culture shock

An American Mom Describes ‘Dreamy’ Parenting Experience While Living In Denmark

The country, she says, makes kids part of everyday life.

Originally Published: 
Ellie Owens / TikTok

Do you ever travel somewhere, wander the city, and think to yourself, “Man, I bet we could live here!”? This universal experience of daydreaming doesn’t always pan out, but for some people, they make that wonderment a reality.

One American mom of three moved to Copenhagen, Denmark with her family one year ago. She recently posted a reflection on TikTok, sharing thoughts on their new life and noting some of the most jarring and culture shock-worthy benefits to living in Denmark.

“One year ago we moved to Copenhagen! This feels like a big moment. How did we get so lucky?! I hope we get many many more 🚲,” Ellie Owens wrote in the caption on her now-viral video.

First off, Owens reveals that after they moved to Copenhagen, they got rid of their cars and opted to bike around the city instead, like many Copenhagen residents do.

“Sean's commute used to take 45 minutes in the car, and now we get to bike together most of the way,” she narrates over footage of herself and her husband riding bikes while holding hands.

She also praises their decision to downsize, saying that with a smaller living space, they have more time to spend outdoors or with their kids because weekends aren’t set aside for yard work or house organizing.

“We're free to do what we really want,” she said.

Owens reveals that one of the most “life changing” aspects of living in Denmark is their affordable childcare.

“We have affordable, high-quality childcare here, which has completely changed my life. I used to be the full-time caretaker for two with a third on the way, and now with two kids and daytime care, I'm able to spend quality time with my new baby and be a better mom when the boys come home,” she said.

On top of affordable childcare, Owens says that Copenhagen goes out of their way to make kids part of society. Kids are not an afterthought or an annoyance; they are welcomed.

“Children are valued members of society here. They're encouraged to participate in daily tasks to help promote self-sufficiency. They are welcome most places,” she explained.

Denmark also values parent’s time and commitment to their kids, including free health care, more paid leave days, and sick days are totally fine to take if your kid is feeling under the weather.

“Sean has more vacation time here, 36 days, compared to 20. He had 11 at his second and first jobs in the US. So, we get to spend so much more time together and travel more. Sick days aren't really a thing here. You can always take off if your children are sick. We paid nothing out of pocket for our daughter's birth, and our other two births cost us about $3,500 each,” she explained.

Last, Owens praises the security she feels walking around Copenhagen with her children.

“Copenhagen is such a safe place. I leave my kids outside when I go in the bakery. I take my eyes off them at the playground, and I've even lost my wallet someone returned it to my mailbox. And last, and certainly the best, I get to eat so many pastries. It's safe to say after a year everything still feels dreamy,” she concluded.

After Owen’s post went viral, gaining over 1.5 million views, several TikTok commenters chimed in on her new journey overseas, “crying in American” and wondering how they can also make the trip.

“I lost my wallet it Copenhagen and when I returned to the US, got a package from the Danish Embassy with my wallet and every dollar. 😭,” one user wrote.

The OP replied, “This is incredible! I’m still blown away every time I leave something behind and find it again right where I left it. Usually set up at eye level.”

Another said, “the american dream is to leave. this looks amazing. so glad you have this life 🥰🥰”

While several users agreed that this Denmark living seems like a dream, others were asking to see the not-so-great side of living in a foreign country.

“Can you share some things you’ve struggled with as foreigners in Denmark? I appreciate a more realistic look, rather than the curated “perfection”?” one user wrote.

“Can you do a cons list 👀?” another asked.

One user replied, “The weather during winter and i think tax on income is very high”

“Name the last thing invented in Denmark,” another wrote, implying that they may be a bit behind when it comes to technology and innovation.

The OP replied, “This is true. There’s a big push to bring more science and tech to Denmark! That’s why we are here.”

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