Category: Living abroad in Sweden (Page 1 of 10)

St.Lucia – Discover A Swedish Winter Tradition

On December 13th, all over Sweden, the day of St.Lucia is celebrated.¬† There are costumes, candles, lights, buns, drinks, and singing ūüôā

So who is St.Lucia?

Along with the celebration of midsummer, the celebration of St.Lucia is a very popular cultural tradition here in Sweden. The idea behind this mythical character is that she has the role of bearing light in the long, cold, dark, winters.  St Lucia was originally a young Christian lady betrothed  to a pagan gentleman.  She cut off their engagement, and he was not too happy, so he made the Roman authorities aware she was a Christian.  Consequently she was sentenced to death and became a martyr, and the saint of light.

How to celebrate St.Lucia:

  1. Dress up: The children are dressed in white gowns, with red sashes, and a wreath of candles is placed upon their heads.  There is often great competition for the role of St.Lucia, and whilst a lot of costumes will now involve electric candles, the main St.Lucia of the celebration is still known to have real candles on her head in most places.  She is accompanied by her handmaidens (tärnor) who wear white gowns and have tinsel in their hair.  She is also accompanied by star boys (stjärngossar), who wear white robes, cone shaped hats, and carry golden stars on sticks.  The processions now often include tomtar (santa like elves) and gingerbread people.  My double trouble are going to be tomtar this year. 
  2. Food:  No celebration would be truly Swedish without having a special bun or cake made for the occassion!  On this day you eat lussekatter.  They are made with saffron, so have a peculiar flavour to them, but are very tasty. Also on offer are the pepparkakor (small thin ginger biscuits), all swallowed down with yet more glögg!  Or if you are a child, the incredibly sweet drink of Julmust, or maybe just a coffee if you are driving.
  3. Sing Songs:  Most of these songs have a similar theme about the dark and about candles, but singing is a big part of the celebration.

We will be enjoying a little St.Lucia celebration in my twins’ class one evening around this time as they sing us some songs.¬† They are going to be a couple of tomtar ūüôā¬† Comment and let me know your thoughts on this Swedish tradition and if you’ve enjoyed reading about it below.¬† Don’t forget to share the post to let others know!

St.Lucia Discover a winter Swedish tradition, St.Lucia, Sweden culture, Swedish traditions, Swedish celebrations, www.mammasschool.co.uk

I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.thenewbieguide.se/st-lucia-discover-swedish-winter-tradition/

   

Enjoying the Outdoors In Sweden – Get Out There!

Sweden is a truly beautiful country, and exploring the outdoors in Sweden is made so easy for people, yet it remains unspoilt, wild, and rugged.¬† One of the main reasons we moved here, was to be part of the way Swede’s experience their outdoors and nature, even through their daily routine.¬† Throughout my blog I am passionate about the need for outdoors and nature, it being important for so many reasons, for both us humans and nature.¬† You can read about this in the following places:

http://mammasschool.co.uk/outdoor-adventures/nature-therapy-seeking-calm-solitude/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/healing-nature-relying-beach-work-magic/

Here in Sweden, access is so easy that there are really no excuses not to be out there exploring and enjoying the great Swedish outdoors.  There are many ways outdoor exploring is made easy for everyone to do:

Allemansrätten

Here in Sweden, there is this fantastic ideal called “allemansr√§tten”. This is the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.¬† However, there are a few responsibilities that come with this; you take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace that you have been there, don’t disturb and don’t destroy.¬† It is a very rare concept, allowing you to enjoy the Swedish outdoors in its full glory.¬† We have taken advantage of this through lots of hiking, and even taking the children for a wild camping¬†experience.

