children expats

Helping children adjust to a wonderful new life in Haarlem

The UN-sponsored World Happiness Report has named the Netherlands the fifth-happiest nation in the world, which is a reason enough for many families to choose Haarlem as their home. After all, happiness is the greatest gift you could give your children. Considering the fact that the last couple of years has been among the most challenging in recent times, it was amazing to see the Netherlands scoring high in measures such as mental health and well-being, social support, and trust in public institutions. However, moving to a new city is always tough for both parents and children. It involves leaving the places we know and the people we love. To make your children’s transition easier, the following tips can help.

Building social connections

When your children start school, it is usually easy to start making friendships with other families and you will probably find that your child’s schedule is quickly packed with play dates. However, if you arrive in the summer or during an interim period, it is important to help your child adapt to their new surroundings and make friends as quickly as you can so they do not feel lonely. To make the transition easier for your children, visit the many parks and playgrounds that make Haarlem so much fun for kids. These include Linnaeushof, one of Europe’s biggest playgrounds, boasting over 350 attractions. Activities to enjoy include paddle boating on the lake, playing on an exciting ‘pirate island’, and keeping cool at the water playground. Other cool playgrounds to check out include Groenendaal in Heemstede, the playground at Kleine Houstraat, and Tante Eef in Santpoort Noord.

children expats

Linnaeushof, one of Europe’s biggest playgrounds.

Chilling out in nature

Children who move often can face challenges when it comes to academics and social interaction and this in itself can be stressful. Even if you and your children have busy days, try to ensure that you spend time together in an outdoor setting. Studies have shown that just 10 minutes in a green area like a park can significantly reduce stress hormone levels, thus helping to keep problems like anxiety at bay. Haarlem is home to a host of stunning parks, some of which have petting zoos. Start out by visiting Haarlemmerhout (which has a deer park and petting zoo), Haarlemmer Kweektuin, Kenaupark, and Frederikspark.

children expats


Getting to know the city

Children will feel far more secure when they know the city they live in—its different zones and where they are located, transport, and cultural and gastronomic hubs. You can play a game with kids, using a GPS and giving ‘points’ to the team that finds the greatest number of sites fastest (an adult should always be supervising children, of course). You can also simply enjoy a day out in the city, visiting some of Haarlem’s most famous spots—including the Teylers Museum, St. Bavokerk Cathedral, the Windmill De Adriaan, and Grote Markt. As time goes by, spend one day of the weekend getting to know these and other sites in greater detail and afterwards, enjoy a hearty lunch at a family restaurant like Garrone (which serves Italian dishes), Frietkamer (a bistro-like establishment with famously good fries), and Lima (serving an array of appealing vegetarian dishes).

children expats

Molen De Adriaan

Moving is always tough for children as well as for adults. Children build strong emotional ties with their friends and it is logical for them to need some time to adapt. If you arrive during the holidays, make the most of it by helping your children adapt to their new city. Go to places where other children will be, spend time together in nature, and get to know the best spots for sightseeing and dining until you build up a list of family favourites.

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