How are you? Still on holiday? Enjoying your hemester? I can’t believe we still have 4 days of our summer holiday left in Gotland. It’s been a wonderful two weeks but I’m itching to get back home, to reopen the studio and to meet all of you lovely folk again. 

I don’t know about you but I am rubbish at ‘not thinking’ or ‘not thinking about work’, to be precise, on holiday. I’ve always put it down to a correlation of running my own business and being utterly anxious. But, actually it’s to do with the fact I’ve always worked for small, home-grown businesses. I’ve always been in a position within said business that needed me to be ‘available’ and thinking ahead. The sort of business that requires everyone to do everything and only give 150%. But, that’s me. When it comes to work, or commitment to work, all I can give is 150%. I guess you could say it’s a little obsessive. Even if I’m not “working” I’m thinking about it or planning it or second-guessing myself or worrying about it. So, I’ve tried to train myself whilst on holiday to reflect, instead of worry. To think about what has been achieved instead of what still needs to happen.

2015: I was walking down Sveavägen with my newly made expat mum buds, strollers out front and I remember saying out loud, ‘why are there no baby and me classes in Sweden? Where are all the baby sensory classes or baby massage classes?’. Stella was about 6-8 months old and I had only just begun to come around to fact I had moved abroad and was now a mother. My mama-friends at home were attending baby and me classes, socialising, going to playgroups and hanging with their NCT groups. Sure, we had öppna förskola to go to but there was no consistency or special group feel that you get of seeing the same people again and again at a baby class. There was also no central place to go for all the info we needed, no sense of community space or support network. We had online groups and forums but there was nothing quite like a walk-in centre that we could reach out to and find others in a similar position. Piecing our new lives together felt hopeless and we felt disenfranchised. If we’d had a place to go, wouldn’t we have felt more able and activated whilst starting out. I guess it was that point that the cornels of an idea to open an LBA space started. I even vlogged about it!! 2015, five years before any of it became a reality.  

In the preceding years LBA has been many things, mostly a digital space providing insight, information, sign posting helping thousands of international parents arriving in Stockholm. But the desire has always been there to create a physical space for international families. And, we’ve only just started to fulfil that ambition with our little space in Vasastan. But, for the true purpose of the space to be fulfilled and for others to understand our intention it is time for a name change. 

Little Bear Abroad worked when this concept was purely digital, a blog, a point of view and a list of experiences and sign posting. It just doesn’t make sense anymore. So, we’ve bought the rights,  we’ve purchased the digital domains and we’ve handed in the paper work to Bolagsverket (pending Aug 4th). We’re closing Little Bear Abroad and opening The Family Place AB. The Family Place is a space for international families and third culture kids to explore the wonder of their new home in a place that feels like home. All of our activities will be focused on children and their carers, assisting them in building cultural and social bridges between them and their new home. Playgroups, language training, cultural training, baby and me classes you’re missing from home, after-work classes, dance, networking, peer-support groups and special events. Most importantly, this space is open to the community for use for private events. 

There are many, many other long term plans and ideations but now this feels like what needs to happen. It gives the concept purpose and intention. We are family, all of us in this higgildy-piggildy experience of starting out abroad, and we need somewhere to come together and share it. Please, let that place be The Family Place.