Technicolor sunrises and sunsets. Warm cobblestone streets. Rows of ‘awwww’-inspiring houses reflected in mirror-like canals. Couples holding hands on bikes (guaranteed to grow the hearts of even the Grinchiest of Grinch). Charming, steeped in history, surprises around every corner, Amsterdam is an ideal backdrop for love and romance. And despite being recently named the most expensive European city in which to rent a hotel room, Amsterdam has loads of free and low-cost activities for couples looking for a romantic night out. So, book a sitter, grab your partner, and get out there and soak up all the love generously provided by the famed Dutch capital.  

Stroll Along Utrechtsestraat

A gorgeous street with loads of shops, bars and restaurants, Utrechtsestraat runs the length of Amsterdam center, passing over the canals and through Rembrandtplein. This iconic streets is one of the best paths to take in the city on foot. Grab the drink of your choice, get to strolling and see where you end up. And make sure to snap your pic for Instagram in front of the canal bridges.

Picnic in the Park (or by a Canal)

One of the greenest cities in Europe, Amsterdam has 30 parks, from small, tucked away, to medium, to the Vondelpark, which in addition to being likened to New York City’s ‘Central Park’, holds free concerts on Friday nights in the summer in its open air theater. But no matter which park you end up at, there are no shortage of picnic spotsbe it in the grass or alongside a canaland there are lots of shops and restaurants that cater to picnic makers with prepared foods and cold drinks.

Up on the Roof  

The largest terrace in Europe can be found on top of Nemo, the science museum that looks like a giant sinking ship. With its cafe, science experiments and games, Nemo’s terrace is a great way to while a few hours away, relaxing and enjoying the panoramic view of Amsterdam. And as the roof is separate from the museum, entrance is free.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Not surprising in a country of swimmers and water lovers, there are a fair number of beaches and lakes in and around Amsterdam that are perfect to reconnect with your loved one and enjoy pink-skied evenings. There are also incredibly cool and ‘gezellig’ spots along the Amstel and the canals, like De Ceuvel, where you can relax on a dock by the water and enjoy drinks and food from the organic cafe.

No matter what you choose to do on your evening or day out, pair it with drinks and dinner at one of Amsterdam’s thousands of bars and restaurants. Making a reservation is as easy as booking a Holiday Sitter.

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Profiles in Encouragement

Profiles in Encouragement

One of the best perks of our job is coming into contact on a daily basis with interesting, adventurous people from all over the world. Whether visiting the Netherlands for work or for pleasure, every one of our clients has a story to tell. Stories that inspire, that connect, that say we can do anything we want when we know our children are being well cared for.

Crystal Pite is one such story. A well-known choreographer and dancer whose work has been performed around the world, Crystal was asked to create a new dance for Netherlands Dans Theater. A great opportunity for sure, but one that needed a good deal of logistical support to make it happen as Crystal is based in Vancouver with her partner and son. The length of the job required that she would live in Amsterdam for one month. Fortunately, Crystal works with her partner so he would join her. As would their son Nico, of course. Crystal’s primary concern was for Nico, who is school age, to keep up with his work. In addition to the home school support, Crystal was looking for a caregiver with a lot of experience and who is creative, dynamic, playful and proactive.

“We needed someone to help our son with his schoolwork since we were away from home for a month,” says Crystal. “We wanted some consistency for him, too. Each of the sitters was lovely, and we felt relaxed knowing our son was in good hands.”

In the past, Crystal found childcare on jobs away from home through the institutions with whom she worked. As this trip was a bit longer than the norm, she needed regular help that would span more hours. After a Google search, Crystal found Holiday Sitters online. “I liked the tone and clarity of the site and I was happy that Galit responded to my questions right away,” says Crystal. “My communication with the agency itself was clear and uncomplicated. It was important to be able to plan ahead, but also I also appreciated the flexibility and spontaneity when we needed it. ”

You’ve heard the old chestnut, ‘behind every great man there’s a great woman.” But we think that behind every great working mother there’s a great childcare provider. Women who have taken a pause from work or reduced their hours to have children, make up the bulk of the untapped employment community. With access to trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced childcare, women are empowered with the flexibility and confidence to pursue their careers in a way that works best for them and their families, while knowing their children are in capable hands.  

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Top 11 Things to Do in Rotterdam with Kids

When you think of Dutch cities that end in “dam”, Rotterdam may not be the first to pop to mind, but this indomitable port city has a lot to offer for family travelers. So come and explore this wonderfully modern, hip city, so hip, in fact, Vogue recently named it a Dutch Brooklyn.  

Hotel Boatel

If you want to literally stay on the water, SS Rotterdam is the place for you. One of the best hotels in Rotterdam, the SS Rotterdam houses 250+ rooms on a moored steamship. But you don’t have to be a guest to check out the hotel. Tours are available and you can eat in one of the many restaurants or try your hand at getting out of the escape room. 

Zoo Experiences

Named the best zoo in Benelux and widely regarded as one of the best in Europe, Diergaarde Blijdorp is well worth a visit. Kids can float through the gorgeous butterfly house and then burn off some energy on the inviting playground. When you tire of land animals, visit the amazing aquarium, Oceanium. Check the schedule to watch the animals being fed and to meet with the zookeepers to learn more about their care and feeding.    

