How (and why) We Are Raising Our Kids Bilingual

One of the most frequent questions I get in regards to us living in Australia is: “Do the girls speak both Australian and Danish?” followed by “do you speak Danish with them?”

The short answer is yes. They are, what you would call, bilingual. They understand Danish fluently and can switch back and forth between Australian and Danish effortlessly. However, they don’t actually speak much Danish when we are in Australia.

I guess it makes sense. Here in Australia it’s only me who speaks and understands it, but they know that I fully understand them if they speak Australian back to me. So why bother? That’s what it seems like they are thinking. However, in Denmark they learned that especially other kids don’t understand them unless they speak to them in Danish. This has been a huge eye opener for Abby, especially. She’s such a social little butterfly.

On our recent trip to Denmark magic happened and Abby started to actually speak a lot of Danish. Those 6 weeks we were there made such a difference in her Danish vocabulary and her pronunciation and it is obvious that the words are in there – she just has to practice using them.

And she does practice at home with me now. We speak Danish together daily and I love it. Billie is also tagging along as she does and says pretty much everything that Abby does. She is still mixing the two languages a lot, but she’s getting there and Danglish is so damn cute – and even if it is not perfect, it is so amazing hearing my children speak my language. It just matters.

How do we do it?

I am being very consistent, persistent and determined. Otherwise it wouldn’t work with me being the only Danish speaking parent. At home I only speak Danish unless we are having a group conversation involving Josh. I even speak Danish when Josh is present sometimes. It can make the communication in our house a bit messy, but Josh actually understands quite a lot of Danish by now and he can usually follow our conversations enough to join in if he wants to.

I also read Danish books to them, sing Danish songs, they watch Danish cartoons and we have started doing some easy Danish exercises with Abby, now that she can read and write a bit.

An added bonus is our Danish friends here in Brisbane, who gives us just that extra little bit of Danish almost every week. I do believe that makes a difference to get inputs from others than me.

The girls making our friends happy in Denmark 🙂

Then, of course, we visit Denmark regularly. Every time we do so their Danish evolves with the speed of light. Kids can adapt and learn so much, so fast. It is amazing.

Why do we even bother?

I mean, Danish is not exactly a language they can use many places in the world. In fact, they can only use it in Denmark and in Denmark everyone over the age of 10 speaks English pretty fluently.

Well, first of all I would be sad if my children didn’t understand my language and my culture – which I believe is closely connected to language. It means a lot to me that they, not only know, but also understand where they come from.

Then, of course, there is the practicality of it. That they can actually speak the native language when we are in Denmark makes it both easier and more fun for them to be there. Especially now, when they are playing with cousins and friends there who have not yet learned English. I guess it’s also another way of better understanding the culture. To be completely integrated when we are there and not have a language barrier, makes a huge difference.

There are also other more, lets call them, intellectual benefits connected with bilingualism. They are not the direct reason why we do it, but they definitely are added bonuses. Being bilingual is supposedly a great way to train childrens’ brains and make learning easier for them in the future. Not only new languages but also other subjects. And it can potentially help them fight off brain diseases such as dementia in the future.

There really isn’t any downside to bilingualism, as I see it, so we will keep on doing my very best to keep them bilingual. No matter where we’ll live in the world in the future, we will speak both Danish and Australian in our home. At a minimum.

Actually, Abby has started learning Japanese in school now. I think that’s pretty cool, but it might be a Danish thing. Learning Japanese in Denmark is quite exotic, here it’s more common I guess. Anyways, learning a third language by the age of five is cool no matter what – and I have already started dreaming of a trip to Japan sometime soon-ish. To support my child’s education, of course 🙂

Billie learning about Danish culture.

Have a nice day / ha’ en god dag / konichiwa (that’s all I know in Japanese)❤️


Helicopter Parents In The Making

We felt like naughty, little school kids getting sent to the office, but we did it. We went to the principal’s office to have a chat to her about Abby’s class situation as we will like her to change classes. We have been talking about doing it for a while – basically since Abby started school. Yet, we doubted it a lot during the past weeks. Were we over-concerned? Or over-controlling? Should we just let it go?

Having children is such a constant learning process. As soon as you have adapted to their current development stage they change and their circumstances change as well.

We have never had a school child before and we know that she will have to learn to act withing the immediate school setting she gets put in – she can’t just change teachers or class mates whenever she (or we) feels like it.

However, this is only prep and getting a good start to her school life is so important, so we decided to follow our gut feelings and take action. And I am glad we did.

We Have Tried it Before

Last year, when we just moved to Brisbane, we put Abby and Billie into a preschool which they absolutely hated – not from the word go, but after a short while. It was horrible. Still, we could have said “it will probably get better soon”. We considered doing so. Thinking we were overreacting and that it’s normal that kids are sad when starting a new place.