 

Good Trails and Facilities

When we first moved here, I picked up this fantastic guide from our local tourist office.¬† It was completely free as well!¬† What I wasn’t anticipating was it to be crammed full of hiking routes.¬† Inside are around 50 detailed walking areas, showing trails, toilets (of the non flushing variety), fire pits to cook on, and lots of other good information.¬† It has been a bible for us when we’ve been exploring our local area and getting to know it.¬† Generally when you arrive at your destination’s car park, you have also got a map of the area, showing the same facilities.¬† This has been invaluable to helping us explore with young children. The provision of cooking areas in nature encourages you to be able to enjoy the outdoors even more and learn new skills, whilst enabling you do it responsibly….fire pits and toilets are helping to protect the environment from our impact.¬† We have enjoyed using the cooking areas a lot. The children are learning basic bush craft skills now, and how to use those skills responsibly too.¬† At least once a week they are cooked for on an open fire in the great outdoors in Sweden, whether it is sun, rain, or snow, and they love it….maybe less so when the food is a little (OK, sometimes, a lot) blackened!

 

Part of Daily Life

Being outdoors in Sweden is part of daily life here.¬† Which is good for us as we need the outdoors too.¬† My three children are often found in the woods next to the school with their class, doing their learning in nature.¬† Fritids (the after school care) takes them off into the woods, or to play parks, or even sledging in the winter.¬† I am often on the receiving end of a strop when I go to collect them (the twins go one at a time every other day to learn more Swedish) because they do not want to come home!¬† There is a steady stream of people power-walking, running, or cycling, past our house all day, every day.¬† The outdoors is a very important part of living in Sweden….and weather is no excuse either.¬† Just make sure you are wearing the right clothing, or provide the right clothing for your children at school (and lots of it…they will get wet and dirty!).

9 Ways To Enjoy The Great Swedish Outdoors

  1. Grill on the beach with friends on a summer’s day out
  2. Hike – use one of the many hiking trails around
  3. Use archipelago boats to explore an archipelago in the summer months
  4. Grill at the sledging slope with friends on a winter’s day out
  5. Take your bikes out for a long bike ride
  6. Have a sunrise or sunset picnic…we do this a lot ūüôā
  7. Go wild berry picking in the woods – they are delicious!
  8. Try “wild” camping
  9. Try mushroom foraging – but make sure you know what is safe and what isn’t!

Our¬†Instagram¬†tells the story of our adventures in pictures, so if you like looking at photos of beautiful Sweden, head over and take a look.¬† Finally I want to leave you with one last thought that you need to remember when you are enjoying the outdoors; “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” – Chief Seattle

Enjoying the outdoors in sweden - get exploring!, Sweden, outdoors, exploring, exploring Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link¬†http://www.thenewbieguide.se/great-swedish-outdoors-get-exploring/¬† ¬† ūüôā

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Strawberry Cake – Traditional Swedish Midsummer Treat

So, what do you need to make your delicious strawberry cake?

Ingredients:

2 round,plain, sponge cakes.

1 egg yolk.

1 tablespoon icing sugar.

vanilla extract 1 teaspoon.

400ml whipping cream.

Punnet of strawberries.

Then the next step is assembling the strawberry cake:

Instructions:

First of all, find a recipe for 2 round sponge cakes, and make those.  Let them cool.

Slice up half your strawberries thinly, leaving enough whole ones to cover the top of the cake.

Whisk the egg yolk and the icing sugar together.  Then add the vanilla extract.

Whip 150mls of the cream and then fold it into the egg and sugar mix.

Spread the cream mixture over the first sponge cake (bottom layer).

Then lay the chopped strawberries over the top of the cream, covering the cake.

Place the second cake on the top.

Whip 250mls of the cream and then spread all over the top of the cake and around the sides.

