expats · finland · multicultural families · parenting

5 Finnish parent hacks every parent should know

I became a mother in 2013, here in Finland. I cannot think of a better place where to grow my family, the services are simply amazing. Apart from enjoying those, I learned a lot of parenting hacks which are only typical of Nordic families, and I want to spread the word on these great tricks. All these habits changed the way we live with our kids and brought more peace and serenity to our household. 

1. Sleeping outside… in the winter

Brace yourself as this will be shocking. Finnish parents let their infants and toddlers nap outdoors, especially in cold weather. Whaaat? I assure you, it’s true. Of course children are wrapped in as many layers as necessary, and the health guidelines recommend not to put them outside when it’s -10C or below. Nevertheless, it’s quite common to spot small children sleeping in their stroller outside cafes or in people’s yards. I experienced myself that children sleep longer this way and I tested several times that they don’t feel cold (touch behind the neck). My daughter slept up to four hours as a small baby outdoors in the winter, and  a significantly shorter time when she napped inside. More on recommended clothing according to temperature can be found here.

2. Porridge in the evening 

It’s very common to serve porridge (puuro in Finnish) to kids before their bedtime, to induce sleep and prevent them from waking up hungry. Apparently oats have a significant concentration of melatonin, which induces sleep. Plus, they’re slow-digesting carbs, so children feel a full tummy for several hours. For smaller children who are still drinking from their bottle, there’s a lighter alternative called gruel (velli in Finnish) which does the trick equally well. You can start serving gruel in the bottle from six months of age.
In our family the evening serve of porridge has become part of the nighttime routine. Each kid has their favourite kind of porridge – I’m so happy to cook two different porridges, thank you – and it marks the start of bedtime.
A couple of recommendations if you, like myself, come from a porridge-free country and have no idea how to cook it. Do not believe the cereal box, porridge cannot be cooked in the microwave. I learned after several microexplosions and horrible outcomes. Heat up water or milk to boiling temperature, then add the oats and mix until it becomes more creamy. Do not make it too thick and take into account it thickens a little when it’s getting cold. You can add a teaspoon of jam or a pinch of sugar. Some add some butter as well.

3. Enjoy any weather

Summer lasts for a very short time, so you cannot be picky about the weather or you’ll be trapped inside the house for months. Since I came to Finland, I learned not to be scared by weather. We go to the playground, for a walk or a stroll no matter if it rains or snows. And since summer weather is precious, we don’t feel lazy when the sun shines and never waste the opportunity. When I was leaving in Italy, few drops falling from the sky were enough to prevent kids from going out and that sticks when you are older. Living in Finland has taught me to enjoy whatever weather the day offers and made my kids happier. 

4. Amazing kids’ gear 

This links naturally to the previous section. Nordic countries have the best outdoors gears for children, which allow to go out in any weather condition. During mid-season and winter kids usually wear overall outfits which are great to keep them warm and preserve their clothes from rough outdoors play. There are several extra accessories which come in handy, such as these compact scarfs, toddlers’ balaclavas, and waterproof warm gloves. The suits usually have some genius laces which go below shoes and prevent legs from uncovering. When the weather is wet, there are fully waterproof light overalls which are easy to wash and keep your child’s clothes dry. This means kids can play in whatever conditions with no stress for the parents. Kids can jump in puddles, roll in snow, and play in wet sandpits, and stay dry.

5. Only socks allowed in the house 

This sounds like nothing but it makes a huge difference in how clean the house stays. Finnish people never keep shoes inside their house. When you visit someone’s else place, make sure you wear fancy socks as you’ll be required to leave your footwear out. It’s a trend which is starting to spread even in offices. When it comes to kids, this means no mud or wet snow ever makes it past the entrance. No sand grains in beds. No slippery floors. No mud on carpets. Can you imagine? 

How do these trick sound to you? Are you used to some of them or do you plan to make some yours? Let me know in the comments section.

The Tactical Mummy

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

7 thoughts on “5 Finnish parent hacks every parent should know

  1. This is so interesting! My daughter has napped outside in her stroller in cool weather several times and always enjoyed her sleep. We also do no shoes past the entrance and it does help the house stay clean(er). And being Canadian, I can certainly appreciate making the most of whatever the weather happens to be. I have our winter snow clothes all lined up already!

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  2. My origin is India, thought I was born/raised in the US. But we also follow rule #5, no shoes inside the house. And it IS practical, there’s no outdoor dirt coming into the house. I recently read about the sleeping in the cold, and it is very foreign but if it’s safe, then I would be open to trying it. I love the porridge before bedtime. #tacticaltuesdays

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  3. The no-shoes policy has an out for when dressing-up: indoor shoes. Walking outside in your (indoor, untreaded) dress shoes is also okay as long as you make sure the shoes are clean and dry when you step inside. You’d be hard-pressed to find a house without a shoe brush stand outside the door so use that.

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  4. I love hearing about how life is in Finland- thanks for all your posts! The porridge idea is fab- we do a similar thing in that the kids have rice pudding before bed- it seems to fill them up and keep them going through the night. Thank you for linking up with #tacticaltuesdays.

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