The early school years are proving a challenging time for us in these dark autumn and winter months. Our boys are not yet at that age where they can just grab a book from the shelves and keep themselves entertained on dismal, rainy days. And the temptation to play video games runs strong in our oldest.
Without hibernation as an option, what can you do when the rain is beating down, the wind is howling and darkness has already descended at half past three in the afternoon?
On the days when the weather isn’t too bad and you can stand it, your best bet is to grab a thermos, fill it with hot chocolate or another warming beverage (we really like a homemade chai latte to keep away the cold) and head to a local park to let them run off some steam.
In those situations remember that old Swedish adage: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are the ice skating rinks to try out during the winter months (most are open from November until the spring). Most sports grounds in the city and many parks will set up an ice rink, including Östermalms IP, Vasaparken, Medborgarplatsen, Kärrtorps IP; Farsta IP, Stora Mossen, Spånga, Husby and Grimsta. (http://www.stockholm.se/skridsko) At some of these location you might be sharing the ice with ice hockey training though, which is something to be aware of (those listed as “med klubba” or “delad is”).
One of the most charming is certainly that in Kungsträdgården in the city centre. Although it can get busy at weekends with tourists, it has all the Christmas feel, mainly thanks to the twinkly lights strung up over the rink.
We’ve found that a quick trip in to see Santa (Tomte) at NK, followed by an ice skating session over the street in Kungsträdgården can blow the cobwebs away. And you can hire ice skates from the booth beside the rink.
Beyond the rinks, there is also the option of an ice trek on a frozen lake, not an opportunity all of us have had in our home countries.
Thinking more of indoor activities beyond home, the city’s libraries have a lot to offer. With Rum För Barn and its library relocating to temporary, smaller accommodation from January, it’s time to look at what other libraries offer.
Stadsbiblioteket near Odenplan has a large children’s section and a wide range of books and magazines in English as well as Swedish, while even very small city centre libraries such as Sture (located in Östermalmstorget tunnelbana station) provide children’s areas with books in English. Kista and Luma (Hammarby) libraries have children’s area dedicated to learning and exploring.
A number of Stockholm’s libraries offer a range of events for children, homework help for school-goers, while Luma library has a weekly crafting event for children and Bredäng library focuses on activities for children from 14.00 each week day.
If you are longing for the feeling of the summer, you can recreate this by heading to the pool – indoors, of course! All those in Stockholm with children in förskoleklass (the first year of school), you should now have received a free swimming card that gives your child and one adult free entry into any municipal swimming baths in the city from now until the end of June 2019. It’s the little things like this that make me love living here with a family. I know that we’re definitely going to be taking advantage of the card this winter, and beyond.
Culture vultures can hop on the 69 bus and take a short ride from the city centre to Museiparken, a conglomeration of museums across the water from Djurgården. The National Maritime Museum (Sjöhistoriska), the National Sports Museum of Sweden (something of a mouthful for a little museum – a far more manageable Riksidrottsmuseet in Swedish) and the Museum of Ethnography (Etnografiska) are all within a couple of minutes’ walk of each other and all are free to visit. Between them, the three also offer family activities, from free guided tours to craft workshops (for a small fee).
The Army Museum (Armémuseet) offers free, themed guided tour for families of children aged 6-10 that focus on aspects of military life beyond weapons and war, while the Swedish History Museum (Historiska) provides tours diving into Viking and medieval life.
On Saturdays you can travel back to ancient times at the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities (what is it with these names in English? It’s the simple Medelhavsmuseet in Swedish) and learn about Egyptian mummies and life in the ancient world.
And for those days when it’s too wet, too cold, too miserable, there are some fun things you can do at home. Crafting is always a favourite at home with us and there are so many inspiring sites and YouTube channels showing you how make anything you can think of. Thanks to Slick Slime Sam, we have a growing collection of homemade crafts.
And with a pack of cards, you can keep yourselves entertained with a wide range of games that are fun for everyone in the family. Our games of Go Fish (Finns i Sjön in Swedish) can get quite competitive.
The winters might be long in Sweden, and they are most definitely dark, but they can certainly also be fun.