Hello! I’m Elizabeth and I’m an American expat living in the Netherlands. My husband works at T.U. Delft in Aerospace Engineering. I worked as an attorney in the States until I decided to stay home with our three boys. Our oldest (4) was born in California, our middle little (2) was born in Colorado and our new little one (5 months) was born here in the Netherlands. When I’m not biking the kids around I’m usually traveling, planning our next trip or writing for my blog (www.dutchdutchgoose.com).
I also drink a lot of coffee. (Which is good since the Dutch are the 3rd largest coffee consumers in the world.)
We’ve lived in Delft for a year and a half having moved here from Colorado Springs, CO. Our town of Delft is the quintessential small Dutch town, complete with a leaning church! Delft is probably best known for the blue and white pottery that bears its name, being the home of Vermeer and the place where William of Orange was shot. However, it is also incredibly family-friendly, if you know where to go. Playgrounds are hidden throughout the city, tucked in-between buildings. Several of the local cafes have play areas and the city even runs a free petting zoo.
6:30am Kids Wake Up
Yep. My kids are early risers. Luckily so is my husband. The boys head downstairs for some breakfast. The “traditional” Dutch breakfast is toast, with butter and chocolate sprinkles. Jeff adds some eggs or yoghurt to the mix for good measure.
7:00am Mom Wanders Down
I meander down with the baby to find everyone playing trains on the floor of the living room. I put the kettle on to make myself some coffee. Coffeemakers are not very popular, instead we rely on the French Press. I’ve really come to enjoy this along with some hot milk.
7:30am Get Dressed
We all head upstairs to get dressed. My four year old can dress himself, so he heads off to his room to do so where he inevitably picks the same pair of blue pants and orange long-sleeved shirt he has been rocking every time they are clean for the last few months. The two year old needs much more help. He wants to wear his airplane shirt and as soon as it is on blasts down the hall like his arms are wings. Jeff is getting out of the shower by the time I make it to our room. He gets himself and the baby dressed while I get myself dressed. We all pile into the bathroom for a round of teeth brushing.
8:30am Out the Door
We load everyone up into the bikes! This legitimately, takes forever. I ride a big cargo bike called a bakfiets which fits both big boys and the baby in the car seat. Jeff adds a child seat (a YippYap) to his bike, so we have maximum flexibility of dividing the children. It is about a 15 minute bike ride into city center.
9:00am City Petting Zoo/Playground
Halfway into the city is the city petting zoo, Stadsboerderij Buyten Delft. We love to just pop in and check on the animals. There are some new baby goats, just hours old. The farmer also lets the kids meet a goat who will give birth any day now. We go visit the bunnies. We purchase eggs which are collected from the farm’s chickens.
A water playground is co-located and is one of the kids’ absolute favorites. There is a big boat you can play on, plenty of sand to dig, an Archimedes Screw and even a zipline across a canal. The big boys stick more to the grassy hills with the slides, swings and fort.
10:30am Market Day
We park the bikes by the town hall and load the baby into the Ergo Baby and the big boys grab our shopping bags. The market square is full of carnival type rides. The kids beg to ride a few things and we promise them a ride or two once our shopping is done. The next block over holds all the market stalls for Saturday market.
We start with the cheese vendor. We almost always pick up a block or two of Gouda from him. Our middle little loves to sample the cheeses and the cheesemonger’s staff are happy to comply. We have a favorite fruit and veggie vendor that we visit. They give both our littles a free banana to enjoy while we shop. Next is the bakery stall where the kids get a free “pink cookie” and I have to decide if I want a pecan roll or an apple turnover as my treat.
The next whole row is flowers. I have my favorite vendor and pick up 30 stems for €5! The kids share a stroopwaffle (Dutch syrup waffle) as we walk back to the market square. They each choose one ride and we buy tickets for those rides.
11:30am Lunch at Kek
We pop into Kek, a great little cafe in Delft. We order a smoothie for the four year old. He gets to go up to the juice bar and watch it get made. The two year old prefers a “babychino” which is just steamed milk, but comes in a child sized coffee cup. The husband orders a mint tea, which is fresh mint leaves stuck in hot water and I get a latte macchiato. Our kids color at the large rustic wooden table while we enjoy our drinks. The lunch menu has plenty of options for everyone to enjoy. The BLT with nuts is my personal favorite, but I’ve never had anything I didn’t love at Kek.
On the bike ride home we pop into the farm, Hoeve Biesland for our milk. I leave the little two in the bakfiets. The baby is asleep in the car seat and our middle guy likes to look at the cows from inside the bike. The four year old, my husband and I pop into the store to buy our milk and any other good looking vegetables. Once we pay for the milk, we have to bike to the other side of the farm to fill our jars. This milk is fresh and delicious!
1:00pm Nap Time
The bike home from the farm is quick. We put the two year old down for a nap and set the four year old up for some quiet time. My husband grabs a quick run in the forest with the rest of the town, because if it is not raining, everyone is out and about. I take some down time to write.
The kids are all up and it is time to dig into some of those treats from the market. The four year old wants carrots and tiny oranges. The two-year old wants some peanut butter on celery but I suspect he will just lick the peanut butter and leave celery carcuses on his plate. We end up also eating some home made popsicles outside in the yard. The sun is out so we better be too!
3:30pm Boating on the Canal
When it is nice out the boys’ favorite activity to to take our little boat out on the canal to the park. Jeff gets their life vests on and they launch the boat in the canal across from our house. I put the baby into the Baby Jogger stroller and we walk to meet them. Some of the four year old’s school friends are at the park when his boat “docks” and they are all thrilled.
If you want to replicate this, but don’t have your own boat head over to Knus where you can rent a boat and explore on your own. They also have a fabulous cafe and playground for the kids.
We don’t go out to dinner with the kids often. We are usually at home eating and gearing down for bedtime. However, in the summer when it is light out later we like to bike into town after dinner to pick up ice cream at Chocolaterie De Lelie. We are sure to see our friends there as it is the best ice cream in town and only open in the summer. If we did take our kids out to dinner we would hit up Cafe du Midi, which is not only delicious and all locally sourced, but it is also extremely child friendly. The kids are welcome to go play with the chickens and goats in the pasture while everyone waits for their food.