Home Essentials Health

Plans to be healthy fading as quick as temperatures drop? No need – we’ve got just the thing for you! Last one in is a couch-potato!

Sweden is a nation that swims, whether it’s indoors during the colder months or outside when we have that window of warmth.  Stockholm has a number of great indoor swimming halls – some with water parks, as well as a few that are a bit further afield but that are well worth the journey.

Note that all swimming halls have lockers in which to store your things but most require that you bring your own padlock or purchase one (30 – 40 kronor) at reception. Most also have some sort of café or restaurant, usually serving burgers or similar fare and while you are welcome to bring your own food at most, some do have a ban on bringing your own food , so do check ahead if you’re thinking of a packed lunch. 



This is the granddaddy of them all. Eriksdalsbadet is Sweden’s National Swimming Hall and depending on when you go you may just get the chance to watch one of Sweden’s top swimming stars train. Featuring a 50 m pool, a 25 m pool, a smaller 25 m pool with an adjustable bottom for kids, a dedicated diving hall, and a great water park that allows you to swim outside in the winter Eriksdalsbadet is really one of the gems of Stockholm. In summer it also opens four outdoor pools. Weekends are sometimes host to swimming meets, both big and small, so check ahead before heading over.

Where: Hammarby Slussväg 20

When: Mon-Thurs. 6.30-21.00, Fri 6.30-20.00, Sat-Sun. 9.00-18.00

Damage: Adults 90 SEK, Students, Senior Citizens 60 SEK, Kids Age 4-19 40 SEK. 2 adults + 1-2 kids – 220 SEK, 1 adult + 1-2 kids – 130 SEK. Free entry for kids under 4, helpers for the disabled.

Contact:  08-508 402 50, eriksdalsbadet.idrott@stockholm.se



Farsta sim- & idrottshall

Located just south of the city, Farsta is a great place to get your laps in with the kids, then have some fun in the adventure bath.

Where: Farstaängsvägen 3, Farsta

When: Varies, see site

Damage: Adults 70 SEK.  Kids 0-3 free if accompanied by paying adult. Kids 3-19 20 SEK. Seniors, students, unemployed 50 SEK.

Contact: 08-508 472 27, cilla.thungstrom@stockholm.se




This swimming hall is part of the Swedish School for Sport and Health Sciences. It features a 25 m pool, sauna and classes at all hours of the day and night.

Where: Drottning Sofias Väg 20, Östermalm

When: Varies, see site

Damage: Adults 70 SEK.  Kids 0-3 free if accompanied by paying adult. Kids 3-19 20 SEK. Seniors, students, unemployed 50 SEK.

2 adults + 1-2 kids – 160 SEK, 1 adult + 1-2 kids – 90 SEK.

Contact: 08-508 411 78,  tomas.persson@stockholm.se



Skärholmens sim- och idrottshall

The pool at southern suburb Skärholmen is part of a larger sports complex. This one is for the more gentle swimmer, kids and also offers dedicated women’s time.

Where: Bodholmsgången 10, Stockholm

When: Mon-Thursday 6.30-21. Friday 6.30- 20. Sat 8-30-10 Women only, 10-17 open for everyone, Sun 10-17

Damage: Adults 70 SEK.  Kids 0-3 free if accompanied by paying adult. Kids 3-19 20 SEK. Seniors, students, unemployed 50 SEK.

2 adults + 1-2 kids – 160 SEK, 1 adult + 1-2 kids – 90 SEK.

Contact:  08-508 488 00, moa.autio@stockholm.se




Liljeholmsbadet offers dedicated times for both men and women in it’s large pool and sauna, along with mixed swims and family-onlyl times.

Where: Bergsunds Strand 26, Stockholm

When: Monday 7-19 women only, Tues-Wed 7-16, Thursday 7-17, Friday 7-19 men only, Sat 8-14 family fun in the pool

Damage: Adults 70 SEK.  Kids 0-3 free if accompanied by paying adult. Kids 3-19 20 SEK. Seniors, students, unemployed 50 SEK.

2 adults + 1-2 kids – 160 SEK, 1 adult + 1-2 kids – 90 SEK.

Contact: 08-668 67 80, imre.nagy@stockholm.se




Located in the heart of Södermalm this hall offers a 25 m pool, a teaching pool and a wading pool for the kids. It also has a swim school and offers ‘motionswim’ for those who want to get their aquatic exercise.

Where: Medborgarplatsen 6, Stockholm

When: Varies, see site

Damage: Adults 70 SEK.  Kids 0-3 free if accompanied by paying adult. Kids 3-19 20 SEK. Seniors, students, unemployed 50 SEK.

2 adults + 1-2 kids – 160 SEK, 1 adult + 1-2 kids – 90 SEK.

Contact: 08-508 403 20,  zoi.bergstrom@stockholm.se



Vällingby sim- och idrottshall

Not the most extensive swimming hall in town but it does have a pool for laps as well as an adventure bath for the kids (and the kid in you).

Where: Bräckegatan 5, Vällingby

When: Varies, see site

Damage: Adults 70 SEK.  Kids 0-3 free if accompanied by paying adult. Kids 3-19 20 SEK. Seniors, students, unemployed 50 SEK.

2 adults + 1-2 kids – 160 SEK, 1 adult + 1-2 kids – 90 SEK.

Contact: 08-508 418 20, vallingbyhallen.idrott@stockholm.se



Further afield:


Actic Södertälje, Sydpoolen

A bit further afield, Sydpoolen in Södertälje is enormous fun, with an adventure bath featuring a wave pool, several slides and loads of strange little places to swim about.  It also has the obligatory lap pools for straight out exercise.

Where: Östra Kanalgatan 2, Södertälje

When: Varies, see site

Damage:  Adults 100 SEK. Kids, Seniors, Students 80 SEK. 1 Adult + 1-3 kids 240 SEK, 2 Adults + 1-3 kids 280 SEK.

Contact: 08-554 42 800



Fyrishov, Uppsala

Nearly an hour from Stockholm Fyrishov is a daytrip to be savoured.  The water park is huge and features a number of slides, a pirate’s island, caves, tunnels and a smaller area for the youngest.  It also has a huge pool for laps, diving boards for the brave and a tunnel through which you can swim outdoors and have a snowball fight in your swimsuit. Summertime sees the outdoor pool open for even more fun.

