1. Encourage my children to sleep outside
I must be crazy, right? You do remember that we live in Sweden where it is cold and dark for 6 months out of the year. That's no condition for a little baby to be sleeping in! Well, not only is it culturally acceptable to keep your child outside, sleeping sweetly in their stroller - it's actually encouraged. I once had an elderly woman reprimand me for keeping Calvin sheltered under a plastic covering because, "the fresh cold air is good for his lungs." She was right, as most old ladies are. Both of my children slept very well - like 3 hour nap well - outside in the winter air. Of course I kept them bundled in their snowsuits in their stroller sleeping bag contraption so warmth was never a concern. Nobody ever called the police for child neglect and I got to enjoy a nice cup of coffee sitting at my kitchen table, observing my sleeping angel through my window. Gotta love Sweden.
Here is Lucy just waking up from her outdoor naps - so snug as a bug in a rug outside in the cold winter air.
2. Ice skating on the sea
Swedish schools will take their students out to the nearest frozen lake or sea, cut a hole in the ice, and demonstrate how to properly extract yourself should you fall through the ice. The students must then each jump in the water, feel the icy shock, and climb out by themselves. Why is this deemed a necessary exercise? Because everyone ice skates or XC skis on the frozen ice in the winter time. We discovered that to combat the winter blues, you need to get out of the house every weekend and get your blood moving. Lake or sea skating is just the thing!
3. Living near the water
Before moving to Sweden, we had only lived in cities. I lived in Tampa for college and Jon grew up in Rhode Island, but I never imagined that we would ever live within a quick walk or bike ride to a beautiful beach. Stockholm has made it easy by being a city of islands and we've managed to live near the coast everywhere we have lived in Sweden thus far. I'll even "settle" for a lake but living near a body of water is at the top of my list of wonderful perks.
4. Sledding as the main mode of transportation
In the wintertime, sometimes the pedestrian pathways aren't plowed first thing in the morning but I still need to get my children to school. The stroller gets bogged down with too much snow and walking becomes too difficult for the kids. What to do? Break out the sleds and drag those kids down the hill! They love riding in their sleds and it's become the preferred mode of transportation for all involved. Lucy wanted to go sledding last week and we are in the middle of spring, so it's safe to say that sleds are always fun and not something we ever did much of living in Atlanta.
5. Living off of the land
I have always loved camping and nature and now we have fully embraced the Swedish culture of blueberry picking in the spring/summer and mushroom picking in the fall. The forests are open to all and you are legally allowed to blueberry/mushroom pick anywhere except directly in front of someone's house. We have discovered our own "secret spot" in the woods close to our house that yields a ton of chanterelles. Last year, we enlisted the help of our friend, Samantha, to help us pick enough blueberries for a delicious pie. We needed 3 adults to offset the balance of the kids just picking and eating their share.