Motherhood

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

For our final post of this year’s Motherhood Around the World series, we talked to Angelina Allen de Melo, a professional ballet dancer. She lives in Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg, with her husband, Fernando, and two-year-old daughter, Lucia. Here, Angie describes the Swedish sweet tooth, her experience with postpartum care and the importance of the outdoors…

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

Angelina’s background: I moved to Sweden when I joined a ballet company in Stockholm 12 years ago. Later, I met my husband, a fellow dancer and choreographer, at the GöteborgsOperans DansKompani, where both of us now work. We live in an apartment in Linnéstan, one of Gothenburg’s oldest neighborhoods.

Since I’m from California and Fernando is Brazilian, ours is not a typical Swedish household. For one thing, we’re not particularly tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed (!) and, even after more than a decade in Sweden, I’m still not enticed by the caviar purée squeezed out of a tube that’s popular for breakfast here. But, in many ways we’ve completely adapted to the Swedish way of life — embracing the magical summers, cold winters and parenthood in this culture.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On Nordic rhythms: In the summer, the sun stays up almost all day. You can stay outside until almost midnight and it’s still bright and amazing. You don’t realize how closely your internal clock is connected to the weather until it’s 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night and you’re not hungry for dinner yet.

But, in the winter, it gets dark so early that you start to hibernate. Your body starts shutting down in the afternoons. At the darkest points, it will be pitch black by 3:30 p.m. and won’t get light again until around 9 a.m. Since we go to work at 8:30 a.m., there are days that we don’t see the sun at all. It’s like living in this night world. I think that’s why tanning booths are so popular here, and sunny vacation destinations like Thailand and the Canary Islands are hugely popular with Swedes.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On napping outdoors: Even in the thick of winter when temperatures are below zero, many Swedish parents put their kids, bundled up in their strollers, outside to nap. They say children sleep longer and better this way and believe the cold and that fresh air is good for a child’s immune system. And here, if you’re sick your doctor will say, open the window when you go to bed at night, fresh air cures all!

When I first moved here, I went to meet a friend for coffee in the pouring rain. She told me her baby was asleep outside in the stroller, like it was the most natural thing in the world. His stroller had a waterproof cover, and she could see his stroller outside the window. I realized that it was not actually that crazy when I compared that approach to bringing a wet stroller with a sleeping baby, all bundled up in winter gear, inside a crowded, stuffy cafe, full of germs, trying to find a place to park the stroller, then risking waking him by undressing him so he doesn’t overheat. All of a sudden, leaving him outside seemed like a pretty great option!

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On Swedish vacations: Most employees here get at least five weeks off in July and August. It’s customary for Swedes to spend their vacations in nature. Many families have country houses where they can retreat on the weekends or during holidays to relax and spend time by the sea, the forest or a lake. In the summer, we will go to the seaside or visit our Swedish friends’ country homes.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On postpartum care: For the year after you have a baby, this culture takes care not just of the baby, but mothers, too. Two days after we got home from the hospital, a nurse came to our house to weigh Lucia and do a check-up. She gave me a check-up too, asking all about how I was doing. Anytime I’d take Lucia in for a pediatrician appointment when she was little, they’d ask about me, looking for signs of depression, and reiterating all the support networks that were available to me as a new mother. Also, pediatric practices often offer support groups for new parents. They’ll arrange for 10 mothers with babies of a similar age to attend four or five classes about sleeping, eating, life balance, expectations of parenting or other topics. Everyone brings their babies, and it helps you build a support system.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On parental leave: Parents have a whopping 480 days of paid leave to share — that’s about 16 months. Recently, the law has allotted 90 of these days as non-transferable days for fathers only, to encourage men to take their paternity leave. There’s also a “gender equality bonus,” where parents receive slightly higher pay if they split the time evenly. Parents can even take up to one month off together, and they can spread their time over the first TWELVE YEARS of the child’s life.

Since most Swedish fathers take extensive paternity leave, I’ve noticed that they also get to play an active role in running their whole family household, too. When compared to Central and Southern Europe, Swedes are definitely less traditional in their household gender roles overall. Men are expected to pull their weight with cooking, cleaning and childcare the same way women have traditionally.

On the Law of Jante: There’s an interesting cultural principal here and in a few other Scandinavian countries called the Law of Jante. It essentially means that one individual is not more special than any other, and you’re not to behave as if you are. When I was teaching ballet in Stockholm years ago, I noticed that my students were, indeed, reluctant to stand out. For example, they were quite timid when I asked them to demonstrate steps or propose new ideas to the class.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On childcare: Most Swedish parents put their kids in government-subsidized childcare when the child is about one year old. There are a lot of different types of programs, none of which can exceed $150 per month, including two meals per day. We chose a bilingual school for Lucia, where she’s learning Swedish and English, but there are also public schools, parent co-ops, nature-focused curricula, language-focused ones… the list goes on. There’s even a gender-neutral school in Stockholm, where teachers don’t call children “him” or “her,” and the books and toys are carefully selected to avoid traditional presentations of gender roles.

Another amazing childcare benefit here is called Vabbing. The government pays your salary when you need to stay home from work because your child is sick. People even sometimes call February “VABruary,” as colds are so common in the coldest winter month!

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Swedenn

On food: One of the funniest food customs I’ve observed here is the national tradition of having split pea soup and pancakes for lunch on Thursdays. The first time a Swede told me that, I thought he was joking, but the opera house where I work serves that meal every Thursday. I think all Swedish schools do it, too, and you’ll see it in restaurants. When Americans think of split pea soup it’s green, but here it’s more yellow, with white and yellow beans, and the meat is a pork sausage that’s sliced into the soup.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

Also, Swedes eat cheese in ways that I’ve never seen anywhere else. For one thing, there are a ton of cheeses that come in tubes and are spread over knäckebröd (crispbread, like a cracker) or eaten in sandwiches. Also, every Swedish household has a osthyvel, or cheese slicer, which is treated with a high level of reverence.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

Another big food tradition here is buns, which you’ve probably seen if you’ve ever been to IKEA. People love to eat cinammon buns, or kanelbulle, for breakfast with their morning coffee or for a late-afternoon snack. This is called a “fika,” or coffee break. There’s even a national day for buns, Kanelbullens Dag. When I first moved here, I thought they were kind of flavorless and dry, but now I love them. I’ll come back to the U.S. now and taste a Krispy Kreme donut and all the sugar hurts my teeth!

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On candy: Swedes eat more candy than anybody else in the world, something like 35 pounds of candy per person per year! Huge candy shops with impressive sections are everywhere. What intrigues me most about the Swedish sweet tooth is lördagsgodis or “Saturday candy.” Every Saturday, kids and often their parents fill bags with their favorite candy. Gummies and licorice are big favorites. Before I became a parent, I thought this was a great idea, but now I’ve seen what sugar does to my daughter!

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On playing outdoors: Lucia loves to play outside, picking up sticks or playing in the mud. In the parks, you see moose, deer and wild rabbits. And the playgrounds here are more creative than in any other country I’ve visited. One park near our house is themed around nature and all the equipment is made out of natural wood and bark. It even has a real “insect hotel,” so the kids can observe bugs, and a “barefoot path” designed to teach them about different textures underfoot. The playground system is so extensive there’s even an app to help you find and navigate all the playgrounds in Gothenburg. Our favorite playground near our apartment is Slottskogen, which is always stocked with tricycles, balls, buckets and shovels, as well as a barbecue pits for grilling sausages while your kids play.

