Originally published June 30 2015
Norway is the best place to be a mother, researchers say. Find out what they're doing right!
by Sandy J. Duncan
(NaturalNews) Norway has been named the world's best place to be a mother in an annual report released by Save the Children. Save the Children is an independent organization dedicated to helping children throughout the world and has been producing the State of the World's Mothers report for 13 years now. The rating system takes into consideration factors such as the overall health and well-being of both mothers and children. These considerations include the availability of education for girls, the mother and infant mortality rates, the number of women in politics, earned income rates, the number of births attended by a medical professional, nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child's life and the breastfeeding policies.
The United States ranked 25th on this list of 165 countries mostly due to the high rates of teen pregnancy, overall poverty levels and the lack of access to healthcare that many Americans experience.
So what makes Norway moms the best in the world?Norway leads the list due to a couple of key factors. They enjoy the highest ratio of female-earned income in comparison to men and also boast the second-lowest mortality rate in the world for children under the age of five. Add in generous maternity leave packages, noticeably higher rates of female education and inclusion in politics, as well as access to programs geared for new families, and you have the makings of happy moms.
Norway is also ranked No. 1 in the world for productivity, measured by GDP per total hours worked, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. For children, this research shows that, when they participate in early childhood education and preschool, they are better socialized and more prepared to learn when they enter school.
And for working mothers, having access to affordable child care encourages them to enter the work force and then to stay in it. Women in general are highly productive contributors to the economy. Michael Krashinsky, an economist at the University of Toronto, said: "It's continuous attachment to the labour force that's really important to high-productivity workers. Good maternity leave policies and subsidized child care are a big part of that."
Norway's outdoor educationOne blogger, Joanna Goddard, describes some unique phenomena she experienced first-hand when she moved from Cincinnati to Norway.
On school: Both my kids attended Barnehage (Norwegian for "children's garden"), which is basically Norwegian pre-school and daycare. Most kids here start Barnehage when they're one year old--it's subsidized by the government to encourage people to go back to work. You pay $300 a month and your kids can stay from 8am to 5pm. They spend a ton of time outside, mostly playing and exploring nature. At some Barnehage, they only go inside if it's colder than 14 degrees. ...
On working moms: Women here get ten months of maternity leave at 100% pay or twelve months at 80% pay. (Actually, either parent can choose to take the "maternity" leave--it doesn't have to be mom.) And then pretty much everyone goes back to work. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world--along with Tokyo and Moscow--so women can't afford to stay home. Also, it's just not part of the culture to not work. If you're not working, you're not contributing.
On marriage: People work a lot [fewer] hours in Norway than they do in the U.S. For example, my husband works for the government for 37.5 hours per week (8am to 3:45pm, five days a week). That's typical. Since both parents work, marriage partnerships feel much more equal here. Families tend to eat dinner together around 5pm. The housework is mostly divided, and I don't know any husband who doesn't help cook dinner and take care of the kids. I see just as many dads picking up their kids from Barnehage as I do moms.
Norwegian society has a different view on children and makes a priority of giving kids room to develop independence. The schools and society in general allow exploration and a bit of risk for kids and are not afraid of being sued for every injury. There are no waivers to be signed for them to participate in being kids at the Norwegian schools.
Britta Brugge, a preschool teacher from Oslo, Norway, described Norwegian preschool:
Friluftsliv at the preschool level is about playing outside. Playing is learning for children. Through games they can process events, increase their social skills, gather new knowledge and discover life. With nature as their playground they will also notice that which they cannot change. The whistling wind, birds singing, the warmth of the sun, raindrops falling, frosty branches, slippery roads, and all the things that are there if you allow yourself to feel and look.
I loved this quote from one of the teachers: "If kids have not climbed a tree by the age of 8, there is something wrong with the parents."
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