Every few weeks we'll have a chat with a different mum or dad. They'll tell us how they manage to keep their life in balance; highlighting the struggles and the achievements. It's time to struggle together rather than just pretending to be okay and happy all the time, right?
What does your life look like at the moment?
The five of us live in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It's close to the city, we have a 'dyck house' in one of the natural parts of Rotterdam. It’s the perfect spot for my husband and our family. We all love the buzz of the city (which is only 10 minutes away by bike), but we also really enjoy the space and nature that surrounds our home. The best of both worlds.
What is your philosophy about raising kids, what works for you?
To be honest, I give our kids enough room to develop into independent individuals. I love seeing how they all differ even though they have the same parents. I think it's important that they learn to not change their behaviour based on their environment. Everyone has his or her shortcomings, but when you focus on your best qualities you'll always be a happier and more enjoyable person for yourself and the people around you.
We try to never exclude anyone..
So for us it really works to have some one-on-one time with each of the kids every once in a while. That way we can do things that they individually really enjoy doing, whilst also getting to know them even better. It's difficult to give each of them enough attention when we're together with the five of us, so this is our solution.
By simlpy using words, giving cuddles or just walking away they can tell you how they feel and what they need. One of our main rules is to never, ever exclude someone. We never send them to their room or the hallway when ‘they don’t behave’. We always try to include everyone.
When things get too busy at home and I can't handle it, I just take a break. You don't need to book a retreat to Spain, but simply step outside for a few breaths or sit on the loo for a few minutes with the door closed. It's mind blowing how effective this is. I can gather my thoughts, pull myself together and I just move on.
What's important to you when it comes to toys and playing?
Some might find me weird, but I hate bright coloured plastic toys. I can't imagine that they are fun to play with, plus they're super ugly to look at. I love toys that require a little imagination; toys that can be used in different ways. We have loads of wooden building blocks. Simon loves making big piles of them to practice his counting, Hella always knocks them over, and Faas makes the most beautiful castles and space shuttles out of them. We all play and have fun at the same time.
What's your favourite form of play when playing together?
It changes all the time; depends on the season, the weather and our general mood. Right now we play Uno a lot. An easy game that we can all enjoy together. But hide and seek is another favourite.
What do you find most important when it comes to your interior, especially in the playroom?
I want high quality products that are also pleasing to the eye. I think it's better to invest in something a little more expensive that buying a cheap rip-off which I'll end up replacing within a few months. I have to look at it all the time, and nothing irritates me more than when things are broken or are poorly made. The cheap cupboards in the kids' room is already falling apart after five years, but the custome made wardrobe in my bedroom is still in perfect shape after nine years.
A couple of years ago we added an extension to our house. In these extra metres (around 20m2) we‘ve created a big playroom. The interior is a mix of IKEA cupboards (turned into a dressoir) and vintage stuff my mum kept over the years. The space is open, so enough place to build with blocks, play with toy cars or Twister. I really like the open space and the flexbility of it. It also happens to be the best spot for my morning coffee.
Because I love quality products for my own home, I hope that my playmats are the same. That they stay in good shape for a long time. The fabrics and filling are of suburb quality; great for snoozing and building forts. Having fun at home is the most important part for any interior.
How do you use the ByAlex playmat?
Well, haha… they're scattered across the house. After being in this business for two years, my kids still use it in different ways. For Hella it's the perfect spot to snuggle and read a book. Simon loves turning them into a slide, using the steps from the living room to the playroom. Faas turns it into a fort; he drags it up to his bunk bed and tries to hide whilst watching Gekke Markie on Youtube (something I don't tend to let him watch 😉).
What is your favourite moment spent together?
Taking time to read a book before bedtime. No matter how hectic or horrible our day was, this is the moment to reconnect and give each other some love. Helping them fall asleep in peace is one of the best gift we can give our children as parents.
How do you hope your kids will remember you once they're all grown up?
I want to be remembered as a caring mum who loved to play and connect with her kids. I hope they're proud to have me as their mum; owning my own business whilst still pulling my weight as a parent (I'm still the lady who slices the meat on Sunday's!).
My biggest dream is...
That when my kids are all grown up I'll still know how they feel, what they need and that they'll still come to me when they need to talk. And that it works both ways.