Today was a rather tough morning. In fact, the little one gets up at about 6.30 a.m every day, therefore making all my mornings similar. I am already used to his schedule though. However, today was different. I decided to take my little one for a walk in the park. I hardly do it in the morning hours. Taking the little ones for walks is part of being a parent in the west. I brushed my teeth and put on some moisturizer, dressed the little boy, packed the diaper bag, grabbed my laptop and went out. The weather was great. Shortly, after I was at the park looking for a quiet corner so that I could edit my You Tube video of the day.
No sooner had I settled down than groups of kids started streaming to the park. They were of all ages. I could barely tell whether the accompanying adult was the parent or the teacher. They were all as fresh as a daisy. Actually, kids in Denmark are live wires, always active and enthusiastic. By this time my little boy had already fallen asleep. I got my laptop out and started working on my videos. I was continually interrupted by the playing kids. More so, there were a bunch of fitness enthusiasts stretching right in front of me.
All this was happening in a public park. On the footpaths, there were runners of ages. These ones were not rehearsing for the next Olympics marathon, no. It must be one of the reasons Danes have been voted the happiest people for 40 years in a row. My video today was a short one, therefore it hardly took me an hour to edit. In addition to its length (the video),I have continually mastered the art of video making. This is beside my point. My boy did not sleep much as a result of the happy kids playing next to us. I breast fed him and we continued with our walk.
I could not help but notice babies as young as a year old in beautiful prams with their teachers. They had been brought to the park for the morning play. They seemed really excited. It is a very different culture as compared to back at home. In fact, we had to book a day care place for our little when he was as little as four months. In comparison to my beautiful home, at around this age, the mothers are required to go back to work after the maternity leave. As a matter of fact, the little helpless loved ones are left in the hands of total strangers commonly referred to as domestic managers.
Some of these managers, have no experience with infants whatsoever. In addition, some of them are very bitter with their employers which lead them to transfer the bitterness to the little ones. Moreover, these same domestic managers, are required to perform all other domestic chores, beside the child care. All things considered, if child growth and development is anything like what I have so far experienced with my little one, these domestic managers back at home are super humans. I am a super human. I do not have a domestic manager in the west. Rarely will you find a domestic manager in Copenhagen. Danes prefer bringing their own kids up. With one year paid maternity leave, I would prefer it too.
The thought of not having help to raise my kids was scary. After all, my mum and dad had to work while we were left at home with the domestic workers. In Denmark, however, they provide a different kind of a helping hand. There are government established day cares which cater for kids from the age of 4 months. The Danes believe in giving the parents a break and a time to breathe. Furthermore, they believe that if a mother does not get time of her own, the fatigue will be transferred to the little one.
Children here, are given more time to play. Moreover, they are barely given so much unnecessary choices. For instance, it is not a wonder to find that all the children in school have the same kind of lunch. ‘Leverpostej og rugbrod’ is their preferred lunch. This is basically ‘liver spread on rye bread.’ To balance their diet, they have some baby carrots and an apple. That’s cool, right? Barely will you find an over protective danish parent. Actually, children are left to learn from doing. For instance, today while at the park, I witnessed a group of students together with their teacher lighting a bonfire to roast bread. This is common in Denmark.
Did I mention that during winter you will find candles lit in the classrooms? The kids are presumed to know that a burning candle is dangerous. In Denmark, there are both indoor and outdoor playgrounds designed for children of all ages. Last week I took the opportunity to visit one of the indoor playgrounds. Unlike the outdoor playgrounds, the indoor ones are organized according to the ages. For example I attended the one for ages between 0 to 3 years. I have to mention that it was really interesting for the little one. From there he came back with the his first word, baba.
A Danish mum from picking her kids from kindergarten.
Parenting in this west is really fun. The danish people work until 4.00 p.m. Afterwards most of them bike to pick their kids and thereafter to have dinner together. They have a phrase referred to as hygge. There is no equivalent English word that means hygge. It means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family are hygge. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. The Danish families create this coziness with mealtime almost every night. But it doesn’t just happen; they prioritize it.
Maybe as Kenyans we can borrow a thing or two.