You’ve probably heard all about the Swedes’ generous parental leave policy (more on that below), but that’s not the only parenting pointer we’re coveting from the Nordic nation. Here, nine Swedish child-rearing principles we’re adopting on this side of the pond.
1. Nap outdoors (no matter the weather). News flash: It gets cold in Sweden—like, really cold. But that doesn’t deter those Viking descendants from bundling up their babies and leaving them outside in their strollers to nap in sub-zero temperatures. It’s thought that kids sleep better that way and that the fresh air is good for them. Not only that, but Swedish parents will often leave their sleeping babies outside while they go into a coffee shop for fika (keeping strollers in their line of view, of course). Which kind of makes sense when you think about it, because why would you bring your sleeping baby who’s nice and snuggly outside indoors where he’ll either overheat or you’ll be forced to wake him up to remove his layers?
2. Divvy up parenting duties evenly. OK, this one isn’t so easy to adopt since it depends on your partner’s (probably pretty stingy) parental leave policy. But in Sweden, parents get a whopping 480 days of paid leave to share and 90 of those are non-transferable days for fathers only. Not only that, but parents also receive a “gender equality bonus” (i.e., slightly higher pay) if they split the time evenly. All this leads to a more equal division of child-rearing responsibilities. Granted, your S.O. may not be able to take more time off but what you can control is who’s in charge of what at home. Meaning there’s no reason for mom to be cooking dinner, doing bath time, reading a story and putting Junior to bed.
3. Play outside every day. There’s a Swedish expression that goes a little something like this: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” In Swedish schools, kids are expected to go outside and play every day—regardless of what the weather is doing. In fact, school closures because of bad weather are practically unheard of. Again, that’s because fresh air is seen as vital to a child’s development, as is getting dirty in the mud, which is good for your kid’s immune system.