What 3 words best describe your philosophy towards parenting?
1. Respect. In a way that I always try to be respectful towards the needs of the children. Just like adults they might also not have their best day. Or don’t feel like having company or they might not have an appetite.
And respect to me also means living it myself. By being gracious towards my children, other people and the environment, they might learn to make this attitude part of their own being as well. What I would love most for my children is to develop themselves as gentle souls who act with love, care and empathy towards the world around them.
2. Acceptance. Having four children myself, I feel that they all develop differently, have different personalities, possess different strengths and need different kinds of support. Every child is unique. I have my moments where I am wrestling with how to respond to my child’s uniqueness in contrast of my own. But I feel it is very important for them to feel my acceptance and my embrace. And that my love for them is unconditional. By loving and supporting them, I try to give them the confidence in themselves to develop a good sense of well-being, integrated in their sense of self.
3. Calmness. Having patience and staying calm is important for me. When I feel peaceful I am better able to parent my children. I am quiet a calm person myself, but having children sometimes brings along challenging situations. From our pre-school Montessori teacher I learned how to keep that calm, and parent from there. One of the thoughts from the Montessori philosophy that is really helpful to me is that we are our child’s guide. We don’t have to solve their problems; we are just there to guide them gently. We are there to help them through difficult moments, to be their support. And importantly, let them have all the feelings.
What is your philosophy towards play?
I love all natural materials, such as wood, linen, silk, wool, and hemp. In our home we have tried to work with those materials and create an inviting and enjoyable place to live and play in. I feel this is very important because children internalize everything from their surroundings. By surrounding children with beauty, children will develop their aesthetic awareness and appreciation.
I love my children to play with simple, unfinished toys, rather than big plastic ones, because it allows their imagination to develop.
Even tough my children sometimes feel attracted to the plastic toys from commercials, we try to minimalize buying those. I feel that when children are constantly exposed to synthetic/plastic toys, they are at risk of losing their sense of awe, of beauty and their sense of wonder and imagination. Next to that I don’t feel like buying mass-produced, low quality, automated and plastic toys, that will end up being thrown away after a short time.
But, most importantly, it often turns out that my children will play with natural toys for much longer and with much more pleasure. They encourage creative, imaginative and meaningful play.
Next to that I believe there shouldn’t be to many toys. Too many options lead to overwhelm. I always try to have few well-chosen, elegant and natural toys to play and discover with.
What are your family’s 3 favorite children’s books?
I am a big fan of reading, so I love sharing a top three here:
1. ‘Mooi boek’ by Joke van Leeuwen, is a most wonderful book when you have just learned how to read. But in fact for everyone who loves letters. It is a book that surprises by showing abc’s in with nimble children and monsters. With comics and little notes. And a lot of language jokes that my children all love.
2. We love the simple and elegant stories of ‘Kikker & pad’ (Frog and toad) by Arnold Lobel. It is about the friendship between frog and toad, and how they do everything together. For instance when they both are scared, they try to be brave together. The book has humour and sensitivity, which make it very appealing for my children.
3. I am a huge fan of the author Toon Tellegen. I love all his books, but at the moment we are all loving ‘Is er dan niemand boos’ (The day no one was angry). It has a kind of humour I absolutely love, a sensitivity that is touching and the subject of this book is one I think every child and adult can relate to. All the animals in the wood are angry for different reasons. But one day, all the anger is gone and they don’t know what to do.
What are your 5 favorite children’s brands?
There are so many beautiful children’s brands out there, that create the most wonderful and thoughtfully designs. I try to mostly buy natural, ecological things, produced in an honest way. I have a big love for the classic and simple, yet original brands. And I love brands that have a touch of nostalgia. Five of my favourites:
1. Fanny & Alexander. Your philosophy is one I share. I love your beautiful, handcrafted toys. Both for myself as for my children. We all enjoy the look of the toys and I especially love the sentiment they give me.
2. Wooden story. All their toys are crafted in Poland’s Beskidy Mountains, with a wonderful ethos. They like to create playthings for children that are both natural and inspired by nature. They say their toys came to them from the mountains. And they do have that delicious forest smell as well. To me they are just beautiful in every way.
3. Encore. The beautiful dolls houses of Encore are made of 100 % solid beach, a decision driven by the wish to provide workers with good working conditions. Their toys can educate children how the environment works, and they will stand the test of time. For me the toys are real treasures, and I love the idea to pass them down from one generation to the next.
4. Mum and Dad factory. This Scandinavian brand creates beautiful children’s furniture from all natural and durable materials. Their beds, desks and little chairs are so beautiful and elegant; I could fill my home with these.
5. Misha and Puff. The knit collection of Misha and Puff is really special to me. With their knits they share their love for the thoughtfully designed and handcrafted. I adore their philosophy and the fact that their beautiful pieces will last forever.