Blogger and Amsterdam Mama Irina Musuc shares a few of the reasons why living in the Netherlands with kids is the best.
Since moving to the Netherlands with my 12 and 9 year-old sons, I have discovered wonderful advantages of living in this country and I truly find it kid and family friendly. There are five things I would like to mention, which make our life in Holland exciting and comfortable.
1. Clean Environment
Even though, according to statistics, the pollution in The Netherlands is getting higher, in comparison with much of Europe, the Dutch remain one of the leaders in waste recycling and bicycle use. In the city we live - Almere - we enjoy clean air, abundance of vegetation, parks, and green alleys. I don't remember the fragrance of grass, flowers and leaves in the city I used to live in before, but here I do. Another thing thing we enormously appreciate is clean tap water.
2. Safe Cycling
Before we moved to The Netherlands, my oldest son was hit by a car while riding his bike to school for the first (and only) time. Thankfully, he was not badly harmed, but after that incident all discussions about my children cycling in the city stopped for good, and I thought that none of us would ever dare use a bicycle as a means of transport again. But now that we live in The Netherlands, our cycling experience here has completely healed our fears and insecurities. We enjoy separate lanes for cars and bikes, and what's more, Dutch drivers are experienced at sharing the road, and actually yield to cyclists. I am no longer afraid to let my children go everywhere by bicycles.
3. Sport and Outdoor Activities
What I really love about the Netherlands is the multitude of sport activities for children, and the abundance of parks and playgrounds. Here I have seen the most diverse and creative playgrounds, and it's common for each neighborhood to have a sport field where children can play football, volleyball, and table tennis. Parks usually offer a number of open door activities, and where we live there are instructors available each day for football, volleyball, basketball and tennis lessons. All children take swimming lessons in school as well.
What struck me most when I visited Holland prior to our move, was the family sport culture. I saw fathers and mothers playing tennis, skate boarding, jogging, canoeing, rowing, playing badminton, cycling, and roller-skating together with their children! It was one of the key factors in taking the final decision to move to the Netherlands.
4. Interactive Museums
When my husband suggested purchasing museum cards, my first reaction was: "Museums?! How boring! Kids will never last there more than one hour!" How wrong I was! Dutch museums have proved to be one of the most captivating experiences for our children, and for us as well. What I admire most about museums here is the creativity and interactive approach they use. We haven't seen the evil "do not touch" sign almost anywhere. Children can literally watch, touch, taste and feel the history. There are 400 wonderful and unique museums in the Netherlands and there are only 365 days a year. There is still a lot to explore, and our museum quest has just started.
The last, but not least, reason I find the Netherlands a nice place to raise children is general tolerance and low levels of racism. It doesn't mean that The Netherlands is free from racism and intolerance, but my subjective experience so far shows that Dutch society is quite tolerant towards people of different color, nationality, religion, culture. For the first time in their lives, my semi-Malaysian children are not called derogatory names for the color of their skin, or bullied for being different.
I have spotted several contributing factors: a high level of education; cultural and social diversity of the population, and a non-discrimination policy adopted by the local authorities and propagated by media. However, mostly what I see so far is a society so diverse that it will simply not survive without tolerance, respect and acceptance.
Author bio: My name is Irina Musuc. I am a Moldovan living in the Netherlands, married to an Italian, bringing up two rebellious boys. I’m a journalist, editor, and I love writing. We have recently moved to the Netherlands and I’m very busy finding my own self. I have started a blog because I felt it was so relieving to write down thoughts, feelings, worries, doubts and lessons I learn every day as a mother.
photo credit: Yay Images