Guusje, Niko & Bowi
You have created a beautiful concept HAAS. Can you tell me what it is about and what motivated you to create HAAS?
Awww thanks! HAAS is a gift box that contains a carefully curated selection of unique, beautiful and essential products for mamas and babies (to be). From onesie, swaddle and skincare to cuddly toy, storybook and bracelet. On top of that the large box comes with a mattress, so the box, according to Finnish tradition, can be used as a crib. It’s actually the gift I would have wished for when I was pregnant myself. I know what it’s like to be showered with lots of little gifts you don’t really need. Instead, I think there’s a big group of mums and mummies to be out there that prefers to receive one unique, beautifully wrapped gift, which can also be reused as a bed, storage box and keepsake box. This way it’s a box for life, a special place to create stories, collect memories and keep treasures, which can be passed on from generation to generation and cherished forever.
What are your plans for the future with HAAS?
HAAS really originated from a personal love and need, but ever since I started HAAS, which isn’t even that long ago, I’ve been a bit distracted. Moving from the big city to a tiny little village, getting engaged, getting married and raising to little girls of course. Good distractions, but still… I feel like I’m entering calmer waters right now (not planning on a third baby haha) so I’d like to be a lot more focused and spend the time and energy on HAAS that it deserves.
You just got married! How did your husband asked you? (always love these stories 😉
He asked me while being on holiday in Italy last year! At a beautiful olive farm, we stayed at a few years earlier as well, while I was pregnant with our firstborn. We always dreamt about getting married in Italy or some fairytale destination, but with two kids this didn’t really seem practical. Holidays with kids are always a bit more of a hassle, let alone getting married abroad. So I was really surprised when Laurens asked me to marry him while being on holiday, being able to find the time, the moment and a ring, without me noticing it! So corny, but true, I really didn’t expect anything, which made it even more romantic!
GUUSJE EN NIKO ARE WEARING:
How did your girls react when they heard you were going to get married?
When I got asked our eldest was still a bit too young to fully understand, but as long as she could wear a ring as well, she wanted to get married to daddy too! I think she got proposed about a hundred times last year haha and she absolutely loved it. When our wedding day got closer and she knew she was going to wear a dress, she just couldn’t wait!
What did the girls think of the wedding day?
They loved it and are still talking about every day. Especially our youngest enjoyed every minute of all the attention. Our eldest was really looking forward to it, but on the day itself she was a bit overwhelmed sometimes, which I can completely understand. Because so was I! She was supposed to be my flower girl and we practiced lots of times, but when she had to walk down the aisle, she just wanted to disappear behind my dress. It’s one of those things you can’t plan, program or control. Kids cannot be controlled, not even on your big day. It’s about letting go and accepting that moments like these actually make it more special.
What has changed in your life since you became a mother?
Besides the practical changes (less sleep, eating out and spontaneous dates, but so much more love, laughter and little special moments) motherhood mostly made me put everything in perspective. Things that used to seem important to me, like a certain rhythm or schedule to live by, or certain fears or insecurities I’d worry about, turn out not being important anymore when you have someone else to care for and worry about besides yourself. When sleep and health are not always a given, everything else seems so relative. I hope this makes sense somehow…
What do you want to teach Niko and Bowi?
I hope they become kind, polite and positive little human beings and I hope to teach them to be happy and confident about themselves and not to get distracted too much by all the noise and opinions that are out there these days.
What do you like to do together as a family?
We love going into town on a Saturday morning, drinking coffee, getting groceries, baking cakes, playing games and watching Disney films, the four us under one big blanket. The more “gezellig”, the better.
What’s the best thing about being a mother?
The best thing is never being alone again. I’m an only child and my mother passed away when I was 18, so there were times when I could feel a bit lonely. Being a mum myself makes me feel really rich and complete.
What’s typical or characterizing about your Niko and Bowi?
They both have some similar characteristics, such as they’re both really sweet and cuddly and they’re both little busy bees. Which isn’t odd, since Laurens and I are always busy as well. But Niko, like me, is really precise and organized in everything she does and Bowi, like Laurens, is more naughty and fearless.
What surprised you about motherhood?
That I’d really like it! When I first found out I was pregnant, I was somewhat panicking, because I was never that girl who always dreamt about being a mother or to whom motherhood would come naturaly. But a few years later I’m actually really proud of the mother I am. I think that, overall, I’m doing quite a good job and it doesn’t even feel like hard work!
