Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Tag: parenting (Page 1 of 3)

Goodbye For Now….

Over the last 15 months of writing this blog, life has changed dramatically for me and my little family.  The reason for starting the blog 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 🙂  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 😉  xxxxxxxx

Imaginative Play – Let Them Learn Their Way.

So, it is Wednesday morning in our home, our little lady has trotted up the road to school, and it’s me and the boys home alone.  Usually, after I have sorted the washing (I swear there are people living in secret with us, the amount of socks that come out!), and done some housework, it is time for a little more formal literacy and maths with the mini men.  However, by the time I got to them this morning, there was a mountain climbing, chicken healing, spider man requiring mission in full swing!  It took me all of 1 second to decide to ditch the workbooks in favour of this imaginative play game.  Why?  Am I being lazy?  Am I shirking my responsibilities to keep up their English language skills living in a foreign country?  No, I am letting them learn the best way possible, their own way. But as an added bonus, what mummy won’t take the opportunity of calm to get things done ;-).  One of the many reasons we uprooted the family to Sweden was to embrace and be part of their culture of letting children be children, and the importance they place on child’s play.

There was a great deal of planning involved in this game, which in itself is an important life skill to learn.  Outfits had to be chosen, and today it was necessary to be wearing football shin pads and ballet shoes.  Food and drink were required, so paper sausages and drinks bottles made from paper and old bottle tops.  Torches (push up ice cream bases), light sabres (toy screwdriver handles), rope (old string), and homemade telephones were all packed, and they headed off into the wilderness (our upstairs!).  The baddies were in our room, whilst the nursing and feeding of a poorly chicken took place in the spare room.  Extra superhero powers were required in the form of spider man.  For three hours this game was played, changed, and progressed, and the whole time they were busy learning some very important things.

So what has this session, like any other of imaginative play, been teaching them apart from planning?  It has taught them a variety of skills, the first one today being dressing themselves (not necessarily to my taste!!).  They have sorted their own outfits as were required, they have done their own undressing and dressing to accommodate the story line.  They have made hundreds of decisions throughout the morning, developing their decision making skills, but this has also had a big impact on increasing their social skills at the same time.  There has been A LOT of co-operation (trust me we are not the perfect family, they hit and kick each other out of frustration at times too and scream at each other, but today they learnt the benefit of staying calm and using words to communicate so the game was enjoyed…it was just a really good morning for them today).  There has also been sharing, negotiations that would be fit for running a country, taking turns, and a lot of self restraint from the pair of them.  Very often they can be quick to lose their self restraint, and it’s hard being a twin in each others pockets all the time, but when they can hold it, and see the benefits, it reinforces that it is a beneficial way to behave.  Imaginative play, by nature, is role play or acting out some sort of experience.  This is the way little people are able to make sense of the big bad world around them.

During imaginative play there is a lot of emotional development occurring, as it is a very safe place and time to express their feelings, and try and sort them out.  Their thoughts, feelings, wishes, and fears can all be processed through their play.  As was shown in today’s game, they can learn about empathy and caring too.  Their self esteem can increase because they can be ANYTHING they want to be, there is nothing holding them back, anything goes 🙂 I might have given the formal literacy a miss but they have been busy developing their communication skills, both verbally and non verbally.  During imaginative play they can experiment and mistakes don’t matter, but are there to still be learnt from.

So next time you feel guilty about leaving your little ones to play while you sneak a peaceful 5 minutes, or more realistically work through your “to do” list, DON’T!  They don’t need our grown up interaction all of the time.  Their own imaginative play without us is just as important to their development.  Sometimes, their games may require you as part of them, but be careful you leave all your grown up ideas at the door to the room…this is their game and it is played their way!

Imaginative play-Let them Play their way, play important, role play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Dear Bear and Beany

Healing Nature – Relying on the Beach to Work its Magic!

The past few days have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of squabbling, arguing, and whinging going on in our home.  We were in need of some emergency healing nature power!  I was getting close to the end of my tether with my trio.  I’d seen everything over the last few days.  We had death stares and grumbles from the little lady because someone dared to choose the same cereal to eat as her!  I’d seen breakdowns over someone wanting the same jam on their toast as someone else.  There had been fighting over who was taking what to lay the table.  Twin 1 had been hiding twin 2’s outdoor clothing during the mad morning dash to get out the house, resulting in a distraught, not ready twin 2.  Twin 1 had also been pushing twin 2 over into the door.  The list just goes on…..I was coming down stairs in the morning, and my first words for the past few days to my children had been cross and frustrated ones.  To say I was exasperated is an understatement!  So we packed the car and headed off for an afternoon of that well known remedy….healing nature.

