We try to keep our life simple in the city. We don't have a car. We only work part-time. And we stretch out that generous Swedish parental leave. Yet still, modern life is modern life. We have jobs, a toddler to get to daycare and a baby to feed. We have laundry to do, dinner to cook and a tiny apartment that never stays clean. We do fine with this, but my wife and I have different parenting styles. The kids have their needs. The volume gets a little high. We feel too busy, too connected, too distracted.
So we recently took off for the country, in the forest, by a river, and spent three weeks there. (We have a summer cottage, which sounds very luxurious, but which is much more affordable in Sweden. It is also more rustic—our cottage has no water, for instance; just a bathroom in the barn and a tap on the side of the house.) Out in the country, there was space for my wife to simultaneously garden and watch the kids. She excels at involving the children in everyday activities, but it gets tough in a small apartment. I, meanwhile, was able to play intensively with the kids—more my style—without feeling as if I was stuck in the game until bedtime. I played hard and then napped. I got the chance to go dig with everyone else. When It Comes To Parenting, Does One Size Fit All?
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By stepping back, our parenting styles converged, and that meant we could be more generous with each other—and with our children. It also meant that we had more energy and goodwill to sit on a couch, hold hands and talk long into the night. 3 Zen Ways To Keep Connected After Having Kids
It's hard to take that step off the treadmill. We put off going to the country for weeks. And in the U.S., who has the chance to take a summer off and own a summer place, besides an investment banker?
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But it was still a good lesson: to get back to nature, to let the kids just be, to let each other parent in the ways we do best, to take that time to talk on the couch at night.
A good summer.