Do you know these people that are always beautiful – inside and out? That seem to be generous and loving, calm and relaxed, straight and always themselves? Tessa Hop definitely is one of those. She’s a stay at home mum to three little boys and lives with her family in a little village near Rotterdam. They live in an amazing sustainable house, are growing some vegetables, enjoying their family life and having some lovely plans for the future…
Dear Tessa, tell us about who you are and what you do.
I am Tessa, mother of three boys aged 11, 8 and 5, and living with Menno who is having his own French bakery and makes the most delicious bread I have ever tasted. We met after I finished art school in Rotterdam and soon after that we were living together and expected our first son. Since that time, we made a well thought decision, I would stay at home for our children instead of working. And since that time I never regretted that choice. It actually feels like a great luxury to be able to make this choice, and I still enjoy being with my boys every day.
You have three sons. Do they get on well with each other? How do you support their development?
The boys are all three years apart, which leads sometimes to different interests because they are in different stages of development. But besides this known fact, they can get along so well. They can have the most creative fantasies together. They really can level very well in their plays and games. Which is a wonderful thing to see.
But they also pair: the two youngest, the two oldest, or the oldest and youngest go together very well. So I am feeling very blessed with these three.
Describe a typical day in your family’s life.
Since the youngest is already five now, they all go to school together in the early morning. My husband is the one who prepares them breakfast, with a lot of different fresh fruits every morning, and makes their lunchboxes. I am not an early bird, so most of the days I come downstairs a bit later. On Wednesday and Friday, they have a free afternoon so most of the time we go out as a family. But they also like to invite friends to play. Since we moved to our new home there is enough space for them to have all three a friend over at the same time.
When they are in school I have a lot of time for myself, but when they are back home from school I am there for them. Sometimes we play a game, but most of the time they like to play together or with friends.
I also love to have someone to one time, and go out to have a drink or just do something they like.
The evenings we try to keep calm and relaxing, just to make them ready for bed. We have noticed through the years that a regular rhythm of the day is important for them. An evening bath and a bedtime story is what they enjoy a lot. And we do some foot massage for extra relaxing every now and then. Especially my little boy likes that a lot.
What where the best moments in your Mama life?
I think the moment after they were born is still one of the most wonderful moments in my life. But getting to know each of them is what I enjoyed through the years. To see them grow and develop their personalities, to hear their very own unique way of speaking and pronouncing words. Every age is so very special.
I also enjoy little moments of joy on a daily base. To make fun together, and have some snuggles. And to have those one to one moments with all of them apart are very special moments to me. That can be just a few minutes for a little talk or just a joke and laugh together.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a mother?
For me the most difficult thing about being a mother is to see them in pain. That can be either physical pain or emotional pain.
But in this case I have to say that I am a better help for them when they are emotionally hurt, and my husband is the one who can be there for them when they are in physical pain. That part makes me so week and it’s just like I can feel their pain just by seeing it. So I am not very strong at that part of parenthood. That is definitely the most awkward thing for me about being a mother.
To see them making each other sad is also a part which can be difficult, but that’s from another order. I can handle that, and talk about that, and learn them something by giving them new insights about their behavior. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen a lot.
Another hard thing for me is to see that the world outside our family can sometimes be hard and unpredictable. I think a good thing to do is to learn and teach them how to deal with it, because you can’t protect them against all the hard and sometimes cruel things. I don’t feel very comfortable with it and I wish the world could be a little bit more peaceful and sensitive.
But of course I want them to feel well, be happy and let their childhood be as worry-free as possible.
How has being a mother changed you?
When our family grew I experienced that taking life more slow became more important to me. Before our children were born I loved living in the city for example. The rumor of a bigger family makes me want to have my surrounding quieter, inside and outside our home. So now I just want our environment to be quiet and safe.
Being a mother also changed my inner world about loving and caring. I could never expect what this would be before my first boy was born. How huge the love and dedication could be. I experience and enjoy being a mother in all its aspects.
What does sustainability mean for you, and how do you integrate that in your family life?
When designing our home sustainability was very important in the choices we made in materials and the way our home is built. We have a self-sufficient energy-neutral home. We don’t use any gas, are having solar panels, and drive an electric car. Next to that we have a vegetable garden and a little greenhouse. We separate our garbage, don’t throw any garbage on the streets, eat mostly organic food and try to buy sustainable stuff and furniture. I hope and try to teach our boys to be conscious of their behavior and how this reflects our environment. That we all are part of the world we are living in, and that even the smallest things can help to make this a little bit better.
You live in a beautiful house in a little village not far from Amsterdam. Can you tell us a story about your house and your living situation?
We used to live in Rotterdam, but we moved to a smaller town when our second boy was on its way. After our third boy was born we grew out of our house and made plans for a new home. There was a possibility to design a new home on a lot just nearby our current home, which was a great opportunity for us. We dreamed about a home with enough room for all of us. Where we could grow and where we also could have some personal space. We also wanted a durable energy-neutral home, and loved to build a wooden home, and we succeeded in all these things. So we are really happy with our new home and we enjoy living here all five of us a lot.
You have a wonderful interior design style – it looks very clean and quite minimalistic. Where do you get your design and decoration ideas?
The first thing we had in mind before building our new home was to create a simple and clean home. Because of our lively family we have already a lot of dynamic in our house, so it was important for us to have a quiet base. That’s why we have a lot of build in closets to keep our stuff and toys.
For the design of our home and interior our love for wood, wool and linen was leading in our choices. Next to that we both feel affection for old vintage items. And because we have a lot of white upstairs I felt that we needed some color up there. So this ended up in a mix of old and new and whites and colors, which makes a perfect balance and harmony for us.
What are your interior design tips for families with (lots of) children?
Well, tips for family’s with (a lot) children is a difficult thing. It depends on what you like and feel comfortable with. For some people it can be a calm and clean interior, for others it can be colorful and lively. But I think it is important for children to have their vote in how they like their rooms, because it’s their personal space. That can be an item they love, a color they like or just to be surrounded by some favorite items. But you can give them choices in an area that is fine for yourself. For me having a good storage system is one of the things that works out very good in a bigger family. And to store a lot of toys behind closet doors.
What do you wish for in your future? And in your children’s future?
My wishes for the future are above all to stay healthy. Next to that I hope our boys will grow up as responsible, sympathetic and caring people. That they will be faithful to their own personalities and feel fortunate and happy with themselves. (And a little secret, I hope our family will grow even a bit more…)
Thank you so much for this lovely interview dear Tessa! We wish you and your family all the best!
If you’d like to see more of Tessa’s beautiful family, you should follow her @tessahop account on Instagram!