4 Months After the Move to Finland

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Nuuksio National Park

Today marks the day we’ve lived here for 122 days. So perhaps time for a little update! It’s such a cliché, but time really has gone very quickly and it feels like we’ve been here forever. In some respects it feels like our 5 years in Edinburgh happened 5 years ago. It’s weird.

As you might know, Matthew got a job fairly quickly and has now been working for around 6 weeks. He works for a small startup run by the partners of two of my friends. It’s quite an exciting project, which will involve him travelling to the North of Norway, but until the website Matthew is working on has launched I’m not going to say more!

So far Matthew hasn’t been homesick or struggled with fitting in – but I think he’s also the kind of person that wouldn’t let himself get carried away by homesickness or negative feelings. But it’s still early days and everything’s still new and exciting, so time will tell how his integration goes.

We have a nice little weekly routine going on where we all get up just before 8am, Matthew gets ready for work and I make sure Lana is dressed and fed. He then takes her to a nearby park for 9am where her nursery group gathers every morning apart from Mondays, and continues to his job, which is bang in the centre of Helsinki. Maya and I hang out until 4pm, when we go and pick up Lana from the same park again. I often go a bit early and let Maya play a little too. On Fridays Lana stays at home and we have a girly day the three of us.

Lana’s only been at nursery for 3 weeks now, but so far things have gone well – apart from the odd mornings where she’s cried and hasn’t wanted to go. Every Monday seems to be one of these days. The other kids don’t quite understand what she’s saying, but she’s integrating more and more Swedish words into her sentences. She’s still so young that she’s not that bothered about playing with the other kids all the time, but tends to play together with someone and then play on her own. The staff says she’s very energetic, very independent and if she’s not interested in something she’s not bothered at all. She’s the only one in her group who usually doesn’t stay still when it’s time for their afternoon nap/rest – to the point where the staff has even given her their phones to calm her down…She’s also that kid who doesn’t go and get dressed for outdoors when asked to…It’s early days still so there’s time for her to learn the rules and learn to rest during the day…She is eating really well at nursery, things she would never eat at home. She also makes sure everyone else finishes their food haha. Ok, enough of Lana and her nursery!

I have to say everything’s been so easy somehow. All the bureaucratic stuff has been pretty straightforward, from Matthew registering himself to getting the girls into the Finnish healthcare system. What I am still waiting for though is the child benefits and the child home care allowance – an allowance you’re entitled to here if you’re looking after an under 3-year-old child at home. Everything is done online here, from the girls’ healthcare to home insurance to electricity contracts to dealing with the police – yup, we already managed to get a speeding ticket, for going 9km/h over the limit…Strict rules here!

So what about myself, how do I feel? I feel very at ease, relaxed and content. Especially after Lana started nursery I’ve been able to take it a little bit easier and I notice a huge difference in how I am with her. I’m basically a better mother since she started nursery…Obviously my sleep deprivation has also affected my relationship with Lana, as I just don’t have the patience I feel I should have. But nursery has helped with that! Tremendously. And we only pay a fraction of what we would’ve in Edinburgh.

Even though I was happy in Edinburgh, there was some sort of stress present that affected my mood and the way I felt, but I feel like that stress is gone and I’m happier and more calm. I really hope the tables won’t turn and that Matthew will start feeling those feelings I used to…I’m very much enjoying seeing my friends and family, running and being more independent. It feels good to be more in control of my own life I guess.

Right after we moved I didn’t want to think about going back, even for a visit, if I’m completely honest. It felt a little bit like I had finally managed to escape and I was somehow afraid it wasn’t actually true and that it was just a dream…Maybe this sounds a bit dramatic, but that’s the best way I can explain it. But now I’m starting to look forward to spending Christmas and hopefully New Year’s in Edinburgh and I think I’m even starting to miss the city a little bit!

All in all, I think we’re all feeling quite settled in and enjoying living in Helsinki. The flat is in the best location but the layout with only one bedroom isn’t ideal for us and can make it difficult to get the girls to bed. We’re dreaming of our own house, but for that to happen I need to work too – and at the moment I feel like I need to be at home with Maya for a bit longer. But we’re not in a hurry, and that is nice. We’re so lucky!

x Nina x

PS. I’ll include some photos from our little day trip to Nuuksio National Park, where we had a picnic and walked the 2km trail called “Punarinnankierros”. It’s the same national park I’ll be participating in the 18km Solvalla Trail Run next weekend!