Paternity leave here we come – share your stories

My new bosses during paternity leave

Today work, tommorow paternity leave. I’m on the edge of the precipice. The next major stage of this interesting life. Five months home with my 7-month-old Herman.

It’s a strange feeling to know you’ll be on pappaledighet, which means free from work, but home as pappa. This is the second time I’ll be taking paternity leave and I’m not confused about the challenges and joys I will face.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way right now. It ain’t being free. Paternity leave is hard work. But it’s different than your normal work. For one thing, you trade in your real boss for a smaller one that is cuter and that you actually love, and would jump in front of a car for. That’s a plus.

Sweden is unparalleled in the world for the benefits it affords to fathers who stay home with their children. I’ll basically get 90 percent of my pay to be home. For our family that means no financial worries to raise your kids. It’s also nice to know that I am reaping the benefits of the high Swedish taxes I pay.

So with no financial worries and no real boss, my thoughts move to how to best take advantage of the time I’ll have with my kids. It’s a future, just one day away, that is completely up in the air.

That’s both exciting and scary.

Now, for all of you fathers who have had the incredible opportunity to be on paternity leave, please share the best and worst thing about it. And then the funniest anecdote.

Here’s one of my favorite memories. Watch the video. It’s called goats and snot.

Don’t you just want my Swedish vacation?

First week of Swedish vacation in the Stockholm archipelago

I talked to my brother yesterday on the phone. “I’m jealous of you man,” he said. “I can’t figure out how you’ve had three weeks of vacation. Then you’re going to take three more in the states and be away from work on father leave for six months. What does your boss say?”

That’s Sweden, I told him. You have the right to vacation and bosses don’t mess with you because they are on vacation too. There’s no fear of taking time off like in some countries. In Sweden, the boss encourages it.

There is good and bad about any country. In Sweden, one of the goods is if you have a full-time job, you start with 25 paid vacation days. Those days are required by law, and don’t include public holidays.

In fact, in most industrialized nations, vacation is required by law. Unfortunately, not in the US.

Second week of Swedish vacation on the Skanör beach in the southwest tip of Sweden

When my wife and I talk about moving to the United States, we know one of the hardest adjustments will be lack of vacation time.

Aren’t there any people fighting to increase the amount of vacation Americans get?

I want more blood pudding

Those are the words out of my three-year-old’s mouth. Yup, blood pudding, you heard right. One of the fun things about living in Sweden is exposing your kids to things they never, ever would have tasted if they were only in the United States. Here you have it. Blood pudding for lunch.

Tips for visiting Gröna Lund with family

Olivia and I on the train at Gröna Lund

I spent a dizzying day yesterday at Gröna Lund, Stockholm’s amusement park on one of the city’s many islands. It’s an incredible spot and if you time it right, on a beautiful summer day (better late afternoon), it’s a blast for the whole family.

Tips for visiting Gröna Lund with family:

1.Make sure the kids are well rested and visit Gröna Lund in the late afternoon, when it starts to cool down and the lines are shorter. The rides are open late.

2. Take one of those aluminum water bottles because they stay nice and cold and you can fill them up easily. I just discovered these things and I’m hooked.

3. Boat it from Gamla Stan to avoid the packed bus traffic which goes from central Stockholm to Gröna Lund and Skansen, another great place for kids.

4. Gröna Lund is split into two sections. The main entrance is for older kids and adults. There is another little entrance for easy access to the children’s section where they have good rides for little kids. It is much easier to go into the children’s section first and then come out of Gröna Lund, get a bracelet, and go back into the main section. The reason? You want to avoid the chaotic baby carriage traffic at the stairs which take you from one section to the other. Trust me, you don’t want to carry or push a baby carriage up and down two flights of stairs. So use the bracelet system instead. They don’t advertise about it, so just ask at the entrance.

5. You can pack food, but Gröna Lund doesn’t have a lot of open space (actually it’s packed with people most of the time), so it’s not too comfortable to picnic. We ate at the buffet at Krejsy’s. The food was solid and they have a big seating area in a relaxed atmoshpere. At 200 kronor ($27) per adult it’s a bit pricey, but well worth it.

Life’s little enjoyments

At around 9:30 last night, I was waiting on the short line for the tea cup attraction with my daughter Olivia. I looked around and noticed that most people were smiling. How amazing that even in this day and age, with all the craziness, these simple pleasures — an ice cream, a roller coaster, a cotton candy — can still create so much pleasure.