Guide to having a baby in Denmark

Having a baby is one of the most exciting and scary things we do in life and that is when we are in our own countries. Having a baby in a new country can be even more daunting as you are navigating a different languages, process and culture. This was one of the reasons I decided to write a ebook guide to having a baby in Denmark (and it covers the first year too).


For many expat parents to be in Denmark this may be your first baby and you need a lot of help, advice and support in the journey through pregnancy and into that first year. Equally you may have other children but had them in your home country or somewhere else completely.

Almost nine years ago I had my son Frederiksberg Hospital. He was one of the last babies born there before they closed the maternity unit. As he was my first child I had no idea about anything really, not having been a particularly  maternal young woman and being one of the last of my friends to have a baby. I muddled through in some parts of my pregnancy and in others I was led by the medical team around me and the rest of advice from books, the internet and friends and family. I enjoyed my pregnancy and despite a difficult birth, my experience in the hospital here was also excellent. I found the first year a little tough but then who doesn’t?

Things have moved on a lot from those days all those years ago, both in the consumer landscape of Denmark to the services that are offered to pregnant women and young families. In some ways this makes things a lot easier but in others there is more information to find and to know where to look.

In preparation for this guide I thought about all the things I learned when I was pregnant and a new mum but I also had a great focus group of expat mums and mums to be who really helped me out, both endorsing the information I was including but also sharing with me the things they had found tough or information they had wished they’d had. So a big thank you to those women.

If you are expecting a child here in Denmark or have just had a baby then this guide will be an enormous help to you, I wish I’d had something similar myself all those years ago. If you would like to get hold of the guide you can visit my secure shop here.

 

Dejlige Days Podcast

So I started the preparations for this podcast back in the summer, yes it has taken me that long!  It is probably the one thing I have done since starting this blog and my business that I have found the hardest to do. It is a really personal thing to put your actual voice out there.  I found the whole process rather daunting and nerve wracking but I lined up some interviewees and with the basic tech I had I chatted with them about their expat lives. I unashamedly raided my address book of people I have found inspiring or fascinating along my expat journey. All of them have started, created or driven forward projects or businesses which directly help expats. They all share their thoughts on the conundrums of expat life – how to make friends, how to build networks and how to really settle in.

The first season or set of interviews is four episodes long. I will, hopefully, return with some more. I hope you enjoy the short first season. You can listen from a tab here on my blog and also on Dejligedayswelcome.com via Soundcloud or you can listen and hopefully subscribe over on iTunes (or Apple Podcasts as I think it is officially called). It is also available on Android by searching for the podcast name.

Podcast on Itunes

Differences between Danish schools and UK ones

Recently I asked some UK based mums about aspects of their primary age children’s schools. I had noticed what I saw as some fundamental differences between the two countries’ approach to schooling and my research backed up my thoughts. I have only been a parent in Denmark and Germany and my experience of UK schools is from my own childhood.

The overriding theme in Danish schools is giving freedom and choice to the children even from a young age. For many parents coming from countries such as the UK and the US this can be alien and a bit of a struggle to come to terms with. Although we all remember the freedoms we had as children growing up in 70s and 80s Britain, there is a fear of this for children now. High profile child abductions have bred a culture of fear, however it can be argued that these cases are the exception rather than the rule.

So here are my observations. I would love to hear your thoughts and observations as well. Have it got it right or not? What are your experiences?

Open school buildings – I have not seen many school buildings here with key pad entrances (daycare places do have them). My son’ school has been housed in a couple of state school buildings here in Copenhagen and none of them had secure keypad entrances. I know the private International schools do have higher security but it is rare in state schools. When I asked about UK schools 76% of those who responded said their schools had secured key pad entrances.