Where: Idrottsgatan 2, Uppsala

When: Mon-Fri swimming pool 6.15-21, water park 9-21.30. Sat, Sun and red day pool 7.30-21, water park 9-21

Damage: Varies, see site

Contact: 018-727 49 50



So there you have it folks, no reason to lounge indoors and blame the lethargy on the cold weather!  AND for those who are made of sterner stuff - THIS  and THIS is where to go for an icy outdoor swim! Missing the thrill but not ready for the chill of an outdoor dipin January? Most of us will probably wait until when the temperatures start turning upwards again, but when they do –  don’t miss out guide to the best Stockholm beaches and summer splashpools!


Click HERE for a complete list of  swimming halls in and around the city, and HERE to see them on a map! Haven’t listed your favourite pool? Write a note in the comments with your recommendation – we love hearing from you!



Research: Carmel Heiland

For more info on what is going on in Stockholm – follow YourLivingCity on Twitter!

We are one week into our training program. Hopefully you are motivated, feeling good and happy about what you are achieving – a healthier you!

mountain-real main

Making smart choices shouldn’t be a burden but a privilege, so be proud!. Speaking of smart – let’s set some smart goals for ourselves.

How often hasn’t it happened that you start a training program only to lose motivation and stop what you are doing only to repeat the process all over again? Let’s talk goals and how you can achieve yours. Here are some easy to follow steps:


 “What gets measured, gets managed.” – Peter Drucker


Here’s what I want you to do:

1)  Grab a pen and paper. At the top, write down “What I want to be able to do by 2015”. Write everything that comes to mind. Climb a mountain, pick up yoga, start running or find a gym friend. Bench press 100 KG or run your first marathon. Learn to do a handstand or just get your bum off the sofa 10 minutes a day. Go nuts!

2) Select three of these things and really think about them. These are going to be your primary goals.

3)  Break the goals down into something measurable. For instance, “Climb a mountain” could be to find the specific mountain outside your house (or maybe climb Kebnekaise on a foggy Sunday afternoon?)

4)  Break this down into smaller and more accurate goals. Such as, once a week I will go walking up the mountain behind my house. Progressively do it quicker and quicker.

5)  Finally, book a time for when you are going to climb Kebnekaise. Keep that date sacred and do everything you can until then to improve your athletic fitness. If unsure, consult a training coach or ask someone who is good at goal setting.


 Right! Now that that’s cleared out of the way let’s focus on your training regime!


Warm up:

Invest in a jump rope. They can be very cheap and allow you to do an amazing amount of work without having to go outside. You can buy them at any sports shop, such as Stadium or Intersport.

100 regular jumps

50 jumps back and forward from one leg to another

20 jumps left leg

20 jumps right leg



10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1 repetitions of Sit-ups

1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10 repetitions of Squats


Here’s what you do:  10 sit-ups followed by 1 squat. After you do 9 sit-ups followed by 2 squats. Eventually you will do 1 sit-up followed by 10 squats.



50 Jumping lunges

40 sit-ups

30 squats

20 push-ups

10 burpees


 Do this and I promise you that your butt, legs and upper body will get a good workout.



Tabatta intervals:

(start a clock, do repetitions for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat this for a total of eight rounds, which is four minutes).

Interval # 1

Jump rope (as many jumps as you can for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat 8 times)

Rest 1 minute

Interval # 2

Squats (as many repetitions as you can for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat 8 times)

Rest 1 minute

Interval # 3

Hold plank position (Hold for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat 8 times).



Good luck everyone! Remember to scale the workouts if they are to hard or easy. You can regulate the intensity through changing the time requirement or the amount of repetitions or sets. Enjoy yourself and don’t forget to stretch after you have been training. (Perhaps add in the couch stretch video here). Have a great week, workout hard and let me know if you have any questions what so ever!



Karl Gullö

Karl is a licensed personal trainer based at Crossfit Södermalm. He works with private clients, as well as groups. For more information or to book a time contact him at Karlgullo@crossfitsodermalm.se

To keep updated on all things Stockholm – follow Your Living City on Twitter!

You survived the holidays but now your jeans are too tight and you feel like you’re carrying around an extra skinka. Well, it’s a new year, which means new starts and new resolutions – or maybe just the desire to get back that fabulous shape you had before multiple visits to the julbord and enough champagne to bathe in.


For many getting back into our workout routine – or starting a new one – can be a hardship; you feel so out of shape that you never really get started. I mean, how many people didn’t say on the 31:st that they’re going to fit into their favourite jeans only to wake up with a pounding headache the morning after – and absolutely no motivation to get started.

Here’s the good news: the first of January is over and I am here to help you to get of that couch and into great shape, one step at a time. First off, training does not have to take up your whole life. It does not have to cost a fortune and, if you’re pressed for time like many of us, it can be done at home.

All I require is that you dedicate 30 minutes a day, three times a week for one month and you will see significant improvements.

Start off by asking yourself why you want to do this. Hang up a photo of your goal or set aside some money for when you have completed this one month challenge.  Every week we will post your daily regime. I will write Monday, Wednesday and Friday as your designated workout dates. These dates are not set in stone. Feel free to play around with the dates as long as you get one day of rest in between. It is best, though, that you decide specific times that work for you when you workout. Sit down Monday and plan your week. Schedule 30 minutes for these workouts and then let that time be sacred!

Week One:

Warm up: Put on a really motivational song (think: Eye of the tiger or whatever gets your heart pumping). Start jogging in place and pick out a significant part of the song to jump (for instance the “DUM” in the beginning of said song). Jump as high as you can and clap your hands above your head. Get psyched and pumped! You can even slap yourself in the face if you are hard core – or maybe not. The idea here is to get your heart rate up and start the blood coursing through your veins. Let’s get started:


10 Lunges left leg

10 Lunges right leg

10 Knee to plank Push ups (or from your feet if you have the strength

Do as many rounds possible in ten minutes. Get your heart rate up!


20 Squat Jumps

20 Sit ups

20 Walking planks (think of it as moving forward like a crab)

Try to do at least 4 rounds …but 5 are better!


