Visiting Finland With a Toddler

Julie has just returned from a trip with her daughter, Scarlett to Finland. Here she shares their experience with us.

Where to start!? I just took my 1 year old child on my own for a 2 week adventure to Finland and had the time of my life!! I’ll try to make this story as helpful as possible to assist other mums and dads thinking of embarking on similar journeys that may be experiencing the same fears I faced in the lead up to our holiday.

The Temperature 

We were lucky as it had been in between -20 and -30 in the lead up to our trip but the temperatures when we were there ranged from +2 to minus 13. The cold was actually quite ok and after going outside just a few times Scarlett quickly learned why I was layering her up! I actually stayed with Finnish friends who suggested not to buy things at home and showed me how to dress her when I arrived. This was definitely good advice.

I would suggest buying just enough clothing for one day (like try to find one good coat and bring whatever warm clothing you have) and then on your first day in Finland go shopping and buy the warm clothes then, there is a much larger range and the clothes are made to suit this weather unlike Australian clothes!

I was constantly told to put more clothes on Scarlett and although it was a pain going inside, outside dressing, undressing, It paid off as she did not get sick at all except for a small cold that lasted a day or two. You will notice that kids when outdoors are always in what we might call 'snow suits', 'snow hat' and 'snow boots' and never just a jumper and pants!

Language change

The only thing about the language that frustrated Scarlett was that when she would run up to kids and try to say 'hi' they did not know what she was saying. I taught Scarlett how to say hi in Finnish and she caught on very quickly, soon she was turning around to complete strangers and saying "Moi!". She was very aware of what new words meant and who to say it to as she would still use 'hi' around home. The only thing is now we are back she is still going up to strangers and saying Moi - cute!

Scarlett even watched a movie in Finnish and sat through the whole thing. She even picked out the characters name and came up to me requesting the movie to be put on again by saying the characters name even with the Finnish accent, they really are so adaptable!

Being away from home

The most important thing here I recommend is having something to associate with her home base back home and her home base while on holiday. So long as Scarlett felt she had somewhere to call home at the end of the day I found she was settled with that sense of security. Scarlett would say "daddy at home with doggies" when we spoke about her 'true home' but when we were out for the day and when she would get tired or grumpy, I would explain that we were going home to' Noora' and 'Kitty' (my friend and her cat). I took a portable DVD player with me to keep her entertained and have the same comforts she had from home - best $50 eBay purchase ever!! she watched it every time we got home and settled immediately.

Jet Lag

When we arrived in Helsinki it was 7am and amazingly Scarlett stayed awake until 4pm! It was extremely hard but I woke her after a couple of hours to ensure she didn’t get jet lagged and wake in the middle of the night. I fed her dinner and let her watch a bit of TV and shower etc. then she went down to bed for the night. She slept for 11hrs straight and never had a single jet lag issue the whole time and of course neither did I! Coming home however silly mummy thought due to our great arrival experience that we could just have a little nap upon return - biggest mistake I ever made - It’s a week later now and our sleeping patterns are still completely out of whack!!!! Stay awake the whole first day you arrive at your destination!!

Fitting everything in

Brilliant thing about going to a cold country was the lack of day light hours. Usually I’d feel depressed spending time inside when on holiday but it doesn’t bother you so much when it’s dark or snowing outside. This meant Scarlett never spent long days out of the house and it didn’t annoy her so much being inside watching movies at the end of the day to chill out and relax. We would always have a relaxed breakfast and head out mid morning and come back mid afternoon. Still got a lot done and yet Scarlett was never on the go too much that she couldn’t cope.

Things we did

While we were in Finland admittedly we did spend a lot of time generally shopping, sightseeing and just hanging about. This was really good for scarlet though as she wasn't thrown into having massive days out after already being through such a long trip. It was nice though obviously due to the weather and the fact that I was there too largely to visit friends who hung out with me a lot of the time.

I took Scarlett ice skating one day on an outdoor ice-skating rink in Helsinki. She loved this very much but being only 1 she was pretty clueless as to what to do and had to be dragged along for the most part so glad I had my friend with me. still a nice experience.

Another actvity was making snowballs and going sledding. My friend bought us a sled that a lot of local kids use for sport at school or just get pulled around on (in small town areas as there is too many rocks on the paths in the city to prevent slipping on the ice). It only cost 7euro and was great to take to a park and just slide down hills in. Great for adults to join in too!!

On the weekend Scarlett, a friend and I flew just over an hour north of Helsinki to Rovaniemi (home of Santa Claus and center of Lapland) We visited Santa's Village here and had the most magical time. We saw the reindeers whichh Scarlett got to pat and then we all rode in a sled which Scarlett loved. It was such an amazing, yet slow and gentle ride through the forest that was great for kids! It cost 15-25euro pp (depending on distance) and no charge for Scarlett.

We also visited Husky Park (part of Sanata's Village) and after patting some baby huskies, we went on a sled ride with them too. (25-35 euro depending on distance and again no charge for Scarlett.) This ride was quite fast through a larger part of the forest and even though the wind was blowing snow right into our eyes and our nose was about to freeze off, the was THE highlight of our trip. Scarlett was so quiet with absolute awe and for the adults it was just a truly amazing way to really appreciate the nature of Lapland and get a real thrill while there!

We also of course, visited Santa while there who Scarlett still remembered from Christmas time and really enjoyed (there was a big sort of themed lot of corridors to get there). Santas Village was really quiet as it was past Christmas season but it made it a really tranquil visit with no queues/ waits which was great with Scarlett. The main attraction was Santa park which closes on 9 Jan (I found out after booking) and I think if we had the time of our life here when it was shut, imagine what sort of time we would have had when Santa Park is open!

P.S Also great news if visiting Finland- intercity transport of all types is free for mums with prams!!

Julie is co-owner of Scarlett Dawn children’s boutique. You can visit her website here.

Thanks for sharing Julie, We cant wait to hear all about Scarlett’s next adventure.