But it just felt wrong and we had to trust our gut feelings. We moved them to another preschool and it was the best thing we have done for them. The new preschool – the one where Billie is in now – is amazing and the girls immediately blossomed there.

Abby hasn’t been miserable in her current class. She’s doing okay, but she’s not loving it either. Especially socially. She hasn’t really connected with the other children yet – and to be honest, I think there’s already a bit of a toxic environment going on there. A couple of, apparently popular, girls already teaming up ignoring the other girls when they feel like it. Girls! Seriously, they are five years old!

In the other class Abby has a couple of friends already and the girls seem pretty chilled – as well as the teacher.

The chemistry between us and her current teacher could be better. Her way of teaching is quite conservative and old fashioned and I hope the other teacher will suit us and Abby better. You see, to really florish Abby needs to be set free a bit. She is so true to authorities that it almost becomes a hindrance, if you ask me. She will do anything to please the teacher, so if the teacher is very strickt, Abby won’t try to think “out of the box” or follow her own creativity – she will just sit straight up and down (with her hands on her knees, because that’s “the rule”) and “always do as the teacher asks – also when the other kids are being little chatter boxes”.

That ability probably will be a general advantage in this rather conservative australian school system, but if we can push her a bit in the other direction we will. Afterall, I did write a post only this week about how being scared of making mistakes has always been a huge disadvange for me and still is to this very day.

So, Will She Move or Stay?

Anyway, the final decision whether to move her or not will be taken next Friday, when we go there for a follow-up meeting.

The principal took us very serious and her and the two prep teacher will observe Abby during next week and then make a decision based on their findings – together with our informations about Abby’s behaviour before and after school (she has complained about stomach pains a couple of mornings).

No matter what, just the fact that we acted on our concerns feels good. And even if she stays in her current class I hope that her teacher, now being aware of our concerns, will be encouraged to integrate the kids better socially.

School should be fun when you’re only five years old❤️

Being Perfectly Average

I have been struggling with some major, lets call them, self definition issues lately. “Just a mom” doesn’t cut it anymore, but who am I, these days? Well, maybe I just need to get a hobby. Who knows.

I just feel like I am standing at a cross road – and I cannot move. I just stand here like a fool. But I want to move. I want to go somewhere. Anywhere, really. And then again…I want to lead the way. But I feel lost. And it frustrates me. Mainly because I do have some ideas I wish to follow. E.G. I want to give this little blogging adventure of mine a real go, but I hit the wall again and again. Ouch! Here’s why. Or at least here’s a bit of the ‘why’…

I am a perfectionist.

Yeah right, what a silly statement from someone who’s clothes are cringled and who’s house is a mess. Hang in there…

I also have a relatively intelligent head put on to my body. Ohh! An even more ridiculous statement to throw out into the open, from someone who never even managed to pass her studies back in the day. Well, we’re not talking mensa smart here, but I get around, right… (even if Josh did score higher in the intelligence test we took a while back. Yes we did).

Sounds like a great combo, ay. Unfortunately it can be a troubled one. You see, I am a smart, lazy perfectionist.

True story, I don’t make this shit up – I have it from my psychiatrist. He was very convincing.

So, what does it even mean? A smart, lazy perfectionist. Well, it means that I can do almost anyything I set my mind to. In theory. In reality, it often means that I don’t even get started on my projects or tasks. I get overwhelmed – because I know that getting it perfect will demand a shit load of work from me. And then I give up beforehand.

A side-effect, or a side order, of this mind of mine is that I am ridiculously scared of mistakes and failure. This being my biggest issue, really. Because we all know that you learn from mistakes – and constantly trying to avoid them or hide from them doesn’t do anyone any good. Ain’t no exciting future in that, I can tell you.

So, bottom line is that I am very aware of my weak points when it comes to self development and I do know what it takes to get somewhere. Anywhere. Unfortunately there’s sometimes an extremely long way from knowing to doing for me – hence me writing this right now.

Old mate psychiatrist also went on with something in the line of “you can do anything if you learn to manage this chaos inside you – but are you really willing? Do you dare?”

Hmmm. I AM willing. And I think I do dare. I am working on this, guys. I have learned that it is okay not to be the best at EVERYTHING. kinda. I have not yet learned to love that I am not good at everything I touch – at first try. But slowly getting there…

My studies commence next week. Last semester I studied two courses; Media & Society and Public Relations. I did fairly good at both and I have come to terms with that being okay. Afterall, I did also have a newborn baby and two additional kids to look after so barely made it to any lectures.

Putting my achievements into context like that is important for me even if it shouldn’t have to be, I guess. For now it makes it easier to have some kind of “excuse”.

I am practicing. I try to not always compare myself to the best. I try to aim less at being the best, but instead doing my best.