Place the remaining whole strawberries onto the top, and there you have a very tasty Swedish strawberry cake ūüôā

Swedish strawberry cake, midsummer cake, swedish midsummer cake, strawberry cake, summer cake, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Midsummer in Sweden – Party with Family and Friends

Midsummer in Sweden, Swedish Midsummer, Midsommar, Midsummer Party, Midsummer, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Summer seems so far away now, but as I was on a bit of a blogging break at the time, I still have some catching up to do.¬† Midsummer here is so lovely that I wanted to share it with you ūüôā Midsummer in Sweden comes quickly after the schools finish in mid June, kick-starting the summer holidays with a festive feel.¬† Everything in nature has suddenly burst into a riot of colour, very fast after the long winter, and the sun doesn’t set in parts of the country.¬† It is truly a time to celebrate, and celebrate in style.¬† Although, having chatted to our new friends around our island, it isn’t uncommon to be serving your midsummer meal courses between random rain showers, and indeed it doesn’t seem it would be a true midsummer’s without them, but you MUST still eat outdoors, or else you aren’t really doing it properly!

So, what does a midsummer celebration consist of?¬† Firstly, towns are deserted and everything is shut….this is a serious business…and everyone heads off into the countryside to party.¬† So, we embraced our new culture and got immersed in this festival.¬† We put our best outfits on and headed off to watch a pole being raised (similar to a Maypole in the UK) in a large open space with hundreds of people turning up with their picnics (with of course lots of coffee), to watch the dancing, and to take part too.¬† Oh, and don’t forget to put a garland of flowers in your hair.

After the dancing, there is some serious eating to be done.¬† A typical Midsummer menu consists of varying types of pickled herring, boiled potatoes, dill, sour cream, and chives.¬† This is often followed by some cooked meat or fish, and for dessert there is the famous strawberry cake.¬† We took the framework of a typical meal and tampered with it slightly!¬† We had a buffet style lunch going on ūüôā The pickled herring was there, but there was also smoked gammon, shrimps, smoked salmon, warm bread rolls, fresh dill, meatballs, pickled gherkins, boiled eggs, and potato salad.¬† We then followed this up with a very tasty strawberry cake.¬† I had followed a Swedish recipe, and I’m now hooked!¬† I’m not a great fan of creamy cakes like this, but the midsummer one had me re-evaluating my opinions!¬† It was so tasty and you can find out how to make this delicious¬†strawberry cake .¬† This was all washed down with beer, wine, aquavit (a very strong spirit with a rather large kick to it!), and home made elderflower cordial for the little people.¬† Our little gathering would have been rather quiet compared to the Swedes’, who as they drink up enjoy singing songs, and the racier the better…but we don’t know any…..yet!

After your meal, it is time for more dancing…..I think we just laid down and felt a little sick!¬† The dancing continues on late into the night, and on the way home there is an old folklore, that if girls and women collect 7 different types of flowers and sleep with them under their pillows, that night their future husband will appear to them in their dreams ūüôā¬† I really enjoyed this celebration, and I am looking forward to next year’s knowing a little more what to expect (for instance we shall have a picnic at the Maypole).

 

 

Sweden – 15 Things I Have Learnt Living Here

We have lived in Sweden for 1 year now, and throughout that year I have been on a very steep learning curve.¬† I thought I would share with you the 15 main things I have learnt along the way so far ūüôā

1. Everything takes time: 

The Swedes are very laid back and they rarely hurry.¬† This might be over a break at work (fika at work is very important), or installing a phone line and wi-fi (I think this took around 3-4 months after we moved in).¬† So, to avoid frustration, adapt quickly, chill out, and go with the flow….it’ll happen one day.

2. You can’t buy Marmite or spray furniture polish here:¬†

Plan in advance and get visitors flying out to see you to bring it, in bulk preferably, whether you need it or not.  Then you can guarantee an ongoing supply.

3. All food is delicious:

But you will eat your own body weight in cinnamon buns within weeks of arriving here, and you will still want more.

4. Candy: 

This is very important here in Sweden, especially on a Saturday (lördagsgodis).  To integrate fully here you need to take a bag at the pick and mix, and fill it every Saturday.

5. The seasons are all amazing:

But they can change rapidly Рovernight!  One day you will be wearing your shorts, the next day autumn will have arrived, with no gradual run up to it.

6. The people are really friendly:

They want to help you, and you will need their help too in order to navigate some of the systems in Sweden.¬† For example, booking a doctor’s appointment or how to repaint your wooden home.

