Monday, 26 September 2016

10 Reasons To Love Being Knocked Up in the Netherlands

Being pregnant anywhere is a mixed bag of emotions from elation to sickness. Raising children abroad is both amazing and challenging wrapped up in one awkward shaped parcel. If you are knocked up in the Netherlands though you have many reasons to count yourself lucky. Here are ten.

1. Pregnancy is not seen as a disease 

When that cross appears after you've peed on that stick you aren't ferried off to the nearest doctor or hospital. Instead you choose a midwife and, if all is progressing well with your pregnancy, you have all your pre-natal appointments with your midwife.

2. You may give birth where you like

Around a third of births in the Netherlands are home births. You can choose a hospital if you wish, or even a kraamhotel - a birthing hotel, or you may opt for a home birth. Unless there is a medical reason (in which case you must give birth in a hospital) you are free to choose where you give birth.

3. You get a box of goodies sent to your house

As you near the end of your pregnancy you will receive a kraampakket, sent by your health insurer. Okay so there's a naval clamp in there, alcohol of the none drinking kind, more mattress protectors than is healthy to wonder about, and lots of cotton wool related items for soaking up the mess. But hey you still get to feel like a kid at Christmas when a big box arrives with your name on it. Just don't try and work out what it is all for......

4. Nobody bats an eye when you are still cycling 8 months into your pregnancy

Nothing, and I mean nothing, separates the Dutch from their bikes. Growing a baby in your buik is not a valid reason to stop cycling - in fact the advice is keep moving - you are having a baby, you're not ill! See reason number 1....

5. The Netherlands is child friendly 

It is seriously child friendly. There are playgrounds on every corner. There are schools in every direction you walk. The country is littered with pancake restaurants. Do I need to go on?

6. The Dutch are raising some of the happiest children in the world 

If you could pick any country in the world to raise your children you could do far worse than the Netherlands. Year after year the Dutch come out around the top of happiness surveys, with children showing the rest of us just how happy you can be.

7. You get kinderbijslag 

That's child allowance to you and me. If you live or work in the Netherlands and have children under the age of eighteen then you are probably entitled to child allowance, paid quarterly directly into your bank account. It helps. It really does.

8. Your cupboards fill up with chocolate things

It's near on impossible to raise children in the Netherlands without ending up with hagelslag (sprinkles) and chocolate spread stocked in your kitchen cupboards. I tried to resist. For years I was strong. But the peer pressure is strong and eventually you will succumb. It all goes on bread. Just go with it.

9. You live with mini language teachers

Your children will speak better Dutch than you by the time they are three years old. And they are proud to let you know that by correcting EVERY. DAMN. THING. YOU. SAY.

10. Kraamzorg
I left the best for last. Kraamzorg - a maternity nurse in your home after the birth. I love, love, love kraamzorg. In my humble opinion it should be made illegal for countries not to provide new mothers with kraamzorg. But hey, who am I? I have experienced kraamzorg three times (I also wrote about it in Dutched Up!), and every time was a unique, but amazing experience.

If you want to read more about kraamzorg then head over to the Knocked Up Abroad Again page and keep up to date with the release of the book. My story tells much more about the best thing about a Dutch birth.

Knocked Up Abroad Again Contributor Locations


Sunday, 18 September 2016

Knocked Up Abroad Again - Live on Kickstarter

When a mother is born it's a beautiful thing. When she's living abroad that experience is something even more - beautiful but also scary, funny, mystifying and certainly a journey full of bumps in the road and cultural (mis)adventures.

That's what our book 'Knocked Up Abroad Again' is all about - the magical experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting abroad told by 26 women across 25 countries. And one of those women is me.

 Together we spill the beans on the highs, the lows and everything you could imagine in between and beyond motherhood in a foreign place.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Gone Dutch and Now What?

