Sweden

May 24, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I took a short trip to Stockholm, Sweden. Polarn O. Pyret knew I was a fan, so they invited me and Jordan to visit their headquarters and get a behind-the-scenes look. I was impressed. And I want to tell you all about it. But before I do, we need to talk about Sweden.

First off: Gorgeous. The city was gorgeous. The people were gorgeous. Super model gorgeous.

Second. My impression is that the entire country is like one big Waldorf school. Very wholesome, with lots of time spent outdoors. People work hard and enjoy their leisure time. The Swedes we chatted with joked about raising their kids like Pippi Longstocking — with lots of play and independence.

Third. They do childhood differently than we do in the states. So different. Every single day, children spend hours outside. Every single day without exception. Rain, snow, below zero temperatures. This is not me exaggerating. It’s the real deal. Every. Single. Day.

There are preschools that don’t even have a building! They are held entirely out of doors. From drop-off to pick-up. Snack time, play time, learning time all happen outside. And these preschools are not for the fringe thinkers, these are one of several regular options that parents pick from. Are you dying?!

Also. Babies in Sweden nap outside. All naps are outside. The babies are bundled up, put in the stroller and rolled out to the porch where they nap for hours at a time — in every kind of weather. Now are you dying?!!!

Let’s also remember, that Sweden is super far north. Like moose north. It’s cold up there!

So how do they do it? Well, every person I talked to said it was all about the gear. In fact, they have a Swedish saying that roughly translates to: There is no bad weather, just bad clothing. They are super serious about their cold weather wear.

This is getting long, so I’ll follow up with a post about the actual visit to the Polarn O. Pyret headquarters later on. In the meantime, I’d love your thoughts. What’s your take on outdoor time every day? Would you be up for it? Would your kids?

P.S. — How can you not love a country that came up with H&M, Ikea and Hasbeens? I love the Swedish appreciation for design! I snapped these photos at stores, hotels — even the airport.

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{ 220 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sharon May 24, 2011 at 6:24 am

I used to bundle my son up and put him in his stroller on our back porch to nap during the winter. He used to sleep so well. My mother in law suggested this and at first I thought she was crazy, but what a great idea it was.

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2 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 6:51 am

Does your Mother-in-law have a Swedish connection? : )

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3 Kathy May 24, 2011 at 6:24 am

I so want to visit there. It sounds delightful. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and for giving me a glimpse of this gorgeous country.

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4 Stephanie May 24, 2011 at 6:45 am

I think playing/sleeping/whatever outdoors is such a good idea. I remember getting a little glimpse of this on an episode of Oprah – apparently they are like the happiest people in the world. Love it!

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5 J.D. May 24, 2011 at 6:49 am

My children love to be outdoors, they spend hours outdoors no matter the weather. I love the outlook of parenting in Sweden, who needs toys when all kids need is to be outside where they can explore and imagine a million different things!

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6 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 6:52 am

I was totally blown away. I’m such a baby in cold weather. Made me wonder if I just have crummy winter clothes.

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7 Pamela May 24, 2011 at 11:35 am

I’d love to know what their go to brands are for cold weather stuff.

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8 Nicole May 24, 2011 at 9:44 pm

One of my favorite kids’ retailers has this philosophy: http://www.playoutdoors.com.

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9 Camilla May 26, 2011 at 7:07 am

Well I’m not a swede but close – I live in Finland and we have the same philosophy here. The trick is layering! Polarn O. Pyret of course – they have great clothes – lots of layers, Reima (a finnish brand), very good too – and then Ticket to Heaven (a danish brand) and many, many more. The key with kids is functional clothes – coveralls so the cold won’t creep in and waterproof, so they don’t get wet. Wouldn’t dream of dressing my kids in a down jacket :)

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10 Abby May 25, 2011 at 8:26 am

I’ve lived in Colorado for 20 years and finally “geared up” with warm winter clothes. All I wanted for Christmas was a long down jacket with a hood and it changed winter for me! I decided not be cold anymore :-). I basically never leave the house without a hat, scarf and gloves (makes all the difference). My kids went to Waldorf pre-school and spent A LOT of time outside.. they loved it! Sweden’s on the list!! I hope you post more about your time there.

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11 Genevieve Gibson May 24, 2011 at 6:49 am

My kids would love the outdoor time and outdoor preschool! How interesting…still wrapping my head around your post. :)

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12 Ivy May 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm

My son would too! He would never come inside if I didn’t make him.

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13 TracyDK May 24, 2011 at 6:53 am

I am from a rural area in the US and as kids we spent all day every day outside, even in the snow. My son won’t be much different when he gets a little older. However, I do live in the south. It’s a might uncomfortable to sleep outside during the day in the summertime. When temps border on 100F with humidity at 90% and a heat index of 105+, sleep is not really an option. However, that’s when you find a nice bit of water and play. :)

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14 ChantaleP May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am

I thought America was #1 with being outside? Or maybe it has to do with the region you live in? I love the Swedish mentality. My 6yo girl would LOVE a preschool spent outdoors! In fact, for the first 3 years of her daycare life, that is exactly what she did, rain or shine. We had a great daycare provider who took the kids out every day and only came in for lunch and nap. : ) Can’t wait to read more!

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15 Allison May 24, 2011 at 6:57 am

Wait, do kids not spend a lot of time outdoors nowadays? I’m seriously asking this. I don’t have kids, but the kids in my neighborhood are always outside. And when I was a kid we were outside all the time. For hours and hours every day. We just had to be home by dark. Are kids in the US not doing this anymore?

“There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” I love this outlook and I am adopting it.

P.S. Stephanie, I think that Oprah episode was about Denmark, but many of the things she mentioned that kept people so happy would apply to the Swedish way of life, too. What wigged me out on that Oprah episode was when people would go into a store and leave their child in a stroller outside, unaccompanied. Apparently it’s so safe there people feel comfortable doing that, but that seems like crazy behavior to me, no matter the crime rate. I get stressed out just thinking about that, and I’m not even a mother!

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16 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:00 am

My kids spend lots of time outside, but when there’s a really cold day or a blizzard, the US schools we’ve attended keep kids inside all day (even in Colorado which is consistently voted the healthiest state). The kids don’t have the proper gear for being outside when it’s below zero. In Sweden, it’s just a fact of life.

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17 Michelle May 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

There has been a lot of attention to the trend for kids to NOT be outside much. Books have been written about Nature Deficit Disorder. I think that while some kids at some ages are playing outside regularly, many are spending a lot of time indoors on the computer and playing video games. We aim for more than an hour a day, but I have to confess that on cold or rainy days we don’t get that much in. On sunny days, though, we get quite a bit more. I think the cold is harder with young kids and infants. At least here in Colorado with our apparent “bad clothing!”

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18 Lisa May 25, 2011 at 1:12 pm

My cousin spent a few years living in Iceland and it sounds like much the same philosophy. Everyone, she said, everyone has a pram that costs over $1000, but that’s just part of the normal baby gear there. The babies sleep outside in them and she said you’ll see prams lined up outside of shops while the parents are inside shopping, and then every now and then a passerby will pop their head in and say the baby in the blue (or whatever color) pram is crying. Amazing!