On embracing the cold: My husband always reminds me that our daughter is Swedish and she doesn’t care if it’s freezing or dark; she just needs to go outside and play. It’s her parents who need to get over the cold! In her preschool, they go out every day and play for at least an hour even if it’s rainy or snowy. Have you heard the Swedish saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”? Kids wear layers upon layers of gloves and hats and overalls and snowsuits and long johns. I feel bad for Lucia’s preschool teachers because it’s such hard work turning a bunch of little kids into Gore-Tex dumplings! In Lucia’s school, they even have drying machines the size of refrigerators for winter clothes. When you come pick up your kid at the end of the day, they once again have dry, warm outerwear.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On coziness: The Swedish word mysig is hard to translate, but technically means “to smile with comfort,” or be cozy. It’s an important concept here, where the winters are long and cold. You see candles everywhere, year round. When I first moved here, it struck me as a major fire hazard! But they’re everywhere and so beautiful. Sometimes we go to IKEA on weekends (“It’s cold and rainy, so let’s go to IKEA!”), and everyone buys their candles there! Everyone has candles in their carts at checkout.

Swedes even have a special word to describe curling up indoors on a Friday night: fredagsmys. You light candles, cuddle under a blanket on the sofa, eat candy and watch a movie. I love that there’s a verb for it.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On children’s books: All the children we know, including our daughter, love Pippi Longstocking, the classic book by Astrid Lindgren. There’s another sweet children’s character called Alfons Aberg, or Alfie Atkins in its English translation, who’s very traditional and charming. He has been a children’s obsession for generations — there are even play centers around town themed around him. The stories are about a little boy with simple toys, and you read about him having picnics with his cheese, thermos and special cheese slicer! It’s all very Swedish and old-school.

14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden

On a favorite moment: One afternoon, my iPhone was stolen on the tram and I called the police to report it. Within minutes, an undercover police car (Volvo, of course!) pulled up to where I was standing. Two female police officers with long blonde ponytails drove me around Gothenburg following the signal of my stolen phone. Unfortunately, our hunt ended in a crowded tram station where we lost the signal, but they were kind enough to drive me home a good 15 minutes away. I have a hard time imagining anything like this happening in a major city in America. In fact, to me, this anecdote sums up how efficient and friendly Sweden is.

Thank you so much, Angelina!

P.S. The full Motherhood Around the World series, and outdoor napping in Denmark.

(Photos courtesy of Angelina Allen de Melo, Fernando Melo, Elizabeth Dunker and Jenny Brandt)

  1. What a great insight into life here with a little one and lovely to see what it is like on the other side of the country from the millions of posts about Stockholm :)

  2. Kathy says...

    Having recently discovered this blog, I m making my way through this series and do find things very interesting. I always question the tax situation in countries that provide so many “free” services or benefits. And seeing the small representation of housing costs on the television show House Hunters International make it appear that the cost is quite high for much less than we get in the U.S. I also wonder about the custom of parking the kids outside while the parent goes in. In the States, a parent would be investigated for child neglect/abandonment, and even though it is customary in Sweden, I now wonder if the mass immigration of refugees that has occurred in Sweden has had any effect on that practice.

  3. Nice tips!!!

  4. Leah says...

    I recently moved to Stockholm from Australia. I found the daycare very bad quality with children left alone crying and an even worse safety incident occurred while I was doing my daughter’s inskolning. I tried two different daycares in an affluent area of Stockholm, and a family day care, and have decided to go with a nanny at $25 an hour.
    I am shocked more Swedish parents don’t do spot visits on their daycares and realise the quality is seriously terrible. we pay way more in Australia but quality much better.

    • Laura says...

      I am sorry this happened to you. but your experience can not reflect the whole of “Sweden”. Daycare for us is amazing. Small dagis with 4 kids per pedagog and amazing care for their emotional wellbeing. I did a lot of research going to the different dagis interviewing and being the anal mom until i find the perfect place and to be honest, it was not difficult. And many parents experience the same. There are others that experience what you experience, and others that simply dont care, they just want a place to “park” their kids while they are at work. Its like everything. This is a big country. Many points of view.

  5. sandia Walton says...

    I too love this posting- refreshing and informative- I remember Oprah doing a show where parents in Denmark do the same outdoor napping engagement. The leave for parents I think is the most remarkable- priority given to families- Golden Idea!!! Happier babies and happier parents. Thanks

  6. Thanks for this brilliant article. You sum it all up neatly, the only only thing you forgot is lagom… We’re a British family living near Stockholm and making the most of the outdoor lifestyle. And we’ve been on that mega slide in Göteberg, we all had a go. Best parks in the world here.

  7. Francesca McElhatten says...

    I loved this article! I am English. My babies were born in California – super easy, convenient environment to raise kids. Outside year round. Beach, pool. 24 hour shopping if you need diapers at 3am. We moved to Switzerland when the youngest was not yet 1 and the oldest was 4. I was very apprehensive. What about when it snows/rains? You just wear the right clothing – never wait for a “nice day” to do something, Stores close on Sundays – plan ahead. Enjoy the family day. Life moves slower? Expect to cover fewer errands in a day. My take – away? Don’t compare – you’ll be miserable. Embrace & enjoy the difference.

  8. Graziela says...

    It was so enjoyable reading your post. So informative about the culture and embracing it whole heartedly considering that you’re from The US means that no regrets of leaving your homeland.

  9. Aysegul Oguz Goodman says...

    I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. Reading all these amazing experiences is so inspiring and motivating. Please keep posting more stories.

  10. Jo Moon says...

    Gore-Tex dumplings! LOL Now I will keep our window open over night! :-)

  11. Yes there is patents that choose to be home with their kids and fall out from the system simply because we believe that the first couple of years are the most important and precious years you can have together with your little one! You can find many of us if you search for “hemmaföräldrars nätverk” on Fb.

  12. Liza says...

    Coming from Malaysia, the culture, weather, tradition , cuisine,everything (!) couldn’t be so different from Sweden. But I had no problem appreciating and adapting to all the parenting experience that I discovered living in Sweden. Love fika, the fish roe cream in a tube that you ,squeezed on sliced eggs, putting kids ( I have 3 of them) outside for naps in the winter, Saturday candy, paid parental leave, midnight sun, midday moon :-) , being outdoor in all weather, etc, etc, etc. Sweden is a great place to raise a family!

  13. This one is my favorite by far. I want to move to Sweden :D

    • jane says...

      Right? That was my first thought – I’m moving to Sweden to have beautiful babies and enjoy fredagsmys!

  14. My sweet sweet friend Angie, you are missed! I am so happy you live here, just come home from your travels already :)
    I love how you pictured Gothenburg, it reflects exactly how it feels for us. Love you!

  15. Lk says...

    Are stay-at-home moms rare in Sweden? I love being a stay-at-home mom here in the US. The affordable day care sounds great for those who need it, though!

    • Linda says...