I am practicing and I am pretty sure it will take a life time to master. This is in my blood, guys. Hey – my brother have a custom made painting in his house saying “number one, number one, number one, no-one cares about the rest” – it’s two meters high. And red. And there’s a photo of himself in it too. Yeah, that’s where I am coming from. Haha!

Shit man.

Sure, I am in it to win it. Always will be – but I will also try my best to be in it just to have a good time. And learn from my mistakes. No matter what I get into, I hope. So please bare with me if I more consistently spam you with blog posts that aren’t ground breaking, amazingly, fantastic, ‘share it with all of your thousands of besties on Facebook’-good. It’s just me trying to find my way and practicing being okay with being average. Context and excuses, you know.

And just for the record, average can be pretty perfect.

❤️

First day of school revisited

I thought I would just give you guys a little update on Abby’s first day of school yesterday, since the start of it didn’t go exactly as smoothly as I had imagined – you can read about it here if you haven’t already.

Our little Abby. She can be wild, she can be challenging, she can be tuff – but deep down, she is such an emotional little girl. When we picked her up her eyes got all teary and she gave us a huge hug, but she was happy. She had – as expected – had a good day.

I went to the library and I learned Japanese.

Boom! Straight into it. Not that she could remember a word of what she had learned. That will come – and to boost her Japanese learning curve I am already dreaming of a trip to Japan sometime soon-ish. For purely educational purposes, of course. It will benefit her education immensely if she knows how to ski on a Japanese slope, I’m sure.

So, how about my worries about all of her friends being in the other class? Well, as soon as she went outside to the playground she went straight to her new best friend – who is in the other class. They are like two peas in a pod. AND he lives in our street. They are freakin’ cute – and his parents are really nice too. It’s all good. They can be in separate classes and still be friends, obviously.

However, we are actually contemplating moving her, if possible. Not only because of my little cry yesterday (again, see yesterday’s post here), but more due to some other circumstances surrounding the class structure. E.g. the other class is a mix of prep and year one students, and Abby actually should have started prep last year, hence be in year one this year. That means she is the oldest in her class at the moment, while in the other class she would be mixed with both younger kids, kids of her own age and older kids. That seems a good mix to me, but we will have a chat to her teachers and the principal and hear their view on the matter and take it from there.

After school we went straight to pick Billie up from preschool and from there to the pool for a swim and Abby’s swimming lesson. It was a bit of a test, really. I had my doubts that she would get anything at all out of her swimming lesson after a long (first) day of school – how wrong I was. She has never been so focused and hard working in a swimming lesson before. Maybe it helped a bit, that her new coach is called Lucas – the first male teacher she has ever had – she definitely wanted to impress him 🙂

Afterwards we treated the girls to pizza and ice cream in Bulimba. To be honest, it was mainly because I couldn’t be f**ked cooking dinner. The pizza was good, the ice cream was better – and the non-cleaning after dinner was the best.

It really was a great day! Until we found out Abby had a high fever and had fever night mares all evening. Poor little one. She was so sad she would miss out on her second day of school – but the little trooper has the strongest immune-system in town and was completely fever free this morning.

So off to school she went.

Happy as ever❤️

Weekend Vibes

I love our weekends here in Brisbane. The everyday is up and down – but the weekends are special to us.

When we lived in Wollongong Josh worked shift-work and he very rarely had the weekends off and, anyway, we never knew if he did until Friday afternoon at 4 pm. so we didn’t have much time to plan anything. So yeah, back then weekends were pretty random. If Josh was working I was just hanging out with the kids like on every other day. If Josh had the weekend off we mostly went to Sydney so he could play soccer with his friends. It was actually pretty hyggeligt. I sometimes miss the continuety of knowing that I would hang out with some friends and have a beer or three on the weekend. If we had a “real” weekend, that is.

However, even if we often opt for the same activities the weekends up here are ours completely – and I really, really appreciate them!

Our weekends start out Friday afternoon, I guess.

Like, this Friday we took a ferry (free city ferry, I love it) went to the Gallery of Moderne Art Brisbane for a couple of hours, listened to some LIVE music in a park and went to the beach pool aka. South Bank with some friends before we went home to have a sneaky Maccas meal followed by our Friday movie and Friday lollies – that’s a tradition, don’t mess with it!

Saturday was pretty chilled. No big plans. The mood was good all around all day – not a given with three kids, I tell ya.

Today the weekend peaked at the beach. Being a bit homesick for Denmark I had to be reminded of why it’s so amazing to live here. Why we are so lucky to live in this little gem of a spot. And I was. Reminded.

People travel so far to experience this. We have it in our backyard. Well, a backyard an hour from our house, but still. Going here with friends on a normal Sunday in January is not too bad at all.

And ohhh my, the feeling of freedom when I’m out there on my board. Then I almost forget how annoying the girls were in the car on the way there…

…and now, as I write this in the car on the way home, all three girls are sleeping/relaxing with no complaints about life whatsoever.