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19 Stephanie May 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm

You are so right! I looked it up and it is Denmark. Here is the link:
http://www.oprah.com/showinfo/Oprah-on-Location-The-Happiest-People-on-Earth

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20 Hadley Duncan Howard May 24, 2011 at 7:04 am

Ah, Sweden! We fell instantly in love with it when we visited a couple years ago. We were there over the summer solstice, which is a national holiday, and were so impressed with how the Swedes approach their holidays. Whereas, in the States, national holidays are very commercial days, in Sweden everything shuts down — everything. The only restaurant we found open in Gothenburg was in our hotel. The gas stations were closed, laundromat closed…absolutely everything in that large city was closed. It was like a ghost town. It forced us to take a (chilly) picnic like everyone else in Sweden, which was a welcome surprise, and one of our lovelier memories.

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21 courtney May 24, 2011 at 7:11 am

That’s amazing! That sounds like a dream to me. Doesn’t Sweden also have some of the best parental leave options when you have kids? Incredibly long paid leave for moms AND dads when babies are born? It sounds like Sweden seriously has the key to happiness. I worry short days in the winter would drive me batty though– even with proper winter gear!

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22 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:16 am

We totally asked a million questions about the legendary maternity leave. Here are the basics as I heard them:

Yes, you get an entire year of paid maternity leave. And then, when you come back to work, you have the option of only working like 60% or 75% (for corresponding pay). Which sounds awesome. But. Some women said that ended up being a bit of a trap, because although you’re only working 75% on paper, you end up doing 100% of the work, but only getting paid 75%. Tricky.

I’m so fascinated by all of it.

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23 Swedish Maria May 25, 2011 at 4:18 am

We call it Parental leave. Most parents divide the period so that each of the parents stay at home at some time during the year. It´s still most common that women take a larger portion of the leave but it isn´t entirely uncommon that the leave is split in half or even that tha father stays at home longer than the mother. Every family can choose what suits them best.

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24 adri May 25, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Here in Hungary we have 2 years maternity leave! The first 6 months you get 75 % of your wages, after that it drops a bit.
We have also an amazing system where health care workers visit you regularly after your child is born to check if everything is alright and help you with their advise.
My son was born in November. After the first 2 weeks he was allowed to sleep outside until minus 5 celsius.

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25 Kim Kaas May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am

That sounds so fantastic. I was just thinking this the other day…our kids do not get enough time outside, and spend far too much time in front of the TV and video games. As soon as the weather turned around here in the midwest, I hid the iphones and the video games where they couldn’t be found. But I am determined that just because the weather is bad doesn’t mean I can’t think of creative ways to get the kids outside. Great Post!

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26 bari May 24, 2011 at 7:15 am

We live in brooklyn and my son (2yo) is outside easily 6-7hrs a day when its not a rainstorm or blizzard, closer to 4 maybe if its snowing or raining. Its a lot of outside time but I find that toddlers especially love to run around and explore the world. I agree its all about the gear. We walk pretty much everywhere, which could be 2-3 miles in a normal day. Plus our apartment is TEENY and we all get sick of it pretty quickly. Next year he’s heading to a part time preschool that said we must supply all appropriate outdoor clothing because they go out every single day no matter what. I think its just a mentality you have to choose to embrace. Its so easy to stay home but he goes nuts if we are inside too long. If i had a huge house I might feel a little differently but I can’t imagine staying home with him all day. I guess I’d rather deal with the chore of bundling us both up. and a chore it is!

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27 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:19 am

I think you’re right, Bari. It’s mentally choosing to embrace it and everything that comes with it — investing in the right gear (rain stuff, wind stuff, snow stuff, hot stuff) and the time commitment involved putting it all on, keeping track of it and maintaining it.

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28 Melissa L. May 25, 2011 at 5:04 am

I grew up in Brooklyn and I’ve been told that I napped outside on the porch (within eyesight of an adult) but I would never feel comfortable doing this in my old neighborhood. I didn’t have a secure outdoor space when my kids were babies or I would have done the same. My 4 year old does not spend enough time outside for his liking and I am very disappointed in the limited amount of time outdoors that his preschool provides. I myself am an “indoor girl” – easily too cold, easily too hot, and eaten alive by mosquitoes the moment the weather is warm. I would have been so grateful to find a preschool that kept him outside the majority of the day. We live in an apartment in the suburbs and we spend less time outside that we would in a city I think, because we are in the car a lot. I was just saying last night how much I regret not having a private backyard because my son would be outside ALL THE TIME if we did.

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29 Gita May 24, 2011 at 7:18 am

My mother was Swedish and I grew up there, though I now live in New England. And yes, I was a January baby and slept in my pram outside the store while my mother shopped. A Russian friend told me her mother would always put her to nap out on the balcony of her apartment in winter—fresh air is good for the baby! At my son’s school, kids are required to come with the 5 things: hat, gloves, snow pants, snow boots, and winter coat, every day from November through the end of March. That allows them be outside. My son spends a lot of time outdoors, our whole family does. Not necessarily doing sports, either. I think that is a big distinction between the US and Sweden. I’ve always felt the emphasis in Sweden is on walking, swimming, skiing, camping, hiking, sailing, picnicking—activities that allow you to truly enjoy and explore the outdoors, and spend time together. My American husband jokes that when we’re in Sweden with my family we don’t leave for a hike without a picnic basket and coffee. Ah, the good life.

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30 Mary May 24, 2011 at 7:19 am

My kids are outside every day, no matter the weather. (Well not in a hailstorm I suppose – those hurt!) But rain just means stomping in puddles, cold winter is tons of fun with snowmen and sledding and spraying the snow different colors and digging tunnels and… And of course summer. Our preschool gets them outside every morning and afternoon – they come in for lunch (in cold weather) and naptime. (My son has taken some great naps outside at home.) Sometimes our schools have a hard time keeping up with the snow, but in general, we get outside a lot. I do agree – it’s all about the gear. I used to be a wimp in winter – I finally got good boots, and now I don’t mind it a bit.

A preschool with no building is interesting though! This is fun to follow you on your travels and get little glimpses into life in other countries!

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31 Pat May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am

My mother-in-law also suggested that we bundle infants for nap time and put them out on the porch. She was raised in northern Ontario and that is what her mother of 5 children did, then my mother-in-law of 5 children and now myself…after the intial shock….mother of 5 children did in the U.S..
It really works…same for playing outside for hours… no matter the weather. My children would often comment on bad weather days…”Where did all of the people go?” ;0

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32 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:22 am

I wonder if outside naps for babies will ever catch on widely in the US. I’ve never tried it!

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33 Stacey H May 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

Isn’t that what doctors recommend when kids get croup or similar ailments? I have tried taking them in the cold for croup and it totally works! Maybe I should just be sleeping them outside!

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34 Allison May 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I love taking naps outside. Why not a baby?

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35 Sophie May 24, 2011 at 7:20 am

Hello, I’m from London and also have to go outside every day come rain or shine (well, it’s England so there is a lot of rain, hail, grey sky and cold :-)) . Maybe it’s a European thing? I’m not sure if I am basing my parenting philosophy on dog ownership? The dogs have to go out for fresh air so the baby does too? I’d love to visit Sweden.