      Yes, we exist! But we feel very thwarted from the swedish familypolitics and the goverment. Every Child SHOULD be in childcare is the opinion of the great mass here… But it doesnt fit every family and it goes against studies of the attachmenttheories.
      So, everybody isnt to happy about the childcare-“luxury”.

  16. Sofia says...

    Hi!

    I love Cup of Jo posts, but this is my favourite!
    Like Angelina I also live in Gothenburg and I’m a mother of a 1 year old baby. Neither I or my husband are from here.
    Everything she says is so true, Sweden is an amazing country and specially if your a parent. There is respect for the family and individual.
    Congratulations for the blog and for this series!

  17. It was so great to learn about living in Sweden. I hope such creative playgrounds are available to kids everywhere.

    Shruthi
    http://nyambura.co

  18. Heather says...

    I just love this series SO MUCH. Even as a single, childless 20 something. I second someone’s idea for a book deal – you should go for it! Maybe you already are.

    This post in particular makes me want to buy a bajillion candles! There’s something sort of magical about those atmospheric endless summer days and deep dark winter nights. Do you know A Little Night Music at all? It’s set in Sweden. Sondheim of course captures the feeling with his always perfect lyrics:

    The sun won’t set
    It’s fruitless to hope or to fret
    It’s dark as it’s going to get
    The hands on the clock turn
    But don’t sing a nocturne
    Just yet

    And later:

    The light is pink
    And the air is still
    And the sun is slinking
    behind the hill
    And when finally it sets
    As finally it must
    When finally it lets
    The moon and stars adjust
    When finally we greet the dark
    And we’re breathing amen

    Surprise of surprises
    It instantly rises again

  19. Bridget says...

    This is my very favorite series that you’ve done. It is fascinating to me as someone who travelled quite a bit before becoming a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been to Sweden, but it sounds like a magical place for families in this piece. I’m jealous and it makes me want to move!

  20. Christina says...

    I LOVE this series!! Series like this really make Cup of Jo so special and what I think is the best blog on the internet. I wish that the US public would take some cues from countries like Sweden and not mind taxes since they go towards government programs that can benefit us. (Especially the Vabbing and the paid parental leave! Incredible.)

  21. Tina says...

    Hello, this is simply a wonderful series and i am so bummed it is over for the year but looking forward to what will be in 2016!

    Could you do a follow up post on the clothing tips from these Scandinavian moms, with purchasing links? I would love to see how they layer and what brands they put their kids in for these inclement weather days. Maybe even dress up Toby and Anton as Scandanvian kids? Just a thought but I would really appreciate such a follow up post, especially going into the cold winter everyone claims we will have this year.

    Keep up the great work CofJ team!

    • P says...

      Try polarnopyret.com,
      it’s a traditional Swedish kids brand which is way into layering (and unisex!) They are even represented in the US (although they only have a couple of stores, but there’s always the webshop!)

    • Try Woolpower.se, all natural wool, all made in Sweden. It’s the best gear for kids or for adults in winter.

  22. This is so similar to parenting in Denmark (I actually didn’t know the law of Jante existed in Sweden as well – I thought it was only Danish…). I live in France now, but reading this post really makes me miss Scandinavia and my home country of Denmark.

  23. This makes me so jealous! I’m thankful for the freedoms I enjoy in America, but things like fast food, post partem support, shopping, maternity and paternity leave, public facilities, SO MANY THINGS just are the worst here. How are we so behind in so many categories? I mean, national news here this week was that McDonalds now serves breakfast all day. Just…. no. Why do we value cheap and processed goods over quality? It really does make me (and so many other readers) want to pack up and move! I feel like the American culture we are so proud of is slipping away…

    • Pam Liles says...

      Do you realize how much of their income pays for all those great services?
      In USA we want everything but are not willing to pay for it….

  24. Wow! Let’s all move to Sweden!!! Many similarities to my experiences living in the Netherlands.

  25. Eileen says...

    I still want to know what happened to the Italy one!

  26. Love this article. Great job! My husband is Swedish and we lived in Sweden for almost 3 years… I’m ready to go back now and eat kanelbullar until my stomach pops. :) Bra gjort!

  27. Eileen says...

    My favorite one yet.

  28. …i think i need to move to Sweden. They have a word for cozying up on Friday nights so…that made my decision.

  29. I loved reading about all of the cozy winter traditions. I live in the mountains, where it does get quite cold and snowy for many months. I think, after reading this, I will use more candles this winter!

  30. Alison says...

    I love your blog and I am absolutely loving this Motherhood Around the World Series… So interesting and insightful! Thanks to all for sharing their stories with us :)

  31. maja says...

    As someone wrote, nothing is free…sweden has the world’s highest (or next highest) taxes. So we do pay for daycare, health care, schools etc. Just in another way. I do prefer our swedish way, compared to, i.e, the US but still, everything has a price.

  32. the Swedes are so forward-thinking, I’m impressed!

    So many things that we fight to normalize here (gender equality, equal parenting responsibilities, connection to nature) are just ingrained in the culture there. Fascinating! Makes me want to move ;)

    http://OprahismyReligion.wordpress.com

  33. Esther says...

    I just have to say I love this series so much and I wish that it would be ongoing – I understand that this one is the last one. I think this could be a book deal! Its such a refreshing bit of journalism. Thank you. These women are incredible, everyday mothers – which makes them extraordinary.

    • AuntHo says...

      Could not agree more! I would love this as a coffee table book and I’m devastated that it’s ending — I have learned so much! And I don’t even have kids …

  34. I really loved this fascinating series and especially the Swedish finale. I’m bummed it’s ending!

  35. I was pretty gobsmacked by the parental leave entitlement.. Made me want to move to sweden!

  36. Jenny says...

    Wow, this sounds amazing, now I really want to live in Sweden!

  37. Emelie says...

    How lovely to read such a beautiful and true story about Swedish Life. I´m Swedish and live here with my husband and daughter and even though I off course know all theese things – its great to be reminded about how great it acually is!! About outdoor sleeping, my daughter did not sleep indoors (at daytime) until she was 1. Fresh air is the best! :)
    Thank you for a great post!

    • Liz says...

      I’m so curious about this! I first read about babies sleeping outside a few years ago (here on CoJ) and have wondered about abductions. Do they ever happen? I feel like if that happened here (I’m in the US), the crazies would just snatch them up! It seems like other countries have a respect for life and children that we just don’t seem to have. Another example would be the link shared last Friday about the children in Japan being sent out on errands at a very young age.

    • Liz – abductions just don’t really happen here like they do in the US. They’re extremely extremely rare.

    • Abductions are also very rare in the U.S., they are just extraordinarily over-reported and over-represented in the media.

    • elisabeth says...

      I’m Swedish and we put our baby in it’s pram on the balcony with a baby monitor.

  38. Bianca says...

    Wow I would so love to live in Sweden. The encouragement of taking care of the mother as well as the child is such a wonderful approach. The lifestyle seems right up my street. Awe if only….

  39. Cindy says...

    I learned so much!!!

  40. Tara says...

    What a great post! My dad’s family immigrated from Swedento the US, and I still have cousins in Sweden. I grew up with Pippi Longstocking, and never realized it was a Swedish thing – guess that explains why none of my friends ever knew what I was talking about! lol

  41. I loved this so much! A real glimpse into what it is like to live in Sweden – I am in awe of their parental leave!

  42. Nicole says...

    This was my favorite installation of the series. I would love to incorporate more candles, outdoor naps, and coziness into my routine.

