Catherine Kraemer's kids

Catherine Kraemer's daughters, from left, Grace, Phoebe and Emilia.

Occasionally, I peak out from the cave in which I live, work and watch reruns of “The Office” to catch up on the latest lifestyle trends. I know that fidget spinners are a thing. I know that Tide Pods have found their way into the hands and digestive systems of bored adolescents everywhere. And I know that hygge has taken living rooms by storm — a very quiet, cozy storm.

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh” the horn of an old-timey automobile) is a Danish word that describes cozy relaxation and grateful contentment. Nordic folks are really good at warming up and chilling out, and now the U.S. is trying to get in on the action.

To properly hygge (I’m not sure if it can be used as a verb, so I’m just going to go ahead and do it), one must create a sanctuary dedicated to enjoying comfort. Some key elements include a roaring fire, soft blankets, warm baked goods, a beloved book, quiet conversation and the company of loved ones. Sounds easy enough when your time is all your own, but is hygge kid-friendly?

Since the past few weeks have brought us snow, which has in turn given us snow days, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to cozily coexist with our three kids indoors. Here are some tips I came up with for ways to hygge hard — because snow-day parenting ain’t easy.

1. Light some candles. Light a bunch of your favorite scented candles and bask in their warm glow. Immediately remember that your children are like giant talking moths, ready to grab at anything with an open flame. Blow all of the candles out. Try to settle for the residual smoke that fills your home.

2. Curl up with blankets. Gather your warmest blankets and snuggle up together on the couch. Start to doze off until the toddler kicks you in the throat. Realize that these blankets haven’t been cleaned since the great viral outbreak of last week. Consider burning them in the backyard, but throw them in the washer instead. Abandon the couch.

3. Bake some bread. Google “How to bake bread,” then Google “How to bake bread no flour no yeast no pan.” Get distracted by all of the other things you’ve been meaning to Google. Give up. Divide the last Nutri-Grain bar between three children.

4. Settle in with a good book. When practicing hygge, electronics are technically verboten. Turn off “Daniel Tiger” and announce you will all be gathering around to read a book together. Wait while your children argue over which book they want to read, and then wince as they choose the absolute worst book you own. The one with 800 noise-making buttons and zero plot. After a few minutes, discover you are reading aloud to no one except a stuffed unicorn, and he looks bored. Turn the TV back on.

5. Reflect. To hygge in the most authentic sense possible, mindfulness is key. Sit down on your blanketless couch, next to your fireless fireplace, tune out the cage match happening in the next room and try to be mindful. Be mindful of your unwashed hair, your unanswered work emails and your unfinished coffee.

Finally, reflect on the fact that hygge might not work for you, not these days at least. But rest easy knowing chaos brings its own kind of comfort.


Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and Phoebe, 1. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.

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