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36 leslie May 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

i too would say that it’s a europe thing…
one reason {my canadian friends told me} is that we’re very short of parking spots…so obviously we decide to walk/ride the bike more ?…
my girls attend a waldorf-kindergarten and part of their daily routine is to be outside every day for at least 1 1/2 hours {winter} up to 4-5 hours {summer, when they’re having breakfast, doing their crafts outside…
those preschools “without a house” is very popular in northernish europe. and they actually do have a kind of house, in most cases it’s a site caravan/trailer where they keept their food, books and spend REALLY cold days {which are rare with such a great gear:)}
oh and the maternity/parental leave is a very european thing as well:)

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37 Andrea May 24, 2011 at 7:21 am

Sweden sounds glorious! Love their outdoor mentality. My goal for this summer is to spend as much time outside as possible; and also to cook and eat outside as much as we can.

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38 Stacey H May 24, 2011 at 7:23 am

My son went to preschool in Michigan and we were told to send snow gear everyday, as they would play outside regardless of the weather. I balked at first but when I went to see for myself, the “chore” of bundling all the kids up was so worth it. They seemed truly happy playing outside. I am a huge fan now of this rain or shine mentality.

I love way Sweden sounds! Could the Blairs possibly be spending another year abroad?? :)

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39 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:28 am

Our time here is flying by so quickly that for sure we’re tempted by another year. But I think our kids would go nuts if we talked about moving to another non-English-speaking country before they’ve mastered French. : )

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40 Swedish Maria May 25, 2011 at 4:22 am

Then come to Sweden a year! Your kids will get by fine with english, almost everbody speaks good english.

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41 whoorl May 24, 2011 at 7:29 am

Wow, I had no idea! That’s fascinating!

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42 Ann May 24, 2011 at 7:30 am

I’m from Winnipeg (Winterpeg), Manitoba so I know cold. The right outdoor gear definitely makes all the difference in the world. Of course, that knowledge didn’t benefit me much in high school. For some reason, it wasn’t cool to wear hats or scarves or even mittens. If you were really *cool*, you’d even have your coat unzipped in 30 below weather. I wasn’t willing to risk hypothermia so I wore the minimum amount of gear that allowed me to stay somewhat warm without being teased.

My experience is that babies — and adults — sleep better in a cooler environment. I’ve never layered my babies up to go to sleep — no need for a onesie *and* a sleeper. One sleeper will do just fine. I’ve never had a baby wake from sleep because he’s cold.

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43 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am

Can you believe how ridiculous high school can be? : )

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44 Haydee May 24, 2011 at 7:41 am

What a great summation … “like one big Waldorf School.” Looks amazing. Would love to visit there someday.

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45 Dee May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

How beautiful! My kids go outdoors in pretty much every weather. We have everything from rain gear to snow gear, and they are constantly learning about storms so they know when to come in.

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46 Crystal May 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

Thank you for this post. It reminds me that the best lessons our children can learn are from nature. We’ll be following the Swede’s lead and spending more time outdoors.

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47 Helen May 24, 2011 at 7:47 am

I’m from England and we always went outside everyday – from a very early age playing in the rain was very normal. So many people walk to school that you just get used to, and enjoy, all the seasons.

I spent over half of my childhood living in Europe – everything is so much closer that walking is a part of life and the outside is there for family fun. Somehow life doesn’t seem as scheduled. There is more time spent being and enjoying life without organized activities – I miss that now I live in the US. Our girls go to a Waldorf school and I am doing all I can to give our family that gift of outdoor time.

I spent a semester in Sweden, by the way, and yes – it is THE most beautiful place in the world – even the grannies are hip!

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48 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 7:57 am

I hadn’t thought about walking everywhere and how that would change your relationship to the outdoors. So true.

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49 gisela May 24, 2011 at 7:55 am

Wow, I’ve been to Sweden twice before being a parent (I’m a big fan too!). I fell in love with it the first time and had to go back a second time a few years after. Everywhere you look is design bliss! And is so beautiful. They are a wealthy country and it shows, but I didn’t know anything about their parenting views until reading your blog. I’m speechless. I’m glad to learn here that even with all their wealth, they keep it real with education and child care and not plug kids into high-end technology and have them miss the beauty that surrounds them every day. Glad you got to visit!

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50 Frumptastic May 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

First, hurray! You went to Sweden! Stockholm is gorgeous. I hope you went to the old city.

Second, our childcare provider brings our child out twice a day if it is over 25 degrees outside. We try to bring him outside as much as possible in all weather. There are so many good options for protective gear that there is no excuse for not giving your child outdoor time (did I say that right?)

Third, My godmother would have her children nap outside (in Vermont!) in all season on her front porch because she believed it was good for their health. Incidentally, her background is mainly French.

My comment appears to be numbered and organized this morning. Cheers!

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51 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 8:36 am

I love reading about all these different moms who had their babies nap outside. Fascinating!

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52 Ashlynn May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am

Sweden I my favorite place on earth! My husband has said the clothing saying for years & it’s true! Once I had good clothes I stopped complaining.

One of our visits to Sweden we passed a preschool walking outside of a museum with their full suited rain outfits. I was super jealous.

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53 Nick May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am

I always put my children in the pram outside to nap when they were babies, but you do need a decent pram that keeps them warm when its cold or in summer has a proper sunshade, we live in cheshire on a farm.
My mum told me that she only kept us in as babies when it was foggy as she didnt think the fog was good for the lungs!
My children are 14, 12 and 9.

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54 Jennifer May 24, 2011 at 8:18 am

I love it! Sweden sounds great on a number of levels. I adore my son’s maternelle here in Paris, but I do not love the fact that they have only a very small courtyard for play and they do not let the littlest ones outside in the winter “because they might get sick”–hhmm I think they are more likely to get sick in the same small classroom with twenty other snotty kids. In any case, we compensate by spending two hours everyday at the park between the sortie and dinner.

There is a small Swedish preschool nearby and those kids are always in the park and always have on rain gear etc. as needed. We are currently going through chicken pox at our house, so no park time, and they are bouncing off of the walls. It is the first time when I have really missed our life in the country. Your kids, if they have not already had chicken pox, could just run around your huge garden!

Jennifer

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55 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am

Sorry to hear about the Chicken Pox! I have two scars on my face from my bout with Chicken Pox as a preschooler. : (

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56 Jennifer May 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Did you end up vaccinating your kids? I did not remember it as too bad, so I chose not to vaccinate, but my older son seems to have an awful case and I feel as though I probably should have spared him.

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57 Cleeeo May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am

Me and my mum travelled around lots of Scandanavia when I was young and it was the MOST fun. I remember their trains had special children compartments that had climbing frames in!! The children I met there didn’t start school until 6 and when they do go they are encouraged to play most of the time to learn, and don’t start doing proper sit down work until they’re older – it seems to breed a very good work ethic!
(And yes, we used to have to buy extra luggage out there to bring back our H&M buys… even though we have plenty of them in London!)

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58 Stacey May 24, 2011 at 8:23 am

I live in the UK (although I’m originally from southern CA) and I think in general, the kids here spend a lot of time outdoors. I hear my sister complaining about the rain on the East Coast of the US and how she’s cooped up inside with her three kids…and then think, if I had that attitude, I’d be stuck inside with my kids about 95% of the time! (Or it just seems like it’s raining here that much :) ) Both my kids’ nurseries/schools have been insistent that they come prepared for outside play in all weather. Also, my daughter’s nursery naps the babies in prams outside. And I’ve found now she’s moved up to the next room, where they nap inside on mats, she has a MUCH shorter nap each day, so the outside napping really agreed with her (fresh air, shade, nice outdoor noises, what’s not to like?)

