1. They are a curious (and effective) mix between laid-back and strict. Chocolate sprinkles for breakfast? Of course! Dinner later than 17:30? NEVER!
2. They understand balance. The majority of Dutch women (68 percent) work part-time, around 25 hours a week. That means they don’t have to choose between a career and family life – they invest in both. This control over their lives and schedules relieves some pressure so they can enjoy both work and home life more. Happy parents mean happy kids.
3. They are low-key. They aren’t hitting the gym for sunrise yoga, whipping up Pinterest-worthy school lunches or wearing high heels to the park. The Dutch have a saying – doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg – that means “just be normal, that’s already crazy enough.”
4. They don’t do it all. Motherhood doesn’t have to mean martyrdom, and in the Netherlands, where most men also work part-time, parenting is very much a team sport. Papadag, or “dad day” is a day during the work week that dads stay at home with their kids, and it is quite common here. Dutch parents also enlist the help of the grandparents, in-laws, aunts, uncles and cousins, so that the childcare team is a wide net of family, often mixed with daycare during the week as well.
5. They are tough. They live by the expression: zuinigheid met vlijt, or “thrift and diligence.” Dutch women cycle to work in all weather, loaded up with as many kids as two wheels (or more, if they have a bakfiets) can handle. They are sturdy, hard-working, and expect their kids to follow in line.
6. They give their kids freedom… and responsibility. You won’t find them helicopter parenting at the playgrounds. A tumble off the monkey bars will teach the children to be more careful next time. The flip side of this independence is a certain amount of obligation. Once their children are old enough to help with chores, they are expected to.
7. They appreciate the quiet moments. In the slivers of time that the children are playing nicely, you’ll find the mums sipping on a coffee and savouring the rustig moment.
8. They are expert jugglers. Because of the part-time work arrangement, Dutch mums have to maintain meticulous agendas. They carve out time for their careers, their kids, their sports, their friends and their extended families, and it takes a bit of creativity to make sure all the balls stay in the air.
9. They let their kids be kids. The tiger-parenting, stage-mum phenomenon that is so common in the United States is largely absent in the Netherlands. Kids are encouraged to learn through play when they are young and most don’t start reading independently until they are six. Children are given the opportunity to set their own pace and make their own choices when it comes to education.
10. They love their families. The Dutch are very family-centric, which is why the Netherlands is the part-time-work capital of Europe. It is culturally accepted to prioritise spending time with your loved ones. You’ll often hear people say, “oost, west, thuis best,” which means “east, west, home is best.” And you can trust a Dutch mum to make sure home is the most gezellig (cosy) place in the world.