Parenting in Sweden

From napping outdoors to “Vabbing” – what Americans can learn about parenting from the Swedish

By Charlene Walters
Resource & Referral Counselor, Children’s Council of San Francisco


swedenEvery day I come across lots of interesting information about the world of child care. “14 Surprising Things About Parenting in Sweden,” the last installment in a fascinating series called “Mothering Around the World,” really resonated with me, not only because I’m part Swedish, but also because of the amazing support Swedish parents are provided in their native land.

Besides some of the interesting cultural differences – like leaving your children outdoors to nap, regardless of the weather! – I was blown away when I read about Sweden’s standard paid maternity/paternity leave policy: “a whopping 480 days of paid leave to share.” Swedish lawmakers recently declared 90 of these days as non-transferable for fathers only, to encourage men to take their paternity leave.

Research shows quality early care and education has so many benefits and for many children, receiving that care from a parent is the best option. I was very lucky when I had my daughter, I worked for an organization that allowed me to take six months off. Even though half of that time was unpaid, those months were so precious to me. When I returned to work, I worked part-time for three months; it was a nice transition for my family. Despite the recent buzz about tech companies offering generous parental leave packages, most American working parents aren’t so fortunate.

The second thing that stood out to me about parenting in Sweden is the generous government-subsidized child care program, and the fact that most Swedish parents actually use them. The Swedish government even pays your salary when you need to stay home from work because your child is sick: it’s called Vabbing. What a blessing it would be for all American parents to know they would never have to struggle to pay for child care. Most people don’t realize that the average cost of infant care in a San Francisco child care center is $1900/month, if you’re able to secure a spot.

If you’re seeking out financial assistance for child care, check out these quick tips or give us a call for more information. For new or expecting parents, we offer free monthly workshops that will help you better understand child care and preschool options, licensing regulations, quality indicators, the application process and many other important topics.

Understanding, securing and paying for child care or preschool can be a daunting task, but Children’s Council is here to help!

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