Winter in Botswana is characterised by clear blue skies and warm sunny days, with cold nights and frosty mornings. We may not be enveloped in snow and ice but it can still be a challenge to adjust to the change of temperature and the shift in lifestyle winter brings.
I came across this term ‘hygge’, pronounced ‘hoe-guh’, when I was looking into the field of positive mental health and the ways to achieve positive mental wellbeing. It is a Danish term that is untranslatable into any other language. It is a described as a feeling, rather than a verb or adjective. People search for hygge and create it within their homes and lives.
There are many definitions of hygge but this one is the most understandable and descriptive; “Hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people”.
The World Happiness Report is a survey that has reported the state of global happiness in the world for the last seven years. It ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. Botswana ranks at number 148: one of the lowest happiness scores in the world. Denmark on the other hand in ranked as number 2. Maybe we can learn a few lessons from them?
Joy in the Everyday
Our lives can be so busy and rushed that the days fly by in a blur. The challenges of parenting little ones can mean that a lot of the time we just try to ‘get through’ tasks like shopping, mealtimes and bath time, rather than enjoy them. Slowing down activities and not putting pressure on yourself to get things done by a certain time can really help you notice the joy in the small things. The cute conversations, the patterns of play and how your children make sense of their everyday experiences. It can really help to make the stressful days more rewarding.
Connecting as a Family
Winter can be a lovely time to connect as a family. Dark, cold evenings are a great time to snuggle up close with your children, reading books and playing games. The warm afternoons are perfect for walks, picnics and exploring new places.
Ideas don’t have to be new, expensive or complicated, here are 5 simple activities to try:
- Camping or den building – You don’t need to go far to camp, you can do it in your own yard or house! Children love building dens, playing house and hiding in tents. It’s pretend play that the whole family can join in with. We usually take the opportunity to light a fire and toast marshmallows as the sun begins to set. Tents can take any form, a blanket draped over furniture or sticks will work, but if you are in the market for a beautiful play tent, Kids Teepees Botswana have a wonderful selection.
- Board games – A classic way to connect as a family, as long as the competitive streak stays under control! From simple dice games with younger children, cards or more complicated strategy games, there are options to suite every pocket. Games are a lovely alternative to screen time. They promote positive social interactions for younger children such as turn taking and collaboration and they exercise your executive function skills. Toys R Us have a great selection in their store at Airport Junction in Gaborone.
- Baking and cooking – Most of us have to do this anyway and involving kids can be more of a hinderance than a help but children love to be involved in adult activities. Baking is an activity that engages all their senses. It teaches practical skills as well as cooperation and turn taking. If you focus on enjoying the process instead of creating a perfect product, you can really relax and enjoy the time to connect. There’s also nothing better than the smell of freshly baked cookies!
- Explore nature – The cooler weather provides a great opportunity for outdoor play before the summer sun returns in force. The Gaborone Game Reserve is currently closed for a short period of time but the Botanical Gardens in Village are a lovely place to take a walk, scramble on the rocks and find treasures in the form of shiny stones, unusual leaves and pretty flowers.
- Film night – Screen time for children gets a lot of bad press but you can use films and tv to connect as a family. Cosy up on the sofa, throw cushions and blankets on the floor to make a cosy space and grab the snacks. A family friendly film is an opportunity to share laughter, tears and a positive experience. Disney is hitting the nail on the head with its remakes of old classics. They appeal because we can now watch the films we loved with our own children! If you prefer to get out of the house, New Capitol Cinemas is a great day out and their new collaboration with Family Gems will make the cinema accessible to more families. Check out our first Kid-Friendly Play Day event coming up on August 3 – with lowered sound to make it safer for little ears and lights up to make it less scary.
If you are staying home this long weekend, why not try to capture the feeling of hygge with your family. Let us know what works for you and share ideas for other families to try.
Caroline holds a Master’s degree in Mental Health and Psychological Therapy and works to help others achieve their full potential. As one of the Directors of SensoBaby, she focuses her attention on families and young children.
You can find her at www.littlenaledi.com