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November, 1 2017

Welcome to our new series: Mama Crush. Each month we'll bring you a new mom from around the globe who we love - and think you will too. They're smart, stylish and strong. Three s's we love in a mom! This month, we sat down with Elise from Brooklyn. We also go to go around her neighborhood taking pics of her and two-month old Florjn. Best. Part. Of. The. Job. Read all about why this mama says motherhood has made her LESS stressed, her love affair with leather pants and how she misses free (read: family) babysitting! 

Elise Houtgraaf

Where are you from?
The Netherlands, we lived in NYC from 2010-2013 and came back over a year ago.

What is your occupation? 
I am an international Tax Lawyer admitted in the Netherlands.

What is your child/children’s  name(s) and ages?
Duco is 4, Almost 5, Yfke 2 and their baby brother Florijn is 2 months now.

Describe each child in a few words:
Duco: sensitive, caring, loving, social, lots of interests.
Yfke: caring, social, stubborn, strong minded, has a lot of humor.
Florijn: Hard to say yet, he is calm and loves cuddles and milk!

What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
I never thought this would happen to me but I love everything about being a mom. I love to be able to be a child again sometimes, I love to take care of them, give them all the cuddles I can possibly give and of course set some boundaries in order to raise them well. Further, I also love to have conversations with them and with Duco they are sometimes so serious already. Kids think in a different way than we do and find solutions for everything. I love that way of thinking so much.

How has motherhood changed you?
I think it has changed me in a lot of ways. For instance, I was always very stressed about my career and the future, very much a control freak and also perfectionistic and not easy on myself. However, since Duco was born I had to give that up partly and I think I became a nicer version of myself. Less stressed, more easygoing. When Yfke was born I had to give up even more, but it felt good. The kids are most important in my life, second comes the rest.

Tell us a bit about your early breastfeeding journey?  
I was lucky, all kids were naturals and I have enough milk. However, Duco got hospitalized 9 days after birth and Yfke with a virus 4 days after birth and during those moments I pumped and fed them through bottles. Duco refused to drink from the breast afterwards and for Yfke it was the same was unfortunately. Florijn drinks directly and I cherish those moments!

What do you wish someone told you about breastfeeding beforehand?
Maybe that breast infections can make you really sick so you need to pay close attention to your body.

How did you manage breastfeeding and/or pumping and working?
I never had to do that. After Duco I had several fractures in my pelvis, and iT took 2 years to fully recover from that. In the meantime doctors told me it was not possible to have another one because of PCOS, but I got pregnant soon after that. Not really planned but very welcome and went to rehab during those 9 months to make sure I stayed strong. After I had Yfke I had a double hernia in my back and when I felt better we moved to NYC again. Then I started working again but I quit pumping by then as Yfke was one and I had so many breast infections. So This time around I will find out how I will manage pumping and working!

Any advice to new moms about balancing work and a young child?
Just do it I think. Try not to think too much. Just think this is the way it is and we will manage. Otherwise you will feel guilty all the time while working.

How about balancing multiple children?
Same thing. Try not to plan too much and go with the flow! I try to give them all some one on one attention during the day, however that is sometimes hard with a baby in the house. 

Any time-saver tips to get it all done?
I’ll give them a bath at the same time and we cook a lot during the weekends and freeze it for week days. I don’t have more tips, but would love to hear other tips!

How important is fashion to you? How would you describe your style?
Very important, it’s a hobby. Not really fashion, more like having my own style. Hard to describe my own style, minimalistic with a twist I think.

What are some of you fashion must-haves?
Leather pants, short, skirt and a dress (that combines with everything), oversized cardigans, a white blouse, a jean blouse, fitted bouclé jackets, an oversized Colbert, skinny (currently I love high waisted ones) and boyfriend jeans, sweaters; dresses and tops, I currently love the Margot Dress from Allette (note this is the dress Elise is wearing in her photo), and midi dresses. Re shoes: over-the-knee boots, ankle boots, pumps.

What is your favorite thing about Brooklyn?
I love everything about Brooklyn; the laid back feeling, Prospect Park, Smorgasburg, cycling with the kids to Williamsburg or the Brooklyn Heights promenade, also all of the different restaurants.

What is your favorite thing about living in NYC with a child/children?
So many activities to choose from and (surprisingly!) very child-friendly.

What do you miss about (where you’re from)?
Strolling around in Rotterdam or Amsterdam, having date weekends with my husband, while my parents or sister watch the kids.

Fun stuff: one word answers

What do you want more of? Kids (joking!), I don’t know, nothing really
What do you want less of? Stress
Favorite food? Salads
Favorite time of day? Evening
Favorite color? Black
Most attractive thing in a person? Smile
Least attractive thing in a person?  Jealousy

Tags: interview, motherhood, popular

Jos Mensen, The Netherlands

And she’s the oldest daughter of my cousin Frank. I’m very proud of Elise and I wish her and her family all the best!


I love her!


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