real problems with real answers."
I plan my entire homeschooling year during the summer. And I have been making each year more cozy for quite a few years now.
One thing I do is choose the lightest, easiest and most fun topics to schedule during the winter months. I also often find more ways to give my son independent study tasks so the teaching load is lighter, too. We've made it work for us & it gets better and more hygge every year.
So that's it, then, right? Nothing more I need to learn about hygge homeschooling, I'm sure. Well, ...
Wrong! This year, I realized that I have been cramming way too much into our schedule. For example, this weekend, I looked through the books for the writing unit I had planned for his month.
And I realized that just because the books have 20+ chapters in them, which I normally would have pushed through, doesn't mean we have to read every one. I had tried out this idea in the fall during the world religions unit.
We passed Daoism and Confucianism right on by because I knew we wouldn't have enough time to get to them. But it still hadn't become a philosophy.
But when I looked at the writing books, and thought about the hygge plans for our winter homeschooling, it just sort of dawned on me all in one moment that I could have cozy or I could have rushed, pressured and frustrated and that in the past, this was what kept our winters from being as easy as they could have been. I pushed and we rushed.
I want him to learn everything he needs to, and am excited about his plans to go to college. But it is time to let go of trying to get homeschooling right and to walk away from trying to make it perfect.
Done. Goodbye craziness, hello warm and cozy February!
Does trying to it right or perfectly get in your way, too? If you have winter blues, make sure it doesn't suck the life out of your hygge winter like it almost did mine.
And if you're a homeschooling mom, like I am, who has winter blues, take another look at your schedule for the next couple of months. How might you slow things down a bit?
Could you let it be imperfect so that it might be kind? And cozy?
Love to you, today!
Hi, I'm Jeanine
Author, hygge lifestyle blogger & connoisseur of delight writing about how to create a hygge lifestyle, with hearthcraft, comfy capsule wardrobe tips and cozy home decorating ideas. More here.