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Baby care bible restores father's faith

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Baby care bible restores father's faith
11:44 CET+01:00
If proud pop Joel Sherwood ever had and doubts about Sweden's ability to keep kids occupied, a chance encounter with a baby-friendly booklet was enough to answer all his prayers.

A few weeks ago I was trying to find the most fun there is for kids in all of Stockholm when I came across a publication called: 'Kids In The City - the most fun there is in all of Stockholm.' ('Barn i Stan – Det roligaste som finns i hela Stockholm').

Maybe something for me, I thought.

I'm on paternity leave taking care of an eight-month-old, which means I spend every moment of the day my child isn't asleep trying to get her into activities that will wear her out and put her back to sleep as soon as humanly possible. This is parenting.

Lately the 82,000 toys my daughter has to play with at home haven't been bringing on naps as quickly as they once did. So I've started looking for places around town that would help over-stimulate my child into daytime sleeping comas.

We were in the kids' wing of Stadsbiblioteket, the city library – not the most unfun place there is, incidentally – when I spotted these 'Barn I Stan' periodicals on a stand.

The publishers of this free, compact booklet call it a newspaper or magazine. By this, what I think they really mean is unabridged reference guide extraordinaire for every child-related event that has happened or will happen in Stockholm, ever.

The 64-page masterpiece was packed with everything you would want to know about kid-oriented activities in Stockholm open to the general public.

It details where you can find storybook readings, children's song sing-alongs, sights to visit with your kids, places to swim, theatre and film showings for younger audiences, etc. Nap-inducing gold, I felt, as I looked in wonder at my new 64-page best friend.

I also noticed the booklet I was looking at was just the November issue. New editions come out nearly each month. As if they needed to improve perfection. In my mind, that one issue had enough for my entire six-month parental leave.

For example, it lists 20 locations in the Stockholm area to look at animals. I double checked to make sure they meant living, breathing animals, and not just, say, pictures of wildlife at a museum. They did mean the real thing. I was both impressed by this seemingly high number and put the slightest bit on edge learning that I'm living in so close proximity to so many potential predators.

There were 39 theatre productions for kids in November, 33 museums you could visit and a number of outdoor activities. The last bit was particularly remarkable. I didn't think it was physically possible to have any fun at all outdoors in November in Sweden, let alone 'the most fun there is'. I've never had anything remotely close to fun – indoors or outdoors, for that matter – in the nine wet, dark Novembers I've spent here. I'd stopped even trying, preferring instead to just hibernate socially until the glögg and pepparkaka party circuit kicks off in December. 'Barn I Stan' was reshaping my world view.

What strikes me now, a couple weeks after the booklet discovery, is just how few events we've made it to. This is partly because a number of activities are located pretty far away from where we live. There are some in a place called Sickla Udde, for example, where I've never been but am pretty sure is actually in Lithuania.

We've also missed a few events we planned to go to because my daughter...was asleep. It still happens sometimes on its own, usually when we're in a hurry to get somewhere.

My wife suggested I find some other parents who are also on parental leave, and then do get-togethers to let the babies play and wear each other out. Since 'Barn I Stan' seems to have everything else, I quickly turned to it to find some new, parental-leave friends. Now where's the personals section...?

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