Unique Challenges: Life abroad

Meet Alyssa and her kids living abroad: 

What are the unique challenges that you have on a daily basis in the setting you live in?

We live in an apartment that is very central in Stockholm, Sweden (think Urban: ie. no cars, all public transit). So we literally live out of our double stroller.  No joke- we nicknamed it our minivan.  All grocery shopping, school drop offs, park trips are taken with our double stroller (that collapses to a single) on busses or trains.  Weather can be a huge obstacle during the winter months- pushing a double stroller in the snow is no joke!  Living in an apartment means random broken elevators (baby is in the Ergo and big sis is walking or piggybacking), sometimes noise issues (although we feel very fortunate to have fantastic neighbors), and no backyard for the kids to go out to and blow off some energy.  Finally and probably the largest challenge is daylight vs darkness here.  In the peak of winter we have 5 hours of “sun” but the sun never gets higher than the horizon.  And in the peak of summer we get about 4 hours of “darkness” but again the sun doesn’t completely fall below the horizon so it’s never fully dark outside.  This can even really mess with adults! 

How does your child respond to these challenges?

Our 2.5 year old daughter has really blossomed living in this environment!  She goes to a nearby preschool and we spend the large majority of our time at one of the numerous city parks when she’s not at school.  She loves the trains and busses and exploring the city (we call these “adventure walks”).  Both of our kiddos have acclimated to the stroller and actually struggled a bit with the time we spent in the car when visiting the States over the holidays.  In Sweden there is the saying “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing” and I would say we have strongly adopted that idea- no matter the weather we have to go outside to function and so you just have to prepare accordingly and embrace it!  We don’t feel like living in an apartment has limited the kids as there are so many places to play or explore (not just parks! There are tons of free museums and activities for the kids all over the city). The sounds from neighbors and being so central can be annoying at times but sound machines during sleep times have eliminated it being an issue.  Black out curtains are a must here as well as our Gro Clock for our 2.5 year old.  The idea that “bedtime is when the sun goes to sleep” stopped working after daylight savings time and will continue to be the case through the summer months.  However, Emma has loved her clock and has stayed in her crib quietly playing until it’s time to get up so far! Yay!! 

Do any of these challenges affect your child’s sleep?

See above for some of the answers.  Black out curtains for the never ending summer sun and sound machines for apartment/city noise.  Alternately during the winter months when it’s primarily dark, it was really important for us to get the kids outside or somewhere they could get energy out, taking high doses of Vitamin D supplements, and using lights in the apartment during peak “awake times” to help keep normal healthy sleep rhythms.  This was especially tough when we returned from our trip to the States in January and adjusting back to our time zone with jet lag.  The idea of a regular daily wake up time was a struggle because normal wake up times were 1-2 hours before the sun came up, which meant nap #1 for our son was right when the sun was coming up.  Extreme winter weather also meant “grounding” or being outside to help with rhythms...At least for my infant son. 

Have you used Sleepy cues’ services Before? If so, How did the services help you face any of these challenges?

Yes!! See briefly mentioned above adjustment to jet lag. We reached out to Sleepy Cues after returning from our trip to the States when we knew our son was struggling with bad sleep habits, 4 month sleep regression, and we couldn’t get him to flip his days and nights. Sleepy Cues helped get him on a routine but more importantly they were there to troubleshoot through unique obstacles (like switching morning and evening breastmilk to help with melatonin and fat content) which made a huge difference in the long run!