I mentioned this before, but when I first arrived to Oslo I was veeery pregnant and didn't know a lot of people here (specially not mothers to be, like me). And as a new mom in a new city, 'making friends' was high up on my to do list ;). The question was, HOW? Let's face it, it's kind of embarrassing to be hunting out for friends... Then one day, someone told me about something called Barselgruppe and got my hopes up.
In case you're not yet familiar with the term Barselgruppe (Norwegian for maternity group), it's a group of moms with same age babies that are usually grouped up by their Helsestasjon.
Most times, this is done automatically by each Helsestasjon without you having to request it. They should contact you a few weeks after the birth of your bay and invite you over to the Helsestasjon for your first meeting. This meeting is led by someone at your Helsestasjon (in my case it was a physiotherapist) who will talk a bit about your babies and will have a round of introductions. Moms usually exchange their contact information and start organising the meetings to follow.
If your Helsestasjon doesn't contact you about this, don't hesitate to call them and ask. In my case, for instance, they were quite busy during the time I gave birth (September) and decided not to invest resources into forming barselgrupper. So I had to call and ask them if I could join the last barselgruppe they had created (August group) and luckily they were ok with that. I'm in the Grünerløkka Helsestasjon though, which is usually a busy one.
In my barselgruppe all moms were Norwegian besides me. They all spoke very good English, but I felt a bit bad for making them all switch languages constantly. But anyways, I was tremendously happy to finally be able to share my mommy worries and concerns with other moms, discuss diaper brands and complain about lack of sleep ;).
It's up to each barselgruppe to decide the frequency of their meetings, but mine did it weekly. We met for coffee, strolls or for playdates at someones place.
Are YOU in a barselgruppe? How do you find it? Please, share your experience and tell us how often you meet with them, where and what kinds of plans you do. Gracias!
You've probably already heard this, but Norway is known for having a great parental leave scheme. Compared to many other countries it's one of the places that allows both, mom and dad, to be away from work for a long time. It's also one of the few countries that allows dads to take a leave of more than 10 weeks. But there're of course a few requirements you'll need to meet to be eligible for such benefits. Below I've tried to summarise the key aspects of the Norwegian parental leave. I am NOT an expert in this matter though, so please click on the links I've added to visit NAV and read more on each specific topic.
ARE YOU ENTITLED TO GET PARENTAL LEAVE?
When I moved to Oslo I was 8 months pregnant and still employed in Ireland. My employer allowed me to work from home for the remaining of my pregnancy, so I could give birth here in Norway. This means I still benefitted from the Irish maternity leave and not the Norwegian one, since I wasn't employed here. My partner though had been working in Oslo for over half a year, but could still not benefit from the Norwegian paternity leave. Why? Because I -the mom- hadn't been working in the country for a minimum of 6 months.. This does seem unfair towards the dad -I think it is-, but unfortunately it's the law and even though politicians are talking about changing it, it'll probably still take them a few years to do so. If you're wondering whether you're eligible or not to receive maternity or paternity leave, check here.
HOW LONG DOES THE LEAVE LAST?
So basically, the dad's leave here is dependant on the mom's. It comes as a package. There is no such maternity or paternity leave by its own, but parental leave as a whole. In the case of a birth, the parental leave period granted is of 49 weeks at 100 percent coverage, and 59 weeks at 80 percent coverage (parents must choose the same degree of coverage).
The mom has 15 business days in addition to that, which she has to take before the baby's due date. BUT (and this part is a bit tricky), if the baby arrives before the date he or she was due, for instance 1 week beofe, this week won't be added up to the normal 49 or 59 weeks of shared parental leave. The mom will basically "lose" this week. If the baby comes after the due date though, for example 1 week later, this week will be subtracted from the shared period.
HOW SHOULD YOU DISTRIBUTE THE LEAVE?
As I mentioned earlier, you and your partner have 49 or 59 weeks you need to share (depending on the coverage you chose). How are dad's and mom's supposed to split these weeks? Well, each of you needs to take a minimum of 10 weeks (the mom has to take the first 6 weeks), the rest you can distribute as you wish. Many couples decide that the mom should take most of the weeks and the dad takes the minimum 10 weeks that correspond to him, but others share it evenly. Some parents even take their leaves at the same time and use it to travel, but you'll need to formally apply for that. Click here for more information about the distribution of your leave.
HOW MUCH WILL YOU RECEIVE WHILE ON LEAVE?
This depends on your basis salary if you're an employee, and if you're a freelance.worker on the average pensionable income of the last three years. To calculate this and find out more about this subject, visit this site.
WHAT'S THE CHILD BENEFIT?
This is a monthly fee that the government gives parents with children under 18. So you can basically start receiving it after the birth of your child and up until he or she turns 18.. The ordinary child benefit is of 970NOK/month. You can check other rates (for single parents, for instance) here. The good thing is that you don't need to formally apply for this benefit if your child is born in Norway. You should get this payment automatically in your account a few months after the delivery. If you are not receiving this payment though you might want to check here and submit your application. For more information about child benefit click here.
WHAT'S THE LUMP SUM?
If you're not entitled to parental leave, you should be eligible to receive what they call 'lump sum'. This is a one time payment after the child's birth and is tax-free. The quantity you'll receive will be determined on a .case-by-case basis.. If you think you're elegible for this lump sum, you can see how to apply for it here.
Depending on where you come from, you'll find there are not so many baby stores you'll randomly ran into in the city. You have to know where they are and where to buy what.
The biggest and most popular baby stores are Babyshop and Barnas hus. you'll find them both online and offline. They have everything (or almost everything) related to babies: clothes, strollers, beds, toys, etc. If you're interested you can subscribe yourself to their newsletter, they are on sales quite often and have many items on offer.
If you're looking for more "natural" baby products like cloth diapers, for instance, you might want to check out Bæreglede. They also sell pregnancy and breastfeeding clothes.
Another very cool online store is Jollyroom.no, where you'll find prams, furniture, toys and much more. They also have good offers every now and then.
Komplett.no is also very useful if you're buying bigger items, I find. I, for instance, bought our stroller and our babybjorn chair there. I guess we could say Komplett is like the Norwegian Amazon.
If you're looking for second hand stuff there is Finn.no, which you're probably already familiar with. This is the 'go to' place for any second hand thing here in Norway ;). For baby specific second hand items you should also check this Facebook group: IMOBAGO - Barneting / Buy, Sell Kids' items. You should be able to request access and get it granted in short time. It's basically a group where parents post items they're selling or items they're looking for.
If you find the websites just to be available in Norwegian, try right clicking on the mouse and hit "translate to English". Most sites should have this Google feature enabled.