As my maternity leave is coming to an end I have been giving some thought to the Danish/Scandinavian way of living and working versus the British. Being close to London I know that working hours here have always been longer than perhaps other places in the UK. And as a freelancer myself, mine vary a lot from week to week.

I feel grateful that I get to spend more time with Caspian than most working mothers, though it is often stressful to constantly chase new opportunities and rarely know what will happen three months down the line. It also means working evenings and weekends a lot. But I love being in charge of my day and have the freedom to be creative with the blog when it suits me. Even the nitty gritty admin work behind the scenes excites me. And with a background as a performer I still get my kicks from running workshops on public speaking and presenting.

So to compare my work life with that of a Scandinavian mother wouldn’t be fair. I don’t think it is easy to be self-employed in Denmark as it’s very much a society geared for the 9-5 employed work life. This certainly has it advantages, but it also means institutions like nurseries and after school clubs close at this time, too. So many need to leave work at 4 pm to pick up their kids – I’m sure they hardly mind and it’s probably beneficial to their general health and well-being. I suppose this also gives them more family time in the afternoon and evening than a lot of British parents have. As much as I love our life where we are, I do think that the Nordic countries are some of the best places to raise children.

Another advantage in these societies are the cost of childcare. We have recently signed Caspian up for nursery – hopefully starting a day or two from early next year – but for a Dane I must admit that the cost did come as a bit of a shock. In Denmark you generally pay between £400 and £600 a month for a full time nursery place including milk, food and nappies. That’s the equivalent to what we’ll have to pay a month for our boy attending a day or two a week. I know there’s a scheme in place where you should get 15 hours free childcare from the age of 3, but I must admit that I believe the government should review this. A lot of working families need it earlier, say from age 1 or 2. I know that it would personally be a big help to us if I knew we could get this type of help sooner rather than later.

Britain has one of the highest rates of stay-at-home-mums in Europe. I can understand that many choose this, as working full time barely covers the cost of having your child looked after, so what is the point of dragging yourself off to work – especially if it’s a job you do not love – only for most of your pay to go on child care? I love my work and look forward to building a career, but I never had a child so that someone else could look after him, that’s why a good balance is very important to me. When I left the house at 7 am Tuesday morning of last week and didn’t get in till 12 hours later it was hard – especially as it was the first time being away from Caspian for so long – but I also enjoyed it, getting back into a job I love, and I knew that taking on such a full day allows me to have days off just to spend with our son.

How do you balance your work and family life?


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13 thoughts on “THE SCANDI WAY OF WORK

  1. Yep, it is easier to be a working parent in Finland too, where I’m from. The quality of life is just so much better. Yet here I am, in London. We solved it so one of us stays home, and in our family it is my husband.

    1. If we moved back to Denmark I would have to take a full time job, meaning working 40 hours a week and then I wouldn’t get to see Caspian as much. Once he is at school here, I wouldn’t mind working longer hours, but right now I’m so happy that my job is flexible enough that I get lots of time with him. There are though things I miss about Denmark/Scadinavia. Oh, and I have always been envious of the Finnish baby box, which I think is a lovely idea plus the fact that teachers are educated to Master level and much more respected than here or in Denmark.
      Thank you for stopping by and hope all is well with you.

      Nadia – ScandiMummy x

    1. I hope your move back goes smoothly. Yes, I can only imagine that it will be a different life, but hopefully you’ll find lots of happiness here too.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  2. This is such a thought provoking post, and so relevant to me at the moment. We have crossed many childcare hurdles since becoming parents, and being a ‘working mum’. The decision was recently made for me as I was made redundant whilst on maternity leave with baby #2. Considering a new job, childcare costs for two pre-schoolers is just too much right now so I’m holding off the job search.
    We felt well and truly stitched up by the government free 15 hours scheme as our nursery selected core hours as funded, thus incurring mega top up fees after age 3, and ultimately not being able to afford to use the whole 15 hours. Crazy! It sounds like the scandi way could teach us a thing or two…
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    1. I have heard similar stories and it scares me that this scheme doesn’t seem to do what it’s meant to. Thank you for stopping by and hosting a great new linky…

      Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  3. I gave up work after my second child care costs and work live balance was just ridiculous. Instead I do some work from home around the children. Like you I didn’t have a child for someone else to raise them. I think things are out of kilter here. #coolmumclub

    1. Hi Laura,

      It’s a tricky situation right, because I want Caspian to see that a job can be very fulfilling but it shouldn’t come at such a high cost. Today Sweden announced that they are officially cutting the working day to 6 rather than 8 hours. This must sound like heaven to most people here. And studies have shown that workers are more productive if they get to spend more time on hobbies and with their family. I don’t know what we’ll do if we have another child, it would make it difficult financially if we were to have both looked after.

      Thank you for reading… will now go and read your post on Christmas cards 🙂 My mother-in-law left us quite a collection, so I expect I will send some this year.

      Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  4. Really insightful post. I love hearing about how other nationalities approach the working life. I do think that we need to become a lot more flexible here in the UK if we are going to encourage mums to go back to work. I’m still on maternity leave but will soon be looking into childcare costs which I’m not looking forward to at all. It’s no surprise that the stats are so high for work at home mums. Thanks for sharing #coolmumclubx

    1. Thank you for stopping by 🙂 Enjoy your maternity leave! I think I took mine slightly for granted thinking being freelance I would still have lots of time even when I returned to work, and I probably have more than most who are working in 9-5 jobs, but it’s a different life now. Just saw that Sweden officially changed the working day to 6 hours rather than 8 after studies suggest workers actually are more productive when at work when they in return have more time to spend on hobbies and with their families. And it’s not hard to imagine. Wish something like that came into place here. That and cheaper child care 🙂

      Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  5. Oh wow, the Danish approach sounds so much more civilised. Am in the midst of trying to get pregnant so can’t comment on how I balance work and family just yet. I definitely don’t want to give up work but am already worried about the costs of childcare – by the sounds of it, it will probably eat up most (even all?) of my salary. Pretty depressing and hardly an incentive for mothers to stay in the workplace. And yet at the same time there is a push to increase gender diversity in senior roles – surely affordable childcare is one of the basic prerequisites for this? Enjoyed your post, thanks.
    The crazy stork lady
    (via Brilliant Blog Posts blog hop).

    1. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂 Yes, I think affordable childcare is very much needed here in the UK and if not implemented will scare many women off from returning to the work force, which is a shame. Hopefully a better balance can be reached.
      Good luck with project baby! Looking forward to following your journey… and at least we now know the baby when he or she arrives will be very well dressed 😉

      Nadia – ScandiMummy x

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