The beach is always a good idea!

New Year, New Me

2019 will be the year! The year of change! The year of new beginnings! The year of shit loads of healthy stuff! The year of no sugar, no TV, no alcohol, no, no, no!

…it sure will. Not for me, though. 2019 have started out pretty much where 2018 took off and it’s quite okay, really.

However, I have gotten a renewed energy boost for getting myself back into the good ol’ blogging game.

As most of you probably know, we went to Denmark to celebrate Christmas and New Years. We spent 6 weeks there and only got back to Australia one week ago. I might get back to that later on, since the trip moved something in me that our prior trips haven’t done in the same way. Anyway, getting back has been a bit tuff. We have been very jetlagged and tired, especially Abby has been restless and bored, the tantrums have escalated and settling back into our Aussie life has taken time – not completely there yet. And speaking of restless, I have had a hard time this past week. It’s like there’s SO much to do – practically – that my mind goes into an understimulated state, where I get ridicoulesly restless and frustrated. Even bored, even though there’s heaps to do. All of the mixed emotions about being back here doesn’t do much to help on the matter.

So, here I am. Blogging. Because it relaxes my mind. I need to relax my mind these days. If only I was one of those people who actually relaxes by doing the laundry and cleaning the house – I’ve heard they are out there somewhere. For real life! – Ohh mayn, I’d be the most relaxed woman south of Darwin. Unfortunately that’s not the case. But hey, fortunately Josh is pretty good at the laundry duties and my blogging game is ON. Again. Ahhhh…bliss!

Ohh, and let me not forget to wish you all a very Happy New Year – thank you so much for reading my lil’ blog❤️P.S. Here’s a random photo of me and the girls ready for a bike trip – because it makes me happy.

Dealing With the Big Bad Mommy Guilt

This past week has been a bit tuff around here. As I wrote in my last post I found out that I do have gestational diabetes and I have just been mentally and physically exhausted, to be honest. This lack of energetic surplus has made me feel like I’ve been a pretty shitty parent. I have been grumpy and my patience has not been able to cope with two small humans’ huge emotions and arguments. Ohh, the arguments(!) So, I must admit that the big bad mommy guilt has build up a bit when I’ve zoomed out and acknowledged that what I am doing is not what I actually wish to do – I just haven’t got the energy to deal with it, really.

That being said, I know that it’s time to adress the bad habits that are starting to build up. Because a lot of it is habit. An autopilot that kicks in when everything else shuts down and right now it doesn’t do me or the kids much good. Luckily I know from earlier episode like these that I relatively easy can adjust the autopilot settings if I remember to focus on it before it’s actually needed. If that makes any sense to others than me…?

If you have a little look at the books I ordered the other day it might clear things up a bit, since they are just a tiny bit reflective of my current mindset…….

Yeah, first step is to acknowledge you have a problem, right? Think I’ve gone a bit past the first step, then. Haha…ohh, dear. If only parenting was so easy as to read about it in a book. The thing is, at least it makes me feel like I do something to move in the right direction. That in itself has a pretty powerful effect on me – and often I do actually get some good insights or even some useable tools from these parenting themed books. Excited to find out if any of these are any good. Or if I will finally learn not to give a fuck, at least.

Well, well!

While I’ve been hitting myself in the head for not being a good enough parent we’ve actually been assured that our children are doing quite alright, nonetheless.

For instance, Abby’s kindy teacher told us that she believes Abby is a very intelligent child due to her way of problem solving, her creativity and her determination to learn letters and numbers. Also, which is what I find most positively surprising, she said that her language is very well developed for her age. This is something that has been worrying me a bit lately, actually. She still struggles with the pronounciation of some letters and mixes up words and such, and I have – of course(!) – compared her to other kids her age and found her language lagging. Now, her teacher tells me I am wrong. Very wrong. How awesome! She says that her vocabulary is quite developed and her sentence constructions are very mature. One proud and relieved mummy, right here.

Then later in the same week her swimming teacher told me that she is doing really well in her lessons – and that she’s really good at correcting her mistakes and working hard to become better. Now, I am not hoping for her to become an elite swimmer. Not at all, actually (do you know how early they – and their parents – have to get up every damn day to train?!). I do, however, hope that she will become recilient, strong and determined to reach her goals whatever they may be. That’s why it makes me happy. And again, proud!

It also gives me a bit of extra encouragement to keep on keeping on.

Because eventhough it all seems overwhelming at times and I feel like this mummy business might not be the right career path for me it reminds me that my children are doing pretty damn good so far – even if I am not a perfect parent 24/7 365. So maybe I should just take a chill pill and try to focus on the positives. I will. I am. Luckily there’s so much to focus on!

I mean, just look at them!