    • Katy says...

      Same here! Love the cozy theme and outdoor naps for kiddos….and the lovely parental leave!

  43. Eva Rosenius says...

    Thank you for writing and thinking so nicely of Sweden. I´m happy that you appreciate our country and I also was reminded of what a great country I have had the fortune to grow up in.

  44. Katherine says...

    Decision made: my husband and I are moving to Sweden before having children. Way to go! Thanks for this post!

  45. Jenn says...

    Oh my, Friday cozytime? Saturday candy?? Five week vacation?? 480 day parental leave?? I think I’ve found my people!

  46. Ruth says...

    Thank you for doing this series – it’s my absolute favorite on your blog! I’m 6 weeks away from my first little one’s arrival and these posts have given me such an interesting perspective on motherhood. Can’t wait for them to resume next year!

  47. Lisa says...

    YAY! Finally a post about Sweden! This made me so happy, and homesick.. I do agree with what other people are commenting about eating cinnamon buns for breakfast – probably doesnt happen very often. Swedish people are generally super healthy with the breakfast and sugar is a big no-no. And for everyone who wants to move to Sweden – university is free, even if youre not Swedish. Yep. True story. And dental care and health care is free until you turn 18. Even if dental care is not cheap after, health care is. I think a visit to the emergency is like 25€/28$.

    SO. HOMESICK.

    • CATHERINE says...

      so pretty much like here in France where health care is free or practically!

    • Lisa says...

      Yes Catherine but France has 16 weeks maternity leave and – I think – 2 weeks for dads? So not really the same.

    • Karin says...

      It´s NOT free, we have high taxes in Sweden. It is true that we have great benefits, but we pay a high price for them.

    • hanna says...

      Have to add that uni is not necessarily free for non-Swedes. It is free for Swedes, permanent residents, as well as EU citizens.

    • Lisa says...

      I say that its free because you pay fairly high taxes in most countries but down get shit for it. I don’t live in Sweden at the moment, pay almost as high taxes as I did in Sweden but still pay for EVERYTHING – high electricity bills, high rents, high water bills, crazy dental and health care fees (thank god for a good insurance that brings it down a bit). Daycare is about 1000€ per month per kid here, compared to about 100-150€ in Sweden. So yeah, I use the word “free”.

  48. Jamie says...

    wow. The daycare cost there is amazing! I mean, so is paternity leave – I can at least take time off, but its all unpaid! I’m looking at daycares now almost 1yr. out and most are already booked up – not to mention the cheapest childcare center for an infant is $370/week!! :( Sweden sounds perfect – and since I’m in MN, the cold wouldn’t phase me a bit.

  49. Sarah says...

    This is my favorite Motherhood-around-the-world post yet! Sweden sounds so wonderful, albeit the darkness and cold. Eeps.

  50. Shauna says...

    What a wonderful series. Thank you!

  51. Theresa says...

    My husband and I talk all the time about living abroad someday with our daughter (he did for six years before we met) and think Sweden sounds swell! I love their cultural ideals, sounds delightful!

  52. Traci says...

    I love this series, and always walk away with new ideas and inspiration.
    If the mood ever strikes, I’d be interested in reading a Motherhood Around the States series. Our country is so large & so diverse; I like hearing how different parenting can be for those living under the same flag.
    Thanks for all you do!

    • Angela says...

      I love this idea!

  53. Becca says...

    I want to go to Sweden so badly!! Oh my gosh this was painful to read – I want to go to there!

  54. I want to live and have a family in Sweden!

  55. One of the series I look forward to the most. Once again, an excellent read!!

  56. Anon says...

    Omg. Now I want to move to Sweden! That country has never sounded so amazing before!

  57. Courtney says...

    Can we all attend fredagsmys? I love that there is an official name for cozying up, drinking a lot of wine and eating a ton on Friday nights. Also, the candle lighting obsession gives me such a beautiful visual of Swedish life. So cozy and lovely. Thank you for this one, it has been one of my favorites!

  58. Shannon says...

    Sounds like an ideal place to live! Love the parenting and postpartum support.

  59. Sweden sounds like a wonderful place to live. And thank you–I’ve been walking past a coffeeshop named FIKA for about 8 years now and it only ever reminded me of that abbreviation on my taces (FICA). Now I know what it means!

  60. Molly says...

    What a coincidence, I am also from California and my husband is from Brazil! We live in Brazil where we are raising our two boys (one born in the US and one born in Brazil). What a gorgeous family Angelina has. Not only did this make me really, really want to visit Sweden, it made me really, really want to go down that awesome slide.

    • Michelle says...

      Hi! I had to comment because I also am a Californian married to a Brazilian :) we live in CA right now but my husband dreams of raising our kids (at least for a little bit) in Brazil. Just wondering where you are in Brazil and what made you decide to raise your kids there, if you don’t mind me asking!

  61. I love this series, thank you. Parenting in Sweden sounds wonderful!

  62. Hanne says...

    Haha:)) so true! A lot of this is exactly the same in Norway but this was written a lot warmer than the part that was about Norway!

  63. Gabriela says...

    I was born and still live in Montreal, Canada, where winters get pretty crazy (last january we had some -38 Celcius) and my mom also believes that napping outside is good for babies. Once, she was meeting a friend at a café in a pretty quiet part of town, and the café had a fenced terrasse that went all around the building, so she put my stroller on the terrasse right in front of a window and went to sit inside at the table next to the window. Apparently a little while later some lady came rushing into the café and started yelling at her about what a terrible mother she was! It’s nice to know that the Scandinavian countries have my mother’s back in this story haha ;)

    • Line says...

      Yeah, here (in Sweden) nobody would have reacted at all.

  64. mm says...

    Best series on the blog, so informative!

  65. jaclyn says...

    I live in the States and I’ve never wanted kids but reading this series always makes me wonder if my feelings would be different if I lived in another country.

    Of course, kids or not, I now REALLY want to live in Sweden!

  66. bisbee says...

    Wow. What a fabulous post…I just can’t get over how absolutely wonderful it sounds to live and raise children in Sweden! If I had it to do over again…

  67. What a great summary of Swedish conditions and traditions! I am Swedish and reading this really made me grateful for what we have. I have personally not heard about people having kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) for breakfast though … ;)

  68. Megan says...

    I can’t express how much I love this series and how excited I am to read them each time they are posted. It really would make for a fun little book, especially for new parents/mothers.
    Looking forward to the next one!

  69. Wow!! This was beautiful. I would love to raise my two daughters in a different, slower-paced culture. Right now my goal is to make enough money freelancing and blogging so my husband and I can BOTH stay home with our kids. Family time is so important and it just doesn’t seem like it’s prioritized here in the states.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  70. Thank you for a fascinating series. I think this is my favorite, maybe it’s the cheese, cinnamon rolls, candy, and candles! Sweden sounds like an incredible place to raise your children.

  71. I wish there was an english word for “fredagsmys.” I agree that though I’ve read all of this series’ posts, I’d still want to buy the book if it were made into one!