Open Playgrounds – a lot of schools here have completely open playgrounds, that is without fences and gates. Some are even have public footpaths or cycle ways running through them. After hours facilities in schools such as playgrounds and sports halls are often open for the local community to use them. When we lived in Østerbro we regularly spent the evenings in our local school playground on their play equipment and we would often see other local families doing the same. In my survey 100% of the school playgrounds were fenced in and only 11% were available after hours for the local community.

Mobile Phones – in most schools here children as young as seven will arrive at school with their own mobile phone (usually to do with personal safety, more later) but will hand it in to the school office for the school day. 88% of my survey said that mobile phones were not allowed in primary school in the UK at all.

Travelling to school alone – following on from the point above, it is not uncommon to see children from the age of nine travelling to and from school alone on foot, by bike or on public transport, for this reason mobile phone are essential if parents and children to be able to keep in contact. This level of freedom is unusual in the UK with 70% of my survey saying this would not happen in their area.

School Uniform – I didn’t have to survey this one as it is rare for state school in the UK to not have a school uniform. in Denmark the reverse is true. There are no rules about clothing, hair styles or make up  but generally children are appropriately attired. I have written about this before here.

School start age – like many Northern European countries the legal school start age in Denmark is 6 and it is compulsory from the age of 7. Before that there is no formal education and the first year in a Danish school (0 klasse) is still very play based. Danes believe that it is important for children to be children and by the age of 11 they have caught up educationally with their peers in the UK.

School hours – the time primary age children spent in the classroom is around the same as in the UK but school days start at 8am in Denmark in many schools and finish a little earlier. This is for practical reasons – parents need to get to work, the daylight hours are short in the winter so children have some hope of seeing daylight after school finishes. Likewise the summer holidays are timed for the months when there should, in theory, be longer sunnier days in July.

School trips – school day trips in Danish schools usually involve long walks to the destination or a trip on public transport. 70% of my survey said trips would never be on public transport in the UK (the other 30% living in metropolitan areas). School trips in Danish schools tend to be funded by the school and parents are not asked for financial contributions as opposed to 80% of my UK survey members having to pay something towards the trips.

There are flaws in the Danish school system, of course nowhere is perfect, but the freedoms given to children to make their own decisions and exercise their freedom within a trusting society is an important element of making children ready to take on life as teenagers and adults.

 

Lactose Free products in Denmark

I have written before about gluten-free products and today I thought I’d write a quick guide to lactose free (laktosefri) products here in Denmark. This is a subject close to home for us as my husband needs to follow a lactose free diet.

One thing which has surprised me is how many products contain lactose, many of which you wouldn’t immediately assume would. Many sausages here contain lactose as well as frikadeller (meat ones), pates including leverpostej. Crisps and pre made soups also can contain lactose.  If you shop carefully you can find some of these free of lactose. It is a positive move by food producers in Denmark to highlight in bold type any potential allergens in their ingredients lists, which makes this process a little easier. Another thing which surprised me is that some blue cheeses are naturally lactose free!

So onto the products. Arla has a wide range of lactose free dairy products (it is important if you are following a lactose free diet not to cut out all dairy products as you can be missing out on health benefits – this page by the UK NHS is very useful). Arla is a brand name UK readers will have seen offering lactose free products in the UK. Here you can buy almost all products that usually contain lactose in a free from variety including milks, cream, yoghurt, cheese and butter. These seem to be available in almost all supermarkets. There are also some supermarket own brands as well.

Alpro  is a plant-based alternative to dairy and they have a number of products available again in most supermarkets. Of course there are lots of nut milks available.

Recently I have spotted that Galbani now produces a lactose free mozzarella, a relief for pizza lovers! I also bought some lactose free parmesan (not seen it many places) – in my opinion it had zero resemblance to real parmesan but did the job.

Matilde now offer their ubiquitous chocolate milk in a lactose free variety. Hansens Is have lactose free ice creams.

Philadelphia have a lactose free incarnation perfect for cheesecake fans. Another surprising one is Wasa crackers have lactose free ones – I had no idea their regular ones contained it at all!

