I am fortunate enough to have two amazing kids, a three-year-old and a nine month old baby, both girls. I also have two awesome bonus kids, a sixteen years old boy and an eleven years old girl. So, we are a big family, and needless to say, my husband adores children. And I wanted to introduce you to how parenting is in Sweden, because I would love to hear from harping parents all over the world, to hear how you solve things. Because having a large family is a puzzle, like you all know…
Sweden has a nice support for parents, I think. When a kid is born, the state gives the parents 480 paid days to be at home taking care of your child. By default, these days are split evenly between the parents, but there is some freedom to how you divide them. In my family, my husband and I have split evenly, because we both want to spend as much time with the kids, and we both like our jobs. And as a freelance harpist, it has been great to have been able to split the responsibility for the children really early. Obviously, breastfeeding has made the options slightly limited when the babies were really young, but my husband was able to join me when I have had concerts (first concert with my second child was when she was three weeks old) and even for a week when making a record in a remote recording studio, when she was three months old. My second daughter wasn’t too interested in breastfeeding though, so she quit when being around five months old, and since, my husband and I have split the weeks so we both get to do some work and also be at home.
From the age of 1, there is the option to have the child in kindergarten. My older daughter loves her kindergarten, complaining when she cannot go. It is a parent cooperative kindergarten, so for instance, this week my husband and I have been cleaning the facilities. Not my favorite feature, but the staff is absolutely great, and the cooperative organization has made it possible for me to introduce the other parents to Suzuki violin (yay!) and I hope we soon will have a little Suzuki group. The downside is that kindergarten overall in Sweden is organized for “normal” jobs, that is, it is only open 8-17. So at times when I work a lot at nights, it is tough on my husband.
How are you making your family life work out? What kinds of support for parents are there in other countries? How do you think it should be to work out for freelance musician/teachers? I would love to hear from other harpists 🙂