Norway has its peculiarities, as all countries do; there are things that are obvious to Norwegians but strange for newcomers. Parents with young children are particularly likely to find life in a new country overwhelming.
Children in Norway are welcomed and loved everywhere. Oslo, the Norwegian capital, is an ideal location for families who like nature and outdoor activities. The city centre is a ten minute walk from the fjord and ten minutes from the forest. Songsvann, a lake in the Oslo area, is a popular summer destination, and is also easily reachable by public transport. The whole city is walkable and has a well-developed public transport system.
Buses are accessible by stroller (barnevogn) and bus drivers are patient towards the little ones. Some buses are able to carry four to five strollers at once. It’s also wise keeping an eye on the special family discounts offered by Ruter, the public transportation company. All in all, the city offers perfect conditions to take a break from the city life and explore nature.
Coping with winter in Norway
Children in kindergarten (barnehage) play outdoors for many hours each day, regardless of rain, snow, or wind, and it is therefore very important to choose the proper clothing. Most small children have their daytime naps outdoors in their strollers; Norwegians believe that fresh air and a familiar sleeping place are healthy and help children fall asleep more easily.
Norway is, however, one of the most expensive places for shopping in the world, so it is worth buying Norwegian products. Norwegian and Scandinavian brands such as Stormberg, Polarn O. Pyret, Bergans, Helly Hansen and Dale of Norway offer quality products that are specifically designed for local weather conditions.
One term that expats will certainly come across with is ull (wool). Clothes made of wool are a Norwegian favourite. One of the reasons they enjoy great popularity is that they allow the body breathe while absorbing moisture and keeping the wearer warm and dry.
Dressing for Norwegian weather
Grasping the concept of layering is just as important as learning to count. Here is some guidance for dressing your child during the colder winter days:
Inner layer - thin wool
Middle layer - fleece
Outer layer – winter suit (parkdress)
If you are a visual type of person or interested in more recommendations for clothing, a whole chapter in the book Oslo for Mothers deals with this topic. As for boots, make sure they are big enough to wear with wool socks during the autumn and winter months. They must be water-resistant or waterproof, as there are a lot of puddles and slush pools during these months.
Norwegians encourage children to figure out things by themselves and experiment instead of teaching systematically and learning by heart. They say that it develops their capacity for creative thinking and combining knowledge they have already acquired in different ways. In terms of clothing this means that muddy puddles, snow dunes or icy yards are not seen as obstacles for children wanting to spend a few hours outdoors.
The following Norwegian saying is worth remembering, especially on long winter days – “There is no bad weather only bad clothing.” There is no excuse for avoiding outdoor activities in winter. In certain parts of the country, if Norwegians didn’t go out in bad weather, they would never go out at all. To sum it up: when in Norway, do as the Norwegians do.