Hei, hei Oslo parents! It's February 24th, 5 days left for those of you who are applying for a kindergarden spot for their little ones this year. How are you finding it? Challenging? Stressful? Easy peasy? I was in your exact same situation last year and I remember having a hard time selecting 5 barnehage and ranking them by preference, uff! I ended up putting a lot of work and energy on it and ended up getting a random one assigned, which was not even in our list. I don't mean to sound discouraging at all, my daughter was born in September, and we were one of the last ones to get a spot. I hope you turn out to be luckier than us ;).
But I don't actually want to discuss the whole application process in this post. Today I'd like to share with you something that I would have absolutely loved to hear exactly now, one year ago. What the alternatives to barnehage actually are. As parents we assume our kids will attend barnehage, but when the time comes, many of us look at our one-year-olds and enter in doubt "isn't it too soon to send them to kindergarten?". But because society is structured this way, we often don't really allow ourselves to question that. But you know what? We totally should! I ignored my own doubts and intuiton and now I regret. I did end up sending my daughter at the age of 12 months to barnehage, feeling she wasn't ready but hoping she would adapt.
For those who are still in doubt, please read the text below that was kindly shared with us by Patricia Almeida, a Spanish mom living in Oslo who has a one and a half year-old daughter and a beautiful blog about how to raise brave girls (in Spanish language).
How much does a barnehage cost?
Most people would say around 3000kr (2730kr + food costs). Well, that is not entirely true. That is the cost for us, the parents. But since nursery services are highly subsidised here in Norway, the real cost is much higher than that.
Ok, so what?
Well, if you don’t take your baby to barnehage when she is between 12 and 23 months, you will receive a compensation of 6,000kr from the Government.
What does that mean?
It means that what you are really paying for barnehage during the first year is 9000kr. Barnehage: 3000kr + Kontantstøtte “turn down”: 6000 kr.
Why is this important?
If you add the 1000kr of Barnetrygd to that amount, you can dispose of 10.000kr extra a month for arranging care for your baby. You can use that money to hire a nanny or dagmamma. Perhaps with that extra income you or your partner can stay longer at home to raise your child. Researchers have been warning for some time now that one-year-olds suffer high levels of stress during the beginning of barnehage. These levels of stress can be reduced in a home environment and with less kids, like with a dagmamma or a nanny at home. By the time they are two, they are more mature and prepared to join a barnehage without the same stress.
Shouldn’t babies be socialising?
Most one-year-olds do not interact with other babies. They play side by side, but they do not really play with each other. However, you can find åpenbarnehages and plenty of other activities for your baby to socialise with other kids!
Now that I know this, I would rather get the kontantstøtte. But I have already applied for barnehage, what now?
If you cancel the application or do not take the spot, you should be able to get the kontantstøtte. This is for kids that have rejected their spot or haven't applied for one, so if you baby is between 12 and 23 months and is not taking a barnehage spot, you are entitled to receive this. A friend of mine took her son to barnehage but he was not adapting well, so she decided to take him out. They applied for the kontantstøtte (they had to submit a paper guarantying that he was no longer in the barnehage) and with the money they got, they sent him to a dagmamma instead. Now he is over two, and went back to barnehage ready to be there. He is happy now, but he needed this extra time to be ready. And we are so lucky to live in a country that helps us economically to do this. So, don’t miss this opportunity and consider waiting with barnehage for a bit longer.
So? How did you like the alternatives? What are your thoughts? Anybody that has taken the Kontantstøtte and wants to share their experience? Thaks in advance :)