There are other products offering lactose free alternatives. I use Nemlig.com as a good guide for these, even if you choose to shop elsewhere. A quick search simply for ‘laktosefri’ in Nemlig with show you many alternatives.

If you are not all exclusively lactose free in your household you may find my guide to dairy products useful!

Photo credi

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

So I am back after about a three week break. We enjoyed Christmas at home and then spent almost a week at a summer house at the top of Sjælland, like we usually do. We may break from tradition next year and head further north to see the Northern Lights.

Whilst we were away I saw a few posts on social media about bullet journals. At 1pm when I started Googling them I didn’t understand the point, by the time I went to bed I was fully converted to the idea. I had ordered a special dotted book to begin my bullet journal (It should arrive this week). I am aware that I need a regular creative, non screen based outlet, I like to be organised and I often think of things I need or want to do and they stay in a swirl in my mind. Apart from the diary and to-do aspect of a bullet journal, I am going to use it to encourage me to read more and to think of places we should visit (and plan to actually visit them, especially in Denmark. A few things have happened over the last few years that make me believe we should seize the day and not add things to a ‘one day’ list.

In other news I have my surgery on my stuck ulcer nerve scheduled for the end of the month and before that I will be launching the short series of interview podcasts I have already recorded. I am struggling a little with the iTunes element of it and it has been a bit of a show stopper (pun intended) so I shall release them via my website in the first instance, whilst I iron out the issues.

Also if you read my last post I am working on my new book – Moving to Denmark – all you need to know. I need a certain volume of pre-orders to be able to go ahead and publish it (even self publishing a Kindle book comes with costs) so please do pop over and order it if you think it may be of use to you and also share with others who may be interested. Click here!

My new book “Moving to Denmark – All you need to know”

Throughout this year I have attended a number of conferences, masterminds and training sessions as well as belonging to a fantastic online business community. As a solopreneur (not sure I like that word but it defines what I do) it is important to invest in yourself. I don’t have colleagues to bounce ideas around with so above are the ways that help me stay fresh and inspired.

A theme running through these sessions this year is that people felt I should write a book specifically about moving to and living in Denmark. There is nothing like this out there but my research tells me that people are searching for this information a lot, both as a book or just general information. Add to this the huge amount of misinformation available online – either in good faith or from people who want to mess with you a little – I felt this was something I should do.

So my second book (you can order my first, more general, book about relocation here) is going to be call “Moving to Denmark – All you need to know” and quite frankly it will do what it says on the tin. I didn’t want a fancy or clever title, just one that reflected what the book will offer you.

I have opened the book up for preorders and it will be published in late spring 2018. It will be a Kindle book first and then a hard copy depending on interest. You can preorder it via my website and in late January it will be available for preorder on Amazon. If this sounds like a book they would interest you please do preorder, if you think a friend or colleague would find the book useful then please do share this post or the link to the preorder with them.

Pre-order here….

Royal Copenhagen Christmas Tables 2017

I finally made a visit to the Royal Copenhagen Christmas Tables. The tables were created by members of the Royal Ballet and as usual they were beautiful. I had a particular favourite (first two pictures). You still have a few days to visit the tables. You can read more about the tables this year here.

This year, next year

I thought I’d share something a little more personal today.

This time last year I was in the middle of coming clean from using a vast amount of morphine to manage chronic pain. It was a tough and painful time, both for me and those close to me. Our christmas was not the usual affair. We were between homes and living in a lovely apartment in Østerbro for three months. It was a cosy place and we were grateful to have it but it wasn’t our place. My son was aware of my health situation not being normal and it had an impact on him.

This year Christmas is going to be different and better. I am still managing chronic pain but whilst it isn’t nice it is under control. We are living in our house and are settled. My son is getting on well at school and is looking forward to going on a Christmas steam train trip (which last year I spent shivering and sweating thanks to withdrawals), putting up our tree, getting up at the crack of dawn to see what Father Christmas has brought, heading to the forest for a few days after christmas. It is going to be a cosy time and hopefully stress (and sweat) free.