Burpee Squats

(Do as many rounds as possible in 7 minutes – or more if you can handle it!)

That’s it! Week one! On Friday I want you to give yourself a huge pat on the back, high-five the mirror (don’t break it) and relax! Be proud of yourself and start to feel the small changes you’ll already be experiencing.  These workouts do an amazing job of tightening your core, keeping your legs and butt toned and working that upper body. This is the first step towards getting your julskinka to disappear!

Next week we’ll take it up a small notch we’ll get you back in fighting shape in no time!

Karl Gullö

Karl is a licensed personal trainer based at Crossfit Södermalm. He works with private clients, as well as groups. For more information or to book a time contact him at Karlgullo@crossfitsodermalm.se

To keep updated on all things Stockholm – follow Your Living City on Twitter!

John Sjölund saves lives. Having co-created a device that makes life easier and safer for those with diabetes, he’s taking the medical world by storm from Stockholm and London. YLC’s Kirsten Smart gets the dose from the Timesulin creator.

John Sjolund 2 copyJohn Sjölund pictured with the potentially live saving Timesulin devices.

Approximately 388 million people have diabetes. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes is predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030, with total deaths from the condition projected to rise by over 50% in the next 10 years.

The two most prevalent types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. A vast majority of those living with diabetes fall into the Type 2 category, which is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin (needed to enable the body to store glucose) or builds up a resistance to it. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 can often be prevented through diet and exercise and those with it are frequently able to control it without the use of insulin injections. Type 1, on the other hand, is a result of the body’s flat out failure to produce insulin and those who live with it need to receive the hormone via injections or a pump in order to maintain blood sugar levels. Only about 5 -10% of those with diabetes have Type 1.

The problem

Swedish-born, US-raised ex-expat, Sjölund, falls into this minority.

Having lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 28 years, Sjölund takes over 1,500 insulin injections per year.

The worst feeling for him, though wasn’t the 42 000 odd needle pricks he has had to administer himself, but rather the feeling of panic associated with not being able to recall whether he had taken his insulin shot or not, as the practice had become so habitual. “It’s like forgetting whether or not you turned the coffee machine off or locked your front door.”  Sjölund explains, “I often found myself second-guessing whether or not I had taken my medicine.”

Sjölund isn’t alone in feeling this dosage dread. In fact it’s a common complaint amongst those with diabetes and the problem is twofold as the consequences of under or over dosing can be life threatening. “An accidental double dose can be extremely dangerous as your blood glucose levels will drop and this could lead to a coma, or even death. So I wanted a simple solution that would show me the time lapsed since my last insulin shot to help avoid an accidental missed or double dose of insulin – along with the dread of not being sure.”

“With a forgotten insulin injection you eventually get the symptoms of high blood glucose levels, but by that time you’re already feeling ill,” says Sjölund. To tackle this problem, he and his brother set about inventing a way in which one could track the time between injections in order to prevent potentially life threatening dosage mistakes. Thus the Timesulin device was born.

The Solution

Launched in 2011 by Sjölund and his brother, Andreas (a co-creator of Skype), Timesulin aims to make life with diabetes as simple and worry-free as possible for those who use insulin injections. The lightweight, battery-operated replacement cap fits on to the most common brands of insulin pens just like the cap of a pen. After administering a dosage of insulin, all the user needs to do it replace the cap on the pen and immediately the Timesulin device begins visibly to count the numbers of seconds, minutes and hours since you last took your shot. It’s simple, effective and easy to use and best of all it could just save lives. In a word, it’s genius.

Before inventing Timesulin, Sjölund worked for Acceleration E-Marketing in Cape Town, South Africa. The company enabled him fantastic opportunities to grow, learn and travel, as he worked for their offices in Cape Town, New York and London, where he eventually left to start up Patients Pending LTD, the company behind the product, Timesulin.

After founding the company in September 2010, the Timesulin team opened an additional office in Stockholm in January 2013, from where they cover the Nordic markets and manage all online sales.

“Stockholm has proven to be a great place, both to live and work from. We are surrounded by smart people who share the common value system of helping others.”

“The city is also a hub for innovation and design – both elements in which Timesulin shines. I feel very lucky to have been able to plant our roots in the UK and now blossom this tree over here in Stockholm.”

Little Fish, Big Splash

And blossomed it has.The Timesulin device is already a best-selling product in Europe’s largest diabetes charity organization, Diabetes UK, and the company has distribution partners in over 45 countries around the globe. Sjölund himself was listed as one of the TOYP (Ten Outstanding Young People) in Sweden in 2012 and was invited to meet British Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Downing Street to talk about being a Small/Medium Enterprise in the UK.

“To be honest we’ve been very surprised at the reaction we’ve received from the market for such a simple device,” says Sjölund.

“Most importantly for me, though, are the letters we receive from Timesulin users from all over the world saying that we’ve helped them live safer, more balanced lives with diabetes – that is my ultimate goal.”

But despite their success, it’s not always smooth sailing.

“We’re a small business in a land of huge, mega pharmaceutical companies and the barriers to entry in a new market with a medical device is high. But we’re thrilled with the support we receive from our customers and fans and we’re continuing to expand our relationships with bigger pharmaceutical companies and diabetes associations. We also have some exciting new launches planned for next year; including product ideas that we believe could make a huge impact.”

The prospect of making a bigger impact is certainly an exciting one. If a product like Timesulin could reach more middle and low-income countries where, according to the WHO, 80% of diabetes-related deaths occur, the effects would potentially be literally life altering. This kind of goal would take a lot of support and more years of hard work, but luckily for this young entrepreneur, time is on his side.


Check out Timesulin’s super funky, informative ad:


*Timesulin is currently looking for investment into the business to help improve the lives of those living with diabetes. If you’d like to be part of the next phase of Timesulin, contact them on +44 200 333 1879 or via e-mail at biz@timesulin.com. To find out more about Timesulin, visit their website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter to show your support.


Kirsten Smart

Kirsten blindly followed her husband from South Africa to the land of snow and snus in 2011 and proceeded to procreate. When she isn’t discovering the 101st use of the humble wet wipe, she can be found writing adjective-laden articles for YLC.

me1 1 e1381346897680 Extraordinary Expats: Arno Smit of FundedByMe


Follow Kirsten and Your Living City on Twitter! 













