My brother came to visit me a few months after I moved to Sweden. It was early summer and Stockholm was starting to come into blossom. Cafés were spilling out onto pavements, roving hotdog carts were popping up everywhere and teenagers were taking over the parks; Swedes were alive again. And the pushchairs!
We walked around the city and time and time again passed groups of 10-12 pushchairs moving in lines and flocks. Outside cafés, there were more pushchairs and prams, diligently lined up, one after the other. We also met some people who were running with 3 wheeled jogging versions.
The fact is that Sweden is quite unique in the world with its parental leave. Parents (i.e. not just mothers) are entitled to take over 400 days off work for each child, and even get paid for this time. Those on parental leave often form parent groups with others with children of the same age. These groups are usually very organised with a couple of walks per week arranged. Group members take turns to host coffee mornings and regular visits to open play groups, for example in parish halls, are a regular fixture on the group’s schedule.
They are jokingly referred to as the “pushchair mafia” due to their tendencies to take over pavements and cafés when out and about. Parent groups are a very important social aspect of Swedish life and a great opportunity for foreigners to meet and really get to know Swedes, who for once, aren’t busy with work. All you need is a baby!
A little about me
I moved to Sweden in 1992 with my then-fiancé. The plan was to be in Sweden for two years but life took a different turn and we ended up staying. I really like living in Sweden and have made a lot of great friends. I live in West Stockholm and have two children. Running, swimming, cycling, golf, skiing, cooking and spending time with family and friends is how I like to spend my free time.
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