Inside you’ll find three important pillars of Dutch parenting.
In 1915 a Dutch pioneer nurse, Aafke Gesina van Hulst created the three R’s …
Rust, Reinheid, and Regelmaat
And it stuck.
For generations, the pillars have been the most important base of Dutch family life. Although family life has changed in a lot ways since 1915, the principles now are more true than ever.
In the hectic world we live in, they provide valuable guidelines to keep yourself and your children happy and healthy.
Rest is eminent for healthy development of children. Plenty of rest and sleep provides many proven advantages, like;
- being better able to control emotions
- better learning performance
- lower risk of becoming obese
On average, Dutch moms manage to provide quite a lot of rest for their babies and toddlers and hence themselves. The focus on rest is pretty much engraved in the Dutch parenting culture.
Research shows that compared to American babies, Dutch babies at the age of six months get an extra two hours of sleep per day.
Two hours a day!
How do Dutch moms do it?
There are two vital elements to ensuring their children get enough sleep. The first one is a very clear distinction between and separation of the sleep and awake time and environment.
When Dutch children are asleep, they sleep in their beds (if possible), when they are awake, they are with the rest of the family. Dutch children usually don’t sleep in the playpen or in the car.
The second element to providing plenty of rest and sleep is making sure that children aren’t overstimulated during the day. Therefore, Dutch parents keep activities, sounds and visual stimulants restricted. This creates a calm environment and sets the children up for better sleep.
The three R’s date back to 1915, so the second R may seem obvious to most moms these days. Back in those days, parents needed to be reminded of the importance of hygiene to keep their children healthy more often.
Nowadays, we know that sterilizing bottles, washing hands and cleaning our bathrooms is very important. Thus, as valid as this pillar is these days, it has become pretty obvious.
The last R, routine, may be the most important one. Routine makes things predictable and thus manageable. Of course, babies have their own internal routine and sometimes flexibility is needed.
But Dutch families often have a schedule and they try to stick to it.
Even the little ones in the family are on a schedule after a few months, gradually merging in with the schedule of the rest of the family.
Why does a family, and young children in particular, benefit from a daily schedule? There are a few claimed advantages of a (not too strict) routine.
- Predictability makes babies relaxed and less fussy,
- Less discussion with toddlers and older children, everybody knows what’s expected of them,
- Children usually don’t get hungry or sleepy at inconvenient times, and
- Strict dinner and snack times make it easier to keep up with healthy eating habits.
Of course, the Dutch are not unique with their use of schedules and routines. However, they do seem stricter in their execution when it comes to sleeping and eating.
In many Dutch families, naptime is holy for babies and young children, they sleep in their own bed, dinner time is usually the same and at least two meals are eaten at the dinner table.
A century later…
Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with a bit of flexibility and spontaneity, a modern version of the three R’s still is a great way for parents and young kids to survive the hectic world we live in.
Getting enough rest, living in a clean environment and having predictable days still makes children very happy. By the way, it’s not only the children that thrive upon the three R’s basis, it’s the parents as well.
And we all know that happy parents make happy children.
Read Other Posts in This Dutch Parenting Series:
- Why Dutch Parents Don’t Push Their Kids In School
- Dutch Parents Don’t Entertain Their Kids — Here’s Why
- Three Dutch Parenting Pillars That Make Sane Parents and Happy Children (you are here)
Kittie Ansems is a Dutch mom, a former child care professional and a parenting book fanatic. Her blog, Happy Dutch Home is all about helping moms survive their kids’ toddler years, using Dutch parenting principles.
 http://www.smrv-journal.com/article/S1087-0792(09)00100-2/fulltext?cc=y= https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/31/5/619/2454190/Meta-Analysis-of-Short-Sleep-Duration-and-Obesity
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