How to get settled in the Netherlands?

Redactie True Colors Childcare by Redactie True Colors Childcare
We asked some mums to share their tips or advice for parents with young children in the Netherlands. Here’s a selection of what they had to say:

Be open to cultural differences

“Sometimes I see people struggling to accept the differences in the culture. You should keep the good things from both systems and try to be relaxed. Don’t be too critical of the different approach and keep an open mind about alternative ways of doing things.”

Don’t be intimidated by the ‘consultatiebureau’

“Going to the pediatric clinic (‘consultatiebureau’) can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first child. But don’t be worried if they tell you your child should be talking by now. True Colors gave a really useful workshop in which they explained that bilingual children learn to talk later. So, don’t let the consultatiebureau intimidate you or make you worry unnecessarily!”

Your GP is probably not a pediatrician

“If you have a specific question regarding your child, don’t be surprised if your local doctor isn’t able to help you. The consultatiebureau may be better equipped to help. Or ask your doctor to refer you to the relevant specialist.”

Choose a childcare centre where you feel at home

“The quality of childcare in the Netherlands is high and well-regulated, so you can feel free to choose a childcare facility that feels right for you and your child.”

Make use of your representative on the Parent Committee

“Of course, you can approach your group team with any issues related to your child. But if you have general questions of other matters you want to raise, feel free to contact your representative on the Parent Committee.”

Meet people

“Living in a foreign country away from home can be quite lonely at times. Especially when you have a new baby or young children and can’t fall back on your family for support. That’s why you should get involved in your local community and meet other young families. Invite your neighbours round or join a sports club. Whatever it is, you need to go out and meet people.”

Learn Dutch

“This may seem like an obvious tip, but I know Dutch isn’t an easy language to learn. And, because everyone speaks English, your Dutch friends and colleagues may find it easier not to speak Dutch to you. But it’s worth insisting and, especially if you’re planning to stay here for some time, it will really help you and your child settle in.”

Further information

Learning Dutch

Here are some organisations offering Dutch lessons in Delft, Rijswijk and The Hague:

Ask your employer if they offer courses, or if they might be prepared to cover all or some of the costs of external courses.

What’s going on? Local news and events:

  • The Hague Online (news and events) www.thehagueonline.com
  • Expat Events www.expatevents.com
  • DutchbuzZ (local expat radio show) http://www.dutchbuzz.nl/