Being surrounded by nature has so many benefits, and the main one I was in search of today was the gentle lapping sounds of the waves (hopefully I’d be able to hear them over the bickering!).  This sound instantly de-stresses me, lowers my heart rate, and I find my lost patience again.  Nature is a well known regulator of stress, so it’s a very valid reason to seek it out in times like this.  However, the benefits would not just be mine.  Nature play is known to resolve conflict and encourage team work….well, hello….if there was anything these three needed reminding of, it was that they liked each other, could enjoy each other, and play together!  They could also do with a little de-stressing too!  There are so many other benefits of nature play that I have written about already, http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/, but for today and our current situation, these were my main aims.

The children settled into their play fast, while I lit a fire and prepared some food, breathing a sigh of relief as I listened to their happy chatter.  All three worked in pairs at some point, in varying combinations.  Our little lady was engrossed in making a complex river and dam construction from redirecting the sea.  Lots of learning thrown in to her afternoon, while the boys mainly busied themselves building castles and moats, and using their dumper trucks to transport construction sand.  The food was well received in a opportunistic break from play, but they hurried back once it was scoffed down.  I sat back and watched them play, and enjoyed them in that moment, after a painful few days.  My plan had worked!

We headed back to the car after over three hours chilling on the beach, nature having worked its magic while we were all immersed in it.  As they clambered back in, the bickering started up again over the seat belts and who was in whose way!!  Well, all good things must come to an end I guess, but at least my patience fuel tanks were topped up again to deal with it all and we’d had a lovely few positive hours!!  However, I can see the wine tank in the fridge being a little more depleted later, and thank goodness we’ve just had Easter so the chocolate supply is high 😉

healing nature - relying on the beach to work its magic, restorative nature, nature play, outdoor play, benefits of nature www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Country Kids

Taking a Blogging Break After a Year

I have now been blogging for just over a year, and posting 6 days out of 7 during this time.  I feel it is time for a little blogging break!  Not long, but just enough to recharge some batteries.  Just a little week off to enjoy my not so little family even more, and relax with them (well, as much as a Mamma can with three busy children!).

Our little lady has one week off school for Easter.  Don’t feel too sad for her though, as she is then only back for around 8 weeks before having nearly 10 weeks off for the summer.  There are quite a few, what the Swedish call “red days” in those 8 weeks too.  These are like bank holidays, except they aren’t necessarily on a Monday or a Friday.  She will finish the week before midsummer’s which is a huge celebration here, and then everyone spends summer relaxing and being on holiday 🙂  So, as you can see, one week at Easter, in the bigger picture, isn’t a great shame.  They get their priorities right, allowing the children to enjoy a very long, relaxing summer, when the weather is at its best!  I therefore thought, this might be a good time to take a little blogging break.


The time I have been blogging has been a time of great change and adjustment too for all of us.  First of all stopping conventional schooling in the UK (the reason for starting the blog), and then through an international move and settling into a new country.  I feel it is time to take stock, switch off, and relax for the one week my little lady is with us 24/7….let’s face it, she is still mainly with us during a school week too!
I will return the Monday after Easter, letting you all know how our Swedish Easter went, how we celebrated, and what we did (we have a few plans up our sleeves!!).  I have been busy sorting the children their Swedish Easter supplies out!!  Make sure you keep an eye on Mamma’s School Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter as we will still be lurking there.  Otherwise I will see you after Easter, with lots of tales of what we have been up to!  Hope you all have a very Happy Easter, with lots of sunshine, chocolate eggs, and relaxing with your families xxxxx

Taking a blogging break, having a break, holiday, rest www.mammasschool.co.uk

Play Is Learning-Let Them Play!

“Play is the highest form of research.”

(Albert Einstein)

As parents, we are under pressure (both from ourselves and society) to ensure that our children do not miss out on anything, and succeed in everything.  Consequently, this has led to the normality of scheduling our children’s days, quite often, from the moment they wake, until the moment they collapse into bed.  The activity that loses out in all this way of living, is play.  Simple, free, and unstructured.  As parents, we like to know that our children are doing well, succeeding, and see progress.  It validates that we are doing a good job, our children are being given opportunities, and as parents we are being proactive and encouraging.  But what if we have got this all wrong, and have gotten swept away with the notion that this is what our children need?  What if I told you life could be a lot more simple, cheaper, and less stressful for everyone.  After all, those activities all cost money, parental time in taxi driving and support, and a lot of hurrying up in the process to get everywhere.  I’m going to go through the evidence now of why we should let them play, and more importantly, why play IS learning, and we should just trust the process more.