7. EVERYONE speaks English:

This is good when you are struggling with Swedish, but hard to learn if you are a little lazy.¬† They speak it very well too, but will apologise for not finding one word in a sentence, when I can’t even remember what I was going to say at all in English!!¬† They are very good at it.

8. Google translate will be your best friend:

You will have the app on your phone to read parking signs, help with the grocery shopping, and so that you stand a chance at doing your child’s reading homework.¬† You will use it on your computer to translate all the school emails, and other emails that come your way from various places.

9. Predictive text will become your enemy:

As your phone doesn’t know what the hell you are trying to write, and what language you are trying to type in. Until, that is, it starts memorising Swedish words along the way (no one wants to type out “F√∂rs√§kringskassan” or “L√§nsf√∂rs√§kringar” more than necessary!).

10. Hard cash is surplus to requirements:

(unless you need a trolley – 10 SEK coin, or a swim locker – 10 SEK coin).¬† EVERYTHING is done either by card or phone.¬† There is none of this 50p charge for under ¬£5.¬† If you by a 1 SEK sweet (about 10p) you don’t need cash.

11. Hot dogs (korv med bröd):

Are a staple in your diet in Sweden.¬† Sunny day on the beach?¬† You make hot dogs.¬† End of school term?¬† You meet and cook hot dogs.¬† The Prime Minister visits the island?¬† Free hot dogs. You go out on a hike? You cook hot dogs.¬† You get the idea?!!¬† You always need an emergency stash in the freezer, it’s prevented me being caught out a few times now!

12. You need to bulk buy your alcohol:

The state run off licenses, Systembolaget, (the only place you can purchase it) are only in certain places (our nearest is about 20km away) so there is no “just popping out for a bottle of wine”.¬† They’re also closed a lot, especially at weekends and holidays….so stock up, or as I do, make your own!

13. Send all your children’s clothes to school (and more!):

They will need standard clothes for the day, they will need outdoor gear (I mean proper stuff, like full sets of waterproofs, or complete snow gear etc).¬† They WILL be going outdoors – both for play and lessons.¬† There are dryer cupboards, but it is helpful for them to have complete spare sets too…..and I mean complete…gloves (they get very wet through in the winter, even ski gloves with little people), socks….you get the picture! You will be taking a lot of clothes backwards and forwards, oh and boots!!

14. Fika: 

This is very important in Sweden.¬† It’s a chance to just enjoy each other’s company, but does usually involve coffee and a sweet treat.

15. Glögg and Pepparkakor:

Throughout December it is perfectly fine and normal to drink mulled wine (gl√∂gg) and eat thin ginger biscuits (pepparkakor) every day…..perfect and my idea of a cosy December!!

I hope you have enjoyed those facts, and learning a little more about Sweden ūüôā

Sweden-15 things I have learnt living here, living in Sweden, moving to Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Burnished Chaos
3 Little Buttons
Hot Pink Wellingtons

#ablogginggoodtime

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Living In Sweden – A Year After Our Dream Move

Today sees us celebrating one year since I flew all three children, myself, 3 car seats, and four overweight suitcases, over to join Dadda to start our new lives together living in Sweden.  It seems a good time as any to weigh up the pros and cons of this move, and to look at whether we feel we are here for good (hopefully, barring any silly Brexit shenanigans!).

First off, living in Sweden, we gained 4 seasons!! ¬†The photos depict us losing/gaining various layers as the year progresses! ¬†We love being outdoors, and immersed in nature, and now we have the chance to experience all the seasons fully. ¬†It also makes you appreciate the summer quite a bit more. ¬†When the cold and snow came, life needed a little more planning (like digging the car out), but living in Sweden it does continue (unlike back in the UK where it stops just because it “might” snow!). ¬†The children have embraced everything that has been thrown at them weather wise, and we live with the motto “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”….we have a whole outdoor shop’s supply of outdoor gear now ūüôā

