A Day with Dad…
What started as a way to document precious moments between his daughter, Lexi and himself, Hugo’s Instagram account, @adaywithdad has grown to over 1,000 followers. A banker by day, Hugo is happy to share his love of his daughter and hilarious anecdotes of their adventures together during the rest of his time. Hailing from The Netherlands, Hugo and his wife have always wanted their daughter to enjoy the best of both worlds whether that be learning more about the culture or speaking the language. Having caught the travel bug hard, Hugo has taken Lexi to six different countries before she even turned six months old. Always trying to instil a love for the great outdoors and athletics, Hugo is a big fan of baby wearing and has been taking Lexi hiking all over Hong Kong, and we can’t blame him, I mean, the vantage points are also so #instaworthy!
Read more: Top Moms We’re Following on Instagram
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What brought you to Hong Kong?
I am born and raised in The Netherlands, but my love for my wife brought me to Shanghai in 2009, as it was always her dream to live and work there. Our love for Lexi brought us to Hong Kong, so we could give her a more suitable environment to grow up. So I guess I’ll just end up where love brings me!
Although we live so far away from home, we still try to raise Lexi in the Dutch way. There is very little helicopter-parenting going on in the Netherlands, children are seen as individuals and given the freedom to find their own boundaries. Many researchers say that Dutch kids are the happiest in the world; we hope Lexi will become one of them.
What inspired you to start your Instagram account, @aDayWithDad?
Life as a dad is so much more fun than I expected and I started documenting it for our own personal memories. I never expected to get so many positive reactions. I hoped in this way some other families around the world could get a glimpse of the Dutch way of parenting.
What has been your favourite part to documenting your days with your daughter?
The mischief we get into when Lexi’s mum is not around! I can’t specify all the trouble we get up to because Lexi’s mama will probably read this.
What are some tips you can give other dads on how to take those adorable photos you have on your insta feed?
You don’t need a professional camera, most of my pics are just from my phone. It’s all about capturing genuine moments, as we both hate posing for a photo. Just click away and there is always one unexpected shot that will surprise you.
What was your reaction to the news of your wife’s pregnancy?
At first shock and then surprise that we were becoming parents. After that, the most incredible happiness while looking forward to our new lives.
How did you choose your daughter’s name?
Lexi is named after one of the Dutch princesses, called Alexia. In this way she will always have a link to our home country. Actually, she is like a real princess as she leaves a little bit of a sparkle everywhere she goes.
What was your experience like while changing the first diaper?
I practiced on my best friend’s baby to get the hang of it, because the only time you can change a girl is when she is in her diapers! But my practice diapers never prepared me for my first heavy duty diaper, I was in shock. How could somebody so cute produce THAT…
How hands-on were you during the birth process?
While Lexi’s mum was recovering from a C-section, I was the first one to do skin-to-skin with her. I read a lot about the health benefits of skin-to-skin, like a stable heart beat and temperature, but most importantly it just makes them more relaxed and happy! And until this day, she is still such a happy and healthy baby with this special daddy-daughter bond.
How did you avoid the dad-bod?
Lexi loves to come along on hikes and carrying her as an extra weight helped to burn extra calories. I never take any taxis and I always use the carrier to take her with me wherever I can. As of recently, Lexi started running, so I got another upgrade to my exercise routine.
What do you hope your daughter gets from you and what do you hope she doesn’t get?
My long legs, but not my leg-hair that comes along with it.
Did you make any custom art work for your daughter’s nursery? What was it?
We love to travel and take a pieces of art from all around the world which we scatter around our home to keep the memories alive. Before Lexi turned six months she had already travelled to six countries as we always hoped Lexi will inherit the love for travel.
In Lexi’s room, we have a piece of modern Chinese art with kids from China. There is a Chinese saying that a pregnant woman should look at cute kids visuals so your baby will look cute too. Funnily enough, Lexi really looks like one of kids in the painting!
What’s your favourite part of your parenting routine?
Every Saturday morning we have the same routine: my wife gets a bit time for herself while Lexi and I go out for cappuccino and a babycino. I tell my wife it’s my treat to her, but actually I love to have Lexi for myself even for a little bit.
Who plays good cop and bad cop between you and your partner?
Even before Lexi was born my wife made me promise that we would split the tasks evenly, I guess that’s the Dutch way. So every time she is a bit naughty and I tell her to stop she thinks it’s a game and starts giggling. She then looks so cute that I immediately forget to assert any rules.
Favourite baby-friendly place and activities in Hong Kong?
We love to go for an early morning swim at Repulse Bay when there is nobody around yet. Lexi is fearless of the water so I throw her around in the water while she giggles and squeals like a dolphin.
How do you keep the romance alive after having a kid?
It’s very easy to just see your wife as a mother, but you should never forget to always treat her like a woman. Therefore every Friday, we go out together for dinner and drinks and just forget for a couple of hours that we are mum and dad.
What’s the hardest part of being a dad?
Lexi can be quite impulsive and wild. So I guess the hardest part for daddy is still yet to come – when she becomes a teenager…
What’s the best part of being a dad?
Not being the mum! As a dad, it’s more accepted to misbehave together with your children in my family. Lexi and I take full advantage of that. That’s how we end up in all sorts of mischief.
Who does your daughter look like, you or your wife?
They say that when she is happy and smiley she looks like my wife, when she is angry she suddenly looks a lot like me. Luckily the majority of the time she looks like my wife!
What’s your favourite characteristic of your baby?
For such a young girl, her care for others is immeasurable, she shares all her favourite food with us and comforts other babies with a hug when they are hurt or crying.
How old does your daughter have to be before she can date?
I believe if we raise Lexi well, she should be able to decide for herself if she is ready. But that’s what I am saying now when she is only one, so maybe you should ask me again in 15 years!
What do you know now that you wish you knew before becoming a dad? Biggest lesson learned?
What an incredibly strong woman my wife is. I always knew she was amazing, but after she became a mum I realised how much patience she has towards Lexi (and me) and after long nights she is still so caring. It has made me love her even more.
What’s the funniest parenting story you can share?
I always thought she would say daddy or mommy as her first word, but unfortunately her first word was ‘Nee Nee’ which means ‘no no’ in Dutch. I wondered how she learnt that, until someone pointed out that she pronounces it exactly like me. From then on, I know I need to choose my words carefully.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
There is no such thing as work life balance in a place like Hong Kong, especially in the finance industry. I believe in work hard and play hard, together with Lexi. You still need to feel happy about your achievements at work but when I come home the games begin and it’s all play time.
Do you have any tips for soon-to-be dads?
You can never prepare yourself for parenthood. It’s so unpredictable and everyone will have a different experience. What you CAN do is sleep! Sleep so much that you won’t need to sleep for another year or so.
Favourite date night spots with just your wife?
We love to try out new places. We live in Sai Ying Pun and it seems every week there is a new spot popping up, our latest find is Rhoda, great wines and creative dishes with a menu that always changes, so you never get bored.