Welcome to the first blog post after the summer hiatus! Caroline Kappers brings us a thought-provoking piece about choosing to have, not have, or stop having, children. Each couple’s choice is an extremely personal one, and I thank Caroline for being open about their choice. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and happy reading. We look forward to hearing from you about this topic in the comments!
Update! We won the competition!
The Delft MaMa blog won the Parenting Blogs Award 2019 with 53% of the total votes. According to the editor Kate Groves, the blog is for the community and by the community. To attract non-native English writers, the blog team also has two volunteer proofreaders. Kathryn Roscoe and Candice Lamothe ensure the posts are easy to read for everyone. Kate says it is essential that people keep volunteering to write and to keep suggesting relevant topics. The blog editor humbly shares the award with the Delft MaMa community: “This award belongs to you [Delft MaMa community], because your suggestions made the posts happen. This award also belongs to the writers that bring your suggestions to life with their own voices, and to the writers that come forward with their always creative content!” Winning the Parenting Blogs Award 2019 is a recognition of the Delft MaMa volunteers’ hard work. More than that, it shows the strength of a community that never stops growing and creating new connections in the Netherlands.
We have an announcement!
I’m proud to announce that Amsterdam Diary has nominated us for a (Dutch) Parenting Blogs award for 2019! In their nomination, they wrote (original text is in Dutch):
This site is perfect for all parents in Delft. You can read about events, workshops, play groups and more. The website is in English, and during the events there is mainly English spoken. This way you can get to know people from other countries and cultures, and teach your children to interact with others who they may not immediately understand. With some gestures and lots of play, the kids will make friends without problems, even if they don’t have the same background at all. It is therefore an enriching experience for both parents and children.
If you’d like to vote for us, please find us at this link and submit your vote! Voting closes on 28 June.
Any questions? Please contact us.
On April 18, 2016, Tarja van Veldhoven and Agnès Battlori Benet posted the very first post of the Delft MaMa blog. This April we’re celebrating the blog’s 3rd blogiversary!
I talked with some of our past editors about their experiences working with the blog and if they wanted to share some memorable posts for your reading pleasure. As I tried to map a timeline of people who helped run the blog, I quickly realized that while Tarja and later Marie were major coordinators of the blog, there were MANY contributors that helped keep the blog running smoothly. While I haven’t been able to track you all down, know that we appreciate you! Happy reading…
Renny Wiegerink works with Dutch and expat women in her business, Auryn Acupunctuur en Advies voor vrouwen (Acupuncture and Advice for Women), which is based out of her home in Delft Noord. From the eastern part of the Netherlands, she moved to Delft 25 years ago. She knows how it feels to have to move around in a strange place/culture. A long-time collaborator with Delft MaMa, Renny values being able to share her experience and knowledge as a native Dutch person with expats. When planning the Delftian Entrepreneurs Series for the DMM blog, I knew I wanted to start with Renny. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us! Read more
Almost a half of all Dutch households own at least one pet. There are more than 2.5 million cats, and over 1.6 million dogs. Hamsters, bunnies, guinea pigs are very popular too. So how do you go about getting a pet? And once you find him, or her, what do you actually do? Do you buy or adopt? How do you make sure they stay healthy, well fed and safe? What do you do if they wander away?
When brainstorming blog post topics related to living in Delft, Delft Mama Xenia Gabriel and I quickly realized that there are so many aspects of the housing situation in Delft (and the Netherlands) that one post clearly wasn’t going to be enough. Xenia’s post in October provided the start of the housing series, giving an overview of finding a home as an expat family in Delft. In order to get a sense of more experiences of the Delft Mama community, I set up a very short poll for people to respond to. Read on as I summarize the results of the housing poll.
