Thursday, April 17, 2014

Coping in Copenhagen

Traveling and being away is not all lollipops, rainbows and dancing unicorns. I'm going to recount some of our tougher moments. This week the novelty of travelling has worn off and the breaking of my magic bullet has made me miss all the luxuries I had at home. Hopefully this post will prevent you from someday making the same travel mistakes or give you the knowledge that you are not alone. Hopefully this does not deter you from ever wanting to travel with a lil one as the rewards far out way the difficulties.

Jet lag
Jet lag. The first 2 weeks of our stay we suffered from jet lag. My arms felt heavy full of exhaustion as I would look to Cam and see if I could escape the grown up train and sleep. The only problem was that Cam was doing the same look. Expect 3 am wake up calls for play time with a baby who is also jet lagged. We had to gently help Etta get back on the sleep wagon. It was about 3-4 sleepless nights but some quiet days as she slept hard while we were out and about. About 2 weeks it took before our Etta was consistently back to nights full of sleep and happy days.
If she could, Etta would be yelling. "PLAY!!! PLAY WITH ME NOW!" at 3:00am...

Managing a smile even though I remember being so exhausted I hardly could raise my arms.

Travel Day Conundrums
If you have ever travelled abroad especially in a country that has no English signs and even worse does not speak English you are bound to get lost, go the wrong way and struggle buying transit tickets. Add in a baby and you need to figure it all out amidst the diaper changes, naptimes, feedings and crying. A few times Cam and I have missed a train. One train we missed and had to wait another 20 minutes for another train. Another time we went the wrong way for a good 15 minutes, then figured out we had to get off and go the other way. In our first week in Copenhagen we were using 10 card punch passes to ride the train. We punched them as usual and boarded the train. When the train officers came by to check our ticket we showed them with certainty that our pass had been clipped. Except it hadn't. Apparently the machines do not always clip your ticket. They can even make the sound without actually having been clipped. Apparently there are signs that say its your responsibility to make sure 'the system' works.... IN DANISH!
With no compassion and a crying baby we were given a $200 ticket. Needless to say we almost did not go check out Kronborg Castle in Helsingor that one Saturday. Thankfully we still went and had a great time. We also fought the ticket and got it reduced to $20. Still lesson learned. Don't trust the system and always double check/ask when buying/using transportation. In each of our instances we had to work together, trust the other person and forgive them if they made a mistake.
Another exhausting travel day. We still manage a smile.

No support
We have no immediate family in Vancouver either but we have an amazing network of friends to hang out with. We even have friends who will watch Etta and give us the occasional date! The lack of support has been hard as you are never given a break. Sometimes I just want to have an all day movie or t.v. show marathon. Hmm I guess I probably wouldn't get that even with the support. However living in the tech age, Skype has been a great way to have Etta entertained by family members abroad.
To help keep Cam and I connected when he is at work we got sim cards for our phones. This is especially nice for when I am out and about with Etta and want to meet Cam somewhere after his work. This would be nice if you could count on them working. Unfortunately our phones only occasionally decide to work. I miss having a working phone in Vancouver!

Change tables
Unfortunately the world becomes your change table when traveling. I remember being out with some moms in Copenhagen and I changed my daughters bum right beside me. I got a funny look and at first wondered why. This is because Cam and I have been caught in so many situations where there is no proper place to change a baby anywhere. I have changed her on her changing mat on the floor in tiny bathrooms, in her stroller and even outside! With these Danish moms I lost all proper mother baby etiquette.  Needless to say when I am with others I now always try to ask where the best place is to change a baby.
Confused by this? So was I.... Cam said" I know where I can change her without the wind." He proceeds by grabbing the changing mat and plopping Etta in this circular cement cheerio. He then begins changing Etta. The funny thing is that right behind us there were public bathrooms, even ones with change tables. Unfortunately they were locked!

Money mayhem
The other day Cam was skyping with a good friend and he asked us what we eat on a regular basis. Pretty much everyday for dinner we eat lentils, rice and onion or veggie pasta ($1.50 pasta sauce, noodles and usually one veggie). This is because it has become our cheapest option. Every week we try and map out what we would like to do and how much that will cost. Wanting to explore, go out for the occasional coffee ($8 each) or ice cream ($10 each) we are trying to find any way to save on money. Funny actually.... as we try to make sure that Etta gets the nutrients she needs, she actually eats the best out of all of us!

Luxuries Be Gone!
Two examples of simple luxuries I had in Canada that I did not have or lost in Copenhagen.
1. Before going to Copenhagen I had figured out how I wanted to introduce foods to Etta. I was planning to introduce food that was blended along with finger food of a good variety. I had just gotten in the groove with a great combination of introducing new foods while keeping with the old goodies. We were introducing more texture along with finger foods. I was just getting to the point where I could make a family meal then blend it for Etta. It was awesome. Then I had to say bye to the magic bullet. Why did I not buy an energy converter. The breaking of my magic bullet caused me to crash, cry and miss all my kitchen tools including Etta's high chair with a tray! No longer being able to grind food meant that I had to find new alternatives. Specifically meat alternatives. What's worse is that without a high chair tray finger food would only last seconds before going on the floor.
Shepherds Pie for the whole family.
Already have to be creative with our own meals and how to cook them!

2. Laundry is another example. First of all we had to figure out the tech system with our swipe key. After about 2 weeks trying to figure out the system we FINALLY realized that you need to reserve the machine before you use it unless its after 5pm. Badly needing clean clothes, a washer finally opens up at 730pm. This will give us just enough time to wash and dry our clothes, linens and bedding by the time the machines close down at 930pm. Unfortunately when we went down to put our clothes in the dryer at 845 pm the machine was not working. I spent a good 30 minutes trying to get it to work when a lady came to grab her clothes and said "Even though it only takes 30 minutes you need to get it in the dryer 60 minutes before closing, otherwise it will not let you dry it."

Trying to find places to dry all our stuff. This is in our kitchen/living room/bedroom/office!

Baby philosophy 
Its really important to remember that most parents are doing whatever they can to raise their baby in the best possible way. This can also be very different from how you would raise your child but does not mean that it is wrong. There may even be research that backs up certain methods but there is also research that may back up another method as well. It is important to be open minded to other peoples baby philosophies especially when you are travelling as other places tend to raise their babies differently. On the flip side it is also important to stick to your gut and raise your child the best way it is for you and your family.
Some interesting differences between the cultures that I have noticed are: 
(For the record I share these because I thought they were interesting and not because I specifically agree or disagree; Also I do not know if ALL Danish people think this so do not quote me)
- They do not believe in giving baby cereal with iron as they say there is links to cancer but rather they give 6 iron drops a day.
- They believe that a baby should have every nap outdoors.
- They leave their babies sleeping outside the restaurant/coffee shop/pub while they are having coffee or a beer inside.
- They do not have exersaucers because they believe they are bad for the babies back.
- They do not stand their baby up until they are able to do it by themselves as they believe this is also bad for the babies back.
Showing some love to our beautiful baby girl!


  1. Annika, what brave, creative souls you are. I like your honest journalism.

    1. Thanks Kim! I've been meaning to say how amazing and creative YOU are. Your wood carvings are so unique and beautiful!