When things get busy and adults get stressed, children are the first ones to suffer and too often get the brunt of it all. We often encourage the complete overstimulation of this season…and then get upset at children for feeling dysregulated. It’s not fair. And then, we might lose our cool or mistreat kids for trying to cope with everything going on around them in ways that we don’t like, which might make us feel guilty after all is said and done. So here’s my advice for keeping this holiday enjoyable & memorable for kids, while lowering the stress and frustration for everyone. I say this with love for children and a desire for both adults and children to be less overwhelmed and find greater happiness in the ordinary and simple. So how do we incorporate Hygge into this holiday?
Tone it Down
This time of year is overstimulating. From tons of decorations to endless activities, it’s so easy to get carried away. Remember that you don’t need to say yes to everything. In fact, I suggest you don’t. There are no Halloween requirements, so take a moment to step back and take a breath. Toning down the purchases eases financial strain and keeps clutter at bay. Toning down the commitments means less rushing and less planning, and gives you more time and flexibility to relax. Tone down the complicated crafts and activities that are all over the internet. Most kids just want to play, honestly. They don’t need set ups that take lots of time and money and effort. Now don’t take all this to mean that no one should have anything ever. What I’m trying to say is think about what is coming at the expense of these things. Your patience? Time to just be? Part of toning it down means making intentional time to chill. Because there will always be one million amazing products and opportunities to say yes to. Being mindful of our time and our energy, which are not limitless resources, is crucial to enjoying a wonderfully pleasant holiday compared to rushing our way through it and coming out completely drained at the other end.
Make time for slow meals
When things get rushed, it seems like good meals are the first thing to go. And what happens when people (adults and kids) skip meals, or eat a constant stream of rushed snacks that don’t fill us up? Everyone gets grumpy. If too many activities and too many commitments are keeping us from eating substantial meals, it’s time to reprioritize. I intentionally plan slow meals during this time. Slow, simmering soups and stews. Veggies galore. Food that fills us up and makes us feel good. Setting time aside to eat good food together does wonders. Physically, making sure we’re all getting the nutrients our body needs. Mentally, taking time to sit unrushed and give our minds a break from the day. Emotionally, cultivating togetherness and keeping our relationships as the top priority during this time.
What is this holiday even for? What’s the point if we’re so distracted running around and doing all the things that we miss this time with our kids? We don’t actually need to keep up with anyone. We can just play a board game. We can just colour. Let your kids be a part of making decorations. Find a simple craft, like paper bats or leaf ghosts if that suits them. Let your kids be a part of creating their costumes. If making a costume is something you and they are interested in doing, plan ahead and make time to do it together. Or spend time together looking for pieces around the house, at thrift stores, or from friends. There have been times where I’ve missed spending moments with my kids, like chill Halloween movie nights or making a campfire, to spend hours tediously making their costumes. I make those decisions more mindfully now. I take more time to think it through and carefully weigh the costs. Remember, it’s not healthy for anyone to self-sacrifice all you have and are for your kids. Especially if it’s costing your presence. Part of being present is being able to set and maintain boundaries. And you need time, energy and effort to do that. Lastly, limiting our distractions is the best way to be present. Phones, stresses, endless lists of tasks. Protecting your time with your loved ones is quintessential Hygge.
Let go of control
During busy seasons, adults often get more controlling. The more schedules get filled up, the higher the stress levels, the more kids get controlled. Kids getting shuffled here and there, forced photoshoots, forced costumes. Lowering our demands of our kids helps everyone. If they’re scared of the dark and Halloween decor and costumes are too frightening, or they don’t want to Trick or Treat…honor that. Don’t make them. Let them wear what they want. Follow their lead and let go of trying to control and force how things go. Take a moment to think about who and what this is all for. If it’s about you, then control you and set expectations and place demands on you. If it’s for your kids, then allow them the control to enjoy this holiday in ways that suit them.
Hygge is about feeling cozy. It’s about creating an atmosphere that is warm and inviting. So, to have a Hygge Halloween, think…is your atmosphere is warm and inviting? Are you?
Again, decorations aren’t bad. I have them. Halloween parties aren’t bad. I host and attend them. My message is this. If it’s adding stress instead of reducing it, rethink it. If it’s interfering with enjoying the holiday with our kids, rethink it. If we’re getting upset at children for how they’re responding to being completely overwhelmed, particularly if we’re helping to create that environment, that’s not okay. Our job as parents is to build safe, happy and healthy relationships with our kids. If anything is interfering with that, it’s our job to resolve it. I’m passionate about reminding people to slow down and be more mindful. About holding adults accountable for how they treat children. About teaching parents to intentionally shelter themselves, their families and their environments from intense busyness and overwhelm. And about adapting a Hygge mentality in their life. Halloween is awesome! It’s creative, it’s spooky, it’s memorable! Ensure the days and moments are positive and comforting by prioritizing contentment and well-being over anything else. Because that’s what everyone will remember.
Happy Hygge Halloween!