Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bleak Istanbul Maternity Wear Market

Considering how many stores sell lovely baby clothes and hip accessories here in Istanbul, I was sure finding maternity wear would be easier here than it had been in Adana.

Alas, pregnant with baby number two in winter, as opposed to number one in summer, I need clothes but have found just one store even worth mentioning, and it still leaves much to be desired. Bellamom in Istanbul's Istinye Park shopping center is worth a visit if you need maternity jeans or slacks, but the selection is small and the fabrics in most cases synthetic. And if you're petite like me, chances are you won't find anything in your size.

During my inquiries I learned of many stores that used to carry maternity clothes or have closed down completely, again surprising me; Istanbul women love fashion, and surely that doesn't stop when they become pregnant?!

Are all the fashionable Istanbullus shopping abroad for their maternity wear? Or are they going the non-maternity maternity clothing route? Any suggestions are welcome!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Glamorous Side of Stay-at-home Mommyhood

We're back from our Swedish vacation and a much-welcome breath of non-Turkish air; as much as I love Turkey, I need to get away every so often. And I'm back with renewed energy to tackle my many roles: wife, mother, teacher, friend ...

The women of Stockholm made stay-at-home motherhood look glamorous, never mind easy. Slender mothers dressed in Swedish-casual were everywhere, and rarely alone -- meeting in cafes, whose generous entrances and wide aisles easily accommodated their prams; at outdoor skating rinks; or at child-friendly places such as Junibacken, the amazing indoor play area dedicated to everything Astrid Lindgren. (I wish I'd taken a photo of the fifty-or-so buggies locked up outside in the 'parking lot.') Small groups of moms would stop and chat on street corners, there still being ample room for other pedestrians to walk past them on the wide Stockholm sidewalks, which seemed to have been made for prams!

And on the subject of prams -- interestingly, the ever-sleeker, sportier, lighter buggies so in fashion elsewhere were nowhere to be seen; Swedish women seemed to prefer wide, low buggies squatly suspended above four wheels, reminiscent of my mother's own Silver Cross. The most popular brand seemed to be native Brio.
Indeed, Sweden in many ways seemed dedicated to promoting family life. I visited the most beautiful children's bookstores, and a peek at the Swedish-language books for 0-24 month-olds revealed the most imaginative, creative and interactive books the likes of which I have yet to come across in Toronto. The clothing and toy stores I saw were full of beautiful classic Swedish children's items that made me want to be a kid again -- that, or have ten more babies. And public buses are free if you board with a baby carriage!

A little research quickly taught me that most Stockholm mothers I saw have careers, but that they are enjoying their one-and-a-half years of maternity leave. And once they do return to work, their husbands often take their own three months' leave before sending their kids to daycare. And even then, nobody seemed to work more than 35-hour weeks!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The flag of SwedenImage via WikipediaWe're off to Stockholm for a week, enjoying one of the perks of expat life in Istanbul -- the proximity to Europe's major cities!

Alas my list of places to go is long, and life is busy ... I do not have the energy (with Baby in tow!) to pop over to Rome for a weekend or Cairo for spring break. But Sweden promises to be baby-friendly. I hope to buy some nice children's toys and just generally feast my eyes on Order and bask in Efficiency.
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