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Loving and Living: The Berlin Episode

August 23, 2012

I don’t like to pigeonhole my blog, though I guess I could become famous in the internets, like my friends Working Berlin Mum and Expat Mummy, if only I would stick to a theme. Since I mostly bitch and moan, hopefully along the way making valid points and intelligent arguments, I thought I would post something positive today for a change…Hold on to your hats!

Walking through our local park in the sunshine recently, it occurred to me that there is nowhere I would rather be living with my son than in Berlin. This is why:

– Safe, open spaces

Space generally taken for granted where I come from. I grew up in a town with definite borders, surrounded by countryside and there were parks and fields and plenty of places to play. Berlin is a capital city, yet I still feel that sense of space and freedom to roam without much Human contact and somehow I feel even feel safer here than my hometown.
This is excellent for children: There are at least 7 well-frequented playgrounds within a 5-10 minute walk from us. There are 2 large parks, 10-15 minutes walk away.

Safe, watery spaces

I love water and thought I would miss the gorgeous Northeastern coastlines with which I grew up or the rain-filled canals of Manchester and whilst I do miss the sound of the waves crashing against the land (and don’t miss the constant umbrella-breaking precipitation of my Northwestern second home), there’s no shortage of watery fun to be had in Berlin.

The local outdoor pool is huge and the parkland surrounding it is great for little explorers. Ten minutes’ tram or busride away is Weissensee, a lake with its very own beach. Less than an hour on public transport and we can reach most of the other Berliner lakes, which are perfect for a lazy afternoon paddling and picnicking. For the none water-babies, there are plenty of playgrounds with a watery element like the one on Kollwitzstr. in Prenzlauer Berg or in Bürgerpark Pankow (though I think that’s broken at the time of writing)

Child-friendly cafés

Kindercafés (children’s cafés) are like playrooms on crack: Toys, books, ballpools or slides or all of the aforementioned plus coffee, cake and other treats are the saviour of every frazzled parent, especially on rainy days and in the cold winters that wipe out the memory of the (usually) warm Berlin summers. Our local one is Café Schönhausen.

– Affordable childcare

I doubt I could afford to work a 25 hour week if I had to pay for our childcare in the UK. The system here is excellent, affordable and, though people often complain that it’s hard to get a daycare spot, I don’t know anyone who has gone back to work without already having one.

General interest/friendliness towards children

Travelling around Berlin, I often find myself getting chatting to various people about my son. Or he gets into conversations with people, the little flirt! On the rare occasion that we go to the butcher’s shop, he gets as much meat as he can handle (honest!) and at the market we’ve often been given fruit and WHOLE SLICES OF CAKE ‘für das Kind’ (a bite for Mammy as well, of course). I kid thee not. This shit is for real.

In the UK, nobody gives a crap about my scummy kid- everyone’s got one, innit?

– Excellent public transport system

A car is not a necessity but a luxury. The public transport system is (mostly) buggy friendly and free for children under 6 years of age.

Entertainment galore

Being a jammy git with good German, we have a whole world of entertainment and events open to us. Even if I knew next-to-no German, I think we would still have shedloads open to us.

Berlin has 2 children’s museums (Labyrinth and MACHmit!), around the corner from us is a huge outdoor swimming pool and there is never an absence of Kiezfests (neighbourhood street festivals), mostly with free entertainment.

There are music classes, dance classes, jumping around and being silly classes, groups for fathers, mothers, grandparents, story-telling, guided tours, family brunches, picnics, meetup groups… everything you need to keep the kids entertained and yourself sane, come rain or shine.

Berlin really is an awesome city for raising younglings. I don’t plan on returning to the UK any time soon. Unless I could be persuaded by one of my UK blogger counterparts, who wants to big up the good things about raising kids in Great Britain?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2012 08:15

    Sticking to a theme is overrated – I like blogs with a bit of everything 🙂

  2. September 5, 2012 20:30

    Thanks for the link 🙂 Definitely a useful post although I do love your rants 😉

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