Lifestyle Differences of Kids in the UK vs in Spain

On a rainy UK afternoon, it’s 3.15 and the children have just finished school, parents leave it until the final minute to exit their cars in order to avoid the atrocious weather whilst here in Southern Spain parents are also waiting in their cars but to remain cool from the sweltering heat. Many parents in the UK wouldn’t be far off of planning dinner when they get home especially in the winter when it would be dark by 4pm, whilst in Spain it’s home for lunch instead when school finishes at 2pm. Mealtimes are of course held in high regard by the Spanish and their culture doesn’t allow for this tradition to wain even in the event of running late or being inundated with work. It’s a beautiful thing and would be a lovely practise to adopt in the UK in favour of running around like headless chickens or often eating standing up or crouched over a desk. We should all spend time to eat with our children, our families.

standard quick snack in Spain you usually share with children and friends

Between the months of May – October is prime time for swimming with local pools all open, whether you live on a complex, have a village pool, or a private one there’s bound to be somewhere to swim! It’s pretty common here for bar/restaurants to have their own too which is usually a small fee or free when you purchase a drink in their establishment. It seems in the UK there’s a lot of variety with afterschool clubs and more indoor focused activity due to weather limitations.

With increased daylight hours and better light quality in general the days here in Spain can feel like they go on forever leaving plenty of time for outdoor afterschool activities! For example; in the summer here when the children are off school (for basically three months, eek!) the kids outdoor summer cinema doesn’t start until 10pm when it’s getting dark when most young children in England would have been in bed long before then!

Snack the proper British way, doesn’t it look so much better than Spanish tapas?

Whilst of course there are some exceptions since there are private schools here too, generally speaking, childcare here is much cheaper. Summer schools here tend to range between 35 – 50 euros per month, yes you read that right, per month! Many childcare settings in the UK would set you back more than that for the day alone. Despite their extra long-time off school during summer it is a relief to have the options of many summer clubs, privately and run through the town halls and local schools for a great price. That said, regardless of the Spanish diet being typically healthy, it does seem there’s more variety encouraged in the UK to children. Now of course this will vary from family to family and is not just limited to a place. However, I’ll touch on that a little more in a separate point.

Hang on! Children’s summer cinema only starts at 10PM? Eek!

It has to be said, an unexpected finding mind you, there is more healthy convenience food on offer in the UK! Possibly due to cultural difference maybe Spanish families are more used to preparing everything from scratch etc and there’s no market for such goods here. On occasion those little conveniences and home comforts have been missed by some Brits. Especially if you have a large family or want a quick healthy snack for your child whilst on the go, there’s a real lack of offerings it seems when it comes to ‘healthy crisps’ dried and fresh fruit packs, nuts, seeds, carrots and hummus, boiled eggs and the like. A lot of the time it’s about spending time doing your own research and finding the alternatives of course, not to mention its part of the excitement that comes with integrating into a new country. It would be interesting to make comparisons on which children have a healthier diet but again this really comes down to individual families.

There’s a notable difference in gifts here, i.e., a child’s birthday in Spain would typically be a lot less low-key type of celebration than in the UK as parties and presents seem to be more in the excess maybe that’s because there’s less ‘free fun’ again due to weather limitations. Again, on the party front with the parks on the beachfront it makes it easier for an enjoyable yet no need for massive expense to create a fun time since they have all they need in the environment around them. Another reason why we’re so lucky to have a great environment to live in and we can sometimes underestimate this but surroundings are everything, the weather really does permit or prohibit so much.

How long have you lived in Spain? What age are your children? Tell us more and share your story, get in touch with Yasmin at yasmin@ultimatealmeria.com.

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