This week we’ve spoken to Louise, 39, a paediatric nurse from Copenhagen
You could say I have two types of Mondays. I am recently divorced and the structure of my day depends whether my boys (five and nine) are staying we me or with my ex-husband. We have agreed on an arrangement known in Denmark as a ‘syv-syver’ (a ‘seven-sevener’), meaning that the children live with me one week, their father the next. Other known constellations are the nine-fiver’, the eight-sixer’ and so on. With a divorce rate of 46 percent, these expressions have become part of Danish day-to-day terminology.
For now, the boys and I remain in the marital home, a terraced house just outside Copenhagen. The weeks when they are with me are very busy. I get up at six am and prepare the school meals. Most schools are free in Denmark but children have to bring their own meals, a midmorning snack and lunch, which they eat at 2pm. I pack open sandwiches on rye bread with cold meats and perhaps a piece of fruit or veg. The school provides milk for the pupils for which you pay Danish Kroner 750 per year, about 80 pounds.
After dropping the children off at school, I drive to the hospital where I work. It’s in the centre of Copenhagen and traffic can be heavy, so sometimes I prefer the train where I can listen to music or send messages or work emails.
I don’t have a nanny or any help in the house, but after school the boys go to a children’s club where they stay until I pick them up at four-thirty. The club is run by the school, which again is run by the local authority. You have to pay for the club. My employers have also been helpful in that in the weeks when the children are with me I get Wednesdays off.
In the evenings, I cook dinner and help with homework and then we have our Danish ‘hygge’ hour with bedtime stories. After putting the children to bed, I start planning for tomorrow, before I hit the pillow at about 10pm.
It’s a huge contrast to the other weeks when the boys stay with their father. Then I go from running a busy household where the children have first priority to living the life of a single person. I go to the cinema, sometimes have a drink after work with colleagues or visit family and friends. I have a large family and a great circle of friends, most of whom live in or around Copenhagen. We see each other often, which is lovely.