What’s important to you when it comes to toys and playing?
I think it’s all about balance. Of course I’d love a cupboard full of gorgeous, durable and responsible wooden toys, but in reality our girls also really love the shiny pink stuff. Our eldest loves to puzzle, the more difficult, the more challenging. And she loves to do all kinds of crafts. Drawing, painting or making collages of shells we found on the beach or leaves we found in the forest. And our youngest just loves to do everything her big sister does. So for me, as long as it’s a mix of playing together and enjoying themselves, staying inside and going outside and doing relaxing things and sometimes challenging things, it’s fine with me!
What are your favorite places to take your child?
There’s a farm near our house, in the middle of the countryside, where you can pick strawberries in summer and apples in autumn, feed the pigs and cows and drink the sweetest homemade apple juice and eat freshly baked apple pie. We go there a lot, usually by bike, counting sheep and horses along the way.
What are the products you can’t do without anymore since you’re a mother?
Before your baby is born, you think you need lots of stuff, but in reality it’s all about some good quality essentials. This is exactly where the idea for HAAS originated from. So in terms of baby products I’d say some swaddles in different sizes and at least one good quality baby blanket. In terms or personal advice, I’d say some extra vitamins (in times of little sleep and lots of germs from daycare) and a nice hot cup of tea every now and then.
What’s your advice for new moms /What is the best advice you have received yourself?
My best advice is not to be so hard on yourself. It’s not the most groundbreaking, earthshattering advice, and it may sound corny, but it’s true. When I just became a mum, and I was one of the first to become a mum within our group of friends, I was constantly checking google and looking for confirmation I was doing a good job. I took me quite a while to let go, trust on my instincts and accept that I’m doing the best I can, but when I finally did I started to really enjoy being a mum.
How do you like to raise your child, what works for you?
Laurens and I try to be a team when it comes to raising our kids. He’s a bit more strict and old-fashioned, so he teaches them how to be polite and how to follow our rules. I’m a bit more relaxed and open-minded, so I teach them how to be happy about themselves. Although I find certain values, like saying thank you or behaving properly in public, important as well, and Laurens on the other hand, does the running, romping and cuddling. So Laurens and I both have our specialties, which we try to pass along to the girls and this mix works for us.
What would you like to do differently, what is something you struggle with when it comes to motherhood?
I sometimes still struggle a bit with finding the right balance between being a mum and finding time for myself. Eating a proper breakfast, exercising, going to the hairdresser or just some simple me-time. I’m convinced that if you take care of yourself, you can take care of others with more focus and energy. Working on that 😉
What’s your favorite moment of the day?
One of my favourite moments is the morning. Which is usually very early, somewhere between 6 or 7 am, but which we try to spend in bed as long as possible. Even on weekdays. The four of us in our big bed, snoozing, cuddling, drinking tea and eating biscuits, watching the news and Netflix. And then having to hurry up, because we’re late for school and work. Working on that too 😉
What do you do to feel well, to treat yourself
These days I find joy and happiness in the more simple things. I love to read, so reading books and magazines is my happy place. While enjoying a cup of tea and some chocolate of course.
How do you make sure everything is ‘in balance’, work, family, friends?
I don’t. The older the girls get, the more everything falls in place. Life with a 1-year old and a 3-year old is simply hectic and luckily we have really sweet and understanding friends and family, while most of them don’t even have kids themselves. At the same time this is a plus, because when the kids are sleeping safe and sound, we host lots of dinner parties or game nights at our place. On the work-front, I’m actually still looking for a right balance. I love spending time with the girls and I feel really privileged that I can, but I also love to feel appreciated for what I do, besides being a mum. Niko is going to primary school in January, so from then on there will be more room for work and other things I love to do.
Name a couple of your favourite things in general. List a top 5.
1.Watching our girls grow so big, loving and taking care of each other more and more every day.
2.Spending time with my husband, whether it’s work related, going on a mini break together and feeling like the love struck teenagers that we once were or spending time as a family on an ordinary Saturday.
3.Holidays, like Easter, Saint Nicholas and Christmas and all the “gezelligheid” that comes with it. I’m a sucker for collecting little knick knacks and making our home cosy. I’m that person that doesn’t mind pepernoten in August. And I love watching seasons pass by. Those first popping flowers and rays of sunshine in spring and those first falling leaves and darker days in autumn.