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59 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am

Maybe I need to try this with June!

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60 Natalie T May 24, 2011 at 8:24 am

What an inspiring post! I’m usually cold even in the house! Rarely a winter day when I’m without a robe AND slippers (and socks!). I’m also a PhD student, so I try to spend time indoors working on my dissertation while the girls play quietly in the house. Sounds like confinement, I know. I shoudl work my laptop into our outdoor routine.

When I’m outside I’m a complete wimp. Since having kids, I’ve been outside more, but I needed a post like this to inspire me to be outside more. I do great in warm weather, and even warm rain, but when it’s cold and WINDY, I really balk at going outside. But I know that it IS good for them and they do have fun! Nature, I find, is an instant baby soother. Thanks for the inspiring post!

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61 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 8:38 am

I feel the same way, Natalie. When it’s cold, I am inside. I think I need to upgrade my gear.

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62 Anna May 24, 2011 at 8:34 am

My husband served his mission in Sweden and spent a lot of time in Stockholm – he has only good things to say. I cannot wait to get there someday! We love going to IKEA just so he can read all the signs (which usually don’t mean anything) :) They are amazing people.

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63 Sonja May 25, 2011 at 9:05 am

Not true! Most of the IKEA names mean something, most of the names are either of places (for example their couches) or they are related to the item’s “task” – they have glasses named “Klunk” which means “swallow” or a shower curtain “Gömmare” which means “hider”.

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64 Amy3 May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

I would *love* it and my daughter would, too. One of the things I feel sad about is that my daughter gets less unstructured outside time than I did when I was her age.

My father’s Dutch grandmother used to put him and his twin brother outside for a period of time every day no matter the weather (and he grew up in Michigan). He also used to sleep with his window open in all seasons when I was growing up. Maybe it’s a northern European mindset about fresh air?

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65 Jill May 24, 2011 at 8:51 am

Oh how I love Scandinavia (I’ve visited Gothenburg, Copenhagen and Bergen in the last few years). And oh the amount of money I spend on Scandinavian kid’s clothing!

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66 Bridget May 24, 2011 at 9:04 am

Ah yes, the homeland. I still have relatives that live in Gotland (the island in the Baltic), and we visited them during June for Midsommar. What a wonderful place. I cannot wait to go back.

Did you get a chance to marvel over amber in Gamla Stan? Or see the mosaics in Stadhuset? (the view from there is stunning) I remember that visit was my first introduction to the possibility of no homeless people. My seventh grade self was shocked. I’ve always been a bit socialist since then. :)

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67 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm

The trip was so short that I didn’t even make it to Old Town, but I vowed to return. : )

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68 christy May 24, 2011 at 9:08 am

Wow I spent a long weekend in Stockholm once but didn’t speak to anyone about children (I didn’t have any at the time!) and I had no idea about any of this. Eye opening and thought-provoking, for sure. I can’t wait to share this with my husband tonight!

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69 Mary May 24, 2011 at 9:14 am

Growing up in the UK (quite a few decades ago), it was the norm to see babies sleeping outside in their prams no matter the weather and there was plenty of gear (rain covers, buntings, etc) to keep the child comfortable. While I see some children in the neighborhood at play outdoors, it is also apparent that far too much of their so-called leisure time is scheduled to the minute; their parents run the roads to take them for this practice, that lesson, or some event. Just doesn’t seem that there is enough free time for some children to just spend time with their imaginations.

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70 Amanda May 24, 2011 at 9:31 am

When we went to Denmark, we would see napping babies in their buggies outside of restaurants! It’s a totally different culture than here, where we are very protective in a different way, not letting kids out of our site usually. (Not saying they’re not protective in Scandinavia… it’s just a different perspective, I think)

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71 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Yes. A different way of thinking about things.

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72 carlee May 24, 2011 at 9:52 am

i am from Swedish emigrants and also have been to Sweden. I love how they know how children are and incorporate their sensibilities into designs of the buildings (i.e. the play room at IKEA, playgrounds at museums and sculpture parks, etc) i also love how in every stairwell in Stockholm built in are run-ways for wheelchairs and strollers…brilliant!

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73 denese @ plum May 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

amazing.

oh how I wish we Americans would adopt some of our Euro friends traditions and ways. the travesty of childhood obesity, ADD/ADHD and so much more could, in humble opinion, be eliminated by something as simple as outdoor play.

our daily walks to any one of our neighborhood parks are almost ALWAYS met with silence and solitaire. I have commented, aloud, and often – “where are all the kids?”

No pools splashing. No basketballs flying.
Silence.

The Swedes sound simply marvelous. I look forward to hearing more from your visit.

As alsways, thanks for inspiring
best – d.

post script: don’t forget, shoulders back.

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74 Liliana May 24, 2011 at 10:00 am

I grew up in Yugoslavia – a country admittedly much further south than Sweden, with a lot more warmth and sunshine. But the playing outside, every single day, well, we have that in common with the Swedes. Also, the babies napping outdoors, we have that in common as well.

My kids grew up in the US, but I tried as much as I could to make sure that they spent time outdoors every day. It was not easy, especially as they got older and spent more and more time in school.

There is so much discussion about education reform in the US these days – I wish play time outdoors were on top of the list!

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75 hyzen May 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

So interesting about all of the different cultures getting the babies out into the cold. My nextdoor neighbor is from Russia, and she told me how she would often take her Christmas born baby outside in the Vermont winter for naps and fresh air. With my American parents and Korean in-laws, the instinct seems to be the opposite–the grandmas always assume my babies are cold and try to wrap them up in tons of layers, even when we are inside!

I have to try to get outside more with the kids. It just seems so much easier to be in most of the time, so when I’m tired (which is usually, with 2 small kids and DH and I both having demanding jobs), I just want to relax as much as possible. Still, we enjoy our time more when we are outside, so I think it’s worth the effort.

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76 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I’ve noticed the same thing — the American instinct seems to keep a newborn inside all winter. Although really, I guess it’s not keeping them inside, it’s keeping them away from crowds and public spaces that might have lots of germs.

So interesting to see how babies are approached in different countries.

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77 Jennelle May 24, 2011 at 10:18 am

“There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.”

Omg, yes! I have to try to imprint that into my husband’s brain before we move. The only time he’s not complaining about the weather is during the summer months lol. It Rained all day Sunday so we ended up canceling our plans and stayed indoors. I’m totally taking notes. I just love that the Swedes do not allow something like weather to disrupt their lives.

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78 Traveling Mama May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

Danes and Swedes are very similar in their mentality and my kids LOVE living here in Denmark. I have never seen them so happy. They are becoming more independent by the day and soaking up every last second of being outdoors. The expression we hear constantly is “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing!”

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79 Regina May 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

I am from Ukraine, and loved playing outdoors when I was growing up, no matter the weather. Now with a 9-months old, we live in San Francisco and have a small apartment with no porch or balcony, but we do have parks and playgrounds. From the day we brought him home from the hospital I’ve taken him for long walks and now to the playground at least once every day. He may be an urban baby, but it is really fun to watch him discover plants, bugs, sand and the urban wildlife.

