Wow, it’s the biggest enhancer in personal growth. I think it’s a very healthy thing to do when you are a grown-up: to shift your attention from yourself to another person. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t still challenging. But the bigger the challenge in life the more you will get in return when you overcome the challenge. It’s not all about me anymore and I’m more than fine with that.
Did you have any expectations from motherhood? And what do you still wish to learn when it comes to motherhood, what is your ‘note to self’?
I had a beautiful reading with an astrologer not so long ago and she told me that it was written in my stars that I take motherhood very very seriously. Haha, I could really connect with that. My husband sometimes tells me this too and I think he’s right (sometimes).
I want to be the best possible mom for Ella and this results in feeling guilty because of course, it’s never good enough. He reminds me of the fact that it’s not about all the stuff I do with Ella but more about being with her and showing her that I love her. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be more than enough.
What is the best thing about being Ella’s mother?
She reminds me every single day that we all are loving beings to start with. The only problem with growing up is that we get distracted by our desires and thoughts. Having a child reminds you constantly to live from your heart and make decisions that stem from love. On a spiritual level, she teaches me to be in the moment. Because most of the times she doesn’t let me do something else rather than playing with her or focusing my attention on her. In a way, it’s the perfect kind of meditation.
What do you love to do together? What is your favourite ‘kids proof’ place to go?
Next week we are visiting the Nijntje Winter Museum in Utrecht. She absolutely loves Nijntje (as most Dutch kids do, I believe) but we also have music class together every Friday morning at muziekopschootamsterdam.nl. This is the most fun thing to do together because I really see how happy it makes her. In terms of coffee places, I love to go to Dignita Hoftuin because they have a play corner for her where she can run around.
How do you like to raise Ella, what works for you and what do you find important?
I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s not so much about rules and norms but more about the way you act and the values that you have. I try to really think about why I have certain rules. Is it because they keep her safe or because of some unimportant reason? Rules to me in raising my daughter are mainly there to guarantee her safety.
Another beautiful thing that I learned from reading the book ‘Taal van het huilen’ ( the language of crying) by Altetha Solter is that we should let our children cry if they want to. We think we’ll create crybabies by doing so but the opposite is the case. When we learn our children that crying and being angry is a perfectly normal emotion they will grow up knowing that, this part of themselves is okay rather than something they should suppress. By acknowledging their ‘negative’ emotion you also let them relieve stress in the best possible way.
Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with letting your baby cry alone in bed. I’ve never done that in fact. It’s more about being there as a grown-up and being comfortable with your babies/child’s crying and just letting them cry and at the same time giving them comfort by telling them that you understand that they’re mad/sad about something and that it’s okay to let out the emotions.
What life lessons do you wish to teach Ella?
May all your thoughts, words and actions in some way contribute to the happiness of other beings. And that we are not humans having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience.
NINA IS WEARING:
How does a normal day look like for your family?
Jop and I are busy workers, so 4 days a week we usually go to work. We have breakfast together in the morning though. I try to get home from work around 17:30 so I have enough time to play with Ella. She has a babysitter at home and I couldn’t imagine bringing her to the crèche every day. When I come home Ella has eaten already so we have plenty of time to play, take a bath or just be together.
What do you like about your husband as a father?
He is emotionally connected with Ella. He really makes contact with her and spends quality time with her. Although we do it differently as well. Ella can easily be with her dad for over an hour without asking any attention from him. I can’t do a thing for myself for more than 15 minutes or Ella is already standing my by side asking me to come with her. That’s the beautiful thing about raising a child together, it’s really yin and yang.
It takes a village to raise a child! Do you have a support system or ways to make family life easier/simpler?
Wow, sometimes I really think about how it would be to live together with a larger group. I do really see the benefits of raising a child with a village. Because a child learns that there’s more to life than the opinions and way of living than the parents do. But luckily my mom lives across the street from us so she pop’s in every now and then. And Jop’s mother lives in a little village surrounded by nature so it really feels like a gift to Ella to bring her there every once in a while.
Ella’s babysitter is also so special and important to us. Ella was making little snakes out of play-dough the other day. She had a big blue snake which she called papa. A medium blue snake who was the mama and a little baby snack who was Ella. Then she made a pink snack and laid it next to the other snakes. She called it Mini, the name of her babysitter. She probably see’s us as a little family.
What is your favourite moment of the day?
