Dutch Things That No Longer Faze Me

by farrah on January 12, 2015 · 11 comments

By this point, we have been living in the Netherlands over two years with another year and a half or so to go. I have to keep reminding myself that although I live here and might cease to be dumbfounded by the differences that once startled me, that’s not reality. The reality is that I have grown and evolved, as well as adapted to things and don’t notice them as ‘funny’ anymore. In a way, that kind of makes me sad. So today I thought I’d point out a few snippets of daily Dutch life that I’m taking a wee bit of granted for, and give them the props they deserve.

stairsOur narrow, steep stairs. No big deal.

Kissing three times

I no longer shy away at the three ‘air’ kisses. In fact, I think I’ve pretty much gotten it down pat and will even be as brave as to take it upon myself to do it to someone else. This in turn is funny and a bit awkward since the person I move in to smooch might not get it yet if they’re a new expat. Such has happened to me twice this month alone.

Living on the street (just about)

winAs I took this just now I saw my neighbor and waved. 

Way back when we did House Hunters– one the most cringe-worthy things I whine about is how we couldn’t possibly live somewhere so close to the street. As in, the street, a narrow sidewalk, and boom- the front door. Someone did call me out on it via the HHI Fb page, and at the time I couldn’t understand how they didn’t see that was a little odd. Today, it’s no thing to open the front door and boom, you’re practically standing in the road. Same with ‘death trap stairs’. I’m over them. We haven’t died yet.

Keeping the shades open

Another whine of mine on that show (which we haven’t watched since it aired) was the lack of privacy! As if we were oh-so-interesting. I couldn’t understand what the deal was with people having these huge front windows open for all the world to peer in. Today, the first thing I do when I get up in the morning (before coffee!) is run around and open all the blinds. I feel like if I don’t it appears as if we’re all sick, hiding from the world, or gone. I like the light. I like being a part of my village and street. It makes me feel alive and I can see what’s going on.

Giving my kids a bowl of sugar at breakfast

Ok, maybe not literally, but for the most part Hagelslag (sprinkles) on toast and poffertjes (mini sweet pancakes) with powdered sugar are a daily staple. Not to mention the Chocomel they guzzle whenever they can.


We’ve always had forced heat. Moving here we learned that there are these things called radiators that most people are familiar with (not just here, but the US too). I remember when we first moved in I was like, omg! The curtains in the boys’ room are touching them! They’ll catch fire in the middle of the night for sure! Um, no. They won’t. First they don’t get that hot, secondly, they’re not electrical. It’s heated water you idiot. Today my only complaint is that I have to turn off each one every morning when we are finished with a room. Because damn heating those things is expensive.

Kids in cars

Ok, so this is going to touch a nerve with some of you in the US. Yes, people here use car seats. But they aren’t the $500 ones you’re guilted into buying. The ones in my husband’s car are simple boosters (at 4 and 5! Imagine that!) which personally don’t look like they’ll be doing much protecting in the case of an accident. Additionally (and get ready for this)- I see kids in the front seat. Yes, even I have been guilty of this from time to time, as I have driven to school (about 700 meters away) and learned upon picking them up we’re bringing home a friend. Since I have 3 car seats I stick B in the front (he’s FIVE) and drive home. We never go over 20km an hour, but can you imagine? Someone would call CPS and the police on me in a red hot minute if I ever tried to do this in the States.

Don’t even get me started on bicycle helmets.

The yoga mom doesn’t exist



Image found on Pinterest.

There is no woman arriving at school in full makeup, nails done, hair perfectly coiffed, ‘Bucks cup in hand (cell phone in the other) with a giant expensive purse hanging from her wrist every morning and sporting sassy earrings. This of course isn’t a bad thing! In fact, when I go to yoga on Tuesdays after school drop off I wear my pants and boots (when it’s cold) but no makeup, am unshowered, and my hair is a disaster. I don’t carry anything (other than 3 backpacks) and don’t give a flying fig. No one asks me if I’m sick or mentally disturbed. And remember- we walk our kids into the school and take them to the classroom. We talk to each other. There’s no minivan to speed away in undiscovered or unexposed.