The great outdoors, and the Swedish ethos of outdoor living, was a huge attraction for us and for living in Sweden. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, we did live in a beautiful part of the UK, but over here it is all much more natural, wild, and rugged. ¬†Being a larger country, with fewer people in, the natural spaces and wildlife are left well alone and thrive without such a heavy presence of mankind. ¬†There is wildlife and space all around you. ¬†You know that while you are sleeping, the local √§lg (moose) are checking out the golf course up the road, or the deer are stealing the carrots from your children’s snowmen in the garden! ¬†The public right of access allows everyone to roam freely, as long as they respect the land and nature. We have got to grips with outdoor fires, and enjoy using the regularly placed outdoor fire pits on our hikes. ¬†The beautiful landscapes, the freedom to roam where we want to adventure, and the provision of fire pits in the wild, have definitely fulfilled this reason for moving here. ¬†I think it is fair to say we have been taking full advantage of it all so far!

Let children be children!!  I need to let them run, climb, and explore.  In the UK, this got me a lot of frowns (especially in parks) when I deliberately made a choice not to helicopter parent any of them, as well as letting them use apparatus how they wanted to (provided no one else was affected!).  Plus in the UK there are a lot of expectations of how children should behave, often making them suppress a lot of their childhood instinctive behaviours, and in turn dampen down their spirit, curiosity, and excitement about life.  Over here it is a lot different.  Children are expected to want to make a noise, run around, and climb.  It’s quite common for my little lady to climb the trees in her playground, or twin 2 to be found dangling upside down precariously from a high bar, whereas in the UK those were a definite no no.  They are outdoors in all weathers, not cooped up because of some wind and rain.  The Swedes have clocked onto the fact that children don’t want to, and won’t sit still like statues, but instead they expect them to be moving.  The best bit….no one’s looking at your parenting skills or your child and seeming to be criticising them, when children are just being children.

Living in Sweden we have all left lovely close friends behind.¬† Only yesterday I opened a lovely parcel for the family from some close friends in the UK that made me a little weepy…..of the happy sort!¬† A year on though and we have met some very special people here who have helped us to settle in and go out of their way to help us. ¬†They have become very good friends. ¬†Also, our summer was very busy with close friends from the UK visiting, and the whole year has seen many friends and family coming.¬† There are five more sets of visitors booked for the next four months already!¬† It was hard leaving family and friends behind, and we do miss them a lot, but we are so grateful for those who have offered us friendship here¬† in Sweden ūüôā

Having left a pressure cooker education system behind that has children exhausted, in tears, and feeling a failure, we are more than happy to embrace the Swedish positive approach to learning.¬†¬†School is important to us here as a place for the children to meet others their age and learn the language, coming from an English speaking household, so it serves us well too. ¬†It‚Äôs such a lovely environment‚Ķ.oh, apart from the no shoes indoors policy‚Ķ.I have to keep a better eye out for the holes in the socks situation! ¬†But on the flip side they love running and sliding down the corridors ūüôā ¬†The lovely island school has turned out to be just what we wanted for our trio, and more.

With three children, life can easily start feeling like a hectic race from the moment you get out of bed, until the moment you collapse into it at the end of the day.  A huge reason for moving here was to slow right down, and commit to a much simpler way of living.  It just seems a lot easier to do here.  We have moved to a small island community, you can’t just pop to the shops to spend frivolously (the nearest are about a 30 minute drive), and there are no other material distractions, so life is lived at a more leisurely pace.  We’re no longer sucked into things like a weekend chocca full of children’s parties, activities, or shopping.  Instead it is full of family time, hiking, exploring, and lots of play!

The language is another harder aspect of living abroad. ¬†Our trio are now immersed in it during the week at school, but they are still on a very steep learning curve. ¬†Dadda and I are trying to teach ourselves. ¬†We are making a little headway, understand a lot more than we used to, and can make ourselves understood…albeit with a lot of gesticulation too. ¬†It’s hard learning a new language, but we try and at least begin to speak to the locals in Swedish (we’re lucky that so many are great at speaking English).¬† The trouble starts when people then respond in Swedish, and we sometimes lose the thread of the conversation, but at least we have made some baby steps. ¬†With this comes other things that are very hard…school homework, when it does come home, takes twice as long as we have to understand it before we can help her with it. ¬†Everything takes longer due to translating along the way (very slowly) and sometimes this can be very frustrating. ¬†Something that is usually an easy task can seem to take forever.