All Aboard

Ever wondered how many pancakes you can eat in 2.5 hours? Hop aboard the Pannenkoekenboot (pancake boat) and find out the answer to that question. The pancake cruise takes you through Rotterdam’s waterways while you eat all of the Dutch food staple as you dare during the tour.

It’s a Small World After All

Similar to Maudoram in Den Haag, Miniworld features towns and buildings of interest in Rotterdam and the Netherlands done in painstakingly detailed miniature. Days in Miniworld lasts only 24 minutes so you can watch the lights come on (again and again) as darkness falls. Continue the experience by going and finding your child’s favorite sight in full scale.

Park & Play

A destination for locals and visitors alike, Plaswijck Park is a family park with an adventure playground where you can take a boat or train trip and visit monkeys and wallabies at the zoo. And you can bring the family dog as well (for a fee).

Play Softly

If your kids know about Ballebak Omoord, they may do a rain dance to bring on the wet weather so they can spend the day at this popular indoor play place where fun reigns supreme. An invitation to run, jump and do, Ballebak Omood features a large soft play area, go-karts, a sledding hill, ball pits, 

It’s a Bus, It’s a Boat … It’s Both!

When in Rotterdam … there are going to be a lot of water-related activities. The fun-filled splash tour takes you from dry land to wetall in the same vehicle that transforms from a bus into a boat.

Jump Around

For those bouncy kids in your life, Freestyle Motion is a trampoline park for all skill levels. Great for a family jump session in a safe space. 

Captain Kid

At kids marina, your child can be the captain of her own shipor rather, a police, tug or tour boat, and cruise through a miniature port in an old canal of Rotterdam. While piloting the waters, kids can take part in an exciting treasure hunt and learn all there is to know about the Rotterdam Port.

Have a Maritime

One of the oldest and largest museums in the Netherlands, the Maritime Museum houses historic vessels and cranes and details how Rotterdam became the world’s leading port. You will also learn all about the impact shipping has on day to day life. Check the agenda to see what special activities are on during your visit. 

Do You

After a full, memory-making day with your kids, treat yourself, and your partner, to a fab night out in this sparkling city. Book a babysitter with Holiday Sitters before you go and experience the best of all holidays.

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How to Maintain Your Child’s Native Language After Moving Abroad

Along with the logistical challenges of finding housing, schooling, childcare, a move abroad also brings with it cultural challenges, primarily, maintaining your child’s native language(s) and preserving traditions from your family’s home country. With a reputation for multicultural acceptance—Amsterdam is officially the most international city in the world with 178 different cultures represented—the Netherlands is a good place to embrace bilingualism or multilingualism but in some cases it does require a bit of effort.

Every family is different, of course, and as such may face different challenges. It may be the case that one partner is Dutch and the other speaks a language other than Dutch. If the child is going to a Dutch daycare or school, over time it is likely that Dutch will become the dominant language. In other cases, both parents may speak the same non-Dutch language. Typically, children who speak one language in the home and another language outside of it tend to be equally strong in each language. Of course, there are those trilingual families, in which each parent speaks their own language to the child (OPOL) and the child speaks Dutch at school and/or outside the home. There are other variations but these scenarios are the most common.  

In our experience of matching babysitters and families by culture and language, we have daily experience of supporting language development. Below are a few tips and words of encouragement.

Child’s Play

For parents with children who are not yet school age, playgroups and playdates with other families who speak your language are an ideal option but where to begin when you’ve just moved house and have yet to build up a social network? In Amsterdam, the Robbeburg playgroup in the Rivierenbuurt neighborhood offers sessions in English, German and Finnish. If your language isn’t represented, you can volunteer to host a session and the Robbeburg will help you find other families to join. International playgroups are also a great way to find friends in a new place, for both parent and child.

Babysitters Who Speak Your Language

Beyond giving you time to work or granting that all-important free time, hiring a caregiver who speaks your native language presents your child with the opportunity to speak this language with another adult who isn’t mom or dad. This can be especially important in homes with one Dutch speaker as some children will begin speaking Dutch exclusively in the home, even when spoken to in a different language. It also helps if the caregiver does not speak Dutch, which requires the child to speak in your native language in order to communicate. In addition to giving your child more opportunity to hear and speak your language, hiring a babysitter who shares you culture also exposes your child to the songs and games you grew up with, helping to preserve the home culture.

You Can Go Back Home Again

Going back home for break is a great way to immerse your child in your language and traditions, and family love. Language acquisition and development is most successful when it happens in a natural, engaging manner. And what’s better than coming home to a rockstar welcome? 

Pop Culture Trip

The Netherlands differs from other European countries such as Spain, Italy and Germany in that it does not dub over films (save for young children’s movies) and television programs, using Dutch subtitles instead. Cruising through a typical Dutch TV package, you will find content in English, German and French. Many a Dutch person will say they perfected their English or German by watching TV and films growing up. Music, books and educational apps are another fun and natural way to support language usage.

Keep At It

By now, the cognitive and developmental benefits of speaking more than one language have been well established, but as we live in an increasingly global environment, it is also a practical gift. Becoming bilingual or multilingual is a long-term, and at times seemingly slow process. If you hit a bump in the road (your child speaks only in the dominant language, you feel like an outsider speaking your native language, etc.), keep going and maintain a positive attitude. In this technological day and age, there are a host of online support groups and resources. Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children is a popular Facebook group that has members from all over the world that offers a host of useful advice and support. Don’t be deterred. Your child will thank you for it (eventually and in your mother tongue).


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