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The Dutch Work-Life Balance

‘You work to live’. That’s the saying that comes to mind when I think of work here in the Netherlands. I have worked in the Philippines and in the United States, and I’m certainly noticing that the work atmosphere here in Holland is more relaxed. I’m not saying that the workforce is not efficient or competitive. On the contrary, the Dutch is a highly skilled and competitive, multilingual workforce. But they value their break time, their free time and their holidays. And this is something I fully appreciate ever since I started working here for sure.

It's refreshingly different

It just feels refreshingly different not to be afraid to ask to take half day off because you have a dental appointment, or to leave early because you need to pick up your child. You can even take 3 week-holiday (if you have the hours) and not worry that you might be laid off when you come back to work. You’re even encouraged to request for your vacation leave months ahead of time. To them, to be efficient and productive, you need to find time to reboot and refresh. To us moms, to be able to have flexibility at work reduces the stress. 

And who isn’t familiar with stress if you’re a mom, right?? We are all familiar with that everyday juggle between the kids, the house, the partner and yourself (not necessarily in that order but you get the drift, right?). So if you add work in the picture, that can be a real mess! And sometimes it can get a bit scary to fail! Back home, you can have the luxury to ask your mom, their ‘tita’ (aunt) or a ‘kapit-bahay’ (neighbor) for help. But here abroad, you do everything YOURSELF. Thankfully to others, relatives like in-laws may be someone that they can rely on... on occasion. But unfortunately for me, my in-laws live two hours away. So in this respect, I truly appreciate the fact that employment here is more relaxed. Whenever I’m needed by my kids, I can make arrangements at work. And whenever I need to take a breather, I can always take time off from work.

My take home message

I don’t live to work. I work to live. And that I truly appreciate here in the Netherlands.

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