Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

Heading Back During A Tumultuous Time

  I'm about to get on a plane for 12 hours and fly straight into the face of the unknown.   I'm not heading in for a family trip, holiday, or celebration. I'm making this difficult, time-consuming trek because I feel compelled. Something is pulling me. I must go.   New friends, old friends, and whoever I meet along the way will all be a part of this wave of energy. A hopeful turn of the tides. A show of change, positivity, and unity.   I have witnessed firsthand what women can accomplish when they organize. It is empowering, bold, and beautiful. When we set aside our differences and focus on our commonalities, we can break down barriers. Build bridges.   Discover how we are the same and the differences no longer seem to matter. We may define "best" for our families differently and approach it in various ways—there is no one path in life—but we are all trying our best.   My good friend, Clara Wiggins, talks about the uncertainty...
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5 Reasons Why Stroller Naps Are The Best Naps

5 Reasons Why Stroller Naps Are The Best Naps

When we moved to Stockholm, Sweden from the US, I noticed that there was a line of strollers parked outside of the cafes during the daytime. I heard the faint sound of a baby making noise tucked under a bundle of blankets. The movement of little feet indicated that the baby was waking up. What was the protocol here? Should I let the mother inside the cafe know? It wasn't long as I stood frozen in moral dilemma than I saw a beautiful Swedish woman zip out of the cafe and head straight to her impeccably chic bassinet stroller—the source of the baby noises. She scooped up her baby and went back inside to sit with the other mothers enjoying their coffees. She had been keeping a watchful eye on her baby through the cafe window and was completely relaxed about the entire situation.   Why are stroller naps the best? Babies sleep outside in all types of weather in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland...
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Raising a Viking Child

Raising a Viking Child

  A while back, I wrote an article for ParentCo called, "5 Steps to Raising a Viking Child" and it was by far my most popular article to date. The folks at ParentCo contacted me and asked me if they could transform the tips in the article into a shareable video and I absolutely love the end result. I think the video turned out great and even our dog makes a brief cameo. The kids laughed when they saw Bessie's rumpa walking away. It's nice to have a few snippets of their childhood turned into a cohesive video. I hope it inspires more parents to take their kids outside for some adventure and fun.   Here are five steps to help you raise your own little Viking through outdoor play: 1. Be creative and the world becomes magical Even the most familiar and mundane playground can become an entryway to another world if you encourage your child’s creativity. That’s not a slide, it’s an elephant’s trunk. That swing is...
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Guiding the Newbies

Guiding the Newbies

Newbies We've all been newbies at one point or another—whether it was in high school, college, or that first year living abroad. One thing is constant—newbies generally have no idea what they are doing. The days can be long and frustrating when mistakes start to build on one another. All of a sudden, one more thing becomes one too many and that filmmjölk which you thought was creamer but turned out to be sour milk (why would anyone sell me sour milk?!) really ruins your morning coffee and you have a mini-nervous breakdown in your three square meter kitchen. But making all of those mistakes must count for something and now you oldies (experienced expats/foreigners/migrants) can pass on your wisdom to new people moving into your country. The Newbie Guide To Sweden provides that previously word-of-mouth service to newbies via their website with lots of tips and tricks to navigating life in Sweden as a foreigner. Their blog is full of been-there-and-done-that stories to help guide the newbies and I...
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A Tale Of Two Kindergartens—USA and Sweden

A Tale Of Two Kindergartens—USA and Sweden

What do two kindergarten classes separated by an ocean, language, and culture have in common? In what ways do they differ? What are five-year-olds expected to learn while attending preschool in the US and Sweden? Are there any advantages or disadvantages to each kindergarten's approach? I interviewed two kindergarten teachers—one in the US and one in Sweden—and their answers may surprise you. Both kindergartens emphasize play-based learning, social-cognitive skills, and developing necessary skills (e.g., cutting with scissors and drawing) but the ways in which each teacher approaches these concepts differs broadly. This is a peek into the work and energy that goes into teaching our children. When comparing two classrooms in two different countries, it is impossible to make broad generalizations. These responses cannot and are not intended to represent all American and Swedish kindergartens as a whole but rather, to offer parents some insights to the cultural differences and approaches to education.   How many students are in your kindergarten classroom?   USA: 23 Sweden: 21   What...
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Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Is It Time For This Mother In France To Rentrer?