Ella usually wakes up between 07:00-07:30. Then we get her out of her room and we lay together in our bed for another half hour. It’s still dark and she cuddles up between us, rolling from my side to the other side, my husbands’.
Do you have any special family rituals or habits?
The bed ritual is one of our favourites. We then love to take a bath together every once in a while. We drink coffee together (Ella loves her babyccino’s) and sometimes we go out for dinner just the 3 of us.
What do you recognize from yourself and your husband in Ella?
So many things. It’s in the way she looks that resembles me a little more. But it’s in the way she does that resembles Jop. However, our mothers both say that Ella has a little more spunk and fire in her character. I was quite shy as a little girl and Jop wasn’t really a shout out either. Ella is the opposite of both of us in this case. I love seeing that she is a confident little human being not shy of showing her passionate emotions.
How do you think we as mothers can contribute in making ‘a better world’ for our kids?
The most important aspect is by giving our children unconditional love and attention. In this way, we will raise loving human beings that can contribute to a better world themselves because they are beautiful human beings.
How important is it to you to be playful and to see the world from our kids’ point of view?
That’s a super important aspect of creating more self-love. A wise person once told me that I should take a moment to imagine myself as a little 3-year-old girl. If she would come up to me crying and scared would I close the door on her? Never! But I do so on a mental level every day by being critical or not letting my sad emotions be there when they want to. I should treat that part of myself as I would treat a child.
What do you think about ‘going with the flow but staying grounded’ with regards to being a mother? Do you have tips to stay ‘grounded’ in our busy mom lives?
One of the most important things is to really be in the moment instead of in the past or in the future. Our mind is constantly looking for opportunities for not being in the present. It’s a very simple but at the same time difficult thing to do.
You can train yourself to be in the moment by meditating on a frequent basis. I know how challenging that may sound but even 5 minutes of sitting can be enough to make you a more mindful person. It helps me on so many levels I couldn’t imagine life without it. You’ll find 50 online free meditations on Bedrock.nl and app’s as Headspace and Calm are very helpful as well in guiding you in these meditations.
If you live in Amsterdam I would recommend the Yoga & Meditation Studio Mangalam (www.mangalam.nl). They have some of the most experienced teachers that offer beautiful guided meditations.
Being conscious of your body and mind is what you/Bedrock stands for. What do you do to take care of your own body and mind?
I eat healthy food. That means real food (how nature meant it to be) and mostly plant-based. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years so it really comes naturally. I also practice yoga at least once a week and because off my energetic personality I’m on the go quite a lot. I use natural beauty products and indulge myself with a massage at the Rub or a facial at Robin Bergamin every once in a while.
How do you balance it all, being a mother, wife, daughter, friend, social influencer and co-founder at Bedrock?
Tricky question. I just do because I’m so inspired by what I do. I have a close group of friends that doesn’t rely on the number of times we see each other. Even though we see each other once a month we still are the closest of friends. My husband and I have been together for over 9 years so us having less time together for the past 1,5 years is also not a big thing to worry about.
Although I still believe we have to work on our relationship every once in a while in order for us to stay content. We’ve decided to live in Bali for a couple of months next year and to take a break from our busy working lives. I can’t wait to spend more time with the family and I’m sure my head will start bursting with creative idea’s once my agenda isn’t filled with things to do from day to night.
Lately you have learned a lot about minimalism. Did this affect your view of toys and stuff for Ella? What is your philosophy now on stuff for Ella?
Yes, it did. Although my natural behaviour is to spoil Ella as much as possible, I know I won’t set the right example by doing so. A psychologist last told me that it’s best if you just have 8 toys for your child to play with at a time. Otherwise, they’ll be distracted all the time. Since then I try to have around 10 toys for Ella to choose from and the rest is ‘hidden’ in a cupboard (of which she knows of its existence by now…)
What is important to you interior-wise when it comes to creating a home?
I do believe in a baby proof house. Although you can’t babyproof everything. I started with locks on the cupboards but they broke and I didn’t replace them. We’re also planning to have a Christmas tree this year and at first I was doubting whether or not I should decorate it with glass Christmas balls but I decided I will do so and teach Ella not to pull on them too hard. Jop And I have a plastic sheet under her chair where she eats so it doesn’t matter if she spills her food on the floor.
