Urban space in the everyday lives of mothers and fathers on family leave in Helsinki

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This paper focuses on the meaning of the urban environment for parents on family leave in Helsinki, Finland. Finland is a part of the Nordic model that emphasises ‘family-friendly arrangements’, such as family leave for mothers and fathers. To date, there is little research on how parents use urban space on family leave, although it is known that fathers stay on family leave more often in urban areas. Based on a triangulation of qualitative data on the day-to-day life of mothers and fathers on family leave, the paper argues that particular place-dependent ways of being on family leave take place in the inner city. Mixed-use pavements in many ways help mothers and fathers to cope in their new life situation and break the isolation often associated with family leave. The data also shows the importance of family-friendly public and commercial places in the city, such as playgrounds and accessible grocery shops, cafeterias and restaurants. The paper concludes that there is a need to further explore the production side of the everyday practices of parents, and how they add to city life and participate in changing cityscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-118
Issue number1
Early online date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • family leave
  • housing
  • inner cities
  • public space
  • families


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