Why everyday life with a baby in Vilnius, Lithuania is awesome

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Forget kid-friendly, Vilnius is mom-friendly. In addition to the incredibly generous maternity leave, women aren't ostracized when they take time off from work, OR when they decide to go back to work. Now that I'm currently on a self-appointed maternity leave from lecturing at university, one of my biggest struggles when talking to Americans (either at home or here in Vilnius) is that people assume I've already gone back to work. Currently, I'm working from home as a freelance editor / proofreader but I've not started lecturing again. But, here in Vilnius, it is common to see other mothers (or sometimes fathers) spending time with their children at the park or in the library. And I think this is great! I feel so fortunate that I'm able to spend time with Baby ISO and I'm extra happy to be able to do so in Vilnius.
Another reason why Vilnius is mom-friendly is that there is never a shortage of things to do here. Bored of staying at home? Nope, not a chance as there really is a ton to do. It is also expected and accepted to visit restaurants or cafes with children in tow.
1) Safety. My number one reason for loving Vilnius as a parent is the safety of the city. Though Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, you will frequently see young children walking home from school or playing in parks alone, sleeping babies in carriages left outside of shops, and children riding the bus alone. I’ve never once seen anyone bother any children.
2) Playground and Parks. Outdoor spaces are scattered throughout the city and almost always have a playground or two. Taking children to the park to play or for a walk is a daily activity here.



3) Child Cafes. Yes! Kuku Muku Cafe was specifically created for children. The staff are dressed up (often as princesses or ballerinas), they have baby food on the menu, and there are toys and activities specifically for young children. For the adults, they serve coffee, tea, and snacks.
4) Kid-oriented theater. I know of three theaters in Vilnius that have special showtimes and performances for children. The Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater has earlier start times for kid-friendly performances, such a Snow White and Cinderella, and children under 5 who sit on your lap are free of charge. The Arts Printing House (Menu Spaustuve) has shows that are created specifically for children 0-3 years old. We are going to a show at the Arts Printing House later this month, so I"ll let you know how it is. They also have puppet shows and other performances for older children. The Lele Theater (Vilniaus Teatras Lele) shows puppet shows of famous fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Thumbelina. They also have puppet performances of Lithuanian-specific fairy tales.



5) Mom-friendly. A happy mom = a happy baby? Not only is the maternity leave in Lithuanian appropriately long (up to 3 years paid), you’ll find mothers frequently walking their babies through the parks or taking advantage of the activities listed above (particularly 3 and 4). For nursing moms, nursing in public is not a problem here – I’ve nursed in public many times here and never had an issue. Nursing moms can also find beautiful nursing clothes from the Etsy shop, MiLKsense  (also sometimes sold at Pop Up shops in Vilnius).
6) Children's library. Vilnius has several public libraries, but the one on Traku g. focuses on children's books (and has books in English).
7) Children's events. Every so often, there are kid-focused sports events that take place on Gedimino Ave. Check this website for dates.


If you are visiting Vilnius with children please feel free to email me at luyoutravel@gmail.com or connect with me via social media @insearchofs if you have questions!

*A similar article appeared on Kid-Friendly Europe 101

2 comments:

  1. Really liked this article! I feel that my current city has many of these things as well... the most important one being safety :) Although we do not have any kid specific cafes (that I know of) and unfortunately it's actually tough to find a playground -- they're not allll over the place like they are in Germany, for example. The more I think about it though, the more I am considering starting a family in Europe vs. the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cynthia, I'm really glad that this post was helpful for you! There were certainly other factors that played into our decision as well (cost of living here and great health insurance/health care being the most important). The only real challenge/frustration we've had so far is finding reliable childcare. Because I've not been able to find anyone I've had to take this semester off as well, even though I had planned to start lecturing again. I really don't feel too bad about having to give that up for the time being.

      If you have any other questions feel free to ask via email. I'm happy to share :)

      Delete