The Delft Mama Blog is growing! We are currently looking for fresh, local voices who are passionate about Delft and interested in sharing their stories. This is a volunteer role, but there are some really fun perks to make it all worthwhile. Here’s what you need to know… Read more
In See you at DULI, we met easy-going Carolina Nesi of DULI, a place where you can find international/multilingual books for children and adults, as well as workshops and courses aimed at both children and adults. Carolina has a passion for books and it shows in the book-filled interior of the small shop. The centerpiece of the shop, however, is a long table that can seat children and/or adults for courses and workshops. This piece focuses on one series of workshops for parents: the Parents’ Evenings at DULI.
Engaging topics made accessible
Sitting with Carolina over a cup of coffee, she described how she started to feel suffocated by the lack of adult stimulation in the daily grind of raising young children (sound familiar?). This was her biggest motivation in setting up Parents’ Evenings at DULI. Held in the shop after-hours, these evenings create a space for parents to participate in a discussion, usually of a philosophical nature, led by an expert in the field.
Carolina admits that English is not a strong language for her, and she was committed to ensuring the workshops would be accessible to a diverse group. To facilitate the accessibility, group sizes are limited, with an expert giving a presentation to no more than 10 people seated around the table. The presentation is interspersed with opportunities for questions and discussions. In fact, as a deaf person who normally struggles with lipreading and following conversations in a group environment, I found it easy to follow along with everyone in this format.
Starting last spring, the Parents’ Evenings covered topics ranging from happiness to internet safety and international childhood. When asked how she chose the topics, Carolina replied that she simply asked people what they were curious about. She then looked around for experts that best fit the topics. While the coordination of it all can be quite daunting at times, Carolina maintains a ‘learn-by-doing’ attitude as she plans more Parents’ Evenings in the coming months. [From the editor: there’s a sneak peek at the autumn Parents’ Evenings schedule at the end of this article!]
So, what are these Parents’ Evenings like? Last April I joined one; let’s take a look!
A first-hand look at Parents’ Evening at DULI
“Raising a Child of the World”—held at DULI last April—was led by Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold of Ute’s International Lounge. Ute was perfectly suited to lead this talk both personally and professionally. Her research focuses on multilingualism and international families, and she herself grew up as an expat and is raising her expat family in the Netherlands.
The description of her talk referred to “third culture kids” – children who grow up in a country/culture different from that of their parents (first defined by Ruth Hill Useem). I’d read a bit of Pollock and van Reken’s Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, so I was curious to see what Ute would bring to the table (no pun intended).
There were six of us in attendance, all of us representing different nationalities and language backgrounds. After starting with introductions, we learned about collective experiences of international children growing up outside their parents’ home culture.
Ute likened our international kids to plants in pots—a plant in a pot is much more mobile than a plant in the ground. However, it needs special nurturing in order to thrive. Depending where that plant-in-a-pot is located, different kinds of nurturing is needed. When transitioning to a new place, our kids also need different kinds of special nurturing to ensure that they can adjust well and thrive in the new environment.
Throughout Ute’s talk, we had opportunities to ask questions and share our own observations. Ute’s personable approach made us feel that our input was valuable to the discussion. The setting of the talk created a feeling of information-sharing rather than being lectured at by an expert. I left feeling empowered with more tools in my mama toolkit to help my daughter thrive as a multilingual and multicultural child.
Parents’ Evenings at DULI in a nutshell
Parents’ Evenings give us the opportunity to explore engaging topics in an accessible format, and allows us to bring up burning questions with an expert in the field. On top of that, it is a chance to have stimulating and eye-opening conversations with a dynamic group of people. All in all, a fabulous night out.
I look forward to seeing the new talks Carolina arranges next. On my wish list is a talk about balancing personal goals with the responsibilities of parenthood. What kinds of topics are on your wish list?
Ute’s International Lounge – The homepage of Dr. Ute Limacher-Riebold, showcasing her work and current offerings—including, consultancy, book club meetings, and courses.
TCK World: The official home of Third Culture Kids – describes Ruth Hill Useem’s research in this area and provides some useful links for networking with other TCKs.