Learning to drive on the other side of the road, in a car set up the opposite way, was another challenge too. ¬†You’d think a year on we’d be OK, but the other night I drove about 500m on the wrong side before realising, so some habits are hard to kick.

There has been a huge downside though, and that is the lack of grown up time for Dadda and I.¬† There are no baby sitters here (yet, cross my fingers!), and we have moved abroad knowing there would be no one-night escapes to get a yearly lie in, or no time alone without the presence of our three cheeky monkeys.¬† As much as I know the younger years fly past in the blink of an eye, I wouldn’t ever say no to some peaceful calm time together, enjoying something as a couple outside of our four home walls.¬† However, for now, we will have to take the evenings collapsed on the sofa once we’ve tucked the trio up in bed.

If this family adventure does end up with us returning to the UK, at least there will be no ‚Äúwhat ifs‚ÄĚ, and so no regrets. ¬†We will have tried living in Sweden, and given it a go. ¬†The children will have experienced the world classroom, and a different culture, language, and lifestyle.¬† Although I really hope we are here to stay now, as this was how we planned it.¬† I think we have all adapted pretty well so far. ¬†We seem to be integrating a little. ¬†I can‚Äôt say enough though about how much we love living here, and I feel that maybe we have found our place in the world that we can call home¬†🙂

living in sweden, living abroad, moving to sweden, moving abroad, Sweden, www,mammasschool.co.uk

Goodbye For Now….Taking a Break From Blogging

Over the last 15 months of writing this blog, life has changed dramatically for me and my little family.  The reason for starting blogging was to document our home schooling journey, that then became a following of our dreams journey, to now settling down to living abroad and embracing a new culture.  I have loved writing and I have loved having the blog, but in the last few weeks something has shifted.

Originally it was a diary to inspire others, but I’ve got caught up in the whole stats and numbers thing, and wanting to be read. ¬†I think it stems from trying to get your blog “out there”. ¬†There is so much competition and so much background work that needs to be done, I felt that I am always on the alert to make sure that a link up is made before the dead line, or the comments are submitted before closure. ¬†There have also been a few personal things going on in the background too that make me feel I need to take a break and concentrate on my young family, instead of where the next post is coming from. ¬†I hate being online, and yet if I don’t reply or comment on various platforms, algorithms ensure your material doesn’t appear…cruel but it is reality. ¬†So I feel this is all dictating our days that are about living in the moment, and being immersed in the outdoors and nature….all a little bit of a contradiction and it’s been eating away at me. ¬†So, I guess, what I am trying to say is, I am in no way clear aboutwhere I go from here, so over the summer I will take a break, and see how it affects our daily life. ¬†In the meantime, I shall spend my daylight hours running after three very energetic children, exploring Sweden, and being company for my husband in the evenings!! ¬†After the Swedish summer break is up (which starts mid June and finishes at the end of August), I shall decide whether I either missed it, or it just wasn’t for us ūüôā¬† I will decide whether to continue blogging or leave it.¬† I will keep the¬†https://www.instagram.com/mammasschool/¬†Instagram account going for now, that will tell the story of our journey in pictures, as I know a lot of my little lady’s friends will like to see what she’s up to..and hoping mine too ūüėČ ¬†xxxxxxxx

Chokladbollens dag – Chocolate Ball Day

Thursday 11th May (torsdag elfte maj) was chokladbollens dag….yes, that’s right, they have a whole day dedicated to eating chocolate balls! ¬†The longer I live here, the more I feel this country is the perfect place for my sweet tooth to have taken residence. ¬†It seems there is always a yummy treat to spend a day officially celebrating! ¬†So, in order to show we were integrating well into Swedish culture and life, we whizzed up a batch of these no-bake treats (like we really needed a reason!!).