I think it’s so important for a child to enjoy food without any restrictions. I don’t know how many times I got down on my knees to clean her mess but it’s worth it if she has enjoyed her food. And I’m sure she’ll get the table manners sooner or later.
Can you tell a little about decorating Ella’s room?
We fell in love with the wallpaper by Quentin Blake, the illustrator of the Roald Dahls’ books. I bought a vintage closet on Marktplaats and turned it into a dresser to change Ella’s diaper. There is a small white Ikea closet for her clothes and the big wooden chair is extra special to me because my mother breastfed me in that chair when I was a baby. A beautiful woolen Morrocan carpet on the floor which I bought at one of my favourite stores: The Archive Store.
What is the best advice you have received about motherhood?
The best advice I read was in the book Taal van het huilen (the language of crying) (see question 5). The best advice my mother gave me was especially helpful in the beginning: this also passes. Sometimes when your baby is ‘impossible’ and doesn’t want to sleep when you need to sleep the most just repeat the words in your head as a mantra: this will also pass. It helps you to calm down and put things in perspective.
What is the best advice you can give about motherhood?
Loving attention is the greatest gift and being a mindful parent the highest quality you have.
List a top 5 of your favourite things in life!
Ella, my husband, my mother & brother and life itself! But also: Swedish cinnamon buns, good books, a yoga class, dinner with best friends and hugs.
What is your favourite place to travel to and why?
With a child, one of the best places is South Africa. No time difference and the quality of life is so high there. They have wine tastings (of 6 wines!) in the wine district Constantia for €3 and it’s the best you have ever tasted. There is so much to do. From the inspiring city of Cape Town to the serene national park Churchhaven (where there is no wifi or reception). The only downside is that you can’t swim in the water as it’s freezing.
What is the nicest piece of art you ever got from Ella?
My mother in law gave me a beautiful gold necklace with Ella’s name engraved on it. And I bought the birth poster for Ella when she was born (https://www.thebirthposter.com)
When did your heart melt totally?
Everyday. When she laughs out loud, when I hear her little voice, when she sticks out her tongue when she’s concentrating on a drawing or when she gives Jop and me a hug and a kiss. It’s really all about the little things in life that make it joyful. You just have to notice them to appreciate them.
For a lot of parents accomplishing a healthy eating habit for their kids is a challenge. As founder of Sla and knowing the importance and benefits of healthy food, we love to know if Ella loves to eat her veggies and if you have any tips for parents struggling with this issue?
I must say that she is a good eater, even though she is still a toddler with her picky preferences. But a couple of my favourite tips & tricks: always start with vegetables. Then they’re still hungry. I usually add some olive oil or butter to it and a mini pinch of salt (since she’s one-year-old I started with that).
Another great way is to sneak those veggies into other stuff. My favourite thing to do is to make a beetroot, white beans, banana, berry and lemon zest smoothie in the morning. She loves it and she starts the day with some vitamins, vegetables and proteins. The same goes for a kale/spinach smoothie or a carrot apple ginger juice. If I give her a straw she finishes it in one go.
Another great way of sneaking vegetables in is a trick I have learned from my dear friends Luise & David (they run the successful blog Green Kitchen Stories and have 3 children of their own). They make spinach or beetroot pancakes! And last but not least: even if she doesn’t like certain vegetables I keep on serving them to her (I never force her to eat anything she doesn’t want) until one day she decides to eat them anyway.
Who as a mother inspires you and why?
Lots of mothers do. My own mother with her complete lack of judgment towards other people and her unconditional love for us. But also my hardworking friends that seem to perfectly combine motherhood with their own companies. There is this absolute beautiful poem which empowers me every time that I need it. I would like to share it here:
I heard a women becomes herself
The first time she speaks
Then, every word out of her mouth a riot
And point to the map of your body
And wear your skin like a gown or a suit
And cast yourself in the lead role
When a girl pronounces her own name
There is glory
When a woman tells her own story
She lives forever
What are your wishes for the future with regards to work and family life?
I hope I find the perfect combination of work and motherhood. Although I think I’m on the right track already. I’m looking so much forward to Bali and can’t wait to spend day after day with Ella and Jop. Without needing or wanting to do something in particular. Enjoying nature and life as we should do every once in a while.
What is your favorite item from the Take 5 collection and why?
That is the golden go with the flow but stay grounded necklace, exactly how we should approach motherhood.
NINA IS WEARING: