Tag: living abroad (Page 1 of 14)

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/

   

A Sunrise Picnic – Don’t Wait Too Long To Watch One.

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them” – Jo Walton

The winter makes it a lot easier to watch a sunrise.¬† With it rising at the moment here in Sweden just before 0815, it is at quite a civil hour!¬† It allowed us more than enough time to wrap up warm against the freezing temperatures, grab our supplies for a breakfast picnic, and take a short hike to a little secluded cove – lovely to watch a sunrise with just us, but also on a Saturday morning we wouldn’t be waking anyone else up!

We have already seen many sunsets this winter (and they never fail to impress with their rainbow light shows), but not a sunrise together yet, or a sunrise picnic.  So, with the light just creeping into the day we did a 30 minute walk through the woods to find our secluded little cove.  The children set about playing with the ice, frost, and frozen sand, while I took charge of getting the Kelly Kettle going, and Dadda took charge of making a fire (so nice to split the chores for once and have him out with us too).  I had made apple and cinnamon porridge to eat from our food flasks, but we could have hot drinks and keep a little warmer with a fire lit.  We could also then toast marshmallows for a breakfast dessert.

We ended up staying for around 2 hours, just being together and connecting as a full family and enjoying the moment.  The children were happy playing, Dadda and I were happy chatting sitting on our rapidly freezing backsides, and the day had a really tranquil calm start to it Рone of the best things in a hectic and loud large family life.  I have to say it was totally worth packing up the night before, wrapping up warm, and a mini hike through the dark woods to do it, and I thoroughly recommend this to anyone.  This is the second year running we have to done this, and I hope to do it for many more years.  We did it last year and it was lovely, but about 10 degrees colder!!

I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of getting getting outdoors, nature therapy, and nature play and you can click the links and have a read.  However, there are benefits to specifically watching a sunrise.

9 Benefits to Watching the Sunrise:

  1. It is a calm and peaceful way to start the day together.  It makes for generally happier moods all round and a better day.
  2. It is connection time together.
  3. It is physically good for our bodies providing melanin and vitamin D (especially good in the winter with the shorter days).
  4. We stop for a minute and intentionally notice the beauty surrounding us and appreciate it.
  5. We become more aware of our environment and surroundings.  It instils a sense of wanting to nurture it, and for our little people helps them foster a love of it.
  6. It teaches us and our children to live in the moment and enjoy the simple things in life.
  7. Certainly for my three it instilled a sense of adventure and awe.
  8. For everyone it provides memories that will be cherished.

This is a really easy mini adventure that I think all children should experience every so often as part of their immersion in nature.  So do you think you would do it?  With or without a picnic, set out to watch a sunrise one morning this winter?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

A sunrise picnic - don't wait too long to watch one, sunrise, sun rise, sunrises, nature, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Country Kids
 

Our Winter Bucket List – Embrace Winter!!

At the start of the autumn, we wrote our first ever seasonal bucket list (Our Autumn Bucket List), and it’s been great for ideas and inspiration to enjoy the autumn together.¬† So now we have put together our winter bucket list.¬† Each one of us did our own lists in our nature journals, and then we merged them together in one giant list….so what have we put on there?

Our Winter Bucket List:

  1. Have a home made nutella hot chocolate with whippy cream and marshmallows.
  2. Make a snowman…
  3. And knock it down again.
  4. Make a big pile of snow and jump in it.
  5. Make a warm apple pie.
  6. Decorate our (children) bedrooms for Christmas.
  7. Make a snow den.
  8. Put up the Christmas decorations.
  9. Clean the garden with snow (??? that one came from twin 2!).
  10. Make a gingerbread house.
  11. Make a Christmas candle holder.
  12. Go sledging.
  13. Make a snow bear.
  14. Make a snow mouse.
  15. Make a huge snowball and climb on top of it.
  16. Make a snow tunnel.
  17. Throw snowballs.
  18. Make a snow castle.
  19. Make an ice house.
  20. Go ice skating.
  21. Watch The Polar Express movie.
  22. Drink mulled wine (me!!!).
  23. Go for a walk to look at all the outdoor lights.
  24. Listen to Christmas music. 
  25. Buy candy canes.
  26. Make ginger biscuits.
  27. Read Christmas stories by the fire.
  28. Have an advent calendar.
  29. Go to a Christmas market.
  30. Craft with glitter.
  31. Have a sunrise picnic (the time is more sociable now as it rises after 8am and continues to get later!!!).

As you can see, a lot of the list depends on the fluffy white stuff making an appearance, so we are crossing everything that is does now!¬† What would be on your Winter bucket list?¬† Let me know in the comments below and maybe we’ll be adding more to our list ūüôā

Winter bucket list - Embrace winter, winter, winter fun, winter activities, snow fun, snow activities, winter outdoor fun, outdoor fun, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Burnished Chaos
Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs
3 Little Buttons

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

Skanör РVisit The Swedish Riviera.

Skanör, Sweden, Southern Sweden, Sweden Beaches, Skanör Beach, Sweden travel, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Summer seems so far away now, but I wanted to share a beautiful place with you that we visited during our long, lazy Swedish summer ūüôā¬† Skan√∂r is right down in the southwest corner of Sk√•ne, Sweden, and you can see Denmark and the famous √Ėresund bridge connecting the two countries. ¬†There is a pretty town, surrounded by long stretches of white sandy beaches and beautiful blue clear seas.

I took the trio on a camping adventure to Skan√∂r over the summer. ¬†It was only for 2 nights (I was the only adult with 2 five year old’s and a 9 year old, and camping is hard work!!), but we could have easily stayed a lot longer (in a hotel!!) enjoying the pristine white beaches, clean clear seas, and stunning views. ¬†We pottered a little around the town of Skan√∂r to get a feel for the place, before heading down towards the sand dunes. ¬†Nestled in the sand dunes are lots of very pretty beach huts, painted an array of all the colours of the rainbow, making it such a fun place for the children to play in. ¬†Nature, once again, presented them with a really exciting playground ūüôā¬† We even managed to locate a geocache in the dunes too.

The beaches are so vast here that there is more than enough room for everybody, and you feel that you are in your own bit of paradise even though it is the middle of the summer and peak holiday season.  My mini men loved running along the beach (a game they did for ages), and I could let them run way into the distance as I could see them easily with it not being busy.  They also got a great sense of freedom.  The three also enjoyed running in amongst the dunes, hiding in them (I enjoyed that bit slightly less as they were vast!), and making up games using the slopes of the dunes.  If you are ever in the south of Sweden, Skanör is a must visit place to experience.

Country Kids
 

Ronneby Naturum – A Nature Based Learning Haven

Ronneby Naturum is set inside Ronneby Brunnspark Рa huge outdoor nature area, with many walks, woods, play parks, ponds, and a swimming pool.  The nature centre itself literally took our breath away.  It is filled with fantastic exhibitions for both young and old, but what grabbed our attention and made it so great for the trio, was that it is so interactive, hands on, and there is nothing out of bounds to little fingers that like touching everything!  We have been to Ronneby Naturum a few times now, and one rainy afternoon we spent the entire time in there together with our nature journals, merrily sketching away.

As you enter Ronneby Naturum you immediately come across a very striking and visual exhibition (see the photo!) about lynx in Sweden.¬† My three just stood their gawping!¬† We have moved to a country with wildlife that really grabs their imaginations; bears, wolves, wild boar, √§lg (moose), and lynx are just some of what is here.¬† However, these are all very hard to see in real life, especially with three young children who give the wildlife plenty of warning that they are approaching, with their noise levels ūüôā¬† So, to walk in and see this life sized lynx was fantastic, and really brought it home to them what is lurking out there.¬† We spent some time learning about them and looking at the areas where they live around and near us before being drawn further into the centre.

Another favourite was a transparent operational bee hive, which had an entrance/exit to the outdoors.¬† This was so good for the children to watch the bees so close up.¬† The emphasis is very much on being able to interact with exhibits.¬† This may take the form of sticking your hand into a container “blind” to work out what’s in there with just a written clue, feeding the fish in the tanks, pressing buttons to hear various animal/bird sounds (twin 1 can never resist a button so he was in his element), or just picking up and handling various exhibits that are laid out.