Last Wednesday Dutch nationality was bestowed upon me. And given that I can now call myself both British and Dutch it is no longer applicable to call myself an expat. Which is a bit of a buggar when your blog is called Expat Life with a Double Buggy. "Ex-expat with no Double Buggy' is more appropriate these days. So now what?

First, a couple of photos from the naturalisation ceremony that took place. I was incredibly stressed about the ceremony but I am happy to report that it was actually a fantastic experience - even fun!

Arriving at the town hall for the ceremony - stress? What stress?

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Week I Become a Nederlander

This is a big week in this British expat's life. It's the week (barring a disaster) I become Dutch.

A few days after I published my last blog post Almost Dutch? I received a letter, written on behalf of the mayor, inviting me to a naturalisation ceremony which will take place this Wednesday. When I saw the envelope with the local council's logo lying on my doormat my initial thought was oh oh there's an issue with my citizenship application - it's too early for there to be any contact.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Almost Dutch?

Over the years my Dutch husband and I have touched upon the topic of me and Dutch citizenship. Every discussion has ended with the conclusion that I had nothing to gain from owning a Dutch passport in addition to my British one. Until Brexit. Brexit has changed everything. Maybe. Potentially. 

Although no one knows for sure what the future holds for the status of British expats like me living in the European Union I do know that there is a chance that Brexit will mean some kind of change to my residency status and/or working permissions within EU countries. And so, like many other expat Brits, I started seriously looking into obtaining Dutch citizenship so, given any eventuality, I will  still enjoy the same rights as my Dutch family.

The decision by Britain to leave the EU was taken two months ago but my application for Dutch citizenship is filed, in progress and awaiting the decision of the local mayor. It was filed a month ago actually. I didn't hang around! I could be about to get seriously Dutched Up!

The process has been painless, quick and much easier than I ever could have imagined. And because of the many questions I have had on Facebook about the process I am going through I decided to write this blog post and share my experiences.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Explore Paleis Soestdijk

Whilst a new purpose is being considered for Soestdijk Palace, it is open to visitors. And it's well worth a visit.

It used to be the working palace of Queen Juliana, the mother of Princess Beatrix, the grandmother of the current king of the Netherlands.

From the smoke stained walls of Prince Claus's study to the family photos of princesses in their childhood prime, the palace gives a fascinating, historical glimpse into the life of the Dutch monarchy. 

The grounds are beautiful to walk around and there's a speurtocht for the children, which gets them uncovering places and facts about the palace and the family that lived in it.

If you haven't been then go whilst you can!

I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Saying Goodbye to My Consultatiebureau

I started working here eight years ago and I can still remember the day you walked in for the very first time – a newborn baby in your arms. A brand new mother,” said the lady at the front desk of the consultatiebureau to me at the end of my last visit.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have set foot inside my local consultatiebureau since 2007. But the woman who has weighed and measured all three of my sons over the space of eight years gave me reason to stop and reflect on my visits there; the same woman who remembers the name of my eldest son despite his last consultatiebureau visit being four years ago.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Little Steps to the Basisschool

If you are living in the Netherlands your child can start attending primary school at the age of four. All three of my children are now in various stages of primary school but for each one of them making the leap from peuterspeelzaal to the basisschool was a big one. So here's my story about how we tried to make it easier.

Monday, 1 August 2016

5 Popular Dutch Children's Books

There are a lot of books in our house, and they are something that generally escape my rare but thorough decluttering frenzies. Our bookshelves are filled with both English and Dutch books (with the occasional French and German title). When it comes to Dutch children's books there are some which are incredibly popular which you will generally see everywhere - like these 5.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Flying the Dutch Flag

Should you be in the Netherlands on King's Day you'll notice flags out in force in the Dutch streets, hanging from flag poles attached to the houses. We don't have a flag holder on our house, nor do we own a Dutch flag to hang even if we did... but I did stumble upon "general flag instructions in Zoetermeer" on the internet and was quite surprised by the rules around flag flying around here.