What does family life in Melbourne look like?

Swedish Annica Derby and her husband Jonathan decided to move across the globe to Melbourne, Australia, with their (then) baby girl. That was about eight years ago, and they don’t regret the move for one second.

Tell us a little bit about your family. We are a family of 4, mum Annica who works as an illustrator/photographer and graphic designer and also runs a very popular kid's lifestyle blog, Minor Detales. Dad Jonathan who is an art director at a large game company. We have two children, our daughter Mika who is 8 and our son Dante who is 5. We all live in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

How would you describe Melbourne? Melbourne is definitely the cultural capital of Australia. It is a melting pot of different cultures and it is easy to feel at home no matter where you are from. I love the different mix of architecture here, you can find an old train station next to a modern glass complex and a grand church just few lanes from popular art galleries and graffiti lanes. You can quickly navigate through the city and find cosy cafe alleys, wonderful restaurants and great shopping streets within 10 minutes of each other. There is always fun places to take the kids in the city, like the Acmi Centre (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) which has great exhibitions for the whole family, NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) which has a wonderful section for children, the Melbourne museum, which satisfies all curious souls, both young and old. We also love any of the creative playgrounds close to the Yarra river.

The entrance to the National Gallery of Victoria is pretty amazing. Mika and Dante also loves the sculpture park at the Museum of Modern Art.

Mika (8 yrs old) analysing art.

This playground is a favorite, charming and so much fun!

I also can’t talk about Melbourne without mentioning the weather which is the most unpredictable in Australia. You can literally have 4 seasons in one day. You always have to expect the unexpected and bring an extra layer of clothes, and don’t forget your umbrella and wellies!

A coffee and a super hero to go, please!

You used to live in Sweden, why did you decide to move all the way to australia? Yes, it was a big decision to move all the way over here to the other side of the world. I met my husband (who is from Australia) in Denmark where i had been living and working for 6 years. Sparks flew and 2 years later we were married and expected a baby girl. We mutually decided it would be interesting to try Australia before our daughter got too big and attached to friends and school. The long, cold and dark winter days in Scandinavia also had something to do with the decision.

What is the biggest difference between Sweden and Australia? Oh where do i start? There is quite a few differences. Straight when we moved here i noticed the people were more open and sociable. Australians love to abbreviate everything into cute nicknames and they often end their sentences with endearing terms like , dear, hun, mate, which instantly makes you feel at home. My first impression was also how big everything seemed. The sky seemed incredible vast over here, and the blue is a more saturated blue compared to the scandinavian blue sky. The climate is also of course very different. The animal life is also quite different. You have more respect for wildlife as Australia host a lot of the most dangerous and venomous animals on the planet, but if you are living in the suburban/city area there really isn't much to be scared of (I have as of yet never seen a big spider or snake once). As you live here for a longer period of time you notice things like the social structure and just how good it is in Sweden, with payed maternity and paternity leave. It is not as well set up here for families, and the price of child care is quite outrageous. I also like how there is more focus on individual children's need in Scandinavia, like free dentists for children or a hot lunch for all school children, so in that respect I think Scandinavia is further ahead.

What are your kids interests? What do they love to do? Mika (8 yrs old) loves to draw and make up stories. She makes her own books with stories and illustrations and she has such an amazing imagination. She loves animals and often ask to go visit one of the many farms we have around Melbourne. Dante (5 yrs old) has recently gotten into skateboarding and he always seem to get around on wheels. He has also developed a passion for music and singing.

Both kids love being outdoors so we try and take them out as much as we can, you can often find us on a beach or in a forest or perhaps exploring a new playground somewhere.

The perfect day out: the beach!

It's winter in Scandinavia right now, in Australia it's spring. How do you spend the perfect day outside with the kids? Yes, it is finally getting warmer here Down Under, and a perfect day outside is either on one of the many wonderful beaches we have on the coast here, or take a drive up to the Dandenong Ranges which has a lush, deep forest and if you drive all the way up the mountain you get an amazing view over Melbourne. But our favorite is to spend time on the beach and some of our favorite beaches in Victoria is the Mornington beach, Sandringham beach, Seaford and Portsea which all have lovely long sand beaches and deep green blue water to play in. We bring boogie boards and enjoy the waves. I have just started surfing so that is something we will try and do more of this summer. We are lucky to be quite close to both beach and nature.

Pros and cons bringing up kids in the city in your opinion? We are not living in the middle of the city, we are about 20 minutes out in a bay-suburb so we really have the best of both worlds here. We can get into the city quickly but also enjoy being close to the sea and a more calm lifestyle. We do like to visit the city a lot and the kids love going there with us. The pros to being close to a city and bringing kids up there is the multitude of different experiences we can show them. Like i mentioned before we love taking them to museums, the art galleries and different venues, but they also just love taking in all the tall buildings, watch people and soak in the atmosphere in the alleyways and graffiti lanes. They also enjoy the variety of food the city has to offer and we always aim to try something different when we visit.

Melbourne skyline doesn't look that bad!

The cons of bringing up kids in the city would be it can be quite busy. Melbourne is a city of almost 4 million people so things can get quite hectic at times. Often ques can be very long and waiting can be tedious especially if you have kids with you. Fortunately for us when a day in the city has become too long and we got two over stimulated kids we can head back to the calmer lifestyle again.

How and where do you shop? Do you have any favorite brands for you and the kids in terms of clothes and toys? These days I mostly do my shopping online. There is so little time in the week to go to different shops, although i would love to. My love for kids clothing grew out of having time to look in shops and browse around but these days it seem to only happen on occasional weekends. For the kids I mostly shop at great online shops like Orange Mayonnaise, Springstof, Loja Dada, Fourmonkeys and Buckets and Spades to mention a few. A couple of brands that seem to appeal to my kids right now are Munsterkids, I Dig Denim, Bobo Choses, Soft Gallery and Molo, but since i work with kids fashion they are fortunate to have a nice selection of brands in their wardrobe and always seem to enjoy fun prints or comfortable basics. For myself i am hopelessly addictive to a wardrobe of black, white and grey and i put a focus on good quality and comfortable materials. I don't often splurge but if i do, i spoil myself with a few good pieces from Swedish brand Acne or Anine Bing. I am also quite happy to look for a spontaneous bargain at H&M or Uniqlo.

Melbourne has the best shopping, both for the kids and us grown-ups.

Your biggest fear as a parent? Apart from the obvious one like them getting hurt, I try not to focus on any great fears. Sometimes being a parent is the easiest thing in the world and sometimes you are pulling out your hair wondering how you would get over a current hard phase. Being fearful only seem to inhibit me as a parent so i try my best just to raise my kids as kind individuals. Kindness might seem obvious but sometimes i wonder in today's society if we don't need a little bit more of it, and there seem to be so many aspirations and goals out there set up for kids but i think in the end we will be very content as parents if they grow up as happy and kind people.

This probably changes pretty often, but what do the kids want to be when they grow up? Right now Mika wants to become a veterinarian or artist and Dante wants to be a drummer in a rock band.

Dad Jonathan, Mika & Dante out exploring.