A MUM who admits that she would previously ‘hover’ over her children’s every move has revealed how she now lets her baby sleep alone on the street.
Annie Staples raised three of her children in Texas before moving to Copenhagen, Denmark four years ago where she welcomed her youngest daughter, now nine months old.
Since relocating to the Scandinavian city, Annie says that she has abandoned her helicopter parenting ways and embraced a more traditional approach to parenting.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Annie, 36, who is mum to four kids age 8, 6, 4 and 9 months, explains: “When my husband Paul’s company opened an office in Denmark, we seized the opportunity.
“I had never left the US before and it was a real culture shock but in a good way.
“The differences were slightly uncomfortable in the beginning a lot of the parenting practices in the US are based on a lack of safety and the culture being a bit more judgemental
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“It has taken me going back to America a couple of times to make me truly embrace parenting in Denmark.”
Among the adjustments that Annie had to get used to was the idea of leaving babies to sleep alone in the street, something she has since learned to embrace.
“I had heard about kids sleeping in strollers unattended but actually seeing that was quite a shock,” she admits.
“It’s a very unnatural practice for me but it can be hugely beneficial to babies, it gives them fresh air and better sleep which is great for my daughter.
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“It has made me a less stressed out mum as I can just leave her to it and not negotiate a stroller in a grocery store for example and I think being less stressed out makes me a better mum.
“It has a ripple effect. It gets you out of the house more and go about your day of normal.”
Annie says that even when children come out of prams, Danish parents are happy to keep their kids at an arm’s length.
“Seeing how relaxed everyone is with their kids is refreshing, if your kids go out of sight at the playground that’s normal, parents don’t panic,” she says.
“In the US I felt like I needed to hover over my kids the whole time.
“I think the freedom and safety they have here is a huge benefit to them.”
I had heard about kids sleeping in strollers unattended but actually seeing that was quite a shock
But while the controversial parenting technique is proving popular with Annie’s family, she admits that her American friends and family do struggle with the idea.
“Of course my friends and family back in Texas are horrified that I would let my children out of my sight for even a second,” she says.
“There’s certainly some pearl clutching but they are mostly happy that we live in a safe and laid back country.”
And it isn’t just the Danish approach to parenting that’s laid back, with parents choosing to do away with the modern nursery.
Ultra modern and monochrome baby’s rooms may be a la mode in the UK with celebs like Stacey Solomon and Molly-Mae Hague but Annie says they’re totally unnecessary, and babies don’t even have their own rooms in Denmark.
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“You really don’t see nurseries as much because co-sleeping is so normalised,” she says.
“You have a sidecar sleeper or the baby’s in the bed. There's not the same fuss in preparing for the baby and that’s all you really need.
“(Nurseries are) quite cute, but there’s no need to fuss.
“I totally understand how exciting it is to create a nursery and how having all these added features can help with anxiety but I prefer this way.
“Co-sleeping is actively encouraged in Denmark and this is something that I would never had entered into had we stayed in America but I’m so glad we did.
“It’s about fitting the baby into your home. You don’t need to create a separate sterilised space.”
While Annie admits that she’s almost a total convert to the new style of parenting there are a few things she’s hoping her children won’t pick up.
“I don’t approve of the Danish approach to letting kids swear,” she confesses.
“It was something that I found super surprising when we first got here, kids just dropping the ‘f-bomb’ in the playground.
if your kids go out of sight at the playground that’s normal, parents don’t panic
“They say it in English so it has less weight to it, but I can’t get used to the idea!
“It’s something that I try to discourage with my own children as much as possible and remove ourselves from it.”
While the cultural parenting differences might have been something to get used to, Annie says she wouldn’t dream about going back to an American way of raising children.
“Motherhood is one hundred percent easier now that I am in Denmark,” she says.
“Danish parenting just gives so much room for kids to be kids.
“There’s no pressure or expectations on the kids, there's no pressure on the parents, there's just a feeling that you will be taken care of.
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“There’s no homework until seventh grade and I think a lot of people would be horrified by that but I think it’s worth considering whether all these standards are necessary.
“I have no intention of giving this way of life up. I want to stay as long as possible.”
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