Ever feel like the sore thumb in Sweden? This week, YLC’s mental health expert, Lysanne Sizoo, discusses the difficulties associated with simultaneously adjusting to another culture and a new work environment abroad.

lena_granefelt-workplace_environment-2651Photo: Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se

So you’ve found a job in Sweden, made the move, and started work. Grattis! If everything is going swimmingly, then you’ve cracked the first few numbers of the cultural code. If not, you may be suffering from double culture shock.

Almost everyone feels anxious when starting a new job. We wonder whether we’ll be liked and if we’ll be able to handle the responsibilities and workload. On top of these normal anxieties, we are in a foreign country, struggling to learn a new language (as Swedish is often a requirement in the country’s workplace). Sometimes we have elevated expectations of the time it takes to be relatively  fluent, and other times we bend the truth at the job interview, hoping for the best. But, six months down the line, there’s one thing we don’t often prepare ourselves for: the clash between remaining true to your own culture and adjusting to the new, working environment and the country’s culture.

Company vs. Country Culture

Research from Randstad, the second largest HR company in the world, shows that more than two thirds of adult employees recognize the importance of adapting to their company’s environment in order to succeed in the organisation. But, when you’re working in a Swedish environment, it’s not always easy to see where the separation lies between company culture and the Swedish culture. So my advice would be to allow yourself time to sort out the ‘rules of engagement’ and get plenty of rest, because your mind is working overtime trying constantly to listen and observe.

Even if you’re working for a company that represents your own culture (like in an embassy or school), don’t expect things to be the same as they are at home.

Relating with co-workers is an important step in this process, but, in your enthusiasm to please, you may not notice how your own cultural conditioning on ‘getting to know people’ doesn’t fit in. “I came from New York with a very American ‘shooting the breeze’ kind of approach when I first started working here”, relates one of my friends, “but I seemed to meet a lot of resistance, and after a few months I was told that this is not how things are done in Sweden.”

One oft-heard piece of advice from recruitment companies is to ask a lot of questions. However, where in some cultures this would be seen as positive, curious and willing to learn, in others it may be interpreted as not being able to cope. If it’s the latter, you may find yourself being pushed from pillar to post, because no one wants to give you a clear answer and take responsibility for perhaps getting it wrong. So ask for help for the right reasons, because in the end, new culture or not, it’s always better to admit when we’re in over our heads.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to announce the fact that you are a newcomer and a foreigner and that you will be found putting your foot in it occasionally. If you can laugh about it, others will too.

I’ve frequently heard clients reflect with regret on the fact that new colleagues aren’t always forthcoming in including them in their lunches or after work engagements. Others hoped that they would have help settling in, but have instead been left to their own devices.  If these colleagues are Swedish, they might just be reluctant to intrude on your privacy; it might not be that they’re not inviting YOU as a person, they’re just letting time do the hard work for them and suddenly one day you’ll find yourself heading out of the door with them at lunchtime, without any explicit invitations ever being issued. On the other hand,  If your colleagues have a mixed cultural background, they may just be curious to wait and see how you fit in to the international melting pot.

Timing is Everything

Just as new boyfriends or girlfriends don’t want to be compared to the previous models, neither do new colleagues and managers. If they are  local to the host country they especially will not appreciate being told how things are done in your previous company or country. Of course, it’s natural for us to compare one with the other, but save your research results for discussions with those who sympathise and concur, or when asked for an assessment by your managers.

First impressions often only tell us something about the superficial layer of the new culture, so it’s probably wise to wait a few months before judging your new situation too harshly.

National recruiters generally advise clients to expect things to be tough for the first three months. With international recruitment, I would extend that to anywhere from six months to a year.

What we see when we coach international employees at Turning Point is that the first glimmers of a potential conflict between the ‘old me’ and the ‘new me’ begin to appear six to twelve months after the first day of work. Again, you have probably been fighting the culture shock on a private and corporate front, so you have been taking on a lot of messages about how to behave in order to be accepted.

There has also been time for the realisation to sink in that you are not on holiday, and that the way you used to do things may not work in your new environment. We miss the ‘mirrors’ from home that tell us who were are and how to act. But at the same time, our new mirrors show us a different side of ourselves and present us with the opportunity to grow. However, what often happens is that we end up giving ourselves an ultimatum: either I learn to become reticent or I have to leave, because that’s just not ‘me’.

As I wrote in the article on changing identities abroad, the challenge is not to become a different you, but to become more of you. My friend says “I now know that I can be both ‘American’ in my way of meeting clients and colleagues, and be proud of that, but I also know when to melt into the background and be more ‘Swedish’”.

“I am freer to be who I am, because I adjust, not to please others, but to help me perform better. The choice is mine.”

So the moral of the story is to enjoy the adventure of your new international workplace. Don’t be too eager to have it all together within the first few weeks, try to distinguish between the new culture in and outside of your new workplace, and sit on your comparisons for a while until you’ve seen the underlying motivations behind surface behaviour. Most importantly, though, is that you don’t lose who you are in the process; see your new situation as an opportunity to let go of parts of yourself that are no longer useful, and to embrace the new parts your host culture has helped find.

Copyright 2013: Lysanne Sizoo

Lysanne Sizoo


These articles are a composite of my personal, my colleagues’ and

clients’ experiences in order to protect recognition. All therapeutic

meetings are Turning Point are confidential, and specific content would

never be shared in a public forum.


If you have any specific problem that you would like Lysanne to consider in her articles, please contact her here (anonymity will always be preserved). 


1375118842 header 290713 e1383221623981 Expats and mental health: YOUR questions answered


Lysanne Sizoo is the founder and director of Turning Point, the only international counselling centre in Stockholm. In 2008 she obtained her psychotherapy license from the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. She has been practising as a counsellor and psychotherapist since 1997, specialising in the field of cross cultural issues, as well as fertility, bereavement, parenting, anxiety and stress management.


This week, Lysanne Sizoo explores why many couples experience the ‘second day blues’, when one half returns weary from a trip abroad only to be faced with disgruntled grumbles and a list of chores.


My father was naval officer and my mother a very independent and self-sufficient naval officer’s wife. She told me, “When your father would come home from a sea voyage there would be 24 hours of joy followed by at least a day of bad tempers.” She termed it the ‘second day blues’.

