Yes, I can dress my kids for the Swedish weather

As much of Sweden is digging out from Tuesday’s snowstorm, contributor Gabriel Stein explains how getting his kids dressed in Sweden pushes him to the limit and back almost every morning.

Yes, I can dress my kids for the Swedish weather

I had a rude shock the other day. It got cold in Stockholm. I felt it creeping in through the windows the night before. At that point I was still in a state of denial.

By 8am the next morning, reality bit, in the form of two children under age four who needed to be dressed for the outdoors. I come from New Jersey, where, by now, kids have mostly been taught to escape to the indoors when it’s raining or cold.

Sweden is different.

With only anecdotal evidence to back me up, I would say Swedish kids spend at least fifteen hours more per week outside than American kids – and probably more.

It starts from birth. Swedish babies practically live in their carriages, which have rain protection and lambskin padding for when it gets cold. Then there’s the little sleep sack that wraps around the baby who is by now dressed in layers, the last one being thick winter overalls. (Think Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”.) Many Swedes even put their babies outside in their carriages to take naps. They say the fresh air is good for them.

Later on in their lives, at daycare, kids are put through the rigors of all the seasons.

Raining? “Doesn’t matter, throw them outside with their rain suits and gloves. Don’t forget the rubber hats and rain boots.”

Freezing cold, dark and windy? “It’s Sweden! Send them out to the playground with their long johns, fleeces, thick winter jackets, wool socks, snow boots, double layers of gloves, hats and scarves.”

And through whatever mother nature brings, the kids are happy.

At this time every year in Sweden, with winter’s biting chill just around the corner, parents begin to assess the clothing situation at home. They need to ensure that they have the clothing it takes to get their kids through the cold and rainy autumn and freezing, snowy winter.

There are so many different items of clothing to choose from and they are each so very specific. For example, there are special rain gloves for two months – November and April – when it rains a lot but isn’t below freezing. These gloves are waterproof but they breathe. Talk about a niche market.

I’ve never even heard of half of the items these kids wear, and, after five years in Sweden, I still don’t know their proper Swedish names.

I do know, however, how to dress my kids. But knowing is easy; doing is hard.

I was home the other day with my 9-month-old son and had to drop-off my 3-year-old daughter at daycare by 9am (I’m on paid paternity leave for six months with my son. My daughter goes to daycare four days a week.)

While my son was finally fully dressed and ready to go, my daughter started to show signs of rebellion. Except for the tests that she puts me through in public, her dressing-time challenge is my worst nightmare.

This is what will happen.

I have probably already worked ten minutes getting her brother dressed, so by the time it’s her turn, I am already sweating. (A while back I realized that I needed to get dressed last, otherwise I would lose my temper at the first hint of a defiant gaze.) First, she’ll run away, forcing me to either scream no from on the floor in the hallway or chase after her and carry her back. If I’m carrying her back, she’ll most likely be screaming no and speed kicking her legs into the air.

At this point, I’m still trying to use words to convince her that it’s good for “all of us” if she gets dressed.

“We don’t want to be late for daycare,” I say. Or, I threaten her: “Otherwise you’re going to be cold and then you won’t be able to play outside with all the other kids.” (I haven’t checked with any child rearing or psychology books about the “threat-fear-guilt” method, but I’m sure it makes me a bad father.)

Here’s where it can go two ways. She can either listen. If this happens, I know I’m going to have a good day. Or, she can fight, and then I know I’ll be pinning her down on the floor, wrapping one arm into a sleeve, then the other, while she screams, cries, and kicks.

Now, that she’s all fired up – and everything has taken so long – her little brother is getting angry. So, as little siblings tend to do, he does as she, and starts wailing.

By this time, I’m ready to start wailing myself. Generally, I just get angry, frustrated, and start yelling some sort of nonsense. At that point, I know, it will get worse before it gets better.

Skip ahead five or ten minutes. My daughter will have already forgotten the stressful getting dressed experience. I, however, will still be feeling guilty that I showed my precious, innocent kids my darkest side.

As we walk to daycare in the crisp Scandinavian air, I relax and remember that I’m lucky to have this time with my kids. If I don’t appreciate the small moments, I think, one day, I’ll be sitting at the dinner table with my wife when we’re 60-years-old, and I’ll be looking back with regret.

By the time we reach the main road, I’ve already promised to appreciate each and every moment with my kids – the warm, sunny days and the dark and frigid, the happy hugs and the angry kicks.

Naturally, like the Swedish seasons, these moments of euphoria come and go. I’m just happy to catch them once in a while. And I know that the days of shorts and tee-shirts are just six months away.

Now that I’ve pulled myself back into the moment, I see daycare around the corner. I ask my daughter if she wants to sing “Ain’t No Sunshine When’s She’s Gone”.

She says yes.

Now we all feel better, and properly dressed for the Swedish weather.

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Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Thanks to the weather front ‘Peggy’, which is moving west over Germany, the Bundesrepublik is seeing storms strike and saying goodbye to summer weather.

Weather: Germany braces for heavy rainfall through weekend

Rain and strong gusts of winds were expected throughout Germany on Thursday, with the western part of the country to see the heaviest downpour, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).

The wet weather will intensify in the afternoon, moving north to Berlin and Hamburg.

The mercury was set to stretch between 17C and 25C throughout the country, according to DWD, with northern areas experiencing the coolest temperatures.

‘Long-awaited rainfall’

The storms were welcomed in drought-hit parts of western Germany, which has seen record heat over the past few years. 

“Peggy is a heroine. She is bringing long-awaited rainfall in the dry west,” wrote DWD in its weather report Thursday. 

READ ALSO: More floods, droughts, and heatwaves: How climate change will impact Germany

Yet they also pose a risk for flooding, particularly in parts of northwestern Germany, where between 30 and 50 liters of water per square meter were predicted to fall throughout the day.

“Even if the rain is certainly more of a blessing than a curse for many, these amounts also carry the risk of flooding streets or filling up cellars,” wrote DWD.

Rain will continue around the country on Friday. In the east and southeast, the sun is expected to shine again by the late afternoon, with the mercury reaching around 21C. 

Storms stretch into weekend

Saturday will likely be the coldest day of the week with highs of only 17C in some places, particularly along the coasts. Yet eastern regions will see the mercury rise between 18C and 22C.

The DWD advised to “keep an umbrella around as a faithful companion” as the wet weather continues.

On Sunday, stormy weather will slowly calm down and the showers will retreat to the southeast parts of the country. The mercury is set to hover around a nationwide average of 22C and 23C.