Children are not designed to be sitting still in confined spaces, and they often learn a lot better while they are moving.  As grown ups we need to think outside the box more, and view any play space as a learning potential space.  Play can happen anywhere, and so that means learning can happen everywhere.  One of the big things about play is that there are no rules to follow or curriculum, the child can just follow their interests.  Then there is much more motivation to carry on with the subject, and they are more receptive to the learning opportunities.  For the older ones, there are no negative associations with play.  It’s not school “work” or home “work”, so they are a lot happier.  If something is fun, a lot more is being absorbed and taken on board.

Art, craft, and creating is an especially positive form of play for children.  It has been shown to make their brains grow, and provide an environment for creativity and the expression of feelings.  However, this needs to be child led and unstructured.  Leave the supplies out and let them get on with it.  Letting the child lead in all types of play is the key to getting the best learning from the experience of play.  Children are always experimenting in their play as well, with various objects and solutions.  They measure, they pour, and they make various potions and solutions.  This is them naturally doing science as play, and it really does work.  I found my daughter once in the bathroom, surrounded by bubbles and her younger twin brothers, blowing different solutions through different shapes, having a blast learning what worked and what didn’t work.  Not only was she learning, but she was teaching too.

My trio love their Lego and their puzzles.  Once adults open their eyes a little more, we can understand that these toys are providing opportunity to learn about shape, size, order, and logic.  All really important skills.  We also encourage our trio to play games, such as happy families, with each other.  As well as the interaction with others they get from not using a screen, they are learning to take turns and share.

A lot of our play is in the great outdoors.  This environment not only increases strength, flexibility, and coordination, but it increases the use of imagination.  There are no toys with a predefined use in the middle of a forest.  A stick can be a sword, a broom, or a wand 🙂 Imagination is the key factor for play to be effective.  There are less boundaries, less rules, and a lot more freedom for them to explore in the outdoors.  It encourages the use of natural learning tools and resources to learn.

Play is learning let them play play www.mammasschool.co.ukSo, I am going to be a little more specific with what exactly they are learning now, just in case you are still sitting on the fence about the importance of play versus practising those spellings one more time.  Children are learning to problem solve and be more creative.  It gives them more enthusiasm and therefore more motivation to learn.  They have more curiosity stemming from a natural interest and ability to be able to follow their interests (not something grown ups have predetermined for them).  It can increase their confidence levels which are required to help them engage in new experiences.  They develop their concentration levels further.  Nothing can interrupt some imaginative play scenario that is going on between an Octonaut and a dinosaur!!  It reduces their stress levels – this one I want to just talk a little more about.  Due to their fight or flight pathways being activated in play (which is the same pathway that stress activates), they get exposed to stress (in a pleasant way), which then makes them less responsive to stress, and they are able to regulate it more effectively.  Just look at the amount of emotional disorders that are now present in people’s lives…….as children’s classroom/homework time has increased, along with more scheduled activities in their lives too, so has the amount of anxiety and depression disorders.

In conclusion, parents and schools need to give children more provision for play…not adult let, or guided play activities, but child led and unstructured  time.  We need to trust that this is better for them than more homework after a full day in the classroom.  We need to trust the learning.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.”

(Fred Rogers)

Play is learning-let them play, unstructured play, play is important, play www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Outdoor Play For Children and Nature’s Sanity!

Outdoor play is slowly being realised for the prominent factor that it plays in child development.  However, there is still a long way to go in places, to rectify the damage that has been done in placing emphasis on conventional teaching and grades, at the expense of the children’s outdoor time.  Us grown ups are very slowly coming to the realisation that we could have caused a lot more harm than good, sacrificing playground time, in the pursuit of better performance and increased knowledge base.  I am here to run through the tip of the iceberg with regard to why play, and specifically outdoor play, is so important to children’s development.

