Two of Felicia’s kids don’t have a bed of their own: stress and frustration

Felicia has four children. But not every child has a bed in her Schiedam apartment. “We have two more rooms,” she told EditieNL. “In one room there is a bunk bed for the two oldest, ages 13 and 11. In my bedroom, the youngest of two children, aged four and six, sleeps in the bed next to me.”

She also has a pull-out bed that she sometimes puts in the kitchen. “For the youngest of two. I exchange who I put in.”

Stress

She is very upset. “I think it is very bad. It causes tension and frustration among the children, because they are crammed into the house. In the bed, the children wake up by bumping into each other in their sleep. The homework is also difficult, and therefore it happens in Grandma.” It’s mainly about the lack of space, says Felicia. “The extra bed simply doesn’t fit. We’ve been waiting for years to rent a more spacious house, but we’re not eligible to get one yet.”

Room design help

The Poverty Fund and Kinderhulp understand the problem. “Room furnishings are among the most sought after categories that people need help with,” says Irene Boersma of Kinderhulp. This includes beds, but also desks, lamps, and the like. “In 2021, we helped a child to furnish a room 5607 times, that is, we repaid a financial request from a social organization to furnish the room.”

The urgent need for this help is also shown by the figures of the Social and Cultural Planning Office: in the Netherlands, 315,000 children under the age of 21 live below the poverty line.

research

Therefore, research shows that one in twenty children in group 5 suffers from the same problem. Hundreds of teachers have been questioned in the Netherlands for this. “In some schools there were whole classes with children who didn’t have a bed,” says Hans Speck of the Youth Education Fund, one of the parties that commissioned the study. “So we helped, because without a good night’s sleep you can’t go to school well.”

The Youth Education Fund wants every child to grow equally well. And that’s impossible without a bed, Speck says. “Children do not sleep well and therefore cannot concentrate. This is at the expense of school performance and therefore they cannot develop in the future.”

Research shows that having your own bed actually makes a difference. “We tracked their learning performance and they improved by leaps and bounds when the kids got into their own bed.”

An organization working to help children living in extreme poverty is Stichting Kansarmekinderen in Nederland. “We mainly provide clothes, toys and school packages for children. But if the need is great, we also provide other things. It can also be beds or bedding,” Stephanie Van Buren of the foundation tells EditieNL.

It happened recently. “We recently introduced two beds for two children who sleep together on a mattress on the floor. A bed is something that makes you think: Everyone has this, right? It’s not.”

“a terrible idea”

She thinks it’s a horrible idea that some kids don’t have a bed. “Your bed is a charging point. Your resting place, where you can retreat. Sometimes people don’t know they can knock on our door to get beds, but they can. There is help!”

Van Buuren stresses the importance of owning your own bed. “It is more important than having their own bedroom – which is not possible in some situations. For example in families with six children. This should not be a problem, as long as the child has his own bed where he can create his own place. Don’t say The importance of clean underwear.”

Privacy

Educator Krista Okma says having your own bed is especially important in the context of privacy. “Not having your own bed often doesn’t mean you don’t have your own bedroom, so there’s nowhere to fall back,” she says. “This is also difficult for parents, because they do not have privacy. If a child is always in bed with them, it also affects their intimacy.”

The child then learns never to be alone again. “Don’t get used to the fact that it’s okay to be alone,” Uma says. “As you get older, it’s important to learn that you don’t always have to have someone around you, and that you can also calm yourself down.”

Tomorrow’s poor?

Another reason why Spek from the Youth Education Fund continues to work for the children’s private family. In addition to enhancing school performance, that is. “Otherwise you can already predict who will be the poor of tomorrow: these will be the sons of the poor now, because they have no bed,” he says. “We shouldn’t want that.”

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