    – Laura //GirlWhoWrites.com

  72. This is wonderful, and I’m so sad it’s the last installment this year! Sweden sounds so great (although as a former Chicago resident I’m not sure I can do the the cold and dark again, and definitely not in such an extreme). Weather aside, Sweden sounds like a dream. The outdoor time, the paid leave, the gender equality, the coziness. I think I would love it.

    Also, my son’s name is Alfie, and I can’t wait to order that book! I have a habit of collecting books with characters who share names with my children and I can’t wait to add this to our stash!

  73. That settles it – it’s time for my husband to get in touch with his Swedish routes and go meet his Swedish relatives! ;)

  74. Alice says...

    Last of the series, sob! Please, please, let it return next year.
    I’ve lived away from my native country for a long time now, and find these stories and observations so inspiring. They make me reconsider the lifestyle and culture around me, but also how I can put some of these ideas and attitudes into my day to day routines wherever I am. Especially since becoming a mother. I have friends who are raising a family in Sweden and it sounds so family-orientated in a natural and practical way. I particularly loved how Angelina’s perspective shows her in-depth familiarity and love for the place. I’m sold. To Gothenburg!
    And YES to a book!!!! Brilliant idea.

  75. Liv says...

    I just love this! Having lived with a large group
    of Swedes for a time I have such a soft spot for all things Swedish. And this series is so fascinating as I am trying to navigate life now with two little guys. Thanks for this!

  76. Meggie says...

    This series is so wonderful! As a new mom living in Chicago, I particularly love the look into cold weather parenting. I’d love to see a post about essentials for living an outdoor life with babies/children in cold weather. I loved what looked like a blanket over a carrier, and that outdoor stroller nap setup looked beyond cozy! Any insights into items or brands would be greatly appreciated!

    • Linnea says...

      Hi Meggie,
      A great place is the Swedish store Polarn o Pyret. They have stores in New York and Minnesota (I think!), but also sell online. I grew up in Sweden and was so excited to now see Polarn o Pyret here in the States. Their clothes are soft, super high quality and fantastic for rainy/snowy/cold weather for kids. (All their jackets and outdoor wear also have reflectors on them, so also made for playing outside when it’s dark :-)

  77. Love this post! My son just started attending a preschool founded by Swedish teachers, and we’ve learned quite a bit about how kids are revered in Sweden. I love that they go outside everyday, rain or shine or snow.

  78. Chesley says...

    I love this series. And, I want to move to Sweden. I need to print this and re-read it often. It’s the simple things in life that really matter.

  79. i’ve been so enamored by Sweden for as long as I can remember, and LOVED reading this!! Makes me want to move there…or at least visit sooner rather than later!! (And p.s., I agree with another commenter above that this series would make an EXCELLENT book!!)

  80. Meredith says...

    Inspires me not to dread the oncoming winter here in the northeast U.S., but maybe to embrace it and make it special? I need to invent words for “wearing sweatshirts for 4 months straight” and “sliding down the driveway with the dog after an ice storm”……maybe I’ll like it more.

    • haha Meredith, your comment made me laugh out loud!

      I’m so charmed by the words Swedes have for things.

    • Molly says...

      haha love your comment!

  81. Trish O says...

    Oh my, I think I found my people. Now, how to move to Sweden? Think my middle school, mid-west kids and VERY mid-western hubby will love it, too? Until I figure this all out I guess I will go to Ikea and pretend.

  82. Celine says...

    My favorite series!!! Too bad it’s already over… Joanna and your team, you’re really doing a great job and I love love love coming to your blog, since a few years now. Greeting from France xoxo

  83. Laura says...

    Of all the places featured in this series, Sweden seems like it would be my favorite. The Law of Jante sounds like a dream come true and the complete opposite of Americans needing to be the most special and best at everything all the time always. I’d love to raise a family in a culture with so much respect for nature, not to mention that childcare and parental leave!

    • Anna says...

      The Law of Jante is anything but a dream come true. It’s meaning is glossed over a bit in this write up — it has a negative and suppressive mentality of “don’t think you are somebody” “don’t think you’re anything special.” While Americans can go overboard in celebrating individualism and how special everyone is, the Law of Jante squelches any notion of individual ambition, talent or potential. Don’t excel, just be “lagom” (just right) — the ultimate Swedish word. The Law of Jante is the one bad thing about Sweden and the reason I left the country. All the other things mentioned though are awesome and making me nostalgic.

  84. Kristina says...

    This sounds so wonderful! In Germany, where I grew up, Astrid Lindgren’s books are also very popular. I love(d) all of them at different ages but my favourite as a kid at about 9 or 10 was “Ronja Räubertochter” (“Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter” in English as I just found out). I highly recommend it to children and adults alike. The story of a girl living and having adventures in a (swedish) forest full of funny, friendly but also scary creatures also touches on dealing with serious issues such as death and family conflicts. It has influenced my childhood and my image of scandinavian societies empowering children (and particularly girls) immensely and I know many of my friends have had the same experience. Ronja will always be one of my idols for being smart, independent, courageous and vulnerable at the same time. Plus, the story is universal and completely timeless!

  85. So interesting, I loved reading and learning the lovely traditions of Sweden. I would love to have many of them here in the US.
    Thank you, xoRobin

  86. Caitlin says...

    I studied in Copenhagen and my classmate had a similar experience with police/medics…
    She had a strange light-headed sensation when biking home and ended up falling off her bike, down a flight of stairs on the sidewalk! A friend nearby called an ambulance, and (my friend swears this is true) a tall blond Lara Croft-like woman stepped off the ambulance and tended to her wounds. They determined that there were no serious injuries, and that they just needed to keep an eye out for signs of a concussion. When Lara Croft was packing up to leave, my friend asked how much it will be? The woman then explained that the trip wouldn’t cost my friend anything because she didn’t actually have to do anything! A visual inspection was free!

    I’m telling you, the Scandinavians know how to live life the right way.

  87. ashley b says...

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Scandinavia, and I’ve learned to love the culture. While I’m childless, I can attest to the fact that Scandinavians love food in tubes. Caviar, cheese with shrimp, cheese with bacon or the best – mackerel and tomatoes. Makes me hungry to go back!

  88. Laura C says...

    “The government pays your salary when you need to stay home from work because your child is sick.”–> I wonder why, WHY they don’t do the same here in Spain.
    Great post of moterhood around the world, as always.
    xox

  89. Nat says...

    Interesting to hear about Sweden from someone with a completely different perspective than mine. My mom is Swedish so I spent half my childhood in Sweden before moving back to the US after high school. I recently moved back for my PhD and am currently waiting our second child (something unthinkable in the US). My biggest problem is with the health care, which can make it hard to get in touch with an actual physician at times. You have to call up a clinic and leave your number and then they will call you back (sometimes much later in the day!). Also you will most likely never see the same doctor twice, which can be annoying if you have recurring visits for the same ailment. This also gives rise to quite a lot of malpractice for which you as a patient have very little recourse. Also giving birth in Sweden is a bit of a different experience as you will only ever have the choice of seeing a mid-wife during your pregnancy (and she till be assigned to you at the state run womens clinic), on the flip-side it’s free. And when you give birth your midwife will not be there, instead there will be whoever is on call at the time and even there you will not be likely to see an actual doctor. Once your baby is out and the cord has been cut you are handed your baby and wheeled into a room (that you more often than not have to share with others) and left to your own devices (which can be quite frightening when you are a first-time momma!). Again, it’s free so it is a good value and I guess that brings me to one of the points in the interview; the “law of jante”. Which not only refers to the idea that no one should stand-out, but also that no one should be (or have it) better than anyone. Healthcare sucks equally for anyone and the idea that options (other than the standard) should be offered privately at a cost can spark heated debates about unfairness to those who can not afford it.