First of all we need to look at the reasons why children’s outdoor play time has diminished so much.  It isn’t just down to schools being under pressure to perform better, and produce improved results.  There are other factors too.  Rightly or wrongly, there is the perceived threat of stranger danger.  A few generations ago children could explore for hours, even whole days, going quite far from their family home into areas, that as parents today, we wouldn’t let them go into alone.  I am thinking of places such as forests and woods.  Places that are natural playgrounds.  Parents are working more hours now, and in a lot of cases it is both parents, through necessity.  This leads to relying on other childcare options, instead of having a parent at home ready to supervise outdoor play.  Screens are a big thing in most households too. It’s the way technology and living has gone, but have we embraced their presence so much, that it’s now impinging on children actually wanting to get out into the great outdoors?  They can be a distraction to the more important job of play.  Then there are all the health and safety issues that surround other people (such as schools) that look after our children.  We have made them so fearful or litigation if one of our little people gets hurt, that there are now a huge amount of restrictions placed on outdoor play when it does happen.

Unfortunately, due the the factors mentioned, our children our facing a “nature deficit disorder”.  This is termed a disorder because they need nature and the outdoors to develop normally and healthily.  Play in the great outdoors supports development emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically.  It’s not something to be lightly dismissed. So, how is outdoor play more enriching than indoor play?  Anything that can be done indoors, once taken into the great outdoors becomes more of an adventure, so naturally more fun to do, and ultimately they remember the experience more.  The outdoors inspires them and challenges them to be more creative.  With fewer rules, the children are freer to let their imaginations take over.  They can challenge themselves more as well…..who doesn’t find climbing a tree a little thrilling and challenging (after all every tree is different).  From this kind of play you then get all the advantages of taking risks (see a previous post on the advantages of children taking risks http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/take-a-risk-explore-inside-a-tree/ ), as well as creativity, learning to adapt to their environment, and to go at their own pace.  The great outdoors provides the perfectly balanced sensory environment that at the same time has a calming effect (on the grown ups too – I am often able to cope better and be more patient outdoors with a trio who are less frustrated with each other, as there is the space to escape a situation if required).  Outdoor play is also naturally more unstructured, and this in turn lends itself to more curiosity and exploration.

Exposure to outdoor play is vital for children’s health and development, and a lack of it can lead to increased emotional problems, increased health problems, and a lack of concentration.  Recently, general awareness of children needing be outdoors has started to increase.  However, it still needs a bit more of a push.  You may or may not be aware of https://outdoorclassroomday.com/.  They try and help give schools that extra impetus to get outdoors for the day and experience for themselves the theory in practice.  They describe it as

“Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.”

So, if you are a teacher, use that day to try it out.  If you are a parent, make them aware of the date and offer support to help them provide this valuable resource for your child.  Visit their website for more details on the when, where, and why fores 🙂  The effort of getting the children outdoors might sometimes seem like a step too far if they put up resistance or if we as parents are tired, but the rewards once you are out there are limitless.  I urge you to go for it and experience for yourself what the outdoors can do for your children, and you as parents.  I don’t mean you need to climb Mt. Everest, what I do mean is children need an outdoor space to play in, and if possible, left to their own devices for a good chunk of time!

Outdoor play why children need outdoor play importance of outdoor play www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Tiny Trolls Of Norway – There is No Such Thing As Bad Weather, Just Poor Clothing.

Tiny Trolls of Norway children's outdoor clothing www.mammasschool.co.ukTiny Trolls of Norway is a high quality children’s outdoor clothing company for ages 1-8 years.  The main aim of the business is to motivate and encourage families and their children out into the great outdoors. So, you can see similarities between my blog ethos and their’s already!  Our trio spend a huge amount of time in the great outdoors, and living in Sweden, this is pretty much in every kind of weather there is!  When Tiny Trolls of Norway contacted me and asked if my twins would like to put some of their clothing to the test, we felt we could certainly put it through its paces in our normal everyday life.  Not only is this the type of clothing we need for our lifestyle, this is the sort of clothing my double act need to turn up to förskola in to ensure they are dressed appropriately for that too.

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Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 3: Work & Snow!

Living abroad in Sweden work snow www.mammasschool.co.ukAfter a slight technical glitch this morning…here is part 3!!!  Living abroad here in Sweden, Dadda’s job has worked out very well too.  Back in the UK there is the practice of people not wanting to be seen leaving before anyone else (regardless of having done their hours), as it seems to be almost a competition of who can work the most (much to his unhappiness)!  Here, no one is staying beyond the end of their hours, and you’d be thought insane to do so!  This makes such a difference to one’s outlook on work, and puts it in its place, and family time first.  They also make sure fika is continued in the work place.  This is a Swedish concept, with no direct English translation, but generally translates taking a break with a coffee, a bun, and a chat.  They actively encourage you to step away from your desk and take a (paid) break.

