Sweden vs UK childcare

As Alfie is now almost 8 months we need a solution for when I go back to work. Will it be a nursery? Are we going to nanny-share?

We still don’t know.

All of this has made me acutely aware of the differences in childcare in comparison to Sweden – where I was born and raised.

Oh goodness, where do I even begin?

It’s not news to most that Scandinavia kind of has it all worked out when it comes to work/life balance and one of the Scandi countries are supposed to have the most happy people on earth. Or in Europe at least or something. I’m not biased at all, can you tell?

There’s so much to cover in this post so I’ll do my best not to make it too long. Sorry in advance. Heeeere goes..

Parental leave

In Sweden you get 480 days. Both parents have the right to use these days and you can split it however you wish.

In the UK it’s 39 weeks that’s paid and a total of 52 weeks – if you go back to work that is.

‘Are you coming back to work?’, my HR person asked me when planing out the maternity leave. Where I grew up the option doesn’t really exist.

‘Of course I’d go back to work’, feeling almost a bit offended. But here I am, a few months away from returning to work and finding myself dreaming about being financially independent so I won’t have to.

One can dream.

Statutory pay

The statutory pay is what you get paid from the state/government when you’re on parental leave.

In the UK you get 39 weeks of statutory paid parental leave. Out of the 39 weeks only the first six are 90% of your salary. The remaining 33 you get a whopping £140 per week which you also pay taxes on. So money that is taken from taxes is being taxed again! Nonsensical if you ask me.

In Sweden I believe the statutory parental pay is 80% of your salary for the full time of your leave. But a lot of employers top that up for the duration of your leave to 90%. Some even top it up to 100%.

Parenting day

In Sweden your parental leave days you get when having a baby is yours to use as you please. You can also save some of them and can take it whenever you want.

Let’s say your child’s nursery has a planning day in the middle of the week and closes down the nursery for a full day, you can use a parental day.

You don’t use any of your holiday days and it’s not a sick day or an unpaid leave day. As far as I understand your employer can’t really do or say anything about it.

You can use your parental days up until your child is 8 years old.

This doesn’t exist at my company here in the UK. Honestly I don’t know if other companies offer it here but it’s not something that is obligatory.

Care day for sick child

As far as I know this doesn’t exist here in the UK, at least not at my place of work. Some employers might offer this but it’s not a standard.

In Sweden if your child is ill and has to stay at home from nursery or school you can take time off work – and still get paid – to care for your sick child.


In the UK it’s ridiculously expensive and London is a joke.

In North London where we live, I believe the cost of having your child full time in nursery could be around £1,600 a month. That’s more than the average UK salary would be after taxes. No wonder people choose to stay at home with their children for the first years here.

In Sweden it is based on what you earn and for low income parents it’s free. People who can afford, still never pays more than around £140 a month per child. And when you have more than one child it’s cheaper per child.


I’ve done some research and the nannies I’ve been in touch with here around our area in London are charging from £10-£15 per hour per child if you would nanny-share with another family.

Although more flexible than a nursery you would still have to commit to a number of days or hours per week. Which is understandable as they also need to pay their bills and predict their income.

When searching online for a nanny in Sweden to compare I found many companies offering nanny and babysitting services. The lowest hourly rate I found was around £13 but I also saw services for up to £20-£25 an hour. And from what I could understand you could choose just the one-off babysitting service or commit to more longer term nanny services.


In Sweden education is free. Sure, you have the odd elite boarding school that’ll cost you an arm and a leg. Apart from that the primary and secondary education is free. College is as well. If choosing to go to university you do have some schools that charge you for education.

In the UK you do have schools that are free but it seems that if you want your children to get a good education you basically have to get into a good school which generally means having to pay. Or that’s what I’ve heard from other parents and friends who have grown up here.

And oh my goodness. It’s a bit less than the nursery costs but not much. And again I think that depends on area and school.

The schools I’ve looked at for Alfie so far would charge from £3,000-£4,000 per term. And here in the UK they do three terms per year. So would be up to around £12,000 per child per year. Extortion.

Maybe after having read this you’ll want to move to Sweden? Do keep in mind the extreme cold and dark winters that make up the bigger part of the year. But the summers are amazing!

Enjoy your day and hopefully you’ll get to sleep well, even if it’s only five minutes at a time.


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