Five years ago, my husband and I packed up our Manhattan apartment and moved across the ocean to France. Our plan was to stay for two to three years and then hightail it back to the U.S. to start a family. There was no way I was going to have a baby in a foreign country! Except that I did. And we stayed. Despite my initial reticence—and bolstered by the experiences described in Bringing Up Bébé—I loved being pregnant in France. I have zero regrets, even though I only understood 60% of any doctor’s appointment throughout my pregnancy. During delivery, my husband stood by my shoulder translating, “Breathe…push…push again…okay, I’m not sure what the OB is saying but maybe push again?...Oh wait, no, don’t push! DON’T PUSH!!” Even though we had lived in France for a few years, we had difficulty making close friends. When my son was born, I realized that we couldn’t continue to operate in isolation. I needed a village....
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Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

Juggling Expectations Of Loved Ones At Home With Responsibilities Abroad

This is the fifth post in the Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad series and deals with juggling family expectations and life abroad. So far in this series, we have discussed moving abroad with children, balancing careers and family,  dealing with the loss of loved ones while living abroad, and getting everyone on board before you uproot.   Mansi: Moving abroad, leaving behind things that you are comfortable and familiar with, is always tough. As if juggling your life wasn’t hard enough by itself, you must also now worry about maintaining all your relationships back home while forging new ones simultaneously. What do you do then? If you’re anything like me, you’ll have tons of friends, but may not always be as good at keeping in touch with them as you’d like to be. Especially for the strugglers out there, the first thing that I have personally found helpful is to do some mental weeding. It does sound harsh, but the unfortunate...
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I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

  "Let's go down there and play," my husband grabs our daughter's hand and leads her down the bleachers of the gymnasium. Our son is playing on the other side of the gym with his classmates. I watch them as he leads her gently down the steep stairs and he instructs her to run back and forth on a painted line in her socked feet. She loves it and instantly transforms from an I'm-patiently-waiting-for-this-practice-to-end sibling into an I'm-having-so-much-fun-and-I-want-to-stay little kid. I mentally kick myself. Why didn't I think of that? It's not that I'm a wet blanket type of a mother, but I'm a rule follower, and that means that I don't always think about bending the rules. Couple my rule-following personality (which is a great cultural fit for Sweden) with a language barrier and the end result is a slightly hesitant parent. In a lot of ways, my husband reminds me of my own dad (insert your own psychological studies and "daddy complex"...
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The Ultimate Free Babysitting Idea For Expats

The Ultimate Free Babysitting Idea For Expats

  Do you remember what a date felt like? The dark night, loud music, dress-up clothes, and slightly overpriced food that tastes so good because someone else made it and has to clean the dishes. Or maybe it's a movie that isn't G or PG-rated or a concert of your favorite band because their music makes you feel alive. Has it been months? Years? How long has it been since your last night out with your partner? My parent friends and I were lamenting the lack of good babysitting services in our town and weeping at the exorbitant costs for someone to watch TV for a few hours and make sure the house doesn't burn down. What we wouldn't give for a few stolen hours away. We weren't asking for much. Then it hit me. This idea will work for anyone who doesn't have free babysitters family around to watch their kids. The only thing it'll cost you is time.   However, like any delicious cake, you're...
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Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

Another Thanksgiving Holiday Abroad

As I hugged our friends goodbye at our front door, I heard, "Thank you so much," and, "This was wonderful," from every person as they bundled up into their jackets and slid their winter boots back onto their socked feet. Ending the night with these firm, warm, cheek-to-cheek embraces with friends new and old couldn't be a more fitting way to end the night. During each Thanksgiving we have celebrated abroad, there has been a brief respite in the chaotic day. A moment when I am quiet and I look around the room at the group of people who willingly cram into our tiny space because we asked them to share our tradition. I pause and listen. Conversations blend and weave with one another and the language shifts between English and Swedish depending on who is joining or leaving the conversation. In that brief pause of time, I am so happy and proud to continue the Thanksgiving tradition in our adopted...
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