Then there is the white stuff….lots and lots of white stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, you need to like the cold, the winter, the dark, and wearing warm hats and 2 pairs of trousers for 6 months of the year, and enjoy a good workout digging your car out.  However if you do, this is the place for you.  I was even told tonight, they hadn’t had a proper winter this year!!  Well, we have been very happy with lots of sledging, dozens of snowmen, and hundreds of snowballs thrown!  I can see though, if you are a sunshine, warm weather person, this is definitely not the place for you!  For us though, having four clearly defined seasons is amazing 🙂

Tomorrow I will conclude this little series on how we have found life since living abroad in Sweden.  I will be looking at how the home is the heart of our family, and how Swedish our home and living has become.  Plus I will be considering what happens if we find out it is not for us…….

Living Abroad in Sweden work and snow www.mammasschool.co.uk

Living Abroad – Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 2: School and Go Slowly.

living abroad in Sweden school slowing down www.mammasschool.co.ukYesterday I wrote about letting children be children, and a big part of that is their schooling.  This time last year we pulled the plug on formal, conventional schooling for our then 8 year old, as we were seeing her shrivel up before our eyes.  It was one the best parenting decisions we have ever made.  Over the next 6 months she grew and blossomed in a way that was so lovely to see.  Living abroad here in Sweden, everyone has to attend school.  It might sound harsh, but the reality is very different.  First of all, formal schooling does not start until 7 years of age, placing priority on play for the years up to then.  The Swedes recognise that a lot of important learning and developing comes naturally through a child’s play.  Then once they start school, they are only there for the morning (this includes a mid morning break, lunch, and a lunch break).  So, as you can see, still ample opportunity for children run, climb, and play both within the school day and afterwards.  Our now 9 year old little lady does not bring home homework every week either.  She may have some every couple of weeks, but even then it shouldn’t take half an hour (it can take us a little longer as we have to translate the Swedish!!).  There are no standardised tests until well into their teenage years, so the pressure is off these young, curious, wanting to learn minds, and learning is there to be enjoyed.  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 this positive approach to learning, and we mix it up by carrying on with our own home educating journey at home 🙂  School is important to us here as a place for her to meet others her age and learn the language, coming from an English speaking household, so it serves us well too.  She calls her teacher by her first name (that is just how it is done here), and there is mutual respect between adults and children.  It’s such a lovely environment….oh apart from the no shoes indoors policy….I have to keep a better eye out for the holes in the socks situation!  But on the flip side she loves running and sliding down the corridors!  The lovely island school has turned out to be what we wanted for our trio, and more.  We never asked for them to give her any special resources/attention, but to help her progress in Swedish she gets some lessons when the others have English or maths (she’s been doing maths formally for 3 years longer than her classmates).  She has Swedish language workbooks too.  School has worked very well here so far, even despite her language barrier.  This week she’s brought home her first written Swedish work, about space, for us to look at, and even their workbooks are much more attention grabbing for them!  The mini men are at förskola, even though there is no requirement for them to attend.  They go three mornings a week (a total of 15 hours) to be immersed in the language and meet little people their own age.  They love it and have a lot of fun there.  They are outdoors a lot, and the environment really suits them.

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 (small communities are the norm), you can’t just pop to the shops to spend frivolously (the nearest are about a 30 minute drive, again not unusual), and there are no other material distraction, 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!  We’ve even streamlined to one car (the bus route to Dadda’s work is very good and he enjoys chilling on the bus).  Even though we live in a remote area, public transport is much better than in the UK (even if the driving is a bit more haphazard!).  So we don’t need 2 cars.  We can get fresh fish by cycling down to our island harbour and buying whatever the catch is.  The post doesn’t come at all at the weekend.  No one rushes anything here.  At first, trying to sort out all our immigration paperwork etc, it was mildly frustrating but we have learnt to roll with it better now.  Even the bills only come after you’ve had something a while.  Everyone just accepts that everything will happen in the end.  The trust between people is huge too.  You can leave your bike unlocked or your house open, and the worst that will happen is you’ll find a friend sat waiting for you to come home for a chat.  As a British person this takes some getting used to, and I am not sure we’d ever get to the point where we’d leave the house unlocked, but it’s comforting to know that this is the kind of place we live.  As well as life being simple, it is less rushed and hectic.  This is a very large country with a smaller population than the UK.  The roads are not busy, speed limits are lower, the shops shut early on a Saturday for people to be with family and friends at the weekend.  I understand this would not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us and how we want to raise our family, it is perfect.

