Created by Martha Moore
Whether you’ve purchased your plane tickets and started packing, or you’re just thinking about it, moving to Sweden is a big deal. If you have children, it’s an even bigger deal! I know because our family has been there. In August 2019, my husband and I hopped on a plane from New Jersey with a final destination of Malmö, Sweden. We had our 3 children along for the ride: our two daughters, who were 5 and 3, and a 2-month-old baby.
An international move is never easy, especially with kids. However, we did find some things helpful along the way, so I’d like to share them with you today. Here are 5 simple things you can do to make moving to Sweden with kids easier plus a useful resource to start learning Swedish.
Join International Facebook groups
The easiest way to learn about something new is to ask people who have already been there.
When we were still deciding if my husband was going to accept his new position with IKEA, we joined international family groups for Sweden on Facebook. Specifically, we looked for groups for Malmö, for families, and for moms who speak English in Sweden. This was a wonderful resource to ask any and all questions, but it was and continues to be, a great place to search past discussions and to see what questions other people are asking. Getting advice first hand from people who were in the same position as us put our minds at ease.
Research Fun Things about Swedish Culture and Learn Together
Since we were coming from the US, the Swedish culture and European lifestyle was completely different from what we were used to. Together, as a family, we researched and learned about all of the fun new customs, foods, and adventures we would have!
I bought the book My First Book About Sweden by Linda Liebrand for my children as a jumping-off point. We also did lots of Google searches on Swedish food (they especially were excited about kanelbulle), Swedish transportation (we traded cars for bikes, buses, and trains), Swedish holidays, Swedish school, and anything else that would impact their lives.
We enjoyed learning about things that were the same and different. I think it helped put our kids’ minds at ease and get them excited for the adventure.
Scope Out Park and Other Children’s Activities
Since we were moving to Malmö, the city of parks, we made a list of all of the amazing themed playgrounds we wanted to visit. Our kids were all very excited to start working our way through the list as soon as we arrived.
Since being outdoors and letting kids be kids is such an important part of Swedish culture, most areas have lovely playgrounds, parks, and other green spaces for families to enjoy. Finding some great play spaces right away will be a super helpful way to help your children with the transition.
It will also give you something fun to do as you recover from jetlag. A year later, discovering new parks is still one of our favorite Swedish experiences!
Sign Up for Activities
One of the hardest parts of moving to Sweden with kids is that they are likely leaving all of their friends behind. A great way to make new friends is to sign them up for an activity.
This allows them to spend time with children who enjoy the same things as them, gives them something fun to look forward to, and might help to give them a sense of routine and normalcy. It can also be a great way for you to meet other adults with children around the same age as your children.
Start Learning Swedish Together
Although most people in Sweden speak English, it’s very helpful to learn Swedish, even at a basic level. This will also help your children make friends, make it easier for you at the grocery store, and is another way to feel more connected with your new home.
Although we started learning some Swedish before we moved, over our first year, we tried to encourage our children to learn Swedish with us at home. If your children are in the Swedish school system, they will likely pick it up quickly. However, if they’re attending an international school like our children, it might take more time.
Some simple ways to practice Swedish are listening to Swedish children’s music, watching Swedish cartoons, and surrounding yourself with Swedish.
Learn Swedish with this 25 Swedish Vocabulary Resource!
To help with this, I’ve created a 25 Swedish Vocabulary (or Svenska Ordförråd) resource. You can print them and put them up in the corresponding room, or you can staple them or bind them in a book.
The pictures make it very child friendly, and it’s helpful for the adults as well! This is a great way to encourage everyone in the family to use more Swedish. The more you practice and get comfortable in the home, the easier it will be to use your Swedish with others.
As a Newbie reader, you can use the promo code NEWBIE40 to receive 40% off of this PDF resource, which you can find on my website right here.
Bonus: Give Yourselves and Your Children Grace
One last bonus tip: give yourselves grace. An international move is a lot of things. It’s exciting, scary, and overwhelming. Some days will be really awesome, and some days will be really tough. Remember to give your children the grace and space they need to process the change, and give yourself the same. And, if all else fails, put on some kaffe, grab a kanelbulle, and enjoy a family fika.
Martha Moore moved to Mälmo in 2019 with her husband and three kids, who have opened up her eyes even more to the impact and importance of reaching and teaching little minds. She has a Master of Science in Teaching for Elementary Education and began her teaching career as a first-grade classroom teacher. She’s passionate about helping other teachers and parents by sharing ideas and resources through her brand Primary Paradise.