There are many couples that share a similar experience. The online resource, Circle Of Moms, even has a special section for mums with husbands that travel. Today, of course, there is also a growing population of husbands who might experience similar feelings when their wives travel for their work. So what might lie at the base of these homecoming hiccups? Is it just about generosity, or is there some other interplay between the one who goes out hunting and gathering and the one that holds the fort?

Not long ago, I was in the company of four very strong, very capable expat wives.

One of our husbands was due home and the wife in question remarked ”he missed the children’s chicken pox, he missed having to go and do the parent evenings, and now he expects me to be waiting for him with a smile on my face and my legs shaved?”

The next half hour was filled with a chorus of empathic and mirthful moans of recognition. Of course we know we’re not being fair, but we all shared the sentiment that our spouses needed to earn their place back into the tribe. 

So, when we add in the expat factor, we’re not just the partner who was ‘left behind’, we’re left behind in a foreign place, often without a social network, families, or even work to fall back on. Robin Pascoe, one of the internationally renowned expat guru’s says in one of her YouTube lectures; “I know so many women who, (having) coped and coped while the men are away… lose it the minute their men come home and put the cutlery in the wrong drawer.” While she was conducting interviews for her book A Moveable Marriage, she found many couples had similar issues; the travelling partner is not a part of the daily routine anymore and when they do call from abroad to demonstrate their involvement, it is invariably at an inconvenient time for the rest of the family leading to discordance, frustration and misunderstanding.

Group dynamics

From group dynamic theory we learn that whenever a group member leaves or returns, the group dynamics change. My friend, Alice, is part of her local church choir in Boston. Because she is married to a Swede, she divides her time between the U.S and Sweden so, whenever she’s been away for an extended period of time, she has to reintegrate into the choir group as she may have missed out on events and personal dramas. In a way, she feels as if somehow she has let them all down by not being loyal to the group with her time and commitment and is being ‘tested’ again to see if she can still belong to the tribe. 

In the same way, a family unit is a group in its own right and so the same dynamics are likely to apply.

Exploring this topic with others, there seems to be a common experience that before the children came along, absences of the other partner were borne very differently; reunions used to be romantic and happy occasions.

For the one staying home, time apart would be an opportunity to socialize with friends or spend some quality time with our immediate families. But when children come along, a new group is born; a new tribe. And this little tribe develops its own rules and culture, including the role-division between the two partners.

Reactions to absences from the tribe

When an important member of the tribe leaves for a period of time, the whole tribe experiences a sense of loss. On the circleofmums forum there was a long thread about children acting out when one of their parents left for an extended time, putting an extra load of pressure on the one holding down the fort. Other children reacted by shutting out the travelling parent when they came home.  A common way of dealing with this sense of loss is to (temporarily) fill up the absent person’s space. This ‘closing of the ranks’ has been described by some as an almost a purely energetic experience, like water flowing into an empty space to create a new equilibrium.

I myself I would close the ranks by putting my husband’s toiletries away in a drawer until he returned; out of sight, out of mind and therefore not so desperately missed.

So the one that stays at home to look after the tribe experiences and increased workload, while at the same time creating a sort of bubble that allows him or her to be less in touch with feelings of loss. Consequently, when the traveller comes home, it takes time and effort to redirect the new tributary you’d created. While the traveller may feel like the tribe is freezing them out, what’s really happening is that, energetically, your space needs to be inhabited by you again. Some of us have more trouble giving up this ‘territory’ than others, and when the visit back is already overshadowed by the next trip away, it is sometimes easier to just keep the barriers in place. It’s not nice, but it does need to be recognized as part of a coping mechanism that makes it easier for the one at home to maintain self-sufficiency and independence.

Staying connected 

In my parents’ day the only way they could stay in touch was through snail mail. News was inevitably always weeks late, but at the same time, there was a sense that they could digest and enjoy the other’s experience at their leisure. Today, we are more used to having on-demand contact via our various technological gadgets. This brings up the issue of differing needs when it comes to maintaining contact; some would happily let days go by without getting in touch, whilst others feel the need to connect on a daily basis. There is no right or wrong, there’s just their way and your way, and that means finding a compromise. Communication becomes even harder when there are different time zones involved and conversations can end up being very predictable or one-sided, reinforcing the sense that the traveller is having all the fun, while back home it is ‘same old, same old’ except with added stresses.

And yet the partner in the hotel room is probably feeling lonely, out of touch and yearning to be included and involved. But, as Robin Pascoe noted, back home the dinner rush is on and no one seems to have time.

Communication needs to be planned and negotiated, even though it may feel unromantic and lacking in spontaneity.

The travelling partner could help by showing respect for the daily routine and working around time zones, corporate dinners and meetings to ensure there is consistent communication at predictable times.

But what about the one who is away?

The travelling partner, in most cases, is not abroad to party. They are there for their work, which in itself providing for the tribe. My husband expressed that he felt just as taken for granted, in that respect, as I did for not being recognized in the excellent job I was doing at home. So, in addition to constantly shifting group dynamics, there is also the battle of self-pity taking place. 

“All we want when we come home is an easy life, a quiet life… and then all hell breaks loose.”

It made me sad to realize that my husband has felt unwelcome and that he needs to ’earn’ his place back into the tribe. Sure, maybe he’s not a hunter dragging a reindeer off the plane from Arlanda with which to nourish his family, but his travels were part of his care-taking role and a little gratitude wouldn’t go amiss.

Respect and humility

As always, each half of the couple needs to be seen and respected for the importance of their contribution to the family. And each one of us needs perhaps to show a little humility and restraint in believing we had the tougher part of the deal.

So despite him having had a 1500 euro a head dinner with champagne and eight courses while you were sitting there nursing a baby with a 40 degree fever, remember: it was part of his job, which is ultimately benefitting the tribe.

Understanding the way both sides feel is a huge step towards avoiding the second day blues. And, when all else fails, why not apply the ingenious tactic employed by one of my young friends: meet up with your travelling partner for a few days before they’re due home while grandma looks after the children. That way you have a chance to reconnect, share stories, relax, rekindle and come home as a team.

Now I wish I’d have thought of that myself!