Tomorrow I will be letting you know about how work is going for Dadda, and how we have found living with the white stuff!

 

Living Abroad – Reflections After Six Months In Sweden Part 1: Outdoors & Children.


It is now nearing 6 months that we have been living abroad in Sweden.  I felt that it was about time I reflected back on the move and the reasons behind them, and whether our dreams have become a reality.  I’m going to reflect back in four parts, so sit back and enjoy the update over the next few days!  It is quite a good point to be reflecting back on the move and the decision to be living abroad, as in a few short weeks we will be returning to the UK.  We will have a brief stay visiting friends and family, and then we will return back to our newly adopted place that we now call our home, in Sweden.

Since long before we had children, Dadda and I have always had the dream of living abroad in Scandinavia.  We had many reasons for wanting to do this, reasons that became more important after we had our children.  Suddenly our lives affected them, as did our choices, and for us, our dreams were to bring our children up with the experience of everything Scandinavia can offer them both in terms of ethos of living, and experiencing this wonderful part of the world.  Luckily for us, in the Summer of 2016, an opportunity finally came our way, and a move to Sweden was in the making….all I can say is never give up on your dreams as it took a lot of years, and a lot of goes to get here!

Dadda had left 7 weeks ahead of us four, as we needed to find somewhere to live, pack up our UK house, and then ship everything over.  Those 7 weeks were hard, not just because I was home educating, packing up a house, and trying to keep some sort of normal routine going for the children on my own, but also because at times it felt like we would just never make it over there.  House buying here in Sweden takes the form of a very difficult bidding process, and there were often so many people bidding for one property.  It was the one thing that was stopping us living the dream together (rentals aren’t really an option here like in the UK).  Dadda was over in Sweden, but we were stuck in the UK, with no sign of progress on buying a home.  Finally we got lucky, and found a gorgeous home.  So, early one morning, with four massively overweight suitcases, three car seats, four hand luggage bags, and three children, I herded us to Gatwick, and onto the flight that would start the next chapter of our lives.  So, why did we do it, and has it lived up to our expectations so far?

The great outdoors and the Swedish ethos of outdoor living was a huge attraction for us and for living abroad and moving to 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 älg (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.  Most of the population lives very close to a nature reserve or conservation area (we have four within a 5 minute drive in various directions!), and the Swedes have sussed that spending time in natural spaces reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and helps improve mental health.  They also learn to appreciate nature from a very early age.  The more time you spend in nature, the more time you will want to care about it 🙂  We have definitely adopted the Swedish approach of “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing”, and we have enjoyed exploring the local countryside around us.  We have got to grips with outdoor fires, and have started to 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!!  That was another reason for moving and living abroad.  When we had no.1, we thought we’d got parenting pretty well sussed out.  She was as good as gold, did what she was told, and wasn’t overly noisy.  That was until the hand grenade landed that is non identical twin boys!  They are a totally different story (but just as lovable!).  They were physical beings from very early on.  They can’t walk anywhere, they have to run. They NEED to climb on and up everything. They are extremely noisy in their play, and they move very very fast!  I rapidly learnt that I needed to change my parenting style with these 2, and it was probably no bad thing, as I was a little conventional.  I needed to let them run, climb, and explore, and have the courage to do this.  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.  Out 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 , whereas in the UK it was a definite no no.  They are outdoors in all weathers, not couped 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, as children are just being children.  The children have a lot of “down time” too.  School finishes at lunchtime (having had 2 big play times as well), and there is no real parental expectation of children to do clubs.  Our little lady has started sea scouts and loves it, and now does just one dance class.  The boys let off steam every other weekend at a gymnastics class.  This makes everyone happy.  The children get a lot of play time and the chance to just be, as well as a little bit of socialising, and I’m not a mum taxi!  Although back in the UK it is definitely your own choice whether children do activities or not, there is the fear of them missing out that makes a lot of us seek these activities out.  We worry that our child will be at a disadvantage if we don’t get them involved in things.  That is not the case here.  So, 6 months on, our children are definitely being just that, children. And I would say thoroughly enjoying the time, the freedom, and ability to follow their natural curiosity!

Tomorrow I will be looking at schooling and slowing down the pace of life, and I hope you will join me to see how things are different, living abroad here in Sweden.


Living Abroad in Sweden outdoor life children being children www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving Abroad - Reflections after six months in Sweden Part 1:  Outdoors and Children www,mammasschool.co.uk

 



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