Earlier this year, US News published a survey of more than 16,000 people that determined Sweden is the best place in the world to have kids.
Susanna Le Forestier, a 41-year-old mother of two, didn't needed a study to tell her that.
"It's wonderful," the Stockholm native tells Business Insider.
Le Forestier is the head of the Events Unit at the Swedish Institute, a government agency that promotes all the great things Sweden is doing around the world. Among the country's many virtues: generous parental leave policies.
480 days of paid leave per child at 80% their normal salary, capped at roughly $103 a day. (If they haven't worked for 240 consecutive days, the rate starts out at about $27 a day for the first 180 days.) They are free to split the time however they choose, although one parent must take at least 90 days." data-reactid="35">New parents in Sweden are entitled to 480 days of paid leave per child at 80% their normal salary, capped at roughly $103 a day. (If they haven't worked for 240 consecutive days, the rate starts out at about $27 a day for the first 180 days.) They are free to split the time however they choose, although one parent must take at least 90 days.
If they don't, that time is lost — an undesirable situation given that the days don't expire until the child turns 8. That allows people to combine their vacation days and remaining leave days, and use the time off for longer summer trips or extra visits to museums as their children grow up.
But the greatest benefits of generous parental leave, of course, come in the early months, when parents can be with their kids as they conquer their many "firsts" — first smile, first word, first step.
Le Forestier and her husband went the route of most parents, and split their leave time down the middle. Each stayed home a few days out of the week while their kids were babies, but Le Forestier says they still have about 100 days of leave left to take for their 4-year-old son and 200 days for their 3-year-old daughter.
Le Forestier says she also received a huge amount of social support as a new mom. When her 4-year-old son was a baby, she read to him at the library, bounced him through mommy-baby workouts at the gym, and attended reserved screenings for parents at the local movie theater.
"It's open to everyone, but I don't think anyone would want to go to the movies with like 15 babies in the room," she says, adding that the theaters set up diaper-changing stations for when babies create their own intermissions.