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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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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The Delightful Sounds Of A Serene Swedish Summer

The Delightful Sounds Of A Serene Swedish Summer

We have lived in four houses in the four years since we moved to Sweden. I was tired of the gypsy life and after watching the real estate market climb 15% each year, the window of opportunity for owning a house was closing rapidly. If we didn't buy a house soon, it would be out of our reach. We had to move quickly. After three months of searching and watching houses disappear from within seven days (or less) of posting, we bought our house in a stressful bidding war. My husband hadn't even seen the house we had purchased when we were signing the closing documents. Can we really consider that a win? The house needed a new roof, new windows, and a whole host of other repairs but it was situated on the back of a beautiful golf course and overlooked a pasture full of horses. The horses weren't there when I saw the house, but I hoped the current owners...
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5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

This article originally appeared at Parent.co, "5 Tips For Raising A Viking Child" in their Analog Life section that has other great articles for helping parents venture outdoors with their children.   I just returned from an exhilarating dragon expedition. After picking up my children from their Swedish preschool, my son frantically dragged me to the woods they had explored earlier in the day, eager to show me what they had discovered. We came upon the “dragon” quickly enough and to my eyes it was an old felled tree but to my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, it was a massive, dangerous, and scaly sleeping dragon. In Sweden, according to a study, 80% of children between the ages of one to five years, attend Swedish daycare which promotes play, napping and eating meals outdoors. There are also some preschools that have no physical building as all of their learning occurs outdoors—in nature’s classroom. Conversely, in a recent cross-sectional study with a U.S. nationally representative sample, 44% of...
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“Slotting” it up in Sweden

“Slotting” it up in Sweden

When we said we were heading to one of Sweden's most famous "slott," my mother thought I was saying a bad word in English but really, "slott" means castle in Swedish and our activities were pure and innocent. Being a tourist in your city is a fun way to expand your horizons without ever leaving your comfort zone. We are currently on a budget (buying a house is not a cheap endeavor in Sweden, nor is a new roof and new windows for the aforementioned not-cheap house), so we've been on the lookout for interesting things to do in our backyard (relatively speaking) that we've never done before. About an hour and a half from our house is one of the most famous castles in Sweden. Swedish castles aren't that impressive, in my opinion, after viewing other European cities' gothic style castles. We've been to Neuschwanstein—a most impressive mountaintop castle in Germany—and I'm not sure anything can top that. This day trip...
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Breaking the Mom-Guilt Cycle

Breaking the Mom-Guilt Cycle

"Please, Lucy. Mama went to six different stores to find that costume. Can you please wear it?" My heart crushed, my ears burning, and my inner self, the mother who promised never resort to guilt-trips, is disgusted that I am practically begging my daughter to wear this ridiculous outfit. Why do I care so much that she doesn't want to wear a costume? Why am I behaving like the type of mother I swore I would never become? Because Mom-guilt is a potent force and it takes an even stronger person to recognize it before it poisons your motherly influence. Don't ask me why, but Easter witches are part of Swedish culture and every spring, little children dress as witches and warlocks to hand out handmade Easter cards in exchange for candy. (It's basically like trick or treating, but no Swede would ever admit that.) After spending two days driving around town and frantically searching through six (or was it seven?) different stores, the...
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Swedish Parents Don’t Expect Pinterest Perfection

Swedish Parents Don’t Expect Pinterest Perfection

It’s mid-1990s and I’m in the fourth grade. My mom opens a box of 24 red and pink Valentines featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the front. I sit next to her and fold them along their dotted lines, signing my name and making little hearts above my I’s instead of dotting them. You know, for that special Valentine’s Day flourish. Somewhere between my school-age days and my children’s school-age days, the way Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day (and every other Hallmark holiday) has changed dramatically. No longer are store-bought Valentines the social norm. Now we have Pinterest and YouTube tutorials showing us moms how to create the perfect, homemade Valentine for our children’s classmates that will still eventually be trashed within two days (if we’re lucky). In the effort of full-disclosure, I am the mom who produces Pinterest-fail worthy creations. Not for lack of effort but due to the extreme absence of any artistic ability whatsoever. Some moms enjoy buying the perfect little buttons...
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