Being a parent abroad means facing situations that you probably wouldn’t face if you had stayed in the country you were born in. Being an expat parent means adapting……
Here are twenty things that make me realise I’m a Brit parenting in the Netherlands.
- You actually consider a home birth as a viable option.
- You think you can give birth without the help of pain relief.
- The whole idea of a maternity nurse spending a week in your home directly after the birth of your child is inconceivable. You reluctantly commit to her coming a few hours a day (half of your entitlement) but make sure everyone knows you are giving in begrudgingly. When your second is born you sign up for your full entitlement and dream up elaborate ways to get more hours out of your maternity nurse.
- When the well-baby clinic recommends your child eats six slices of bread a day you involuntarily take in a sharp breath.
- Your three year old speaks Dutch better than you do.
- Your five year old actually corrects you when you speak Dutch.
- You are floored by the way your toddler can roll their “r’s” and say “Scheveningen”.
- You’re amazed because there is no complicated school enrolment system* for your children. You fill in an application form and the school informs you within a week or two if they have a space for your child or not. You can’t believe it can be that simple.
- When your child starts school you have no idea how the school system works because it’s not the same as the one you grew up in.
- You cannot get to grips with the idea that eating in a pancake house is “going out for dinner” and still see those Dutch pancakes as eating dessert before the main meal.
- You stop calling your GP for every minor ailment your kids get because you know the answer will be “Take paracetamol and if he’s not okay in three days come back.”
- There is more paracetamol in your medicine cabinet at any one time than you would conceivably use in a year in your own country. What’s more you have paracetamol for every possible age range and for every orifice and – you’re not afraid to use it.
- Your kids cycle better and more than you do.
- The phrase you use most whilst walking to and around the local playground is “Watch out for the dog poo. I said WATCH OUT! OK, you can clean that when we get home….”
- Your children eat sprinkles on bread for breakfast.
- Your child brings home a different friend book to fill in on a weekly basis. But of course your child cannot yet write so guess what you spend your weekends doing….
- You wouldn’t dream of driving to school. Instead, you join the masses and walk or cycle with your child to school.
- You have an impressive array of attachments for your bike, including a bike trailer and child seats.
- You race to the nearest lake when the temperature drops so that your children can wear their ice skates.
- Your child has a tendency to find the idea of poo sandwiches hilarious.
*except in Amsterdam…..
What makes you realise you’re expat parenting in the Netherlands?