When you travel after having kids, even if you are traveling without them, you notice all the ways that your destination appeals to children, or prohibits them. You instinctively think about whether you would want to bring your child somewhere, and you notice how a new culture integrates children into adult society. Americans are especially obsessed with this, eternally insecure about our parenting and devouring books like (the interesting but laughably and ridiculously not-universal) Bringing up Bébé. I wanted to read the book on Swedish parenting during my trip, but alas, I’m still on the library waitlist. The title comes from the Scandanavian proverb that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.
Obviously, my 3 days in Stockholm makes me an expert on Swedish parenting… not. But, I can 100% testify to the total truth of that proverb. The weather was, by our mid-Atlantic American standards, bad. It was 10-15 degrees with snow that alternated between flurries and driving white out conditions the entire time. It was the sort of cold, snowy, and icy weather that shuts life down in DC, not to mention many other places I have lived or visited.
But in Sweden, people seemed unfazed by it, undeterred from heading outside as normal. The kids were outside at recess, adults walked the street, everyone just carried on as normal. I was fascinated by the children, as parks in DC are empty when it drops below 30- without so much as a flurry. Kids filed through the park, pulling either the sleds their parents had used to drop them off at school, or little hand sleds passed out by their teachers. They all wore slight variations of suits like this– none of this fussing around with normal coat and pants. Just zip the entire child inside and send them out into the snow. When we took the same ferry as a group of elementary school students, one kid actually pulled an adult sized thermos out of his bag and started pouring some hot beverage into the waiting travel mugs of his classmates.
Oh, and that myth I had heard about people just leaving their babies outside of shops? Verified- on several occasions. Because to avoid venturing out in bad weather would mean, for those in Sweden, committing to missing out on the beauty of much of the year. Stockholm was magic in the snow, and I love that I got to see it in its winter glory.While traveling without Henry was so easy and fun, see Swedish parents and kids making the most of their city in every weather made me wish I could have explored with him. We have doggedly played outside every day all winter, in any weather. We have explored the park and city alone in frigid temps and heavy winds, because Henry is a kid who needs fresh air and space to run. He, like many children, realizes instinctively that there is no bad weather, no bad days for exploring, no bad spaces for play. Just a world that sometimes requires a little extra gear.
Stockholm, you were a snowy dream, in any weather.
(And a big thanks to my brother Zach who took many of the pictures in this and the last post! Traveling with him means I get in substantially more photos.)