With trendy lifestyles popping up all over the world, which should you adopt for your family? We take a look at three of the most popular lifestyles at the moment, and figure out how they work with kids, too!
“Hygge is about giving your responsible, stressed-out achiever adult a break. Relax.” – The Little Book of Hygge.
With stress levels seemingly increasing year after year, more of us have started to look towards the world’s happiest people for wisdom. From Scandinavia to Okinawa, Japan are ways of life that promise happier and healthier people. Can these lifestyles apply here in Singapore? And the more pressing question – can these lifestyles be achieved in households with children? Yes, and yes.
Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) was undoubtedly the buzzword of 2016. Based on the Danish art of happiness, hygge is all about establishing cozy moments that bring joy. And isn’t that what we all want for our families? More than a mere adjective, hygge is a state of mind. To practice hygge is to actively seek out and create warm, snug moments to connect to others in a drama-free way. It is to focus on what is truly important – being together. Want to introduce moments of hygge into your home? Here’s how:
1. Put the electronics away
It’s time to connect with one another as a family, and we mean face-to-face interaction. As a start, put the smartphones, tablets, and laptops away during meal-times so that you can have proper conversations with the kids while eating. Ask them about their day. What did they do? What made them laugh the most? How did they feel about something that happened to them?
2. Create a safe space
Hygge should be a drama-free time of bonding for everyone in the family. This means leaving any existing personal problems at the door (#adulting) and being present when your child needs you. Take time to bask in the warmth and coziness of family – not discipline, fights, or difficult conversations. Take a few minutes, perhaps before bedtime, to share what each one has appreciated about the day. Remind them that you love them, that you support them, and that you’ll always have their back.
3. Make the atmosphere cosy
It’s all about snug, warmth, and cosiness when it comes to hygge. To get your family in the mood, why not adapt the atmosphere at home to match? Light some scented candles (keep them away from the kids!), make cups of hot chocolate (or coffee for tired parents) for everyone and turn down the florescent lighting. Then snuggle everyone under a large blanket or even build a pillow fort, and enjoy being together! With the rainy, cool weather we’re getting these days, this is a perfect way to spend a cosy day in with the kids. Cuddles mandatory of course.
If Hygge was 2016’s buzzword, then Lagom (pronounced “la-gum”) certainly is 2017’s. Countless books, blog posts, and podcasts alike have covered this Swedish way of life. But what is Lagom? Rather than creating special moments like with Hygge, Lagom is an embedded way of life. The key word here is: balance. Not too much, not too little. Just right.
1. One-on-One Time
For parents of multiples, it’s tough enough to get all of the kids out of the house in the morning. And don’t get us started on their overlapping schedules. However, while it might be hard to divide your attention equally among your children, one-on-one time is a key area in their development. With Lagom’s focus on balance, parents are encouraged to take each of their children on one-on-one dates. Be it indoors in the kitchen or outdoors in the park, giving your undivided attention to each child while participating in an activity together helps foster stronger, more intimate parent-child bonds.
2. Fika Breaks
The Swedes practice the art of fika, or what’s now known as a Swedish coffee break. Throughout the day, schedule informal breaks for yourself and your children. It’s not just simply about getting a snack or your third cup of coffee – it’s more about slowing down and being in the present moment. In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s convenient to get lost in the whirlwind of deadlines and what mindfulness experts call the “monkey mind”. Fika breaks remind us to slow down, take a break from what stresses us, and pay attention to the here and now. Take a break with the kid and talk about anything. It’s not what you talk about, but the fact that you’re spending exclusive time with the child, that matters.
3. Everything in Moderation
With balance being the key concept of Lagom, there’s no escaping moderation. And don’t we all know that with kids comes endless clutter! Try to strike a balance between letting your little ones play with toys indoors, and their time spent outdoors. Instead of piling up the playroom with toy after toy, purchase experiences instead: a day out at a local museum, a trip to the aquarium, or a ride on the Ferris wheel all make for excellent play time as well.
(See also: Awesome Non-Toy Gift Ideas for Kids)
Ikigai (pronounce “ee-key-guy”) is a lifestyle concept stemming from Okinawa, Japan. Translating to “purpose in life”, Ikigai is basically what gets each of us out of bed in the morning. As parents, it’s no surprise that we hope our children cultivate life-long interests that sustain them for years to come. Most of us would also agree that providing an environment in which our kids can pursue their ambitions, goals, and dreams is of utmost importance. Here’s how the concept of Ikigai can help:
1. Cultivate Interests
Every child is unique, so it’s unlikely that your children will grow up to pursue the same goals. As parents, it’s important to recognise each child’s dream, and encourage their interests. Be it buying them books on their favourite subject, investing in classes, or just listening to them talk about their ambitions – your support validates their ideas. Encourage them to dig deep and find what makes them get out of bed in the morning. How do they wish to change the community they live in? These are important questions that can help parents spur on their kids’ imagination.
2. Praise and Reward
It’s tough being a kid nowadays. Every child is taught to have lofty dreams, to excel in everything they do, and to go beyond to help the community they live in. It’s no wonder the stresses of life end up dampening so many of these young dreams and lead them to resign to the fact that their ambitions are just that – dreams. Parents are the best people to help calm their fears and encourage them to continue pursuing their passions. There’s no one closer to your children than you; and even if they may not express it, your opinion matters to them more than you think. By encouraging them with praise and rewards when they take steps to reach their goals, you’re validating their self-esteem. And in due time, this will give them the added “reserve” they need to power through the difficult moments of their pursuit for purpose.
With these new trendy lifestyles making headway across the globe, which is the right fit for you and your family? In essence, all of them aim to provide the same thing – a deeper connection with our loved ones. There’s no one foolproof method to a healthier and happier life, but we definitely can adopt some wisdom to incorporate into our home in the coming year.
Feature Image: Logan Nolin
Header Image: Sweta Meininger