Third Culture Kids: Growing up among worlds, written by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken (sends you to Amazon.de page)
From the editor:
Curious about upcoming Parents’ Evenings at DULI?
Thursday, 13 September | Elegance of Living – Introduction to Access Bars. Aimed at creating a world of consciousness and oneness, where everything exists and nothing is judged, Access Bars is a gentle hands-on technique that quiets the mind.
Thursday, 18 October | The Science of Happiness—led by Mrs. Anna Blasiak—introduces us to scientific facts about happiness; and we discuss the role of our actions and attitude on attaining happiness.
Thursday, 22 November | Book discussion of How To Talk So Kids Will Listen. And Listen So Kids Will Talk.
[Editor’s note: 22 November has been changed to 8 November.]
For more information, contact DULI. Happy discussing!
Welcome to our first article in a series about toys and play. Is your little one bored with his or her mountain of toys, or are you looking to reduce that mountain without sacrificing variety and quality? Perhaps you are looking to try different types of toys before buying? The SpeelOké toy library in Delft allows your little one to BORROW toys. Read on as Erna Bekink, the chairwoman of the SpeelOké toy library describes what the library is all about.
By: Erna Bekink, SpeelOké toy library
SpeelOké is a toy library in Delft, founded by volunteers to promote playing with all sorts of toys so children can have fun and develop on several dimensions: moving, sensing, developing creativity and fantasy, building and constructing, puzzles, language and thinking games and so on…
Playing is learning
At our library, parents can borrow toys suitable for children from 0 to 12 years old for three weeks. Every three weeks you and your children can select other toys, which allows them to play and have fun with a regularly rotating selection of toys targeting different dimensions of their development.
If you have any questions, ask our volunteers. They are happy to recommend toys that are suitable for your child following the “toy circle,” which we describe briefly below. Our volunteers know what is in stock for each age group and which development phase those toys are suitable.
We make use of the “toy circle” (see figure to the right), a handy guide for choosing toys in all the different development areas: such as movement material, sensory material, fantasy material, etc.
Each category of toys (see the colors in the circle) makes a different contribution to the development of a child. Ask yourself with which category of toys your child plays with regularly, and then choose toys from another category. For example: if you want to stimulate your child’s creativity and fantasy, you can borrow dress-up clothes, Playmobil, a doctor’s set or a doll’s house. These kinds of toys stimulate the imagination of a child.
The subscription fee is €10 per year for one family. The administration fee for new subscribers is €3,50.
With one subscription you can borrow three toys every three weeks. You also pay a small amount for every borrowed toy (€0,50, €1 or €1,50 – depending on the value of the toy).
SpeelOké is located at Van Kinschotstraat 21 in Delft.
- Opening hours
SpeelOké is open every Saturday morning from 10.00 till 12.00. We are closed during school holidays. Check our opening hours here.
Become a volunteer!
If your children start borrowing toys at SpeelOké, there is a possibility for parents to volunteer–our foundation is run by enthusiastic volunteers who spend around 3 hours per month on a Saturday morning in the SpeelOké toy library.
As a volunteer, you can also take part in other activities such as the PR commission or the toy selection and purchasing commission.
Are you interested in meeting new people and being part of an enthusiastic, cheerful team of volunteers? Don’t hesitate to come by and take a look at our toy library or phone our chairwoman for more information: Erna Bekink at 06-242 06 378 – We would love to meet you!
Notes from the editors:
The editors want to thank Annemarie Laan-Oorthuizen of Bloei for the use of her photos in the article (see her article about the SpeelOké library in Dutch here). Bloei is an extensive online resource with guides and blogs in Dutch for parents of children aged 0-12 living in the Delft area. On Bloei you’ll also find an interactive calendar with a short description of fun kid-friendly activities. Looking for something offered in languages other than Dutch? Check this page regularly for classes, activities, services and relevant websites available in other languages.
Next up in this series, Delft Mama Zdenka Prochazkova talks about using music to help your young child’s development, and how to choose the right musical toys for your little one’s age level. In the meantime, play on!
