Vienna is a great city for new parents: stroller-friendly, plenty of playgrounds and tons of events where to tire out the little ones.
If being a new mom is scary as nothing else, this city surely tries to make the adjustment bearable, if not, even pleasant.
Here are some Vienna-specific things that all new mums know to be true (while we do celebrate new dads equally, this article refers to moms because it hints to some quite specific stuff. Your time will come dads ;-):
1. You befriend A LOT of the old ladies of the city
As soon as you step out of the house, the mere fact that you are pushing a stroller with a baby in it makes you seem very approachable. At the bus station, in the elevator of the U-Bahn, or even in the middle of the street – people (and here we mean mainly granny-like old ladies looking for a chat) will approach you with questions, the typical ones being about your baby’s sex, age, name. You’ll also get advice regularly coming your way, like how your baby is too cold, too hot, or is definitely teething.
But these random chats are great! Motherhood can feel lonely sometimes, so human contact is mainly welcome, especially if they drop a compliment about your baby into the conversation – who can get enough of those?!
2. That weird feeling you get when you’re out and about without your baby and you lose your baby-mama special treatment
People in Vienna are mainly really polite when they see a mum with a baby: doors are being held open, seats are being offered up and help is mainly there if one needs it.
After being pregnant, and then being accompanied by your baby whenever you leave the house, going out without your lil’ one for those rare occasion can feel super strange. You’ll quickly realise that all of that help and privilege you get when with your baby is lost.
It feels weird that suddenly no one offers you their seat on the tram, doesn’t it? Just a regular citizen with no special treatment. Like Batman without his outfit on. You’ll find yourself giving them the stink eye until you realise – oops, no baby – no benefits.
3. You chose your kids kindergarten before you chose their names…who are we kidding – before they’re even born!
Being asked what kindergarten your child will attend while your pregnancy is just getting underway will prove to be no shocker in Vienna. It’s common practice. Due to extremely limited places (except for those living in the outer districts) in the kindergartens, many parents visit kindergartens before their kid is even born. This is simply because you have to apply way, way in advance.
Finding a spot in a kindergarten close to home is not impossible, but it is a mission if you leave it too late. Oh, and once you’ve secured a spot, you’ll start having several other mums turning to you for advice, as if you’ve just earned the black belt in parenting.
4. Your new favourite restaurants now ALWAYS feature a changing table, space for strollers and a high chair on the menu
There used to be a time when you chose a restaurant based on the quality of the food they served, the hip interior that made you feel like part of the crowd, or that awesome wine they had on their menu. Nowadays with your new lifestyle, your go-to places are those that make your life easier as they include a few baby-friendly features – a high chair, some stroller space and a changing table. Even better, some of them even have a play area for the kids. But the most important thing about your new fav’ place – the waiting staff don’t roll their eyes when they see an army of strollers enter the restaurant, but instead are super helpful.
5. The thing with the toilets…
You’re walking peacefully through town, with your baby (finally) sleeping in the stroller, and everything seems perfect in the world in that very moment…until you realise you have to pee!
It’s not an easy task to find a public toilet in this city where you can fit in with the stroller. You might end up going into a cafe and actually buying a coffee you don’t want, just so you can use their restrooms. Which solves your problem for now, but you know that, that coffee will be coming back to haunt you in an hour, or so…
6. Even though you were definitely not a yogi-fan before, you’ve signed up to a mama-baby yoga / pilates class
Maybe you were looking for your inner peace before, or maybe you seek some companionship while regaining strength in your core, or maybe rather, you’re just looking to take up any activity with other grown-ups, which allows you to take your baby along – whatever the reason, you probably joined a mama baby yoga class. Good for you!
While the flyer you got in your post box may have said things like, ‘restore your inner peace,’ or, ‘create a stronger bond with your baby,’ in reality you spend that hour doing your asanas while breastfeeding, or taking micro-naps in the child pose. Either way, it’s all worth it, as long as you get to exchange a word with other adults, even if that word is just, “OOMMMM.”
7. Your life is now one long waiting list
The moment you find out the news that you’re pregnant is one of the most exciting (and let’s face it panic-inspiring) moments of parenthood. You spend a day, or so, announcing the news to your friends and family, and then you start the planning. And this is when you start finding yourself on countless ‘waiting lists.’
You obviously need a place for the upcoming birth and you call your hospital of choice only to find out that you’re too late, but they’ll put your on their waiting list! Then you decide you want to have a midwife visit you after you get home from pushing that little critter out of your body, but, of course, all of the midwives in your neighbourhood are booked out – WAITING LIST! Then the kindergartens, the schools the music classes – waiting list, waiting list, waiting list! Who would have thought so many people are breeding and having babies at the moment – this is your special time!
8. You upgrade your apartment to a bigger one, and your friends start moving out to places like Simmering and Mödling
Of course, with a new human moving into your lives, you’re gonna’ need more space. Meaning, most new families are just getting used to their new apartment when a baby pops out. It’s a pattern we’ve noticed, a stage that all new parents go through in Vienna when they have their first kid – a new baby coincides with a big move into a new apartment.
Also, as you’re at that age when everybody in your friends group is having kids, you start to hear of strange happenings, like your friend, Lisa, who was the biggest party animal of all in her twenties is now moving out to Simmering to a 100sqm apartment.
9. In summer, you basically live in parks
Come summer, parks become your second home. Vienna is filled with beautiful big parks, or tiny green neighbourhood hide-outs – both great options for you and your baby to hang out: you breastfeed freely, the whole lawn is a big changing table, and plenty of other parents can exchange smiles or even a chat. It’s a paradise for mum’s and their little ones.
10. But in winter, the fun moves indoors
The following two things may have sounded like torture techniques before you had your sweet miracle – a confined space full of a bunch of kids going nuts with limitless toys and watching a film in a room full of screaming babies. However, now life has changed since the birth of your child, so has your perspective. During winter, a time when letting your kid tire themselves out by running around a park is not an option, indoor playgrounds and baby Kino (so, cinema sessions where you can take your baby) seem like delightful outings.
11. Everybody has the same green backpack as you
It’s almost like a uniform for new parents – that infamous Stadt Wien green baby backpack. The colour is akin to an army camouflage outfit, and by wearing it, you feel like you’re surrendering all the remaining fashion sense you were still clinging onto, BUT it’s so God damn practical.
You spot the green baby backpack that Stadtwien give you when you’re have your first-born everywhere in the places your baby bubble hangs out. Everybody’s got it! And you find yourself engaging in a nod of common understanding with any other parent wearing one.
We’re wondering if the city give them out, so they can track all of the new parents in the city. It would be the perfect plan – it seems like a lovely gesture by the city, but in reality, it’s just a identifying accessory they can track you with. We’re onto you Stadt Wien.
12. You used to like Vienna, but now you freakin’ love it
Maybe a part of you was still not 100% in love with Vienna before having kids. Maybe you missed a thing, or two, like a lively party scene, for example. But now you have a kid, you freakin’ love the city and all that it has to offer for young families: free daycare, elevators and ramps everywhere, museums and libraries catering to the very young, plenty of assistance from the city, and so much more!
Vienna overall is a super baby-friendly city that makes having kids so much easier than it could be in other cities.