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 :)
Last Saturday morning, as many other Saturdays lately, we found ourselves home with a very common winter-weekend-dilemma... WHAT TO DO?! It was either going outside and enjoy the nature or the park or staying inside. Brrrrr... staying inside, please! But, not at home of course. Well, then where?!
And in the meantime, while we were trying to figure out a plan, the clock was ticking towards our little one's nap time. In these situations you have to think and you have to do it fast! Otherwise you end up staying home all day and by the time you've decided to go out, oops, the sun is setting! Welcome to Norwegian Januaries :).
And don't get me wrong, I love being outdoors, really. But when it's SO cold, and I see myself wrapped in layers, fighting with my daughter because she won't wear her gloves, walking like a penguin to overcome the ice and trying to blow my nose not really knowing how because I've lost sensitivity, my inner Spaniard awakes with a loud "BASTA!". Enough is enough. I respect Norwegian traditions and I admire their "ut på tur" enthusiasm, but as a southern born, one needs to know ones limits. ;)
Anyhow... My mission today is to help those of you who share my January-outdoor-pain, and pitch some fun indoor family-friendly activities to you.
There are many Oslo libraries that have a children-friendly area. Many of them have recently been renovated and look really cool. Most of them offer very interesting activities for babies and children, like story-telling, movie screenings or craft workshops. Last weekend we went to a story telling at Hovedbiblioteket and I found it amazing. Thea pretty much disconnected after the first 2 minutes, but children from 2 or 3 and up seemed super engaged. You can have a look all their children activities here
Oslo has many children-friendly museums. Many might think that it's usually for older children, but I believe even babies can enjoy the experience. It's a matter of visiting is with another pace and different expectations. I would strongly recommend the Natural History Museum in Botanisk hage and Popsenteret in Grünerløkka. This last one even has a children room with a fun slide, pillows and a lot of cool instruments they can play with. I've also heard great things about the Teknisk Museum, but haven't had the chance to visit it yet. Other options that are also on my list: Oslo Barnemuseum, Kontiki and Frammuseet and Film Museum
Always one of my top plans! And I personally find it extra cozy to go there on cold, gloomy days. It feels unbeliavably good being in a warm pool and looking out the window while it snows and blows. Here are a few of my favorite pools around Oslo: Bislett bad, Risenga Svømmhall and Drammensbadet
I've mentioned these in previous posts, but Steen og Strøm or Litteraturhuset have indoor playing areas for babies and toddlers, and are very convieniently located in case you need to run some weekend errands. Eventyrfabrikken or Leo's Lekeland are also an option, but they're usually quite packed during weekends.
What about YOU? Where do you take your kids during these cold, vinter weekends?
Hello moms and dads and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I finally can say -after a looong, sunny and relaxing Christmas break in Spain- that I'M BACK and ready to share many more fun baby-friendly plans a helpful tips with you.
As this is my first January post, I've decided to align it to this time of the year's tradition and promote a very popular new year's resolution, which I'm sure many of you have added to their list... aaaand, YES you've guessed correctly: GETTING FIT!
I've set this one repeatedly on my own list, and repeatedly I've skipped it year over year. But now that I have a baby, I feel sport is not only part of a summer-body project, but a need. The older my toddler gets, the more physical I need to get. I need loads of energy to cope with the day to day and meet her natural active demands. I need and want to be healthy, fit and energetic to not find myself counting the hours that are left until her (or my) bedtime.
I know this is much easier said than done, I’m an expert in the theory and a total fail in the practice. But, that is why today I'd like to share with you some more fun and children-friendly ways of exercising that can be compatible with your daily routine. Ready?
Getting fit proposal #1: hike!
If you like nature and have time during the day, you could try and join some of the organized trilletur (stroller walks) around Oslo. These activities are arranged by DNT Oslo on a weekly basis. You can find all their events on their Facebook page. I’ve previously written about these hikes on this post.
Getting fit proposal #2: climb!
This is another activity for moms or dads, also organized by DNT Oslo that takes place weekly at Friluftshuset in Sørenga. You can take your baby along and let him/her play on the floor while you practice some bouldering. There are spaces to breastfeed, change nappies and/or have your little one playing. The price for members is 100NOK and 115NOK for non-members. More info and dates of the events can be found here.
Getting fit proposal #3: gym!
There are several fitness studios around Oslo that offer free childcare while you’re gyming. The most popular one is probably SATS Elixia, but there are others such as Myrens Sportssenter or Athletica Vulkan which also offer a babysitting service while parents exercise.
Getting fit proposal #4: bootcamp!
This option is a bit more heartcore, but totally duable if you’re sporty and enjoy working out. Check out Mini Bootcamp for more info.
Getting fit proposal #5: snapback!
This is a fun initiative organized by a group of moms that you can follow via Facebook here. They get together every week to run or exercise with their babies. It’s a great option, since you’ll be surrounded by other moms who’ll empathise with you if you need to stop and breastfeed or if your baby starts crying.
Getting fit proposal #6: DIY
If you have a strong will you actually don’t necessarily need to join any of the above. There’s plenty you can do during your day to build up muscles and work on your core: walk more and avoid public transport, lay on the floor while your baby’s playing and use the time to do a few push-ups, stretchings, etc. Go jogging or power walking with the stroller to your closest park, avoid taking the stairs when you don’t have the pram with you, and so on ;).
Getting fit proposal #7: YouTube phenomenon!
Probably the cheapest and easiest way to get yourself moving. Search for “mommy and baby workout” or related queries and you’ll find loads of exercise ideas that you can do from home. Or… (I love this one) take down the drapes, search for your favourite song on YouTube (something that gets you moving), and start dancing like crazy. Your baby will have a blast and might even join the rhythm. I bet you’ll start sweating before the song is over!
How do YOU combine being a mom and exercising? Any cool, innovative method? Surprise us!!!