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80 Tanya May 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

Yes here in the U.K. my babies nap outside, play out in any weather and I totally agree with the ‘bad clothing’ theory. I love the idea of forest nurseries, they are catching on here but there isn’t one near enough for my children to attend. And my children’s school and nursery put them out doors to play in all weathers

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81 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Glad to know the name “forest nurseries”. I wondered if there was a term for them.

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82 Sarah May 24, 2011 at 10:54 am

Outdoor time…ahhhhh. Well I grew up somewhat like that, although we didn’t nap outdoors, and we spent more time inside in the winter, but generally got outside a couple hours everyday. It was WONDERFUL, however as we lived in Vermont (oh, it’s such a magical place…) where it’s MOOSE cold as well, we had a general rule about staying inside if it was below 10 degrees.

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83 Jamie @ charminglyordinary May 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

Thanks so much for reporting on this! I love it. We have a seven month old and my husband are pretty adamant about keeping technology (like video games and computers) exposure pretty sparse in favor of playing outside and being creative with his surroundings for entertainment. Europeans get it right in so many ways…

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84 Erin May 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

My kids love to be outside, so much so that they will often pitch a tent in our backyard and “camp” in it over long weekends. Last year they pitched it for Thanksgiving weekend. Normally, I make them take it down after the weekend, but they begged to keep it up. Since I’d noticed a few great things about their backyard “camping trips”, I let them keep it up with some stipulations, and imagined it would last a few more days. Well, that tent outside is like magic: they love to go to bed when they are sleeping in that tent! They also get along famously, wake themselves up early, and are usually in the house bright-eyed and happy when I get up at 6:15- no dragging anyone out of bed! (It also didn’t hurt that I could say things like, “Well, if you want to sleep outside tonight you have to …” , and my every request was eagerly fulfilled!) Well, a few nights turned into every night from Thanksgiving until after New Year’s- including school nights and Christmas Eve! The dog slept out with them, and I always kept our bedroom window open so we could hear them, but I finally made them take it down when school started back again in January!!! I used to joke with my sisters that it was a magical tent, but perhaps it was all that fresh, cold air working its magic! One day I hope they have happy memories of the month + they lived in the backyard!

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85 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I’m sure they will LOVE that memory. How fun!

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86 Michelle May 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

Very inspiring and fascinating post! One of the reasons I love camping is because sleeping outdoors with fresh air and lovely sounds is so wonderful and relaxing: why wouldn’t it be the same for a baby?

This is seriously life changing for me. I feel so inspired to change my routine with the kids to get them outside more – no more rushing home for naps, maybe just stay outside? I’m thinking a goal is in order – to try and spend an entire day outside (and I have 3 kids under 3, a two-year-old with an afternoon nap and a 3 month old newborn).

Such a wonderful post, fresh air here I come!

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87 Ashlea Walter May 24, 2011 at 11:56 am

Outdoor time, every day? Ab-so-lutely. We try to do as much as we can outside and we’ve got a similar climate here in northern Michigan to Sweden. No naps for us outside these days, but when Wren was a baby? Lots and lots!

Play on, kids, play on!

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88 Ashlea Walter May 24, 2011 at 11:58 am

p.s. even at Wren’s Montessori class of 18 mo – 3 year olds, they went outside every day this winter, unless it was below 17 degrees and windy. Snowsuits!

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89 Porsche May 24, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I think I need to move to Sweden! My philosophy is life is better when it is spent outdoors! When I had my youngest (33 weeks preemie), we had to stay inside away from people almost the WHOLE winter (which is a long time in Utah-until May). It drove us all mad. I actually got quite the case of depression because i was away from people and always inside.
My girls will play for hours outside. Even if I sit on a chair outside and just enjoy the air I feel better.
Just remember your sunblock! And lots of water.

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90 Ilse May 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Hello Gabrielle,
In Friesland, the most northern part of the Netherlands, babies take naps outside as well. They sleep in special babycots, called Lutje Potje. Check google for some lovely images of a Lutje Potje. They are realy handy and yes, we in Holland think as well that it´s beneficial for the baby´s health. Once at school, kids do have to play outside obligatory. And when my kids come home from school or daycare, their biggest joy is being able and allowed to play outside: they just grab a bike (we have so many!) and off they go. Lovely! Love, Ilse

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91 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Off to google Lutje Potje…

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92 hyzen May 25, 2011 at 10:08 am

So funny–I googled it, and the images that came up look like little chicken coops for kids! But functionally, it seems a lot like a playpen, right? We take our playpen outside for the baby to sleep and nap in on nice days when we are working in the garden. The main issue is finding a bit of shade so the baby doesn’t get sunburned–I guess that’s one advantage of the lutje potje, since they all seem to have roofs.

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93 Bente May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Hi hi, this post made me giggle :)

I’m from Norway (next door neighbour to Sweden) and I guess there are a lot of similarities between the two countries. My daughters (age 1 and 5) spend most of their days outside. The secret during the winter months is simple: all wool underwear. My youngest one is always taking her nap outside (unless it’s below 5 degrees fahrenheit). I honestly don’t know how I would get her to sleep inside ;)

When it comes to maternity leave, I believe we’re even better off than the Swedes. My husband and I have the right to a 52 weeks leave. 10 of these weeks are reserved dad. We’re even thinking about splitting the leave in two equal parts (one for mum and one for dad), like they do it in Island. After my leave is done, I’m entitled to one year of unpaid leave (if I want to), and my job would still be the same when I come back.

But you have to remember that we pay for all this. The taxes are much higher than in the US and welfare system is more extensive. Norway’s had a social democratic government more or less since the Second World War. When people in the States described Obama as a socialist, and meant it in a bad way, we were smiling ;)

Puh – I feel like I have a lot more to say on the subject, but I’ll leave it there. Looking forward to reading more about your stay in Stockholm, and off course – you (and your family) are welcome to Norway any time!

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94 Alice May 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm

In Sweden we have 480 days payed parental leave, almost 70 weeks (the government pays). For 90 of the days you get 180 SEK and the other 390 you get 80 % of your last salary. You can share days between the parents as you want (but at least 60 days is for one of the parents). The more equal you stay home, the more you get back on your taxes afterwords (maximun 10 000 SEK). We have very high taxes, as Bente writes, but I am glad to pay for this.

You have the right to stay home with your child in Sweden 18 mouths from work and until the child is 8yo you don’t have to work full time. Your employer can’t say no (this is of course for both mother and father):

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/swedens-paternity-leave-11923331

One thing I envy Norway is the maternity-health-care. It’s good in Sweden as well, but in Noway it is outstanding from what I hear.

And yes. We do love clothes from P.O.P (but they are quite expensive, their are a lot of cheaper alternatives). I am fortunate enough to have a lot of hand-me-down-clothes for my children from reletives from the brand P.O.P.

Even if I’m proud of the swedish out-door-living, I must say that there are a lot of parents in Sweden who doesn’t live like this. People are getting more and more afraid of leaving their kids in their prams outside. It depends on if you live in an apartment or in a house. If it’s in a small village or in a bigger town. But the preeschool spend a lot of time outside regardless of their location.

Ooops, this is a long enough comment by now.

