I’ve listed earlier a few of my favourite free hobbies for toddlers in Helsinki, and written about other low cost activities we like to spend our free time on, e.g. fun walks, reading, camping, theatre and crafts. As a family, we’ve mostly preferred activities where we can have fun together, we don’t invest a lot of money nor are we expected to commit for a long time to avoid a feeling of “I must do this”. So we like riding bikes or a scooter (which our kids now do to get to daycare, and they are mostly quite excited by it), swimming, playing soccer or floor ball, surely ice skating and skiing will be on the cards again when the weather permits, making crafts and music on our own. The sports hullabaloos will start again in October, and will be a good option for “when we feel like it”.
As a multilingual family we also like to choose activities that support their languages: in an environment where Finnish is the language of the majority, we like getting together with other English speaking families to sing Nursery Rhymes every second Sunday (very casual, no cost, no commitment but great people). Our children also love the gym circuit at Jungle Junction: Darlene sets it up close to Iso Omena in Espoo on Mondays and Fridays 10-12am. It is a “come when you feel like it” class, so last year, when my husband had Mondays off, he often took our children there. It is not quite free: 10e/child (15e/2 children). But we love the concept: it is free play on the circuit but lovely Darlene is happy to teach children more tricks in a safe way, if they want it. Each time she also leads a little singing session in English combining songs with movements and play. It is a welcoming place where Finnish and international families mix easily.
Our daughter has also started a weekly class in Creative Dancing together with a friend. We still don’t want all our time after work or daycare to be full of programme but the girls love this. I think our Big Girl (4 years) also enjoys doing something without mum hanging around all the time, which might even be beneficial in the long run ;). At the same time we are learning the meaning of schedules for picking up etc and are happy to collaborate with the parents of the friend. This class is in Finnish and is offered by MLL (Mannerheimin lastensuojeluliitto), Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. MLL offers a variety of classes and groups for a good price (typically about 70e/term) in many towns and most suburbs of Helsinki, so if you are interested in something for your child, or together with your child, you may want to check the website of your local MLL.
Another affordable dancing class I can recommend in Helsinki is with Haga UF and in Swedish. Our daughter went there before she started daycare. She absolutely loved it and her teacher Heidi Palmu was fantastic, and as it was heavily subsidised by the association it was very affordable, I think it cost 25e/term. Unfortunately, because my girl refused to nap at daycare, there was no chance of her continuing with the dance last year. Lucky for her though, her mum and the other parents got involved, and now the very same teacher will start giving dance classes at the daycare!
If you know Finnish harratushaku.fi is a good website to look for hobbies. Kultus.fi works in Finnish and Swedish, and is great for finding cultural events such as theatre for children.
What hobbies do you, your children, or all of you together have? Do you have good tips on hobbies for children in Helsinki area to share? What thoughts do you have on how much and at what age is good for your children – or you? Do you mind being/becoming a “soccer mum” spending all your free time driving between the hobbies of your children? How important is “unprogrammed” time for you?
[…] older kids (aged 6 nd 7) we have more hobbies that cost (dance, swim jump, and a parkour course) than before. On top of that many things that used to be free starts to cost at the magical age of 7, things […]
[…] scooters and found one we’ll buy (score for Br-lelut!), blew various bubbles, played with Darlene from the Jungle Kids (she is great with kids and teaches also karate and Kindermusik in English. Just my opinion, no […]
[…] had hobbies in different languages; we’ve sang nursery rhymes in English and Swedish, Jungle Junction Gym Circuit is in English, my daughter used to dance in Swedish, now she has her classes in Finnish. Most […]
I always try to arrange something that is the same for both the elder kids. Best if it is the same timing as well. I do not like ferrying them here and there and it just tires everyone out. The baby needs to nap too. So, we only have music lessons on Saturdays and that is all we have. There was one time I was undecided with ballet class for my girl and was wondering what my boy could take up during that same time at that same place. It’s difficult and we decided not to go ahead. The hubby isn’t keen too about tying down a time slot and makes any other impromptu arrangement impossible. We enjoy family time more and I can see Finland has so many family activities together.
I was hoping you’d comment since your eldest ones are a bit older and therefore you’ve been there longer:) pretty good to hear you’ve chosen family time and enjoyed it too! I do think there are many option for things to do (and sometimes we just enjoy downtime too!). I’m leaning towards thinking one thing a week per child I can deal with (preferably at the same time) but at least not for quite some time any more than that!
