My time as stay at home mum has come to an end, so here are the “organised free but fun hobbies” that we have enjoyed most with my kids in the last few years:
- We used to go to Klapp och Klang, a group where you sing and play to songs with your toddler(s) (there is Gung och sjung, for younger ones). It is organised by the Swedish Matteus congregation in Itä-Helsinki but it is not very religious and one does not have to be a part of the church to attend (one needs to sign up first though). Some of the songs are religious, and you are invited to Children’s Church and other events every now and then, but it is up to you if you attend anything else. Our kids love this one, and Anna, the leader is just lovely. Many of the songs are about practical everyday stuff such as brushing teeth, putting shoes on etc so it is good for the vocabulary as well. Lucky there is a group one a month on Saturdays too, so, we can keep the tradition up a bit longer! Most congregations,family houses and play parks organise free singalongs for kids and parents.
- Nursery Rhyme Time is organised in the Finnbrits facilities downtown, and it is for kids who have at least one native English speaker as a parent. It is organised by parents, so it is a casual and fun way of getting together every second Sunday morning. After the sing-along there is some tea and coffee, and then a story is read.
- I went to a few baby/ family cafés when my kid(s) where younger: they had a few good themes at Svenska familjecentret, the Swedish group in Vuosaari was very intimate and social while we lived there, and it was a nice variation especially on cold or rainy days to attend the café in the clubhouse of our “local” playground (pretty much every suburb has their own playground with facilities and activities). A casual way to meet other mums and kids, have a cuppa and let then kids play (yes, there are toys, there is room to play) no one minds you speaking about the kids and if there is a certain topic you may even get to talk to an expert in the area – or do some fun such as colour baths for your baby. Multicultural Family Cafés are organised at the Family House Sahrami (also e.g. Finnish courses for Mums) but I have never been there. In some of these you pay a couple of euros for a cuppa, in some of them everything is free.
So we love music, play and friends in a casual manner.
- The last year my daughter, and for the last few months both kids, went 2-3 mornings a week to a “Park Aunt”. The “Aunt” is playing with the kids outdoors in a fenced off playground. You need to book a place, and this is actually not quite free (50e/child/month so almost free in my mind, as for the 50e you have a baby sitter for 30hrs/ month unless it is more than -12 degrees Celsius). The one my kids went to in Oulunkylä was superb! Alice took great care of our kids, played with them but also taught them loads – much more than I ever thought one could teach in a fenced off area outdoors. My kids really loved Alice and her park, but since I didn’t get to play *all* the time with them anymore, I didn’t end up going that much to family cafés oetc anymore. We rather caught up with friends with kids or went to “real” cafes, theatres or other “special” and not quite free things – or just enjoyed our home together.