Copyright 2013: Lysanne Sizoo


Lysanne Sizoo



These articles are a composite of my personal, my colleagues’ and

clients’ experiences in order to protect recognition. All therapeutic

meetings are Turning Point are confidential, and specific content would

never be shared in a public forum.


If you have any specific problem that you would like Lysanne to consider in her articles, please contact her here (anonymity will always be preserved). 





Preggers in Stockholm or bringing your bump to the city? Congratulations! YLC’s Alexandra D’Urso on the advantages of becoming a parent in Sweden.


Let’s say you’re thinking about parenthood. Maybe you are unexpectedly expecting, or you’ve wanted to be pregnant for months or years and you finally are. Congrats! Whether you’re a first-time parent or this is not your first pregnancy, you’re perhaps among the luckiest parents in the world. Why? Just for the simple reason that you may be having your child in Sweden and raising it here.

Before explaining this lofty statement any further, I should preface this piece by saying that I’ve never given birth to or raised a child in a country other than Sweden, so my basis for judgment is of course very subjective. However, being of reproductive age and having hung out with an international crowd even back in my country of origin, I know quite a few people who have recently had children or are currently raising some. Like me, some have moved out of the US to yet another country. Having parenthood in common, conversations with friends and acquaintances living in other places often naturally turn to shared issues or concerns like child care, prenatal care/labor/delivery, ongoing health care for families, etc., and how it is to be a parent in different places.

Once you see the plus sign on that pee stick, no matter where you become a parent, you’ll continue to see symbols; most often, you’ll be faced with a lot of question marks. Why? Mainly because every pregnancy, every labor, and every child are totally unique, and the unpredictability of these forces us to sit back and just go with the flow sometimes.

Keeping an open mind, which you’ve likely had to do quite a bit during your time living abroad, is a good strategy for the road ahead.

Qualifying statements out of the way, let’s get to the details! Why do I think that parents in Sweden are among the luckiest in the world? To begin with, pregnant women, assuming they have a residency permit, receive free prenatal care. Free? Yes, as in you don’t have to pay for your visits. (Of course, the next time you find yourself grumbling about the 25% MOMS or taxes on your salary, just remember that that hard-earned cash is about to come back to you in a very major way in the form of tax-subsidized health care and child care.) While each county is responsible for the health care of its residents, you will come across some trends no matter where you live in Sweden:


Midwife-managed care

In Sweden, unless you have some kind of complication during your pregnancy, the only time you’ll meet with a doctor is when you’re giving birth—and then, only if you need anesthesia or have complications. For some people, it might sound terrifying to never meet with a doctor, especially if in your home country it is doctors who provide prenatal care. Midwife-managed care has a few benefits: one is that pregnant women are not treated like sick people, and another is that not having doctors provide prenatal care saves the public health care system a lot of money.


Minimalist prenatal care

When you first meet with your midwife, you may be surprised at how few visits and tests you may have ahead of you compared with what you’ve heard or experienced in other countries. If you come from a country that does more tests than are really necessary, like the US, then the prospect of few visits and one (!) ultrasound might seem scary. Rest assured: they’re really on to something here. Sweden has one of the world’s lowest infant and maternal mortality rates, and if any out-of-the-ordinary circumstances arise, you will be promptly referred for further follow up. You will have some blood tests to make sure that your iron levels are OK, for example, but unless you request it, you won’t have any unneeded exams. Yes, that means no unnecessary lie-backs with your legs in the air like a turkey on Thanksgiving and your feet in stirrups while….yeah, you get it.


Encouraged parental bonding and breastfeeding

After the hard work of laboring is done, you’ll be transferred to the BB ward for recovery. If this is your first labor, you’ll likely stay in the hospital longer than you would for subsequent labors, assuming these have no complications. Something that I thought was absolutely lovely was that my partner was encouraged to sleep overnight with me and our son in the hospital during the days that I remained there for follow-up. This allowed my husband to take a more active and supportive role as I recovered, which I greatly appreciated. Unless they have some kind of serious complications, newborns remain in their mothers’ rooms and are not whisked away to a nursery out of sight. This allows for more time to get the hang of breastfeeding, if you decide to do it. If you have any questions, there are midwives available to help at all hours of the day.


Generous parental leave

Once you and the bebis head home, get in touch with Försäkringskassan to get your parental leave allowance going. (In some cases, you can activate your parental leave shortly before giving birth.)

Note: if you’ve never registered with Försäkringskassan before, do it as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. (Even if you’re reading this and are neither pregnant nor registered, do it!).

Registering with Försäkringskassan isn’t one of those obvious things that foreigners learn about when they move to Sweden, like getting a personnummer or registering with Migrationsverket. Getting into the Försäkringskassan system is important if you plan to take paid parental leave, if you need to stay home sick from work and want to get paid sick leave, if you need to care for a sick child and take time off from work, etc. In Sweden, fathers are also allowed parental leave, as are the parents in same-sex couples. If you are part of a couple, each parent has three months of parental leave set aside. Because Sweden is so progressive, there is both great peer pressure for and desire by men to actually take parental leave.



Simply for having a child, the Swedish state pays you. I’m not kidding. Every month, Försäkringskassan deposits SEK 1050 into our bank account. Families with more than one child receive more. Barnbidrag is quite old, dating to the first half of the 20th century, as a way of providing economic assistance to families. It doesn’t matter what your income is: every child receives a barnbidrag.


A guaranteed spot in heavily subsidized child care

At age one, children in Sweden are eligible for child care. In fact, the kommun in which you live is required by law to provide, within a four-month window of your request, a spot for your child in a förskola within a reasonable distance from your home. You are not guaranteed a spot in your first choice of preschool, but you are guaranteed a spot. That fact alone—and that child care is subsidized to the point where parents in other countries don’t believe me when I tell them how inexpensive it is (the maximum amount for your first child is less than SEK 1500 per month)—is simply awesome. As parents in Sweden, rare is the occasion when a parent cannot afford to pay for child care and has to choose between working and paying for child care.

This is merely a short list of all of the reasons why it’s great to give birth and raise children in Sweden: there are several others like free health care for kids, free university… well, free thanks to you and all of the other residents of Sweden who participate in the system by paying various taxes.