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95 Melissa May 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm

My grandparents served two missions at the Sweden temple, and we were lucky enough to get to visit them while they were there. Sweden is such an amazing country, just like you said! The country is beautiful, the people are beautiful, everything is clean, everyone is friendly! My grandpa is 100% Norwegian, and I’ve always been so thrilled to have Scandinavian heritage.

You probably already know about this blog, but I randomly discovered it last week and sat in bed for an hour very late at night reading old posts on my iphone: http://littlescandinavian.com/. It is so fun!

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96 Design Mom May 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm

That blog is new-to-me, Melissa. Thanks for the link!

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97 Zoe May 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Growing up in rural Nova Scotia, we spent hours outside — and often ate and slept outside in the warmer months. School was mostly inside, but there was much more done outside, like gym and mandatory play time, than there seems to be now.

Sweden sounds beautiful with a lot of fabulous practices we could stand to imitate. I think their ban on homeschooling is unfortunate, though. Families are not allowed to make up their own minds about how they want their children to be educated.

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98 Monica May 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I feel like I’ve experienced a huge shift while reading this post. I know outside time is important and my kids do get it everyday but I feel like the “norm” is inside and outside time is planned and scheduled. I think this summer I am going to work on it being the other way around!

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99 avimom May 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

My daughter attends a nature preschool here in the midwest. Outdoors all afternoon, even in the winter. We do lots of laundry due to all the exposure to the snow, rain, mud, etc. She has two complete sets of everything from mittens to snow boots to rain pants.

In the summer both kids attend day camp that is outdoors the entire day. My son has attended for 5 summers now and is pretty much inside only to sleep in the summer. Bugs are the only drawback. The freckles and bug bites compete to cover the most surface area.

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100 steph t. May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm

yes!!! i love the swedish culture too!
my husband’s cousin married a swede and so i know a little bit about swedish people.
they are lovely, and warm and down to earth.
and yeah, those blonde locks definitely make them all so STUNNING!
wow!
anyhow, we live in the cold north as well (manitoba, canada) and they came to visit us a few years back.
they had their first baby along and he wasn’t even 1 year yet.
it was december and very frigid cold.
probably about -25 celsius (that’s 13 BELOW, american girls) at least.
well, how surprised was i when they put the baby out in the stroller OUTSIDE?!?!
yeah, i was pretty shocked.
i thought, “holy moly… your baby is gonna FREEZE out there!!!”
then i was told that it’s the norm.
all babies… napping outdoors, every day, no matter the weather.
moms will be having coffee inside a cafe and their babes are all wrapped up in their prams sleeping away outside.
very interesting… and super cool, in my opinion.
no thoughts of someone stealing their baby.
it was pretty awesome hearing about how they do things over there.
so glad you enjoyed your visit.
i would love to head out there one time to visit our cousins!

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101 Heather May 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm

How inspiring!
My mom is always telling me to take the babies out, no matter what the weather. I have gotten better about going out in the rain (my 2 yo loves it!).
This post has motivated me to keep my children out all day today (except naps…I don’t think my 2 yo would ever sleep!).

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102 Lee May 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I’ve visited twice and loved it. I can’t wait to take my kids, especially since we have family there.

As a design person, you must have been in heaven. We visited in 1989 with my grandparents and my grandmother couldn’t stop talking about how clever the toilet paper holders were with their open ends (so no excuses for not putting the roll on). My grandfather loved the low-flish toilets.

I work with a company here who has a lot of Swedish inpats. They have to instruct the new parents not to leave napping babies in a stroller on the sidewalk in the US. Love the idea of outside naps and preschool.

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103 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:34 am

It’s true — a great place to visit for someone that loves design.

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104 Gesche May 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

For me it’s really suprising to read that all these things are new and suprising for you. Your post really made me smile!
I’m from Germany and when I was a kid it was absolutley normal to play outside or to have my own free- and playtime. Maybe 1-2 appointments per week and all days left playing at the playground or in the park around the corner. And I guess it’s unbelievable for you that I walked to elementary school everyday (summer or winter) with my little classmate but without parents. It was a walk of half an hour right through the city center. Most fun was winter with our overall (like the astronauts) and lots of snowballs ;)
I hope you and your kids take some of these things back to the US and get to learn more corners of europe – there’s so much to discover.

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105 Sharlene May 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I LOVE the idea of kids being outdoors everyday–even if it’s just for a little while. I raised my six children in sunny northern California and they literally spent more time outdoors than indoors. But of course we had great weather. I think their childhood was idealistically wonderful! I give credit to the great outdoors.

I’m not sure how I feel about *entirely* outdoor pre-schools in cold Sweden. :)

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106 jj smith May 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I just had to comment on this…
My mom (who is from Scotland) always had my siblings and me nap outside when we were babies. She would bundle us up (no matter how snowy and cold) and put us in our carriage stroller where we would nap for hours. She said we were always snug and warm and had rosy cheeks resembling Scottish –(and Swedish) children. To this day, I can’t sleep without a window cracked to let in fresh air. However, my mom’s mothering techniques were certainly questioned in our neighborhood … the neighbors thought she was abusing us — first with her insistence upon breastfeeding us when bottles were thought to be superior and then to make us nap outside. I’m proud of her for sticking to her beliefs and not being swayed by the times! Bravo Mom!

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107 Gina vide May 24, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Ginavide/ Although, i think you haven’t made a post I don’t enjoy, this discussion on Sweden is one I couldn’t wait to see. One, because of the lovely opportunity to meet you here and two, because I’m an Amercian expat living in Stockholm for longer than I ever imagined. Yes, all three of my kids slept outside in their buggies. And our buggy was much more important than our car. Yes, I return home to the cold north of the US, in the winter, and my children are the rugged cousins playing outside in the blizzards because they’re daily wear is ready to go; ready for sub sub zero; although, I do draw the line at taking a baby buggy iceskating. Yes! It’s common place! Baby buggies out on frozen lakes. I’m sad that I found this well beyond today’s bedtime. It’s really fun to read and see so many iteresting reactions. It is definitely a land with the Pippi spirit.

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108 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:36 am

I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of a stroller out on a frozen lake. Yikes!

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109 Eva May 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm

What fun little tidbits you shared about Sweden! My aunt lives in Sweden, and I visited her once when I was 16. I remember marveling at how clean, crisp and tidy everything looked.

About the outside sleeping… I was born in Slovakia (Czechoslovakia at that time), and my mom had me sleep on the balcony every single day. There are pictures of me super bundled up, in my carriage, in the snow on the balcony. When I went back this summer, my cousin did the same thing with her kids. It makes such good sense in small communist block apartments when there are other (loud) children in the household. And it’s a good way to get some fresh air for the kiddos.

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110 Emma May 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Me and my family are doing a house swap to Gothenberg this July and I can not wait to get there. Every since I heard about the islands off the coast that you can visit by ferry and possibly be the only people on it I was hooked! I also can’t wait to see the shops!!

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111 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:38 am

How fun, Emma! I’m sure it will be gorgeous.

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112 kristi May 24, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Ooh, I am dying! I’m also inspired – to go out, to encourage the Pippi spirit, and definitely to take a nap. =)

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113 Isabel @AlphaMom May 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

oooh, i love this post. thank you so much for educating me a little about the Swedish culture. I love that story about the preschools being held ALL DAY outside. FASCINATING.

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114 This girl loves to Talk May 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm

In Australia babies rarely nap in the their prams outside. but this kinda makes sense in a – if the baby sleeps outside in the pram, it can sleep ANYWHERE and doesnt mean you need to be confined to your house. I find people here are very strict about their baby’s nap time in their own bed and it means this friend cant leave house at 10am or this friend must be home by 12 etc that it does impact YOUR social life/outings.

My neighbour is from switzerland and I always feel so inferior to her way of thinking!! She is ALWAYS outside. either by the pool, gardening, woodworking (yes a single mum who makes changes to her house, bricklaying, builds beds, furniture etc – very do it yourself type of person) walks her dog or goes for a walk 2-3 times a day, makes her daughter play outside all the time, doesnt let her child watch tv all that much. Goes camping several times a year, she is 50 and rides a bike and ripstick! several times a week.

we eat dinner early and while I’m putting my kids to bed, she is off in the dark with her daughter taking their nightly stroll!! Sometimes I feel bad, but then I reason I have a lot more children than her.

Anyway I do think they do alot of things right in europe.

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115 Di May 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I loved Stockholm = we went in the summer and the water was sparkling and as you say the people were beautiful – as 2 single females we enjoyed spotting all the men we would like to marry ;-)

My favourite place was the Vasa Museum – amazing – but we also took a trip to the coast to attend a friend’s wedding and that was super fun! From making the flowers/table decorations to the after dinner home made entertainment!

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116 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:42 am

Hah. I noticed the same thing. The men are as gorgeous as the women!

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117 Jules May 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I’ll take four one-way tickets to Sweden, please. :)

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118 Cortnie May 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm

We must be a little bit Swedish a didn’t realize it! Our boys are literally outside for hours every single day – freezing or blazing – but I have to admit we live in California. ;)

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119 Randi May 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I’m intrigued. I think American children are the complete opposite – spending far too much time indoors. I’m not sure I’d be completely on board (I like my children tucked away in their rooms at naptime) but I love the idea of children truly being children – exploring, enjoying nature, and staying far away from anything that requires a plug.

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120 Erin B. May 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Oh – if we let our babies nap outside where I live, they would get eaten by javelinas (no joke)! They usually run around after dark, but occasionally you will see them out at around 4 p.m. or late in the morning around 9 a.m. Love this post, though! It’s great to know that there are different ways to parent and it’s okay!

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121 Alea May 24, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Not sure what a javelina is – but I was thinking the same thing about coyotes!

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122 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:43 am

Scary!

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123 Anne May 25, 2011 at 10:24 am

A javelina is a wild pig. IMO, scarier than a coyote.

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124 jessicamaylords May 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Last winter was our first in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was TERRIFIED because it gets so cold here, but with the proper gear, it’s SO MUCH FUN to play outside in the winter! Good gear makes life a lot more fun.

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125 sue {laundry for six} May 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I love this post! And the comments are fascinating.

At most schools where we live (in Washington DC), kids are not allowed to go outside for recess if it’s below 32 degrees! CRAZY! In the winter, it’s USUALLY below 32!

My youngest though, goes to a preschool where they are outside every single day for half the day. It’s wonderful! We need to put the “garden” back in “kindergarten” … and every other grade as well!

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126 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:44 am

I feel like the same thing is true nationwide. I think we need to gear up! : )

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127 hyzen May 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

Yes, my kids’ daycare has a terrible outdoor policy. Essentially, they only want to take the little kids outside if it’s between 60 and 80 degrees and sunny. Um, that’s like 12 days a year where we live. I have spoken with the administrators numerous times about this, but they won’t budge, so we’re switching schools!

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128 Khali May 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

We’re heading into Winter in Australia so this post was particularly relevant for me. Recently, I’ve been speaking with many mothers about how the colder weather has been limiting activities we can do with our children. This post has made me realise it’s probably our perceptions that are limiting us! Cold weather in Australia would probably be considered warm in many other countries.
The one difference is that Australia is not set up for cold weather. Our houses, schools and clothes don’t really support living with low temperatures, which makes everything feel colder.

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129 Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman May 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I worked in Sweden for three years, moved back to the UK then onto California where I have been bringing up twin boys. The lifestyle, attitudes and parenting style is *very* different in Sweden. And I loved it. It has affects me still despite the fact that it’s been many years and many miles.

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130 Darlene May 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I grew up in Sweden (moved to the US when I was 11) and then in 2009 my husband, 18 month old son and I moved back just for 7 months to go to school. I grew up even farther north than Stockholm- and this is the complete norm. Except they don’t do it when it’s minus zero. At least not at daycares/preschools etc. The way they described it at our son’s daycare was if it was in the positives they slept outside. And in the 7 months we were there, my son slept awesome (he was only there two days a week though) and not once did he come down with a cold. I can’t say the same thing for daycares in the US- I don’t think your kid can make it through the winter in preschool or daycare or even elem. school with out even getting a cold, so I’m all for it! In fact, I wrote a blog post about this a while back if you want to check it out!

http://youngmammatales.blogspot.com/2010/06/baby-feverand-crazy-thing-i-intend-to.html

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131 serena May 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm

This brought back some memories for me. My grandmother was from Norway and told me that Norwegian babies are put in sunny rooms in the hospital for some time every day. When we were babies, we had a bunting from Norway made of wide-wale corduroy and lined in sheepskin and we were toasty warm all winter. When my daughter was born in February my grandmother bundled her up and took her for walks all the time.

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132 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:47 am

That bunting sounds cozy and wonderful!

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133 Wendy McSwain May 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm

We are outside every single day. This is mostly because I can’t stand to be holed up in the house and because I don’t allow baseball practice inside. We do tend to shorten it up on super cold or super muggy days. But mostly we stick it out, bug bites and all. Can’t wait to hear more about Sweden. I would looove to be visiting all the places that you are. Maybe someday.

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134 maria May 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm

so i’m super curious about the temps indoor- do they use heat inside so you have to take all your layers off every time you enter a building or do they keep indoor temps pretty low

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135 Anna May 25, 2011 at 2:13 am

Haha, I was waiting for this! I’ve lived in the US and in France and never been so cold in my life – INDOORS, that is. Since temperatures in Sweden tend to be very low in winter, houses are very well equipped for the cold. So it’s usually very nice and warm indoors, and you do have to take everything off when entering a building. But we’re used to it ;) And trust me, when it’s cold outside nothing feels better than stripping off the winter gear and realizing it’s nice and warm inside. Phew.

/Anna in Stockholm

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136 Carla May 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, and now live in Ontario, Canada. My siblings and I grew up napping outside, even my brothers who were born in Quebec, one of the colder provinces. I also put my kids in the stroller (pram) outside in the back yard to nap. I think fresh air is great for kids and adults alike. Today, our houses are shut up so tight that they don’t breathe, sometimes causing indoor air quality problems because there is no circulation.

I haven’t been to Sweden but I have been to Denmark and loved it! I dream of going back. The president of the company I work for is from Sweden and he always jokes that he feels like an honourary Canadian because of all the similarities.

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137 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:49 am

I hadn’t thought about the similarities between Canada and Scandanavian countries, but that makes sense!

