Friday, 26 October 2012

The Dutch Balancing Act: Home v Work

The balance between home and work
is not always easy
(c) Kriss Szkurlatowski
This is a subject that gets the discussion going.... the work ethic of the Dutch. Lazy or efficient? I'd go for the latter for sure; they work the fewest hours in Europe and achieve one of the highest productivity rates. On top of that they're home for family dinners too. They are surely doing something right.

Whatever your viewpoint the Dutch do seem to have this whole work life balance thing sussed. And I've just written an article on this topic for Amsterdam Mamas for their October theme of balance.

So if you want to read The Dutch Balancing Act, hop on over to Amsterdam Mamas. And whilst you are over at Amsterdam Mamas have a good look around. It is such a great community over there it makes me want to move to Amsterdam!

Thursday, 25 October 2012 An Expat Blog Awards Nomination

I'm thrilled to say that hot on the heels of the Expatica blog award nomination comes another award nomination. This time it's from

To help my blog earn an award you simply follow the link through to the listing of Expat Life With a Double Buggy on the site and leave a rating and a comment. So if you're a regular reader and like what you read head on over and comment away. And whilst you're over at provides a list of expat blogs by country to help expats find relevant posts to read. A great place to start if you're looking for bloggers and information in your host country.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Letting Off Steam in Autumn aka Losing Your Car Keys in the Woods

The changing colour of the leaves
(c) Amanda van Mulligen
Whilst many around me are moaning about the change in weather as autumn makes its mark I'm actually fine with the change of the season. There's something about the leaves changing to red, yellow and orange and falling to the ground. I like the swirling leaves on the paths. I like the candle lit evenings as they draw in earlier as each day in October goes by. I think there is something attractive about every season and autumn is certainly no exception.

With two boys now in school the autumn projects of course now start and collecting starts in earnest. I've already covered kabouters but there is of course much more to the autumn season. Like finding leaves for rubbings and collecting horse chestnut seeds or conkers for... well just for the sake of it really, as the Dutch don't do conker games like the British. I've got a list of autumn craft ideas at hand for the autumn break next week....

With the thought in mind that we could educate at least two of our boys on the finer elements of autumn we set off for a walk in the Panbos, the woods in Katwijk, armed with wellington boots, a pram rain cover and an umbrella.

Taking in the view
(c) Amanda van Mulligen
Autumn in action
(c) Amanda van Mulligen

Toadstool housing kabouters?
(c) Lars van Mulligen
Muddy puddle stomping - always a
hit with little boys
(c) Amanda van Mulligen

The boys were in their element. Lots of running around, exploring, collecting leaves and fir cones, examining mushrooms and toadstools which were growing in abundance and the all time favourite boy's pastime of stomping in muddy puddles. We also played a bit of football and in general had a relaxing, fun afternoon.

Until we got to the car. That was the moment my husband discovered he no longer had the car keys. Given the running, climbing, playing and general exploring that had taken place the search ground seemed suddenly enormous and the outing was suddenly not so relaxing........

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Autumn's Here: The Kabouters Are Out

The leaves are turning more and more orange and red as each day passes. The evenings are getting darker and the sun seems to have left for a long vacation of its own, leaving the rain and wind to their own devices. Yes, autumn is here and in the Netherlands that means it's kabouter season.

My five year old is about to start a project on the theme of kabouters in school and my two year old is off to his first kabouterfeest tomorrow in pre-school.

When my eldest had his kabouterfeest..
(c) Amanda van Mulligen
A kabouter is the Dutch equivalent of a gnome or an Irish leprechaun. Adorned with a full white beard (the males in any case) and a red pointy hat these little mythical beings live underground or in mushrooms. They usually have big, round bellies and pouchy, rosy cheeks. Some kabouters bring good luck. Others are a bit naughty. But not to worry because they seem to be quite shy of human beings.

I'm sure I'll learn lots more about kabouters from my eldest son in the coming weeks...and spare a thought for my two year old tomorrow.... dressed in red & green clothes with a white beard, rosy cheeks and a cushion stuffed down his trousers....

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Bringing Up Brits Guest Post: Standing Out From the Dutch Crowd

Meghan Fenn, author of "Bringing Up Brits", a book about the cultural aspects of expats raising children in Britain, has a blog of the same name. She shares the cultural issues she faces as an American raising her British born children in Britain. Her husband is British, and she's finding that her children fail to identify with her American background and culture, seeing everything from a British perspective.

It's a fascinating topic. How, as an expat, do you share your own birth country and culture with your children when they were born elsewhere? It's an issue I've written about before on this blog. It's not easy to instil a sense of foreign identity into children when they come into so little contact with the culture, people, language and traditions. She also gives a great insight into how the British come across to a foreigner. It's quite eye opening.....

So I was delighted when Meghan asked me to write a guest post for her blog. You can read "Standing Out From the Dutch Crowd, British Style" over on the Bringing Up Brits blog, and check out lots of other great posts and join in the discussion whilst you're there.

How do your children stand out from the crowd in the place that you now call home?