Posted by: Sarah | November 26, 2013

Norwegian Childcare Vs British Childcare

It’s hard to believe that we have been back in Blighty for nearly three months .  We’re slowly adapting back to the speed of life in the UK…it’s so much quicker than Norway in every way from how people drive to how people shop.  The days are passing by so quickly.  Well, the kiddies are pretty settled and that’s the theme of this post.

We realised fairly soon that Lizzie needed to go back into barnehage/nursery in the UK when I was following her trail of disasters around the house.  Water everywhere in the kitchen, toilet paper unrolled in the bathroom and the final straw…she decided to use the coffee table as canvas for some artwork using a ballpoint pen. 

So we found her a nursery near to where we live and she currently attends 4 days a week.  This is where we started to see some big differences between Norway and the UK.

  1. The Cost:  OMG – how do people afford to go back to work in the UK?  In Norway the monthly cost of childcare is capped at about £250 a month and the government tops up the rest – that way Mum’s are encouraged back into work.  In the UK the average price is about £800-£900 a month!  When you send two kids that doubles unlike Norway where you get a discount.  This has to be the biggest shock!
  2. photo (33)No Day Trips:  For the reason above, the nurseries have to offer flexible hours.  Not everyone can afford a full day so kids are coming and going every hour.  Our nursery has 80 children on the books but only 44 attend at any one time so there are many that come for just afternoons, just mornings or just a few hours in the middle of the day.  For this reason they cannot take kids out on day trips or walks which I find a huge shame.  Maria (our child care leader in Norway) always took the kids out for the day but that’s because all children are in child care for the full day and not part time.  Comes back to cost I guess.
  3. Indoors Vs Outdoors:  In Norway Lizzie would be out in all weather (unless it was colder than minus 6 degrees then indoors only!)  We looked at one particular nursery – Lizzie was playing outside to see how she liked it.  It started to rain and the carers quickly ushered all the kids inside.  Lizzie was the last to come in and was soaked.  I would expect Norwegians to quickly get them in, put the right clothes on them and send them back out again.  I miss the focus on outdoor activities.
  4. Structured Play:  There seems to be much more structured play and organised activities in the UK.  Once a week they learn French, they have a dance teacher come in and give them a workout and they regularly bake/cook.  I think they’re preparing them for pre-school (at the age of 3 years) unlike Norway where schooling really doesn’t begin until the age of 6.
  5. Mr-BumpHealth And Safety:  Wowweeee this took a bit of getting used to.  Every time Lizzie has a bump (which is often) she gets a Mr Bump form telling me she’s got a bruise.  I then have to sign a form to say I’ve seen the form.  If she has a bump at home I have to fill in a form to tell them and they have to countersign to say they’ve seen she had a bump at home.  Keeping up?  Basically it’s a ton of paperwork when you have 80 kids to look after.  The UK is fast becoming a “compensation nation” so I guess they’re just covering what their insurance policies require but in all honestly, I would rather they spend their time focusing on the kids than having to complete endless forms.  I sympathise for the nurseries on this point!
  6. No Photos:  I guess it’s the reality of today but in one nursery I had to hand over my phone when I went in…just in case I took photos of Lizzie and other children happened to be in the background.
  7. Clubs And Activites:  I am like a kid in a sweet shop here in the UK.  I have NEVER seen so many groups, clubs and classes for babies and toddlers in my life.  There’s Turtle Tots, Boogie Mites, Diddi Dancers, Baby Ballet, Tiny Tots, Caterpillar Club, Rhyme Time, Sign and Sing, Baby Massage, Swim Tots, Little Dippers, Bibble Babble Baby Yoga – You name it…there’s a class for it.  You can spend all day every day at some kind of toddler group.  I don’t remember so much going on in Norway.  There was the odd yoga class but nothing like what I’ve seen here in the UK.


  1. […] When we were on holiday in Norway, the Spring before I got pregnant, we were told by a tour guide that the maternity leave there was amazing but that Norwegians were taxed to the hilt in order to provide it. I recently found a great blog called A New Life In Norway, and according to authors Eliot and Sarah who have lived in both there and in the UK, the cost of childcare in Norway is capped at about £250 a month whereas in the UK they would be paying around £850 for the same service. Source: […]

    • Thanks for the mention!

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