The Happiest Kids in the World

We all want our kids to be happy, right? Generally we always reflect back to those fond memories – the fun-filled ones with siblings, parents and grandparents. But is it just those fun family times that shape a child’s happiness?

The new book from Penquin publishing “The Happiest Kids in the World” has opened my mind to a whole new side of parenting. I’ll admit, I haven’t finished the book yet. For good reason – 1) I’m a parent so I’m rather busy from time to time and 2) I’m taking to time to process the amazing ideas presented in the book. 

The book focuses on two mums who have moved to the Netherlands. They are married to Dutch men and the idea of bringing up children in this beautiful country is somewhat different to that in other Western cultures. 

So far I have gathered that Dutch children are encouraged to be incredibly independent from a young age. They are permitted to go to the park for hours, unsupervised. They seem to get into sleep routines much quicker than their American counterparts. Schooling is not a deal breaker. People don’t push their kids to get the best grades, instead they encourage them to be good enough. They don’t make their kids start reading and writing until they are good and ready – often that can be at 6 or 7 years old. But … The Netherlands has some of the most intelligent adults, it creates some of the most incredible technologies AND they are ranked the happiest kids in the World.

If you are a parent and you aren’t now rushing out to buy this book … you’re an idiot. It was the best $30 I’ve spent this month. I’m certainly not the best parent in the world – but if I can do a few little things to help make Finn happier in his childhood then I will damn sure do it. I’ll keep you posted as I discover more awesomeness in the book. 

James 

P.S. Thanks to Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison for co-authoring the book. You guys rock.

Who wants to be the perfect parent anyways?

There are modern day expectations placed on all of us, most of all, us parents. There has been a very definite box that we have all been thrown in to – and how dare we step out of it. Well, you know me well enough that I don’t do boxes and I’m not a follower. I like to define my own course, make my own mistakes and have fun along the way. 

As a new parent I have always tried to be the best dad and husband in every way. It’s the most rewarding experience but also the most draining. I see so many couples who have kids and fast forward 5 years, they are miserable and unhappy. Why? Because they have lost track of who they are as an individual. You might be a parent to your child and a partner to your spouse. But you are also still an individual. We all need our own space, our own time and an opportunity to let our hair down. 

This last month has presented itself with a few opportunities. Opportunities to get some extra sleep. However, I’ve used those opportunities to head out to the city and rub shoulders with fellow adults and consume copious amounts of yummy food and a fair lashing of alcohol. I’m not talking white girl wasted here, just a few cheeky brewskis. Lisa and I felt a bit guilty at first that we were heading out for a night whilst Finn was having a sleepover. But honestly – it was the best thing we did. 

If you are constantly on “mum” or “dad” mode then you aren’t going to be at your best. You will likely burn out. Whether it’s a night out on the town, a workout at the Gym, a day at the spa or a weekend away … do whatever tickles your pickle. 

Being a parent in the modern era ain’t easy. Try being good parent rather than a perfect parent. You will be happier and so will your family. In life, shit happens. Let it be. Let people judge, and care not what they think. Bottoms up!

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