    • Sid says...

      I find this comment so interesting.

      In the US (and other countries with private healthcare or a mix), there’s an unchallenged assumption that healthcare you directly pay for yourself is always better for quality, patient choice, etc. While I agree that it can be, the stories I hear about women giving birth in the US often indicate a lack of choice (pressure to have a Cesarean/drugs/induction, illegality of midwives, etc.) and the rate of malpractice lawsuits is insane. Much of these restrictions on choice seem to be driven by private insurers making medical decisions based on risk and then fighting about who pays when something goes wrong.

      It’s a contradiction I can’t wrap my head around. If you’re paying for something directly, as a customer you should have more choice and demand better quality. I’m always shocked that women in the US don’t fight for better care for their money. The ideal vision of what private healthcare guarantees just doesn’t seem to be reflected in practice.

      Also, anyone with money in any country is always able to buy themselves private/better/different care – you just might have to leave your country to get it :)

    • Erika says...

      I find this “standard” talk a bit confusing. Where is this service standard, for free the same way.
      I had the same doctor during the whole process. Everything went normal for me so I did not have to worry. (If it would not have been normal, I would have needed other doctors/professionals anyway, I assume).
      Even i f I did not have the same doctor I would have felt trust, it is all organized on computers & I know their education and ambition is the highest. Any problems, I could have direct that issue to a different doctor or, choose a private options next time.?.
      The delivery went normal. If not I would have had much more people and check ups involved. I did get my child handed to me directly after birth which was amazing. Then after carful cleaning, numerous check ups we were reunited the baby all wrapped up in a blanket and diaper. Speaking of diaper, there were a set up, equipment in the room with familiar materials to what we learnt from “standard”, also free, child care education. There were 3 beds in the room, all screened off and I had no problems what so ever. If any of them would have had problems, they would have been moved for more intense supervision and speciality care.
      I personally found it amazing to bond with my child without too much intervenes, people telling me what to do, what is normal or not. I think it is good to develop your own trusts & give your self time to feel, try and error a bit and think on your own. Professional help is a ring away, (& you got to stay up to 3 nights even if all was normal). There were “standard” visits and check ups as well.
      All for free – which is not standard anywhere.. Yes, if you want someone by your side, at all times, you can buy private services. It is all within prospective and what you relate to as “standard”, necessity, or not.
      I am sure there are professionals in many fields in different countries that might offer speciality operations and equipments in some areas, that, if you can afford, can be used if needed.
      BTW, if you like to be safe, not only giving birth but have your child survive, Sweden is one of the top 5 ranked countries in the world.
      I have definitely not been getting more care and heart felt service anywhere else, even when paying much, much more for “even less standard”.
      In my situation, I could not have wished for more personally.
      (Maybe a foot massage & an alcohol free glass of champagne, but I am sure my husband would have given it to me, if asked ; )
      My experience is from a few years back in time, but still.
      I think it also depends on who you are as a person and what you feel is “standard”, in a very narrow perspective.

    • Laura R. says...

      Also find this comment interesting! I bet ob gyn’s exist in Sweden to attend high risk births. Studies show that midwives are completely safe practitioners regarding healthy, normal pregnancies. I also bet that maternal and fetal death rates in the States are higher, as well as postpartum complications from poor follow up post partum care. The idea that Americans usually only see their doctors during their six week checkup and only get 12 weeks maternity leave is actually mind blowing considering it’s one of the richest countries in the world.

    • Nat, thanks for your comment. It’s so interesting to compare Sweden to where I live, Barcelona. Here we have public health too and my first son was born in the public health system. I am now expecting my second child and since my pregnancy is low risk, I haven’t even been assigned an OBGYN. Instead, all of my visits are with a midwife (she’s the same person in all the visits though, which I’m thankful for). The Spanish system does however, give people the option of going the private health care route and indeed some of our American friends here took that route simply because they didn’t qualify for public health and also because they wanted to ensure an English speaking doctor. It’s not necessarily better to go the private route and most people we know stick with public health. I think the only benefit to the private health care system here is when you need a specialist for some ongoing condition. To give an example, my husband has to have some moles checked regularly throughout the year and sometimes through public health, he doesn’t get to see a dermatologist for months because they’re booked and his condition is not urgent.

    • Lisa says...

      I live in Sweden as well and although I agree that there are generally problems with the healthcare system I do not at all share your experience or wiews about the care I recived whilst being pregnant and giving birth. Where we live (in Uppsala) there are a few private options when it comes to midwives, they are also tax founded and therefore free. We choose one of them and were enormously happy with the care we recived. I never saw a doctor, but i nerver felt i needed to. My midwife also worked at the hospital where I had my daughter and we were lucky enough to have her assigned to us during the delivery. Everything went according to plan and we stayed at the hospital (in a room of our own) for two days. We got all the help we needed including meals and nappies.

    • I had my first baby in the US and my second and third in Sweden, and there are a bunch of differences in the set-up but I felt as safe and well cared for in both countries. I preferred having uninterrupted skin-to-skin from the moment my daughter was born in Sweden (in the OR since it was a C-section) to having my son brought to me all bathed and wrapped up an hour after delivery in the US, but I don’t think I can point to any huge discrepancies in the quality of care received in either country. My third pregnancy was complicated and I saw an OB every few days throughout here in Sweden so the Dr is there when needed.

  90. To a Swedish mother of three living in Stockholm, this was a great read! I think Angelina perfectly pinpointed many of the things that makes Sweden what it is. Especially the weather/darkness/outdoor/goretex dumpling aspects! But eating a cinnamon roll for breakfast? So not a Swedish thing to do! Any other time of the day, sure, but sugar for breakfast? Heaven forbid! :) Thanks for this series, Joanna, it’s really great.

    • Hanna says...

      I almost teared up reading about my home country – so interesting and touching to read about it from another perspective. It made me feel really proud and appreciative (thank you for that). I totally agree when it comes to the cinnamon buns – Swedes never have them for breakfast I would say. It’s not healthy enough and that’s something we care about. Other than that I think it’s a great summary of parenting in Sweden.

  91. Anna says...

    Yay! Finally my country! Love this woman’s story!
    A few additions: health and dental care is free for all kids up to 18. After that, healtcare is heavily subsidized – that includes abortion, by the way, which is readily available in most places, should you so choose – (a doctor’s appointment: from $25) and after you hit the $150 level, it’s free for a year. Reproductive healthcare is free (my 3 month pill prescription cost $10).
    Most people stay home for more than a year with their kids, I would say a year and a half. Among the people I know, dads are taking almost half that time (and no, not just academics or well to do people. Many “blue collar” men usually stay home for extended amounts of time). I guess that helps with us being one of the most equal countries in the world, with politicians that declares themselves feminists instead of religious.
    Also, daycare is heavily subsidized. School is free (including lunch), universities are also free.
    Very few people have pea soup (with pork pieces in it) and mustard and pancakes on Thursdays nowadays. I wouldn’t think schools either :). And one of the things that’s so charming with Alfons Åberg, is that while the books are from the seventies, there was always only Alfons’ very laidback father, no mother. And Astrid wrote a ton of other books, that are equally good as Pippi. You should read them!