So what do you need to make this gooey treat for chokladbollens dag?

Ingredients for Chokladbollens Dag:

250g soft butter

400g rolled oats

175g caster sugar

4 tbs cocoa powder

4 tbs strong cooled coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

desiccated coconut.

This made around 30 balls, but I think it should easily reach 40-50 if you don’t have a 9 year old chocoholic deciding the size of them ūüôā

Whizz all the ingredients together, apart from the coconut, and then pop into the fridge to allow it to go a little firmer. ¬†Once firm, roll into small balls, and then roll each ball into the desiccated coconut to cover it. ¬†They should keep in the fridge for around a week….ahem….if you haven’t got me living with you!!

These are very easy and quick to make, and perfect for little people who enjoy “helping” in the kitchen. ¬†Although to be fair my little lady is actually a help now rather than a hindrance. ¬†As for the twins……….!!!!

 

chokladbollens dag, chocolate balls day, sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Moving Abroad – Leaving Family and Friends Behind to Follow Your Dreams

I have been umming and ahhhing about writing this post, as I don’t usually write about myself, and my blog is about the children and family life in general. ¬†However, this is a big topic relevant to us moving abroad, and the only down side I have stumbled upon so far. ¬†So, in the light of giving a balanced view on our moving abroad to Sweden and how it is working, this topic is something I feel needs to be written about. ¬†When we moved, I always knew we were also making the decision to leave our family and friends behind in order to pursue a long term dream of mine and Dadda’s. ¬†I don’t think I ever underestimated the enormity of this, but 6 months on, and after a recent trip to the UK, I am feeling it a little more than usual. ¬†Definitely no regrets about returning back to Sweden though after the UK visit.

It is very common now not to have your family around you for immediate support when bringing up your children, and I realise this. ¬†However, I did have a lovely group of friends from various eras and areas of my life. ¬†People have been amazingly friendly here in Sweden since we moved, and hugely helpful, but it takes time to build up the sort of relationships with family and friends that we left behind in the UK. ¬†As well as the relationships you leave behind moving abroad, for a long while you are leaving behind the option of you and your partner heading out together for some quality time as there is no one to look after our mad trio just yet. Not only that, but when the going gets tough (which it has been with the trio recently), there is no back up, no one to give you a break, and no one to moan to that knows both you and your children properly just yet. ¬†I think that is why I am feeling it a little more recently, as the trio have been a little hot to handle in various ways, and being a stay at home mum, I am with them 24/7. ¬†If you are thinking of moving abroad, this is something to seriously consider…how you would cope leaving behind your family and friends. ¬†I am not saying I won’t make new friends here, I really hope I can and do, but you need to consider if you really can go it alone as a family unit, certainly for a good chunk of time near the beginning (perhaps one of the most stressful times too as everyone settles down into their new life). ¬†I will attempt to explain why I am missing these important people.

Back in the UK over Easter I met up with some of my closest friends for a catch up and a hug. ¬†The first one we met at Gatwick for breakfast. ¬†This lovely person has known me pre-children, pre-marriage, whilst I was working as a nurse, and we have shared drunken camping trips together. ¬†Then my little lady met her 2 BFF’s whose mums happen to be 2 of my BFF’s. ¬†We have been together since our girls were 4. ¬†They have known me with baby twins, they have helped me chase toddler twins on days out, they have never once judged my chaos, and we have supported each other through the ups and cliff dropping downs of life, as have our girls. ¬†Then there are my 2 close friends that are fellow twin mums. ¬†One supported me hugely when mine were newborns (she was a few years down the line, and could remember the calamity with clarity!), and the other one has twins a few months younger than mine. ¬†They know what it is to have young twins, and to try and carry on with the chaos that twins bring, and survive others’ judgements and often open comments and criticism! ¬†These lovely ladies know me as a person in my own right rather than just a Mamma and relocation planner! ¬†However, they also know our children too and my other half, and can easily offer help, advice, support, or even just a mummys’ night out. ¬†Being new in Sweden, and being a stay at home mum, means that I am struggling a little to make a groove for myself outside of being a Mamma and a wife. ¬†Whilst our little lady and mini men settle into their school/f√∂rskola friendships, and Dadda has headed out a few times now with his work colleagues, whose company he enjoys, I am floundering a little on the friendship front. ¬†I know it will all come as I have met some really lovely people that have made us all feel so welcome, and I know it will take time to build up relationships, and until then I’ve just got to settle in for the long haul, but it doesn’t make missing these special people that are family and friends any easier…..you know who you are, and I am so lucky to have you as my friends, and I look forward to welcoming you here over the summer ūüôā