Feel free to discuss other advantages of parenting in Sweden in the comments section!


Alexandra D’Urso

Boston-area native Alexandra moved to Sweden in 2009 and gave up cod for smoked salmon and Sam Adams for wine in plastic bottles with screw caps. When not bragging about the awesome aspects of Swedish life to people back home, she spends time writing and laughing loud enough to disturb innocent bystanders.

Follow Alex and Your Living City on Twitter!

Something lurking in the grass? Funny spidery thing walking on your leg? Gaaaaah! We give you YLC’s guide to everything you need to know about the fästing, or tick.


It’s that time of year again, people, where Sweden’s slight yet savage summer scourge prevents us from sitting bare-legged in grass, when every itchy mozzie-bite must be scrutinized to be sure it is not caused by a tiny little insect feasting on our bodies. That’s right, people, the fästing fest is going on – and you might just be invited!

“So?” you ask. ”What is all the fuss about? A tiny little spider that bites? In my country we have sharks/snakes/alligators/crocs/raccoons/grizzlies/Glaswegians running wild all over the place. Swedes can rant about their ticks until they’re blue in the face  - I will not be rattled!”

And you are right. These, are indeed very dangerous creatures. And yet..and yet… I maintain that until you have been jumping around half-naked in a country-house/tent/camper van screaming “get it off me”,  being forced to ask your (new) boyfriend to pull the little tick-blighter out from just under your bottom with tweezers, while urging said embarrassed boyfriend not leave its nasty and possibly disease-ridden head behind, despite only having a torch (that’s a flashlight, American chums!) to see with – you haven’t lived! Not in Sweden, anyway.

I once had a talented yet somewhat innocent friend from Oz, who would scoff snootily at any attempt I made at trying to warn him about Sweden’s annual tick infestation. This one is for him.


What you need to know about ticks:


Ticks are:

  • bloodsucking parasites that live off of large animals and humans
  • found in forests, tall grasses, low vegetation, meadows, and moist, dark, humid environments
  • likely to be a nuisance when doing most outdoor activities in the areas mentioned above; like gardening, hiking, camping
  • active in temperatures above 6-7 degrees celsius (spring, summer, autumn)
  • actually found world-wide


Why do we need protection?

  • ticks can transmit diseases, namely (1) Tick-borne Encephalitis (TBE) or (2) Borrelia (Lyme disease)

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral brain infection caused by a tick bite, resulting in brain inflammation. Symptoms include: fever, headache, body aches and fatigue, manifesting within a week of being bitten. These symptoms appear to wear off after about a week, and the person begins to feel better, but then the symptoms return stronger and meningitis and encephalitis symptoms as well (nausea, dizziness, light sensitivity, sometimes a stiff neck). On some occasions, it can result in paralysis or physical disability, speech disorders, and concentration or memory disorders.  About 200 people in Sweden are diagnosed with TBE every year

Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia bacteria carried by the parasites and can be cured with penicillin, NOT with vaccinations.


How do I protect myself?

  • avoid tick-infested areas of Sweden if possible
  • dress appropriately: wear light-coloured clothes that fully cover you, tuck trousers into socks
  • always walk in the centre of the trail
  • after coming indoors – check your clothes for ticks. If you find any – clothes should be removed right away. Put your clothes in the dryer on high temperatures for at least 1 hour to kill the parasites.
  • check yourself for ticks soon after coming indoors: use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view your whole body (under the arms, in & around ears, inside the belly button, back of knees, between the legs, around the waist)
  • shower within 2 hours of coming indoors to reduce the risk of Lyme disease, it can wash away unattached ticks, and it’s a good time to check yourself for attached ones.
  • TBE vaccination
  • there’s no vaccination for Borrelia, only penicillin can help after contracting the disease.


What do I do if I find a tick on me?

  • it’s important to get the tick out ASAP to reduce risk of infection
  • contact a health centre if you think you’ve been bitten
  • you can take a tick out yourself, but it must be done carefully.
  • use tweezers, your nails, or a tick plucker to pull it out as close to the skin as possible. Pull it out from its mouth, without twisting. Make sure you don’t squeeze its body, because the Borrelia bacteria can still be transmitted that way.
  • if you use a tick-plucker, follow the instructions provided when bought.
  • clean the area right away after tick removal
  • check for signs of illness (eg. rash or fever) in the days and weeks after being bitten, and see a healthcare provider if signs or illness appear.


What can happen if I leave it untreated?

  • it can infect humans with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness
  • different diseases that can be contracted: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, borrelia (lyme disease), rocky mountain spotted fever, southern tick-associated rash illness, tick-borne relapse fever, tularemia. Oh, and did we mention that it itches like the be-jaysus?


If I need to ask someone – what do I do?

  • if you have questions or need advice, you can ask a nurse via internet or Vårdguiden’s e-service (in Swedish) throughout the day, or call 08-320 100.



So there’s a vaccine against TBE? Who should get vaccinated?

  • recommended for those living/vacationing in tick-infested areas and for those who are often in forests or fields.
  • recommended for those who are often in nature on Åland, the Baltic areas, as well as central and eastern Europe.


How does it work?

  • the basic vaccination is 3 doses within 1 year, and then 1 dose every 3-5 years (from age 1 and up).
  • children can be protected by the vaccination, but those under 3 years old have a low chance of contracting the severe form of TBE, and therefore, it’s not necessary fro them to be vaccinated.
  • if you are going to be vaccinated, it is advisable to do so before the tick season begins – but you are partially protected as soon as you’ve had two of the three shots .
  • if you are allergic to egg/chicken proteins (traces may be found in the vaccine), pregnant/breastfeeding, or have an autoimmune disease (RA, SLE, MS), you should talk to your doctor before being vaccinated for TBE


Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Your local vårdcentral: For information on prices click here.
  • City Akuten: Prices: 350kr – adults; 300kr – children. One can either drop in or book a time online or by phone (020-15 01 50). Refer to website for locations.
  • VaccindirektPrices: 350kr – adults; 300kr – children. Vaccindirekt has a boat (fästingbåten) and bus (fästingbussen) that visit the most tick-infested areas of Sweden.
  • Stockholm Vaccin-Lättakut (English): Prices: 310kr – adults; 260kr – children. Location: St. Eriksplan 6, 113 20 Stockholm. Tel.: 08-31 48 48. Drop in or make an appointment. See website for opening hours.


