In the honor of Mother’s Day, I talked with two inspiring moms who were willing to share their experiences living in the Netherlands. They both live with their families in the Hague. Holly is a mom of two kids and a passionate Nordic walker, whereas Irene is a striving new entrepreneur in a cake business and a busy mom of three kids.
Hi, Holly and Irene! Tell us something about yourselves and when you started living in the Hague.
Hi Delft Mama! I am very excited to share my life journey with your community! My family (my husband and my two boys, aged 5 and 7) have been living in the Hague for the last two years. I have an IT consultant company and work from home. I am originally from Pennsylvania, USA. Besides my family, my biggest passion is walking in nature and Nordic walking.
My name is Irene Kyazze. I come from Uganda. I am a wife and busy mom of three, two boys (6 and 11 years old) and a girl (9 years old). We moved to the Netherlands 8 years ago and we live in The Hague. I work with the African Cultural Promotion Centre. Apart from that, I am also a counselor as well as the owner of Colourfully Tasty Cakes and Pastries, which is a home bakery that makes themed cakes for all occasions (contact me at email@example.com). I love children and volunteer with UNICEF. Recently I have picked up a new hobby of learning to play the piano. It’s never too late to learn something new!
What are the main similarities and differences between the Netherlands and your home country?
We moved from Athens, Greece, so our first impression was about the weather and how much rain here. But I must say that I will not complain about it as you might expect (laugh). We enjoy the mild, wet weather more during our walk and the impressive green areas of the parks. Of course, the sun is always welcome! As I said I am from Pennsylvania, a rural area, and grow up on a farm, so I love these green areas of town. I like that the Hague is a small town and everything is reachable in ten minutes. Also, our place in the Hague is next to Clingendael Park and a small farm. I can see cows in the field from my bedroom. I guess it is not so different from my hometown (laugh again).
To be honest, the Netherlands and Uganda are different countries. I can hardly think of any similarities apart from the fact that the two countries are both small.
In terms of differences, Uganda is always sunny and warm throughout the year. Also, we eat two warm meals per day, although here is common to have sandwiches for lunch.
What is your favorite activity in your neighborhood?
As I mentioned, our neighborhood is surrounded by one of the most beautiful parks in the Netherlands – Clingendael, a magical and beautiful park in our backyard! We are blessed to live in the greenest town in the world. Our boys enjoy safe and creative playgrounds in the parks and the woods. Recently, I discovered a Nordic walking. My morning walks in the parks and trail runs are my favorite! It’s a fantastic activity for a woman and it’s fun, too!
My favorite activity to do in the neighborhood is taking nature walks around the ponds and the woods. My kids also love biking there.
How was your experience being a mother during a pandemic in the Netherlands? How did your family cope in the new environment?
We moved during a peak of lockdown. Moving is always difficult. With kids, moving is a different level, as you are also “carrying their luggage”, literally and emotionally. Furthermore, moving during a pandemic was a challenge in the way that we “blew the bubble” being in a familiar area and close circle of friends. But again, here in our local community and neighborhood we felt welcome in the Hague, instantly!
Being a mom during the pandemic was so challenging, because at the start of it we were so scared that we stayed inside the house (literally), for two months! We were all very anxious and it was so tough for me to see my kids feeling sad because they couldn’t have playdates with their friends. Homeschooling my three kids was also tough because sometimes they had online lessons all at once and I had to supervise them constantly.
Do you like Dutch culture, food, and lifestyle after living in the Hague for a while?
We love the Dutch lifestyle, being outside and active. The first thing my family noticed when they visited us, was how tall and thin the Dutch are! Even if they don’t eat the healthiest, they are so active riding their bikes, which keeps them vital! With food I am a little spoiled, I love spicy and rich meals. We found Dutch food too plain, but my kids love poffertjes! Culturally, the Dutch are very curious and straightforward but it is also European style and we accepted it (laugh).
I find the Dutch culture so different from mine and when we had just moved here, I experienced a lot of cultural shocks, especially how direct the Dutch people are! However, I have enjoyed learning Dutch and can speak and understand quite a lot.
I also like the Dutch lifestyle after living in the Hague. In fact, recently, my husband bumped into the Prime Minister in our neighborhood and even took a selfie with him! (laugh)
Thank you, dear Irene, and dear Holly, for sharing your stories. I wish you all the best!
In the honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to congratulate both of you and the Delft Mama community! Wishing all mamas to continue to bloom their passions and creativity, and have a wonderful month full of love, joy, and happiness!