*Edited to say that by no means do I feel Dutch women are sloppy or not dressed well. They just look nice, normal, and not like they’re trying to outdo anyone. They’re always ‘together’ but not ‘blingy’. Does that even make sense?

So that’s all I can come up with right now. I’m sure there are more things, so I’ll think on it and come up with a part two when the time is right.

Happy Monday!

All non-staged photos taken by me except the outfit.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ace January 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

Oh, man – this list hits all the nails square on the head! I also feared the heaters setting something aflame by having things sit on them, but we’re still here and so is everyone else. And the car seats? I LOVE the booster. Installing the mini-tank for a 5 year old when we go back to the States feels like ridiculous overkill – prompting our conversations about diminishing returns on safety and my dad’s story about how I went home in the hospital in a fancy bucket with a stand and a seatbelt holder.


2 farrah January 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm

It is so much freaking easier getting the boys in and out of Andy’s car! besides, it’s not like we have room for the monstrous ones that are in mine! Didn’t you and M ride in the back once???


3 shalini January 12, 2015 at 11:41 am



4 farrah January 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm

YOU are the one that gave me the confidence to do the three kiss- it’s like you’re a natural!


5 Jen January 12, 2015 at 12:53 pm

We took C home from the hospital in a Baby Bjorn, in the back of an Amsterdam taxi. She was 4 hours old. Even I thought that was ridiculous.

I’m so proud of you! You have embraced the Dutch way of life so well! Just don’t let me hear you have started listening to any Andre Hazes. Or Gerard Jolink. Because then we can’t be friends.

(If Life and Cooking is still on Sundays on RTL5 then you should try to watch it, it was the only Dutch tv show I watched even though I didn’t always understand all of it. It made me feel even more at home).


6 farrah January 12, 2015 at 2:32 pm

LOL! But I bet no one else thought anything of it. C failed a ‘car seat test’ when we were being released from the hospital, so had to wait a few more hours. He would have been fine in a Bjorn 🙂

I don’t know who those people are. I’ll have to look them up.And I am totally mystified by the Dutch cooking shows, I wish I could understand them but I love how AH has videos along with their recipes!


7 Ann January 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Funny about those moms. It’s the strangest phenomenon that I don’t get being in the US. In Germany the moms are always put together and never seen wearing their workout clothes if they aren’t working out, but most of them aren’t trying so hard. Here they’re always in workout clothes and trying really hard. (But, they sure are nice here!)

Anyway – in regards to the carseats. The other interesting thing is that, while many people who move between the US and Europe feel the 5 point system is safer (I personally think it makes little difference), the carseats are tested and approved for a higher crash mileage point (not sure of the exact terminology) than in the US. And it’s pretty significant, too.


8 farrah January 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm

There’s loads to say about people that are nice!
I’m tyring to guess what kind of car seat situation we will have to do upon return. And not to jinx anything- but I kind of feel there are fewer accidents where we are now- you never hear (or rarely do) of a crash in these parts. People drive slower, the roads are more narrow, and being on your phone would be a huge fat fine. So besides some of the more reckless bicyclists, we’re actually safer (I feel) on the roads.


9 Ann January 12, 2015 at 4:24 pm

I feel the same way. I noticed when I lived in Germany in high school that most of the people who got into accidents were American (it only happened near military bases.) I think (because I have an opinion on everything, I think) it’s because people get a license at an older age, they have a lot more required courses to take so it’s a privilege not a right, and they have great public transport options.

I don’t even understand the carseat rules here yet.


10 Leighann January 12, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Sounds so comfortable and relaxed.
A world we need to live in.


11 Julia January 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm

I’m thinking maybe I’m meant to live in the Netherlands, school drop off sounds wonderful. I can think of dozens of Moms at Jacks school that look like the ones you described. We have a bay window in our kitchen that faces the street and I love having the blinds open, actually I was opposed to putting blinds on them and my husband hates it, but I love being able to see out into the neighborhood and it’s my favorite spot to write at.


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