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138 Roxanna May 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm

They do the same thing in Austria. My husband is Austrian, but I’m a wimp :)

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139 Heidi May 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm

“This is getting kind of long” wait, what?? I wanted to hear more! I’m Finnish so I’m really interested in all things Scandinavian. I had heard a rumor in years past that people in Finland put their babies outside to nap, it must be true. I think it is so important to get outside each and every day (and I’m guilty of staying inside on some days). As a kid, I spent the majority of my days outdoors exploring, I want the same for my kids. I hope that if they grow up with a very active lifestyle, that will continue throughout their lifetime!

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140 kate May 24, 2011 at 8:25 pm

oh i’m so inspired to get better winter clothes. :) i live in chicago and would love to embrace the winters with my children. i can already feel the difference it would make for the whole family if we spent more time outdoors. thanks!

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141 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:50 am

I’m feeling the same thing. I think I need to embrace winter instead of trying to shut it out.

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142 kelly ashworth May 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Hooray for Sweden! I am Swedish and visited Stockholm for the first time two years ago. I found myself snapping photos of traffic signs and street lamps because they were all so beautiful and different. I can’t wait to hear all about Polarn O. Pyret!!!

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143 Ann May 24, 2011 at 8:45 pm

me wish i was you right now!!! How fun! Outside time when it is not raining is great. We get home from school. I say, go outside and get your energy out for 10 minutes then do your homework then you can play some more until dinner.

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144 sara May 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I am ALL for naps outdoors – that sounds heavenly, if you have the right gear. Sweden sounds perfect for raising kids – it sounds like they are doing something right there…

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145 christina May 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm

oh I love these ideals too but I wish there wasn’t a flip side that I didn’t so much agree with in the subtleties of Swedish child-rearing, etc. i guess don’t throw the baby out with the bath water right!

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146 Carla May 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I disappear in winter. Really. And I’m just from NJ! LOL I did vow this year to get better gear to make going outdoors in the winter months easier. Would love a post on what kind of gear they use. I’m aiming to be proactive and get boots, snow suits and all that good stuff early, early on. Thanks for sharing!

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147 christina May 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

This is just so interesting that I’m compelled to comment. It’s really the complete opposite here in Malaysia. When my baby was born we were never outside for the first month except to go for doctor’s visits. For the mothers is a period of “confinement” and babies in general are kept indoors as much as possible. By the second month I was going batty and wanted to take her for daily walks, but only super shorts ones, like 10 minutes. And the minute it even looked like rain I’d have to run back home. She’s 11 months now but it’s unthinkable to take you baby out if it’s even drizzling outside – and we have a tropical climate! If I ever let my baby sleep outside I think my mum/mum in law/grandma/the neighbours etc, would die of shock. I do think she spends way too much times indoors; the nanny would never ever consider taking her outside during the day either because then it would be too hot.

Different perspectives for sure.

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148 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:53 am

Maybe I should have a series where I invite Mothers from around the world to share what parenting is like in their country.

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149 Bele May 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm

That certainly would be interesting. I am rather surprised that there are parts of the world where you keep the kids indoors… We seem to have the same approach in Germany as the Swedes, the kids are usually very well equipped with layer-wear and good shoes (!) for wet and cold days (and UV-protection for long, sunny summer days, too).

My three children are really into running, climbing and yelling. They would drive me nuts, if they were not playing outside as much as possible. And yes, they had their baby naps outside at every time of the year too, snuggled up in wool and a sheepskin.

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150 Eliza May 24, 2011 at 9:24 pm

My cousin lived in Oslo for a couple of years while working for the U.S. State Dept. and told me about the outdoor preschools–she walked by them on her way to work. Kids are bundled up in pretty intense snowsuits. Love it. She adored Norway and was so sad to leave.

I grew up on a quiet street in an L.A. suburb and definitely spent lots of (unsupervised) time outside. In fact I can remember my sister and I lying down in the middle of the road waiting for cars to come… we could lie there for what seemed like hours before having to quickly get up and move out of the way of oncoming traffic. Kind of horrifying to think we did that.

The one bad thing about L.A. summers in the ’80s and early ’90s was the smog. I actually thought it was normal that it hurt a little to breathe after an entire day in the pool. Yikes again. It isn’t so bad there anymore, fortunately. And we lived close enough to the beach that we could escape the smog pretty often.

I want to spend a lot more time outside this summer with my kids. A few potential problems: we live in northern VA where it is very humid with lots of trees, so mosquitoes and ticks are a reality. The other thing is that baby #3 is due in June and I get nervous about overheating/heat rash/bugs getting to the baby. But I think I am going to make it a goal to spend more time outside anyway–with lots of Deet on my older kids because that’s the way I roll, have never found a non-Deet bug repellent that actually repelled bugs–and just keep the baby close to make sure he/she doesn’t get too bitten or too hot.

Anyway, random thoughts. It was fun to read this post and the comments.

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151 Eliza May 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Oh yes and don’t get me started on my local schools’ practice of keeping kids inside during “bad weather” which really means any time the weather isn’t perfect. Someone else from DC mentioned this. It drives me nuts! I am certain it has to do with liability since, for instance, it gets icy here in winter. Maybe it has something to do with not everyone at the public school having the right winter gear. But really–at my son’s preschool they went outside every day unless it was ridiculously, dangerously icy (which maybe happened once or twice all winter since on most icy or snowy days, school is closed here anyway!). Once I got my first taste of the public schools’ policies I was very disappointed. They get “gym time” if they don’t go to the playground but it is so not the same.

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152 Jen Lewis May 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm

I am simply blown away. In a good way :)

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153 Simone May 24, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I got homesick reading your post – I’m from Finland and currently living in Phoenix. I like Stockholm a lot, I’ve spent a lot of time there. I miss being outside with kids, we can’t do that much longer here as it is getting too hot. But I remember when we moved here in January me and my 2-year-old were the only ones in our nearby park before noon. I was talking about this to our music class teacher and she said it is probably still too cold for most people. And it was the loveliest weather! :) We are used to cold weather and I miss the different seasons, here it feels like one long summer for me. But it has also been nice to skip the wool underwear and overalls for at least one winter. I like many things in the U.S. but we will move back home latest when our firstborn starts school.

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154 Design Mom May 25, 2011 at 4:54 am

Phoenix is such a change from Scandinavia! I grew up in the desert and the summers are a challenge for sure.

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155 Alea May 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I keep thinking you could get turned in for child endangerment in the US for putting a little baby outside in all weather. And that’s really too bad.
My kids love to be outside, but it takes all sorts of effort on my part to either bundle and help with boots or slather with sunscreen and that gets really time consuming with 4 kids – granted the older ones can do most of it themselves. They always want to eat out there, I guess I should let them. I can eat inside where it’s not so cold and windy!

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156 Alea May 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I also have to say – we live on a farm and everyone gets so filthy it starts to drive me crazy and I’m washing coats all the time!

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157 Nicole May 24, 2011 at 10:02 pm

I love this. I have always thought it was ideal for kids to spend most of their day outside, but that may be because my kids both went to a Waldorf preschool. Both of their schools ask for kids to come in snow gear in the winter and sun gear in the summer. I love knowing that my toddler will spend her time digging, running, swinging, gardening, and not watching TV. I will admit, however, that I get really bored if I try to spend the whole day outside with her :). Here’s a good site if you want to learn about the health and developmental benefits of outdoor play http://www.childrenandnature.org/research/

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