We enjoy going to the beach and pool as a family. Z just started ballet classes every Saturday that are all she talks about and wants to do. We also play at home a lot, mostly play acting that we (meaning Z tells us what to do) are characters in books or disney movies. 🙂
My daughter pretends she is a princess, mostly one of the Disney ones, pretty much every day. Yesterday we had a change, I was supposed to be one of the My Little Ponies…
Did you have to be pinkie pie? Or rarity? Those are the one I am always chosen to be. Lok
Rainbow Dash. I can fly! Lol.
Yep, I’m with the above commenters! I taught 2 Russian kids this summer and they never stopped – English lessons, French lessons, chess lessons, swimming lessons, fitness lessons… It’s clear that the parents have all the money in the world but I just felt sorry for the kids. And that was their summer holiday…
Feels pretty full on… Hopefully they got to at least choose some subjects themselves!
Having said that, I suppose it’s not so surprising to see that there are more world champions coming from Russia than from Finland when it comes to the amount of training some get already at a very young age.
I think they would have preferred to have been running around and playing 🙂
Who wouldn’t on holidays?!
I’ve never liked to have too many scheduled activities – I wanted Mr. T to grow up with free time, and time to have free play with friends. but, even with that, I still felt like a taxi getting him around everywhere!
I’m hoping to keep such good ties with the parents in the neighbourhood that we can share the driving until kids can get around on their own 😉 but good to know that Mr T had free time for play as well, we all know how great he turned out! 🙂
I’m with you – I don’t like a lot. That said, we have definitely been doing more of that kind of thing this year. As they grow older they want to hang around friends more, and sometimes it’s easier to schedule in an activity with other kids for that (especially if you live somewhere the average peer goes to a lot of scheduled activities – less chance for casual play dates!) We are now doing actual soccer, although Dad has taken that one on Saturday morning so I avoid being a “soccer mum” for the time being. 🙂
I think there is a lot of difference in cultures when it comes to scheduled activities. And of course, sticking to something also teaches the importance of not immediately giving up when something doesn’t go your way, I’m just thinking they can learn it later when they pick something they are interested in themselves… 😉
I like your kind of a soccer mum, relaxing weekend morning with just one child! 😉
Actually it hasn’t quite worked out that way. The child I’m left with is bereft every single Saturday morning so I’m always having to think of something exciting enough to distract her. I’m thinking of signing her up for Tai Kwon Do just to keep her happy! Next season she can just play soccer too.
(Honestly, three to four hours of crying and wailing is really too much and does not start the weekend out on a good note. On the other hand, I’m glad she’s so keen to be with her brother…)
My goodness, 3-4 hours of whining is terrible! Hard to think of something that special every Saturday too for that long!
I’ve been thinking of the same hobby for both kids too, from the logistic perspective that would be perfect (for me). But I’ve Started to think the small age difference has contributed to them being pretty symbiotic… I am happy about them being there for each other but maybe my children would benefit from learning to be separate too? Little brother really has a hard time with that too… But since you mention it, maybe all younger ones are like that, not just us?
Big sis really loves doing this dance with her friend. Ffor now he is too young anyway but i heard about a once a week soccer team for 3 -4 year old children taking new ones after Christmas, which I was thinking of… Haha, ironic, soccer… 🙂
I think younger siblings do tend to look up to their big sisters/brothers. Certainly seemed that way from my view point as the eldest!
I’m not sure I’d push them to separate if they’re happy. I think teens/tweens naturally separate a bit from the family so no need to engineer it earlier, and separate opportunities come up naturally. In the long run it’s nice they’re close!
…and when the wish to always stick together is not quite mutual…? Big sis is happy to play together but really seems to treasure opportunities to play without little brother tagging along too. Probably should have mentioned that as the main reason for me to think that maybe they should have something of their own too;)
Oh yeah. Yes, same for us as well. And yes, same as what I remember as the eldest child!
Our solution is like your solution, only we need to work on a better solution for the younger one. 🙂
I’m not quite sure what the solution is yet, still thinking, but we’ll get there 🙂
Need to ask my older brother how much he wanted to get rid of me 😉
Probably quite a lot, at least some of the time 🙂 I am very fond of my siblings these days, though.