Playground Gnomes

As a mother of 5 little kids, I’m continuously encouraging them to go outside and PLAY!! My view is the less time they spend inside the house, the less mess they’re making inside that I have to clean up!  They must be sick and tired of me going on about the need for them to run around, get some exercise, breathe fresh air and to keep their dirty shoes outside!!   I often catch them playing in the yard without coats, shoes and sometimes even clothes…how scandalous!  Well, this is Scandinavia and we are trying to fit in!

However, this ‘lack of clothing’ malarkey simply won’t cut it with the upcoming winter weather.  Children in Scandinavia play outdoors regardless of the what the elements have in store.  The only problem is dressing them properly so they stay warm and dry while enjoying the great outdoors.   So the solution to all this my friends is to turn your children into little “Playground Gnomes”.

All children in Scandinavia wear waterproof, fleece-lined, brightly colored, playground suits that are either one piece, or two piece (overalls and jacket) while out and about exploring the playground.  To add to the cuteness of their look, they will also be sporting waterproof boots, hats and gloves.  Basically, they look like little gnomes (especially the preschoolers) hobbling and bobbling about the playground.  While visiting a preschool in Iceland a few years ago, I noticed that even the teachers on playground duty wore similar, adult size, playground suits.  How cool is that!  Literally!

This determination to enjoy the outdoors, despite the harsh climate, demonstrates the lengths that Scandinavians will go to in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  It also shows that learning to enjoy being outdoors is something that is instilled during childhood.  I completely agree with this ideology because if something becomes the ‘norm’ from an early age, then usually it develops in to a habit by the time the child is an adult.  This is probably why I see so many Scandinavians of all ages out cycling, running, walking, hiking etc…despite the weather.  Simply stated…being Scandinavian means being one with nature.

So go, get your kids suited up and turn them into Playground Gnomes this winter!


These are some of my favorite companies that sell playground suits:

Muddy Puddles

Mywear Active at ICA stores

Newport Kidsport

Polarn o Pyret 

66 ° North

Grocery shopping the Sagamama way

While rushing through my local ICA grocery store this morning, I was trying to think of something interesting to write about.  As I looked down to scan my next grocery item, I realized that I was staring at the topic of my next post…the self-scanner!!

Surprisingly, I actually enjoy grocery shopping.  I think there’s something exciting about searching for grocery items.  It’s being a hunter gatherer but without the dirt, weapons, and tiresome effort.  The main part I absolutely, positively loathe is waiting in the check-out line.  It’s a complete waste of my time and normally a frustrating experience!  “Waiting patiently” usually consists of me trying to politely and calmly restrain my preschooler from man-handling all the candy in the display case (recently, I caught him eating a discarded M&M off the floor!!) while also attempting to pacify my screaming toddler who is declaring to the world that he too is totally and utterly sick of waiting in the queue.  No fun!  So, the solution to all this madness is…drum roll please…the Self-Scanner!!!

So, here’s how it works.  Before shopping,  scan your store card at a kiosk that is basically a charging station for all the scanners.  Once your card is read, one of the self-scanners lights up!  Grab it and begin your grocery run.  As you shop, scan either the bar code on the product or weigh the item (eg: apples) at an electronic scale and scan the bar code label that is printed out.  A huge bonus is that my kids love to scan all the groceries while we shop.  This keeps them occupied, if they’re not fighting over whose turn it is.  Next, place your groceries in reusable grocery bags that you brought from home.

When you’re finished shopping, head straight to the self-scanner check-out area and there you will find no queues…yippee!  Only store employees are there ready and waiting to assist you.  To pay for your groceries, place your self-scanner in a charging station next to one of the check-out registers (there are about 6) and then follow the instructions on the screen.  Since you have already scanned and bagged your groceries, you only need to pay.  Finally, grab your receipt, push your cart out of the store and then  jump for joy and click your heels together because you have had a simple, easy and stress-free grocery trip!  Shopping the Sagamama way!!

You may wonder…how do the stores keep people from stealing items?  Well, the first few times you use the self-scanner, it automatically requests for a store employee to randomly check a few of your scanned items.  This ensures that you have properly scanned all of your groceries.  Also, this random ‘security check’ can continue to happen any time you check out in future.  If they discover that you are not scanning items properly, then your random check turns into a regular check, or worse…complete banishment from being able to use the self-scanner…gasp!!

I’ve only ever experienced shopping with self-scanners in Sweden.  However, they’re amazing and I think that parents all over the world should be demanding this technology in their local grocery stores.  The only thing that seems to be remotely similar and more advanced technologically is the new Amazon Go store.   This concept is incredible!  Hopefully, improvements in technology will only help to  improve the shopping experience for everyone but specifically for parents with screaming, demanding, “adorable” little ones.