4.I love watching movies. With Netflix I tend to get addicted to all kinds of series, but I actually prefer a good old-fashioned movie.
5.Lists. Making lists and moreover, checking things off lists. Working on that last part 😉
Can you tell a little about how you decorated Niko and Bowi’s rooms? What inspired you?
When I was young I used to redecorate my room about a dozen times a year, and I actually still do. Nothing big or drastic, but I like to move stuff around every now and then. When we moved in our house a few years ago, we established a beautiful basis, which I’m still really pleased with. The girls, for instance, both have white wooden floors, dusty pink walls and a dresser and closet in the same dusty pink colour. A timeless basis, which is girly enough for them to feel at home right now, but neutral enough for them to still like it when they grow older. The rest of the furniture and accessories are also quite clean, with soft tones and natural textures. Niko’s room, being the biggest, is the girls’ playroom, with a tipi and a tiny house, where they can do role plays and dress up games.
What’s important to you interior-wise, when it comes to creating a home?
Establishing a neutral basis, with calm floors and walls and some timeless designer items and adding warmth and personality with plants, flowers and vintage accessories, which you can change and move around from time to time. And, although this is an art I’m still learning to master, less really is more.
Where do you shop for you kid(s)?
Interior wise I love the Archive Store.
What are your favorite clothing brands and stores and why?
Gray Label for beautiful basics, with which you can never go wrong, Repose for the most gorgeous fabrics and earthy colours and Maed for Mini for a cute print every now and then.
How do you stay in shape, physically and emotionally?
Eating as healthy as possible and getting as much sleep as I can during the week, which usually means going to bed really early haha, but letting go in the weekend and also enjoying the pleasures of life.
What’s the first thing you bought for your baby when you were pregnant?
I think it was Laurens who bought her first pair of shoes. No wonder, since he owns about a hundred pairs of shoes himself. I think I bought the Sebra bed, which grows with your child, so we still have it.
What’s the nicest piece of art you ever got from girls?
I love every single piece of art they bring from daycare (and they bring a lot!) and keep and collect everything in one of my HAAS boxes.
When did your heart melt?
I’m not away from my family a lot (I just really love spending time with them!) but when I am and the three of them send me photos of the puzzles they’re making, the drawings they’re colouring or the cakes they’re baking, my heart melts completely. Or when the girls do something for the first time and they overcome their fears. Like a few weeks ago, when Niko had her first ballet lesson and she was really nervous, but she joined and in the end really loved it, I felt so proud and my heart just exploded.
Which city do you like to visit and why?
Any city that is more Northern than we are. Geographically, but also mentally. Like Copenhagen, Stockholm or even Berlin. The vibe is just so much more relaxed, the people more stylish and the food is the best!
What’s important when you go on holiday as a family?
We always loved discovering new destinations and staying in cute bed & breakfasts and small boutique hotels. And of course, with two little kids you adapt a little, staying in one place a bit longer or renting a cosy and comfy house for example. But we absolutely refuse to stay at one of those massive family parks with kids clubs. It might be harder sometimes, staying at places that are not specifically suited for children, because you have to entertain your kids a bit more. But isn’t that what holidays are all about? Quality time? And as long as we’re happy and relaxed, so are the kids. Not the other way around.
What do you like about your partner as a father?
I love how he is really patient with the girls and how he involves them in things he likes to do, but isn’t shy of doing girly things either. He can take them into the garden in the morning, picking weeds and watering plants, painting their nails in the afternoon, and lulling them to sleep at night. He’s an all-inclusive father and I absolutely love that about him.
What does your date-night look like?
Our date-night probably involves a lot of eating and uhmmm… a lot of drinking. Both big hobbies of the both of us. Whether it’s in, chatting the night away over cheese and wine or whether it’s out, discovering new places and having cocktails that turn into dinner that turn into cocktails again.
Who as a mother inspires you and why?
I admire all mums out there who do what they do and do it with full commitment. May it be stay at home mums or power mums with massive careers. I know for a fact that making a choice like that isn’t always easy, because somehow you always feel like you’re failing on the other side. So mums who are at peace with what they do are a true inspiration to me.
Which one is your favorite Lennebelle Petites item and why?
I really love the Motherlove bracelet. I sell it in my shop and I think it’s one of the classics that embodies everything Lennebelle stands for. That the special bond between a mother and a daughter can never be broken and exists of lots of little hearts…