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.
(Psst, this is the third part in a 3 part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2).
Read: A No-Drama Approach To Your Child’s Behavior Problems
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!
Read: 5 Parenting Skills That Help Raise Stable, Well-Adjusted Kids
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.
Read: Wind-Down Routines Guaranteed To Help Baby 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.
Read: 4 Reasons It’s Hard To Teach Their Kids To Clean
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.
Read: Life Skills For Kids By Age (With Printables!)
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- 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.
Read: How To Get Multiple Kids To Nap At The Same Time
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
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
Maalika smith says
I think it’s a load of nonsense. I do like a lot of Dutch people, absolutely no prejudices. But cleanliness? I think they are one of the worst. I see people coughing right over food that they are not buying in the markets, in public transport, etc. Their jackets and clothes smell, they lick their fingers before reaching out for a bag in supermarkets, etc. If their children are raised with good hygiene, what went wrong along the way to adulthood? In the USA, these things happen so rarely!
Rachel Norman says
Interesting perspective I’ve never seen as I’m in the US. Are you in Europe?
Maalika Smith says
Yes, I live in Amsterdam, and I’m a US citizen. After moving here from the US, also having lived in NYC for a few years, one of the first things I observed here is Dutch people’s lack of personal hygiene. Recently, my Dutch physical therapist coughed on my face just 2 inches away from my face and didn’t even apologise. People cough straight into their palms and touch everything even in public transport.
Interesting article! Can you post the link to Kittie’s blog? I can’t seem to find it via searching. I do read Dutch, so even if it’s not in English, I’d be curious to poke around there!
Rachel Norman says
I think she closed up shop on that actually, I was looking for it too!