I realize that we are still clinging onto the hope that we will actually have a summer here in Denmark but the Danish summer is often over before it starts. And sadly now is the time to start preparing for winter unless you want to get caught out in the cold in a few months.
First, some advice for parents. If this is your first winter either as new parents or parents new to Denmark you need to start shopping in the next few weeks. August is the time that the shops start to stock winter clothes for children and this is the time to get some great deals, especially in the supermarkets.
A full-on winter suit, or flyverdragt as the Danes call it, is the essential piece of clothing to ensure a whinge-free winter and toasty warm and dry children. Already, shops like H&M are stocking winter clothes from jackets and suits to gloves and hats on their online shop. I ordered my son’s winter coat and gloves last week. Winter boots will be ticked off the list in the next week or so, as will the winter suit and an elefanthue, the balaclava-style hat often required by daycares and schools instead of hats and scarves.
I learnt the hard way that if you leave it too late – and by too late I mean the end of September – there is very little choice left, in either sizes or colours.
Although things may change in the future, shops often choose not to restock goods once they’re gone. This baffles me as children have an annoying habit of either growing out of things or losing them. Every winter we finish up with a collection of non-matching single gloves and mittens. This year I have bought two multi packs of woolly gloves and two pairs of padded mittens in the hope we can last the winter on this supply. It smacks of panic buying, but believe me it is the way to go.
Adults fare a little better but certainly woolly hats coming into the shops now will not be available when the winter actually comes, and like my son I have a habit of losing these too so I need to restock for the coming season.
Beyond the clothing concerns, there are health issues to consider. There is nothing worse than being sick and miserable over the winter.
There has been a lot of talk and scoffing in the media in the UK recently about Vitamin D deficiency and supplement use. But here in Denmark, lacking Vitamin D in your system can be a very real issue.
Last winter my son’s levels of Vitamin D hit a low and we noticed the impact this had on his health and energy levels. Our doctor advised that he take a daily supplement until the summer and to resume this in the autumn as the days get shorter and the hours of actual direct sunlight reduce. Other expat friends who moved here from sunnier parts of the world tell me that the same thing happened to them.
So even if you are not a regular user of supplements it is worth investing in Vitamin D, and don’t wait until the winter to start taking them. Also try and soak up as much sun as you can now even if it is a bit chilly. There is a reason why Danes sit out in the sunshine even on cold days.
The lack of direct sunlight in the winter can also have a psychological affect known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. We all can start to feel a bit miserable in the winter months especially if you are not used to such short daylight hours.
In the first winter I moved here I bought a daylight lamp with an alarm function and even though it was pretty costly, it was probably one of the best investments I have ever made. It wakes me up with a gentle natural sunrise so my body doesn’t baulk at getting up at what feels like the middle of the night. I also use it for a few hours in the day to give my body a boost of albeit artificial daylight.
A bit of early preparation can make the winter here seem so much more bearable even if it does feel as if it last forever!
Melanie Haynes is originally from the UK and has lived in Copenhagen for eight years. She writes about life in Copenhagen on her blog Dejlige Days and after experiencing relocation to Copenhagen and Berlin, she runs a settling-in service aimed at expats called Dejlige Days Welcome and works with Copenhagen Housing to offer an integrated settling-in and home search service. Her ebook, 'Dejlige Days: A Guide to Relocation', will be published soon.