In our county (Blekinge), we are surrounded by water, with islands everywhere making up the archipelago we live on.  So, naturally there is a big exhibition about the coast and the marine life around our area.  The older ones can learn more about the geology, the biodiversity, why it is such a sensitive area of nature, and how we can fish or sail whilst protecting it.  Part of this exhibition is a sail boat which the children can board and pretend to sail the high seas.  It has moving parts to handle, sails to move, and benches to lift, under which reside very cute and fluffy cuddly mice and seals.  This was a revelation to us being allowed to climb on board such an exhibit, and when the staff saw my good old English reservation about children clambering over exhibits, they came and said the children must climb all over it!

The “lab” is another highlight of Ronneby Naturum.¬† This is a separate little room that you can lose yourself in for a good few hours!¬† It is full of stuffed wild animals from the forests, and exhibits you can pick up and handle.¬† Anything from snake skins, to stag beetles, to animal bones, animal antlers, and a whole heap of samples you can examine under one of the microscopes in there.¬† There are also a couple of aquariums in there.¬† It is such a lovely place, with so much to see, and it is also very cosy!

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Ronneby Naturum (but check the opening times first as they alter drastically day to day, and season to season).¬† You can easily spend a day in the park, with a visit to the naturum as part of it.¬† You can wander the woods blueberry picking in the early autumn, have lunch on one of the fire pits, and feed the ducks also.¬† There is also an ice cream kiosk serving delicious tasty treats too ūüôā¬† Plus there is no charge for the park or its naturum.¬† Ronneby Naturum is a place we will be returning to many many more times.

Ronneby Naturum, Ronneby Brunnspark, Nature based learning, nature, home education, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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

Nature Therapy-Seeking Calm & Solitude

Everyone needs a bit of nature, and sometimes it’s easier said than done to get out there, but it is so important.

As my trio now go to school for the 5 mornings a week, for the first time in a lot of years, I am left with a few precious hours to call my own (all be it with a to-do list as long as my arm to work through before they all tumble back home again! ¬†Same as any Mamma). ¬†Nature has been my saving grace these past 9 years, even more so the last nearly 6…spot the link ūüėČ ! ¬†However, I now have the opportunity to head out into it on my own, without my band of crazies following me. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I live for our little hikes, our outdoor cooking, and exploring nature with them, but there is only real peace to be found when they aren’t leaping around in trees or running into the sea in their undies! ¬†And I need peace as I find such a noisy house quite a bombardment on the senses. ¬†I’m relishing these moments I can now take. ¬†Sometimes I will cook, sometimes I will just make a hot drink with my beloved Kelly Kettle, but I will always admire the views.

Nature is, after all, therapy for the mind. ¬†Nature is known to induce calm and decrease stress, as well as increasing happiness. ¬†Nature is food for our minds, like food and water are for our bodies. ¬†This is because the natural environment places no demands on us, yet it remains engaging. ¬†It gets our attention in different ways. ¬†It can promote calmness and well being due to being a low stress environment. ¬†Being surrounded by nature has so many benefits, and the main one I was in search of today was the sounds of the waves. ¬†I love sitting there listening to the sea hitting the shore, whether it’s gentle lapping or crashing waves. ¬†So I packed my breakfast and cooking things and headed off around the island, stopping half way to cook my supplies and enjoy the view.

Nature can help increase our happiness levels.  The breathing in of fresh air, combined with taking exercise with a nice view, all helps to put your mind into a happier place.  Nature makes us healthier.  It increases our exposure to natural light, which in turn helps increase our vitamin D levels.  This helps prevent some health problems, but also being outdoors helps improve sleep, decreases stress, and increase energy…something I always find disappearing quickly with three children around!

Whilst I‚Äôm not naive enough to think that all of my troubles, or anyone else‚Äôs, will be washed away by a walk in nature, immersing oneself in it for a few hours certainly makes me feel more like myself. ¬†No doubt 10 minutes of them being home again will undo most of the good work, but I’m still reaping the benefits really ūüôā

Nature therapy, healing nature, calming nature, solitude nature, nature, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

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