Leaving family and friends behind to follow your dreams. Moving abroad. Moving away from family and friends. www.mammasschool.co.uk

Valborg – The Welcoming of Spring.

So it was time for our next Swedish experience, Walpurgis Eve (in English), or Valborg (in Swedish), is the official welcoming of spring. ¬†It is traditional to light fires, enjoy each others company, and sing songs together, and happens on the last day of April. ¬†¬†Officially, spring has arrived when the daily average temperature tops zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row here in Sweden….a tough one recently with snow falling not so long ago, but large parts of the country are now managing to confirm this has happened….at last! ¬†The Swedish are celebrating the end of the harsh winter (less harsh down here in the south, but still dark, cold, and long!), and looking forward to the summer sunshine….especially on our island where its nickname is Little Hawaii ūüôā ¬†This event is named after St. Walpurga (which is Valborg in Swedish), an English missionary who celebrated Christianity in other parts of Europe. ¬†These days, it is more to do with spring than Christianity. ¬†The King also happens to have his birthday on this day, but that is just a lovely coincidence. The larger cities take on more of an all day party feel, with students kicking off their day with champagne breakfasts, and the celebrations go from there. ¬†There are some huge bonfires too in the larger cities, with lots of other traditions going on as well. ¬†You may even be passed a warming hot cup of liquid as well……some lovely nettle soup as soon as the snow melts here they are springing up. ¬†A sure sign spring has arrived.

So what did we get up to on our lovely little island we call home?  In the harbour at the North West part of the island, there was a larger community bonfire.  We set off on our bikes to experience this celebration for the first time at this location.  On the way, we saw many relaxing with barbecues or their own fires, in the early spring sunshine (fully dressed in hats and gloves still!), with the boat houses open for the first time I have seen.  It was so lovely to see the island alive after the long winter.  There are always people out walking/running/cycling around the island, but there was just a more relaxed vibe about tonight, and whilst it was still cold, people were happy to sit outdoors and enjoy their food, rather then hunkering down back indoors.  A true feeling that spring is finally coming.  We decided this year to feed our tribe earlier, and just turn up and see what happens.  Next year I think we too will be grilling sausages along with everyone else.  As it was, our 5 year old twins were nearly collapsed with tiredness once we got home at the grand time of 8pm!!

The fire was lit and everyone had a little sing song, and after that was over people got back to just chilling with their drinks and food, or started their grilling and relaxing with their friends.  People who were not cooking were already drifting away back to their cosy homes and we followed soon after with our tired trio.  But we had thoroughly enjoyed out first Valborg in our new home.

With the sun setting, and the smoking embers of the bonfire in the distance, voices could be heard happily chattering away , enjoying each other’s company and cooking outdoors. ¬†As we cycled away it was like the island was on fire, there was so much smoke rising from it, from all the fires that had been lit in celebration. ¬†I am thinking I really like this celebration and its cosy feel, and whilst I don’t wish my little people to grow up too fast, I am looking forward to when the smaller 2 are a little older and we too can chill with them and some drink and food, instead of pedalling back home for bedtime ūüôā

Valborg - The Welcoming Of Spring, spring, start of spring, springtime www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

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