    • Anna says...

      Oh, and kids start study English from (latest) age nine in school. We’re basically bilingual (in various degrees of course).

  92. annie g says...

    Hands down my favourite series on this blog. Other people’s lives are fascinating. As I am English, quite a few of these things resonate with me, especially the weather. We say: there is no bad weather, just the wrong clothes. There is also a movement in schools now to get children out as much as possible and to do learning outside. And when I was a child (a very long time ago) babies were left outside to sleep every day and you always saw prams outside shops. We have learned to be afraid and over-protective in recent times. Perhaps we can start to toughen up a bit again. Mind you, Friday nights under the blanket with the sweets and the DVDS…oh, yes please.

  93. Sophie C says...

    Sweden really is an amazing place. My partner is half-Swedish and we are fortunate to own a summer house in Sweden which we visit each year and started taking our daughter to when she was born 2 years ago. There are so many wonderful things about parenting and family life in Sweden!
    However, it is not the socialist utopia that many would have you believe it is. There is an increasing amount of discontent in society and it is very hard to obtain, and hold onto, a decent job. If you are “outside” of the system, for example if you emigrate to Sweden, it can be incredibly difficult to access the social benefits unless you have relatives who can help navigate the system. Also, housing is very segregated in the big cities where can be hard to find affordable flats. This is less of a problem outside of Stockholm and Gothenburg. Also the winters are really hard!! Finally the thing I find most difficult is the inability to stand out or go “against the grain”. It is positively frowned upon to do anything different from the social norm. Case in point – I almost caused a riot by queuing the wrong way for a cash machine (!) although was instantly forgiven when people realised I was British not Swedish! This is a silly example but it is very typical.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love Sweden and the Swedes! I love that my daughter will experience her Swedish heritage and that we get to spend time in such an beautiful and interesting country. It’s just that when I see articles like this there’s always an array of comments saying how fantastic Sweden is (and it’s true!) but there are hard things about the country too.
    Keep up this series – as a relatively recent mother I find it fascinating! x

  94. Leila says...

    I’ve recently become really intrigued by Sweden and this was the perfect thing to fuel my obsession! It seems like a magical country. I love everything that Cup of Jo does but this is one of my favorite series – original, fresh, informative, inspiring. Can’t wait for more!

  95. Rox says...

    I’m originally from Gothenburg/ Sweden and I really enjoyed reading this, I miss it all so much. I also love this series. Joanna, your website is amazing and I eagerly tune in every day. Love from London:0)

  96. Incredible amount of time off with baby for the mother and father! Especially compared to our 6 weeks!

  97. Jacqui says...

    I also love this series. You may have already done this, but if not, I think it would be interesting to hear from some ex pat Mums who now live in the US about the differences they find from their home countries.

  98. Thank you for sharing another story on this wonderful series. As a mother raising her family in Switzerland I can relate to these posts. If you are interested in adding onto your series with what it means to raise a family in Switzerland, please feel free to contact me, I would be most happy to share. Thanks again for a great series!

    • Véronique says...

      This also, please

  99. Michelle says...

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, thank you for sharing! I plan to institute Fredagsmys in our home immediately.

  100. Done for the year? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  101. Lauren says...

    Oh my god, Sweden is a dream world ….

  102. Erica H. says...

    That’s it! Moving my family to Sweden ;)

    • Melanie says...

      My thought exactly! Cheese and candles and cuddles and GREAT parental/childcare? Done.

  103. Allison says...

    I so enjoyed this article! I’ve been to Goth’berg and spent some time living abroad in southern Norway and everything this article says is EXACTLY like Norway. Reading it made me nostalgic for Scandinavia in the best way.

  104. Heather H says...

    Each addition to this series strengthens my resolve to find a way for my family to have an overseas living experience. Vacations are wonderful, but really learning another culture as these moms do — that’s priceless!

  105. Meggles says...

    I think if I lived in a country with such incredible services and social welfare, I, too, would happily fork over 60% in taxes (or something like that). Alas, here in the states that will never, ever happen.

    I live in MA, though, and it really is the closest thing to W. Europe in the US. We don’t have quite the same level of social benefits, but compared to much of the country, it’s pretty generous.

    • Anna says...

      I’m in the middle class (I guess?) income bracket and I don’t even pay 30% in income tax. I always wonder where you get such figures from?

    • Marc Grue says...

      Hi Meggles,
      In Sweden we only pay the highest tax rate on what we earn _above_ 75000 USD a year! Having a decent above average salary, I only pay effectively 29% in taxes! I’m so happy to do that and enjoying all the benefits, Angie describes (and many more). I hope from my heart that electing Bernie Sanders will be the start for the American people to come closer to a Scandinavian welfare model! It’s not radical, it’s fair and it has proven to work for decades.

    • Jess says...

      Hi Meggles.

      Just wanted to pop in and say that where I live (in Sweden) we pay about 32% in tax :)
      Hope you’re well!

    • Bakagaijin says...

      To those of you say that you only pay this and this percentage of income tax; add what you pay in consumption tax(moms), the taxes that your employers pays for you(arbetsgivaravgifter) and the taxes you pay on your pensions (which technically, you have already payed the tax for) you will probably exceed the 60% estimation ;)

  106. Becca says...

    Ah, this pretty much cements my lifelong desires to become a swede!

  107. Janine says...

    Great post! The motherhood series is my favorite, i wish you would include it everyweek

  108. Please expand this series and turn it into a book! Love, love, love it.

  109. Johanna says...

    Sweden sounds like heaven on earth!!

  110. rachel says...

    i LOVE this series. i’m 26 and so far away from having children, but i love it regardless. Joanna and team: you are so amazing to bring such insight to the interwebs. i’m so sad this is the last installment!

  111. Allie says...

    I just need to tell you how much I love this series, Jo. Especially now that I’m expecting – it’s probably one of my favorites on the internet. So interesting, and I particularly enjoyed this one!

  112. yael steren says...

    Oh my gosh- so funny about the caviar squeezed out of a tube bc my parents are from Sweden and I ate that growing up and we still have it in the fridge! Lol! I also love the swedish cinnamon rolls (kanelbullar) and would be happy to share the recipe one time if you would like! xo yael
    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog/

  113. It always makes me sad to hear how much maternity leave is granted in other countries. Why is the US so backwards in this way?

    • Brian says...

      Greed. Plain and simple.

    • Lauren E. says...

      I’m with you. It’s so sad.

    • The U.S. values business and profit over pretty much everything else, unfortunately. I got zero maternity leave –of course, I also have no holidays, vacation, or sick leave. That’s what we get when we leave it up to businesses to determine “what’s right” for their employees.

