Photo: Stein J. Bjørge/ Scanpix

Family life

Norway is a very child-friendly country, and a happy family life is very important to Norwegians. In most families in Norway, both parents go out to work. Parents then tend to share the childcare, and it is quite common for Norwegian men to take time off from work during the first year of a child's life.

Just like in the UK, if both parents go out to work children go to a nursery or childminder before they start primary school. Nursery places are subsidised by the state, making it affordable for both parents to work.

As the school day finishes earlier than the working day, children usually go to after-school clubs until their parents get home. At these clubs, the children can play, do homework or join in with activities of their choice, such as a choir, chess, football or drama group.

Children are encouraged to become independent and to play outdoors without adult supervision all year round. Thanks to the low crime rate and safe parks and play areas, they can have fun outside almost everywhere. In the winter they ski and ice-skate, and in the summer they play football and go swimming.

Many families in Norway have a holiday cottage in the mountains or by the sea. This is often a basic log cabin, where they love to spend time off together as a family. They also spend time visiting grandparents, or camping, cycling and walking. If they go abroad for their holidays, Norwegians like to visit the warmer countries of Southern Europe, or travel further away to Africa or Asia.

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Did You Know?

It is quite common for women to keep their own surname when marrying, instead of taking their husband's name. Children are often given both surnames, which is why many Norwegians have two surnames. For example, if Kristin’s mother’s surname is Lien and her father’s surname is Hansen, then Kristin’s full name would be Kristin Lien Hansen. Likewise, if Sigurd’s parents’ surnames are Storvik and Johansen, he would be Sigurd Storvik Johansen.