As some longer term readers will know in January 2015 I had a serious cycle accident. There was a long journey of recovery and whilst I have almost complete movement back in my arm I have been suffering from chronic nerve pain which I manage by taking medicinal cannabis (read more about that here). I had an ultra sound with a neurologist in Vejle back in September and the results were finally conclusive and I have surgery to release my ulner nerve planned for the end of January. Again there will be another tough road for recovery – acute pain for a few weeks whilst I heal, more physio but hopefully the end of chronic pain.I have plans for my business in the new year; podcast, new book and some special events but first I need to get my health sorted once and for all.

As usual I shall probably be taking a Christmas break from blogging here (I may pop in if I have something to share) but in the meantime I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2018. Thank you again for taking the time to read this blog, which I hope has been useful and entertaining, it means a lot to me to have you here  (I say this every year but it is true every year!)

If you want the low down on New Year’s Eve you can get hold of my mini guide about how to celebrate Danish style here. 

And if you are still wanting to read about Christmas this guide is still available.

Starting January 11, 2018 – English Sing and Sign classes in Vesterbro

Maya will be running a second course of an English language Sing and Sign baby signing class in Vesterbro starting on Thursday 11th January 2018 at 10.30am for 10 weeks (term time only) at Café Sweet Surrender, Dybbølsgade 49, 1721 Copenhagen V. Price: 850kr. The class is for babies aged 6 – 14 months old.

For more information please visit facebook.com/singandsigncopenhagen or www.singandsign.com then choose Copenhagen under Classes near you.

Below is a little about what you can expect from the class.

Learn baby signing with Sing and Sign

Both I and my children loved Sing and Sign! Because it teaches all the signs through songs and music, it makes learning them seem easy and lots of fun. Some of the songs are written especially for the course which makes it easy to include signs which relate to your everyday life with your baby, and that’s what makes it so useful; there’s a lovely song about changing your baby’s nappy, about bath time, about going to the park etc. The classes are themed, and the signs are introduced gradually. This way, by the end of the 10 week course, you have actually covered more than 100 signs without really thinking about it. However – and this really appealed to me at times – each week also focuses on just a couple of essential signs (such as ‘eat’, ‘drink’ or ‘help’) so that even frazzled parents who haven’t slept for two days feel they can walk away from class with something.

The S&S approach is that baby signing is meant to be simple, relaxed and fun, and each class always follows the same pattern so that your baby quickly feels comfortable with the format and start to anticipate what exciting thing happens next …..perhaps the instruments, the peek-a-boo box with Jessie Cat, the props bag or the picture board.After moving back to Copenhagen last year, I met several English speaking mums who said they would love to do a baby signing class if only classes were available in English. At home we were still listening to the Sing and Sign CD, and my three-year-old daughter would from time to time ask for the DVD, and as I still found myself singing along to the songs and throwing the odd sign in, I decided to look into buying the franchise. I am now the proud owner of Sing and Sign Copenhagen and will start classes in early September 2017. I’m so excited to be able to share my passion for baby signing with other parents this way, and hope to see lots of lovely mums, dads and babies in my classes!

 

Little glimpse of Christmas in Tivoli

We had our first visit to Tivoli for the Christmas season on Friday and it was amazing. Tivoli promised new things this season and it didn’t disappoint. The area around the Planen has been transformed into a Polar Express inspired winter wonderland, complete with a static steam train housing food places and shops. The steam engine even produces ‘steam’ every so often.

With the increasingly short days you can see all the sparkly lights from 3.30pm onwards. I can’t wait to go again this week!

Finally for more of a lowdown on Christmas in Denmark don’t forget to sign up for my guide and also get a holiday and celebrations printable for 2018 featuring illustrations by Charlotte Rule.