Meet Dutch mom Liesbeth living in The Hague
I am Liesbeth Soeterbroek from the Netherlands.
I live in Den Haag with my English husband, Paul and two children, Luke (8) and Kate (6).
Having studied and worked as a fashion designer in Amsterdam, after the birth of my son I decided to give up full time employment and pursue my dream to develop my own ideas about childrens clothing.
Dressme was begun with the idea to make unique and original clothing from recycled materials. Starting with t-shirts for babies and small children, I began by gathering used materials, mostly large t-shirts, shirts, sheets etc and then cut them up and create unique items of clothing. This proved very popular and quickly expanded into making both t-shirts and dresses in all sizes up to 8 years old. I now sell all over the world via the web.
What kind of house do you live in, are you and the kids happy here or is there anything you all terribly miss …?
Like most Dutch people we live in an apartment. We live on the ground floor and have a large garden. The Hague is very close to the sea, so we often cycle to the beach for some fresh sea air. What do we miss? Well we could always do with an extra room!
Do you like to spend time on decorating your home and the children’s room?
We had to do a lot of work on the house when we moved in. That was a few years ago now that the children are a little bigger and there is less food flying everywhere, we are considering that it's time for a makeover.
Where do you look for interior inspiration, favorite magazines, websites, blogs?
We tend to decorate the house more intuitively . I am very interested in how to use interior space and how colour can work within the home.
What are your children’s favorite items in your house?
The old leather couch in the conservatory, it's the only piece of furniture in the house they can jump on!
What places in your new neighborhood do you like to go to for shopping?
There are quite a lot of second-hand shops in the neighboorhood. Perfect for searching out second hand clothes and furniture.
What's it like to raise a child in your town?
The Hague is a very green city, full of woods and sandwiched between the city and the sea is a large strip of protected dunes, a very special natural environment. Cycling through this area makes for a great family outing. It is also a very creative city, and there are many opportunities for children to get involved with the arts.
Who do you consider is a good example for your children?
Not anyone in particular. They learn a bit from everyone. Their school teachers are great!
What is your idea of a perfect day with your children?
September means foraging for blackberries in the dunes during a bicycle ride.
Can you tell us a funny story, quote or remark one of your children recently made or happened?
My daughter (6) just asked me 'mum, what is it like being a parent?' I answered that it is a beautiful thing to see your children
turning into grown-ups. 'That's not what I mean', she answered ' I mean, what is it like being boss all the time?'
Are their any books you can recommend for parents and how to raise your children?
No, not really. My husband bought a book about bringing up children with two languages in the household.
Can you mention some of your ‘how-to-raise-your-kid’ values?
Trying to picture yourself in their shoes often helps in a difficult situation. Keeping a sense of humour always does.
What kind of DIY projects do you like to do with your children?
Now it is more a question what the children should not do to the house. We have finally convinced the kids not to use the
house as a canvas. They still like to cover the house with drawings, posters and stickers.
They each have their own display box. A perfect place too store all their surprise egg-toys, supermarket freebies, bottlecaps, single barbie shoes, seashells and stones.
Any tips for keeping the house clean when crafting?
I wish I had.
Are you a crafter or DIY person?
A crafter. I prefer small projects I can finish.
Books, websites, local shops you can recommend to get tips and ideas for kids crafting?
What do you do with all the projects your children made at home or in school?
I am very selective, the flat isn't so large, we could very quickly get overrun with their paintings and drawings and…
Any nice decoration ideas how to hang them, keep them or use them as presents?
Some of the kid's drawings we photocopy in black and white and framed them (first scribbles can be very beautiful)
How do you like to celebrate birthdays and other special days in your house?
We still celebrate our kid's parties at home. My son just had a "scary" party with spider webs, zombies, edible worms and eyes and a dark hallway with scary sounds.
My daughter had a make-over model party.
What are favorite games in your home?
Losing still makes my kids cry so at the moment we can't persuade them to play a game.
What kind of sports do your children like to do and are you very involved?
They both swim and my daugter does ballet. For my daughters last recital I helped backstage and fixed some costumes.
Are there musical instruments in your house?
No, but both kids are very fond of music and singing, so we might have in a while.
What are all time favorite books for the children?
Luke got a book about 'everything' for his birthday, he's fascinated by volcanoes. Kate is learning her first words and is very excited to read one of them in a book or equally on a bilboard.
What are nice activities you can do with children in your place and what could you recommend when people are visiting?
Once again the beach, the woods and the dunes along with the local internationally renowned art gallery and natural history museum for kids, called museon. The Hague is also famous for a miniature model town called 'Madurodam', the perfect introduction the the Netherlands if you havent to much time.
What movies do your children like to watch, is there one from your childhood you would love to show them too?
Their favourite film is 'Shrek I, II and III but they also really enjoyed the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as his Alice in Wonderland.
The original Willy Wonka film was also one of my childhood favorites!
I have enthusiastically shown them clips from programmes I remember from my own childhood via youtube which they thought were boring (no special effects in those days!).
How do they prefer to spend their leisure time?
They spend a lot of time playing in the street with their friends, or playing inside, drawing or watching movies.
Are you a ‘cook’ or ‘food’ lover or both?
We are vegetarians and we enjoy experimenting with good fresh produce. The Hague boasts 'the largest market in Europe.'
What kind of place do you like to go to on vacation with and or without the children?
This year we went to a very cool campsite in France where we stayed in a wooden house in a forest.
A combination of nature and culture is our favorite. Next year we would like to try Scandinavia.
Do you keep some sort of travel journal with the children?
Not yet, but I remember I used to when I was a kid so I think that would be a great idea for next year.
What kind of souvenir can they bring back home?
Anything they find as long as it fits in the luggage.
How do you prepare for a trip, any useful tips?
I give each of them a bag full of things to do while travelling. We recently played a audiobook cd in the car which they enjoyed.
What place do your children love to go to?
They love the outdoors and adventure, as long as they can come back to a place where there is a table with pencils and paper.
Tips for traveling with a plane or a long-time trip on the road with children?
Flying with kids is to expensive, exhausting and not really eco friendly these days. We prefer the hire a car and go off exploring.