It’s been awfully quiet around here, huh? The previous Delft MaMa (DMM) blog coordinators, Tarja and Marie, have moved on to other things. So, understandably, things have slowed down a bit here. That doesn’t mean it’s been quiet with DMM… There’s plenty happening behind the scenes. Some of which you may have noticed if you follow our Facebook page.
The DMM blog has not been forgotten!
Many of us agree that the DMM website has been a great starting point and resource for many expat parents new to parenting in Delft. We feel that the blog is a great way to keep adding informational content on a regular basis. That’s why we have a new team for the blog, not of writers, but editors. Onica and I take feedback from you, the DMM community, for topics you’d like to see on the blog, and we look for writers to get those articles out into the world.
Two new faces
I’m Kate. I joined the blogging team in January after innocently making a suggestion for improving the blog and winning the responsibility to see it through. After living in several places in the U.S., I moved to Europe in 2006, starting in the Czech Republic and ending up in Italy, working as an English teacher and educational researcher. One fateful Christmas I took a holiday trip to the Netherlands and sat across from a handsome, smart and funny man at his family’s Christmas dinner. Fast forward a few years of a long distance relationship and marriage, I moved to the Netherlands when I was pregnant with our daughter. These days, in addition to being a mom to a rambunctious little girl and two lazy furkids, I’m making another attempt at finishing my PhD and figuring out what I’d like to do when I grow up.
Here’s Onica, her words taken from another part of the blogosphere:
Okay. So my name is Onica – don’t ask, think my father made up the name back in the day. I’m more bi-polar (depending on how much sleep I get) than type – A or B. In a nutshell, I’m a US expat who married a tall dark and handsome (to me) Dutch man and am now living and raising our little in the lovely historic Dutch town of Delft. The more convoluted version includes Trinidad, Venezuela, UK, Italy, and various other stops in between. Formerly an ICT Researcher/Consultant (still trying to figure out how and why that happened given my Philosophy and Economics background), I now spend a considerable amount of time shuffling our little around to endless activities, trying to avoid the endless chocolatiers and cafés that have recently emerged in Delft center, and sporting (primarily tennis) to minimize the impact of those failed attempts.
Our journey in the search for writers has been very interesting—our writers all come from the DMM community and come from all walks of life. Other than the topics we’ve proposed, some of the writers end up proposing something completely awesome that didn’t even occur to us. We send them into the wild to write their articles, which are then edited by us, or our team of proof-readers, before publishing on the blog. Sometimes we look for “experts”—either specialists in their field, or those who have valuable anecdotal experience on the topic—to work with our writers. We look forward to seeing so many diverse perspectives on the blog in the future!
What to expect
Over the next few months you’ll begin to see a mixture of interviews with feature moms from the community—formerly Delft Mama of the Week—and articles about topics interesting to us expat parents raising their littles in Delft and the Netherlands in general.
What are “topics interesting to us expat parents”? Glad you asked! Last month, if you recall, we sent out a short survey about the blog and newsletter to which we received 44 complete responses.
Here’s what those responses wanted to see on the DMM blog.
Other topics of interest included language, healthcare, education and the general sharing of experiences with other parents having/raising a child in a foreign country.
Of course, 44 respondents can hardly represent the hundreds of members in the DMM community, but the responses are an amazing starting point for us to develop themes, combined with input from you, the DMM community.
On the horizon
We’ll be kicking off the new DMM blog with two series of articles—one, organized by Onica, will focus on Delft activities for primary school-aged children; the other, organized by me, will focus on play—toys and even where to borrow them.
We don’t want to spoil the surprise for the rest coming up after these two series, but know that we should expect to see some very interesting articles pop up on the blog in the coming months. If you’d like to contribute, contact us. We’d love to talk with you about your ideas. Even if you don’t want to write something yourself, please contact us with your ideas and suggestions. This blog is for YOU!
We’re looking forward to this journey with you,
Kate and Onica