Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Making Pre-school Playdates in Sweden (or just in my weird neighborhood)

I have to admit I’ve never had a pre-school age kid in the US, so most of what I understand of the culture over there I have learned second-hand from friends and family. But my current experience with a now 4-year-old Little Swede means learning to make playdates in Sweden, and man it is a jungle out there!

Things were tricky from the get go. I can’t say it is the Swedish parents of the kids at Little Swede’s pre-school, because most of the kids there are ‘mutts’ like mine (half Swede, half something else), but the parents at this pre-school just don’t talk to each other. Now I am shy, and appreciate the Swedish attitude of ‘don’t feel obliged to talk to anyone as it’s not necessary and often uncomfortable’ most of the time because I am naturally shy and totally an INFJ on the Myers Briggs scale (which might explain why I like it here so damn much). But even I think saying ‘hi’ to people who you have something in common with like ‘hey our kids go to the same school’ is a nice touch and not a social burden.

But fine. The parents maybe mutter out a little hello, if forced. Some insist on staring at the ground and pretending that they just didn’t hear you. And thus I was pretty terrified of how we would breech the whole ‘Hey my kid wants to play with your kid, can we make a play date?’ subject. I mean Little Swede plays with the neighbors, but he LOVES his classmates and asks about them CON-STANT-LY (as 4 year olds are incredibly gifted at doing).

So I agonized over ways to approach some of these ‘stare at the ground, whatever you do don’t make eye contact’ kind of parents. Put a letter in the cubbyhole with our contact information? Try to catch them in person at drop-off/pick-up? Arrange a telephone contact list by pinning a note on the back of the door? Which would be the least antagonistic way to make sure Little Swede could hang out with some friends?

Thankfully before I had to make a decision I received a text message. Apparently that is how you make play dates in Sweden. One of the ‘stare at the ground’ parents was too busy to say hello, but sent a text message implying that her 4 year old was badgering her equally about the need for a playdate, and might we possibly want to come over one day.

Apparently, the tactic she pursued was tracking us down on Gula Sidorna and then sending us a text message. Good to know for the future (although I am willing to shake things up a bit).

I really hope my pre-school is just a bit quirky in this department! How did your kids get Swedish playdates?


  1. Texts is the way to do it. Neither the sender or the receiver have to feel bad about a no ;) Another way is to leave a note in the other kids bag/shelf.

    /Maria - an EX Swedish PreSchool Teacher and Mom.

    1. Thanks, good to get advice from a professional :)!

    2. Weird. Not the way we do it outside Stockholm, that's for sure. What's wrong with talking to people?

  2. This blog is so funny! I'm a swede living in the uk. I will never fit in anywhere!


  3. My name is Joe Pinzone and I'm casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We'd love to film in Sweden and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 1-2 years or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. I wanted to know if you could help spread the word to expats living there or are close to moving. If you'd like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at joepinzone@leopardusa.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

    1. Weren't you paying attention? You should have sent an anonymous text to someone. How very un-Swedish of you, lol.

      p.s. I have been here nearly 6 years and have totally had enough of the country and the people. I'm escaping back to civilisation! Hoorah!