For more info on ticks and disease, where do I go?


So there you have it – that’s all I’ve got. If you end up with a tick on your bum in the middle of the night in a remote Swedish country cottage – don’t say we didn’t warn you! And if you don’t get bitten – don’t be smug – there’s always next year. If the sharks/snakes/alligators/crocs/raccoons/grizzlies/Glaswegians haven’t got you on a visit home before that.


Rebecca Martin

Research by Carmel Heiland

Follow Rebecca and YourLivingCity on Twitter!




Holiday times are here and as Stockholm comes to an (almost) standstill, many choose to go abroad for their vacation. If you are planning on traveling in Europe – make sure you get a European Health Insurance Card.


If you have a Swedish personal number and are insured in Sweden, the European Health Insurance card entitles you to medical treatment in these countries:

Austria, Belgian, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary,  Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland.

And the best thing about it  - it’s completely free!


What to do to get your health card:

You can apply for the card here (the website is in Swedish) OR you can call Försäkringskassan (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency): on 0771-524 524.

If you are planning to travel outside of the EU/EEA, you should contact Försäkringskassan to see if they have an insurance agreement with that country and they will send you the necessary certificates.

For a full listing of the services provided through Försäkringskassan, here is a link to their brochure in English.


It can take a week or two before the card is delivered to your registered address but you are covered by the insurance from the day you applied, so bring the confirmation receipt/email in case you travel before you get your card.


Happy Holidays!


Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca and Your Living City on Twitter!

Healthcare in Sweden is comprehensive and affordable, but may operate very differently from your home country. Lysanne Sizoo provides the YLC guide to visiting a doctor in Sweden.

Doctor greating patient

You may also like


Healthcare in Sweden is offered both privately (privat med vårdavtal) and through public centres (offentlig vård). However, contrary to what most foreigners perceive under the word private, the costs for visiting a doctor in first line care in either category are exactly the same, so a better description would be independent and public healthcare.

The general experience of most internationals is that the independently-run centres often offer a service-minded practice closer to what we are used to from home. It takes quite some effort to get a special licence from the authorities to be allowed to start an independent practise and it can attract the more enterprising and forward thinking doctors. You can find all their names and addresses listed (in Swedish) under www.privatvard.info. You can also find excellent information in English under www.vardguiden.se/Om-Vardguiden/International/English/.


First line care – GP surgery – house doctor

When you are settled into your new home, the first thing to do is to find out what selection of your local healthcare centres there are. They will be listed in the telephone directory under vårdcentral (health centre) and by looking at their websites you get a good idea of whether they are public or independent. Also ask around at school and in the neighbourhood to get a personal recommendation.

Once you have decided on a vårdcentral, you then ring them and ask if you can be registered. This is also when you can assess how foreigner-friendly they are: whether they will easily speak to you in English. However well you speak Swedish, my advice is that you find somewhere where English is also acceptable. Quite often, we don’t visit doctors because we’re slightly scared to and small barriers can make a huge difference to whether you go or not.

To register you and your family, you give your personal numbers and then, depending on the way the surgery works, you either go to the open surgery or make an appointment via telephone or even online. In Stockholm, adults pay 200 kr per visit, but costs vary per county. For children there are the special childcare  sections at the healthcare centre (barnvårdcentralen) and treatment there is free.


Out of hours care – non urgent

If you need to see a doctor out of hours then you first check whether your health centre has a designated ’local emergency unit’ (Närakut) centre that they work with. Otherwise you can check online by searching ‘närakut’ and the place you live. Treatment costs 200 kr for adults and can be charged at 120 kr for children.

Both Astrid Lindgren hospital and Karoliska hospital also have a non-urgent out of hours section for children. The cost is 120 kr.

There is also a phone number that you can ring to receive advice on whether your emergency can wait until the next day. The nurses manning this phone line tend to err on the side of caution so be clear and specific about your concerns. The number is 08-320 100 or 1177. You can also check out this website.


Emergency care

If you become acutely ill or have an injury that needs immediate attention you visit Accident and Emergency at your closest hospital. You can find a list of the emergency centres here. Emergency care, depending on what need to be done, costs between 200 kr to 400 kr.

Calling an ambulance in the most urgent case can be done by ringing 112.


Specialist care

Specialists such as endocrinologists, gyneacologists, cardiologists, etc etc, also work either as part of the state system, or independently. Again, the costs are the same, but while you need a referral (remiss) for all of the public specialists, you can often book directly, without a referral, to most independent specialists. At www.privatvård.info you can find them under the name gruppläkarmottagningar or läkarhus. If you want to go the public healthcare route, you will be assigned a specialist by your GP surgery. Costs for specialist care are between 150 kr with a referral letter and 350 kr directly.

In addition, there are specialist clinics for sexual advice, so called Sesammottagningarna for both men and women.

Young people can go to so called Ungdomsmottagning up until the age of 24. These youth medical centres are staffed with midwives, social workers, doctors and sometimes psychologists.

All women in the fertile stages of life can also get specialist care at the Barnmorskemottagningen or mödravårdscentralen. This is where specialist pregnancy care can be given, as well as information and advice about contraceptives, smear tests, abortion advice, and other gynaecological concerns.



For a listing of all the updated 2013 fees, please click here. It is worth noting that Sweden operates a ‘high-cost ceiling‘ on fees, so that Stockholm residents will not need to pay more than 1,100 SEK within 12 months of their first consultation. There is a similar ceiling for prescription medication, which is set at 2,200 SEK. Ask at the doctor’s reception for your high-cost card, keep your receipts for prescriptions and make sure your costs are noted down on the card each time. Regular dental check-ups and care is not covered in this high-ceiling card, but other dental care may be on referral from your doctor – please check your individual circumstances.


Article: Lysanne Sizoo

Photo Credit: Flickr/Vic





Lysanne Sizoo is the founder and director of Turning Point, the only international counselling centre in Stockholm. In 2008 she obtained her psychotherapy license from the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. She has been practising as a counsellor and psychotherapist since 1997, specialising in the field of cross cultural issues, as well as fertility, bereavement, parenting, anxiety and stress management.