Getting away from the city helped my wife and I find our parenting balance.
We try to keep our life simple in the city, and that means no car, working part-time, stretching the 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 and 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, and the kids have their needs and so on. The volume gets a little high, so to speak, like it does for almost everyone these days - too busy, too connected, too distracted.
Then we took off for the country for the past three weeks (We have a summer cottage, which sounds very luxurious in American terms, but 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).
And we cooled right off in our forest by a river.
Now there was space for my wife to garden - and watch the kids at the same time. She does that more than me - involve the children in the everyday activities. And that's tough with time pressures in a small apartment.
Now I could play intensively with the kids - more my style - and not feel like I am stuck in the game until bedtime. I could play hard then nap. And I got a chance to go dig with everyone else.
By stepping back, our parenting styles converged, and that meant we could be more generous with each other - and with our children. And that meant we had more energy and goodwill to sit on a couch, hold hands and talk in the long Swedish night.
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