      I’m hopeful things like Connecticut’s “Campaign for Paid Family Leave” and California’s leave policy become more the norm, but we have a long way to go in supporting families–regardless of whether that’s support for maternity, illness, or other considerations.

  114. Erika says...

    My grandmother was born and raised in Stockholm and I’ve been lucky enough to stay connected with many family members there. I can honestly say that it is truly one of the most wondrous places I’ve ever traveled. From picking fresh blueberries for pancakes at my great-aunt’s lakeside retreat, to sailing in the archipelago, my childhood memories are filled with magic. I’d live there in a heartbeat! (And that’s coming from a desert girl.)

  115. Kerry says...

    The Garden of SwEDEN. It sounds magical and forward-thinking and I want tube cheese on a cracker and Saturday candy right now.

  116. Megan says...

    My favorite series by far!!! Please keep this series!!

  117. Lauren says...

    A word for curling up with a blanket on a Friday night? Amazing! Love this series.

  118. Another great post in a great series. “Gore tex dumplings” had me in stitches! I’ve been wanting to move to Scandinavia for many years and now that I’ve had a baby I want to move there even more!

  119. The childcare costs and maternity/paternity leave practically have me packing my bags! Now I just have to learn the language :) sighhhhh.

  120. Anna says...

    I love this post. We are a Australian/Canadian family and have lived in Denmark for the past 3 years and have had almost identical experiences. I love the play outside no matter the weather, the ‘ flyvedragt’ – translated flying suits – young children wear to keen them snuggly, the term ‘ hygge’ – meaning cosiness, equal parenting, and the huge maternity and paternity leave. I still struggle with the Jante law. Children don’t have sports carnivals here and are not praised for excelling at something – I feel other countries over praise children but here I feel there is the opposite and they are fearful at being incredible at something.

  121. Liza says...

    I lived in Sweden for a few years while finishing my PhD. I miss it so very much, and this post brings back so many memories. I remember being such an eager student, answering questions during class and trying to look smart the first few weeks. A friend took me aside to explain that the culture there is different- people don’t do that. It was hard as an American to understand (and a New Yorker at that!), but eventually it felt very peaceful. I have taken that with me always.

  122. Susan says...

    Loved this, too. I am wondering though if biting in to a Krispy Kreme might hurt Angelina’s teeth instead of her feet? I can’t let it pass just in case. The editor in me. :)

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Good catch! We fixed, thanks.

    • kiki says...

      i thought this too! But, she’s a ballet dancer! Maybe she’s very sensitive to what affects her feet and ability to dance? ? I’m so curious! I certainly don’t have that level of self-awareness to know if what i’m eating is affecting my feet!! :)

  123. Lovey says...

    I truly enjoy the motherhood around the world series! Incredibly insightful and fascinating. Please keep this coming!

  124. lindsay marie says...

    Loved this one!

  125. Amy says...

    We live in Canada where our winters are so cold in Edmonton and I like their idea of bundling up and being outside no matter what. I feel like that’s easier when your kid is over 3 years old and doesn’t get stuck in the deep snow as easily while trying to just walk around! I LOVE their idea of being cozy, getting under a blanket and lighting candles to watch a movie!

  126. Shannon says...

    This post was one of my favorites! I love this series and having spent sometime in Sweden, this made me want to go back! They take such good care of their Moms! Again, thank you for this wonderful post!

  127. Jeannie says...

    This is one of my favorite motherhood around the world posts. I love that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! I didn’t take my granddaughter out for a walk yesterday because it was drizzly and 60 degrees. Tomorrow I will think of that as balmy! Wonderful post! Thank you

  128. meg says...

    i’m not a mama (not even close!), but i want you and your team to know how much i love this series. thank you for taking the time to find and interview such an array of fascinating women from around the world. i love, love, love it.

  129. JMT says...

    This series is one of my favorite things on the Internet. Thanks Jo!

  130. Shawnee says...

    What a lovely post. I am part Swedish, part Finnish and definitely relate to some of the culture she talks about. I grew up/live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan which is very similar to both Scandinavian countries culture because of our ancestors’ move here from Finland and Sweden. Especially the beautiful summers spent outside and long, cold winters spent cozy inside – spot on. I want to visit Sweden someday; I love reading what it’s like to live there through a family’s eyes. xo

    • Daniela says...

      I’m part Finnish part Swedish too! I grew up in Sweden and you definitely must visit someday – no place like it.

  131. I love the fact there is an actual word for being cozy and cuddling up under a warm blanket! Also, so intrigued by letting infants sleep outside, bundled up, in the cold rather than disturbing them to move inside!! Wow, makes sense but in the states it would be so so frowned upon!! Loved this post, Joanna! xo

    (=’.’=)
    -Lauren
    adorn la femme

    • Emily says...

      Beyond frowned upon – there was an instance in NYC where a danish mother left her child outside a starbucks and was arrested for child endangerment!!

    • Helena says...

      I’m a Swedish mother of two, living in Sweden, and letting children sleep outside is very much a part of our culture. You don’t really think about it until someone mentions it like in this article. Our children have always slept outside for daytime naps, regardless of season, and we sleep with our windows open year round. Often, you can also choose to let your child sleep outside when in daycare. At our daycare, there are specially built sleeping boxes made of plywood where the children sleep on sheepskin rugs in their sleeping bags. My father is a doctor, and my mother is a nurse and all through my childhood they told me that the ideal temperature (in the bedroom) for getting a good night’s sleep is 16 degrees celsius (61 degrees F). I can never sleep when the temperature reaches above 18 degrees, so sometimes I like living in a cold climate (not always though!).

      Regarding abduction, I have to say that I now and then think “what if someone snatches him away” when my baby is sleeping in our garden, but I’ve never heard of it happening, so I guess it’s not an issue, thankfully!

  132. What a wonderful insight into life in Sweden, I have a friend that s looking to relocate with her family soon so this is a fab post to pass on. x
    http://wildandgrizzly.com

  133. Aha! I’d never heard of the law of jante but I have definitely observed the same thing living here in Germany! People get really squirrelly if you even draw attention to their talents or particular successes!

  134. Erica says...

    I loved this installment! I am inspired to do my fridays more cozy and my Saturdays more candied!

  135. Finally this fabulous series made it to my home country! Loved reading this. It’s pretty spot on too. And great photos!
    http://www.minipiccolini.com

  136. Allison says...

    Love this one! Makes me want to move to sweden right now.

  137. Emily H. says...

    After reading this I want to move to Sweden and have kids!

  138. Tiffany says...

    I’ve spent a few days in Gothenberg and more time in southern Sweden and this is a great depiction of what Sweden is like. It is so lovely, people are SO friendly and kind, and if I ever have a reason to move away from Canada it will likely be to Sweden.

  139. With the beginnings of fall, this post makes me want to cozy up at home in the rain :)

  140. If it weren’t for those long winters (all of the darkness!) I would start plotting my path to Sweden. Sounds lovely. I like to think that some corners of Canada are like Sweden Lite, but we have a ways to go…

  141. Shonna says...

    Wow! This is amazing. I imagine I’d be able to have more than one child if I lived in a country with such a thorough support system for parents!

  142. NKM says...

    This is incredibly awesome!

  143. margaux says...

    i think i’m moving to sweden.

  144. Sounds pretty dreamy! You have a gorgeous family!