Eat, sleep, breastfeed, pump and repeat. The drumbeat of my maternity leave. It was exhausting. I recall at one point having to decide between these four things and since breastfeeding hadn’t got off to a great start, I made it my number one priority by pumping like a mad woman. After all, that’s what I was told to do if I wanted to increase my milk supply and have any success breastfeeding my daughter.
It quickly spiralled for me. I was trying to climb this insurmountable mountain. There was no groove that I thought I’d easily slip into. Instead I was sleep deprived and overwhelmed.
That’s when I accepted that I needed some help to navigate this and joined my local Bromley Mindful Mums Postnatal Group, a 5-week programme for mums with babies up to a year old.
It sparked in me the importance of prioritising self-care, and led to my interest in this topic of wellbeing and my own research where I came across the concept of Hygge. I was instantly hooked.
What is Hygge?
Hygge (pronounced hue-guh) is the Danish word for ‘cosy’, but it’s more than that. The author Meik Wiking describes it as cosiness for the soul, while others say it’s cocoa at candlelight. Put simply, it’s a big, warm and fuzzy hug. It’s the feeling of home. I instantly liked the sounds of that!
How can Hygge help mums with their wellbeing?
Hygge is a way of life. In a study by the Happiness Research Institute (2018) they sought to understand what factors impact on our overall happiness. The top three areas were physical health (14%), satisfaction with our home (15%) and mental health (17%).
This research showed that the spaces in which we live and our mental wellbeing, have a big impact on our happiness. Hygge can help us address this.
So what does hygge teach us, that we can incorporate into our everyday lives as mums?
1. Embrace simplicity
Take a break from the fast-paced, technology-driven world and focus on what truly brings you joy and comfort. Whether it’s a cup of tea, a good book or a quiet moment for yourself, make time for the simple pleasures that make your happy.
2. Create a cosy and snug environment
Light some candles, add soft blankets and bring a touch of nature into your space through plants. Create a warm and inviting space. Don’t forget that a cluttered space can create a cluttered mind, so de-clutter where you can. There’s something so satisfying about everything having its own place. 73% of people who are happy with their home are also happy in general (1).
3. Spend time with loved ones
Hygge is about comfort and connection, so find time to connect with your loved ones. 49% of us Brits consider family dinners to be the most important way of spending quality time together (1). So even when you feel so busy as a mum, consider how you could carve out that time to bring everyone together at the table.
When a baby comes along it can also be hard to find that time to connect with your partner. So how can you be more intentional about finding that time? Is it once baby has gone to bed, or perhaps a family member can look after your little one so you can go out on a well overdue date night? Get creative!
4. Practice mindfulness
Stop for a moment and appreciate life’s simple pleasures by savouring a meal or taking a walk in nature. It can be hard to have stillness in our daily lives, to calm those racing thoughts however practising mindfulness can help us to do that. It enables us to tune into how we feel in that moment and get out of our heads even if it is temporarily.
5. Embrace imperfection
Motherhood is a hard gig, but it’s also the best job I’ve ever landed. It’s not about having all the answers. It’s a constant journey where you learn so much about yourself and how you want to mother. When you embrace that you won’t get it right all the time, it’s liberating and allows you the space to grow. Hygge is about enjoying the here and now. Try to find the small things that put a smile on your face as a mum and hold onto those moments even when things get tough.
What I learned from those early months of becoming a first-time mum was that I may not have control over everything but there are still some things that I can control to feel calm and happy. Moreover, these things need not be costly or time-consuming either. It’s about embracing the principles of hygge to create a more relaxed and enjoyable life as a mum.
When you’re next thinking about how to make time for you, think about the power of hygge. Can you light a candle, grab a warm and snuggly blanket or sip a nice hot cuppa? It’s these simple moments that can enhance your wellbeing. More importantly, it’s about focusing on what matters the most and enjoying the simple joys of motherhood.
My Hygge Home, How to Make Home Your Happy Place - Meik Wiking (2022)
About the Author:
Tanya is the author of feelgoodesprit.com, a blog focused on helping mums prioritise self-care as they navigate motherhood inspired by her own challenges when she became a mum. When she's not blogging about wellbeing, she leads the Marketing at a not-for-profit organisation that aims to transform careers education for every young person in England.