Parenting around the planet- Parenting in the Sandpit

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This a post I was asked to write a guest post for the lovely Bod for Tea, Parenting around the planet, I would my feelings haven’t changed. If I were to write it again I would put in a friends category I think. Friendships are weird in Dubai, sometimes you feel like you’ve met a life long companion and all the while they are sharpening their knife and drawing out a target on your back. Others are slow to start but long-lasting and after 7 years this is the way to do it and I’m looking forward to spending time with these little gems on Friday (another post awaits). Like anything you can not rush friendship, if you want someone to take you for what you are you need to let them get to know you. Warts and all, I am under NO illusion I’m perfect, its been a tough year for me especially the last few months with my mam being sick. To others “it wasn’t that bad” but I’m a what if person and a worrier and I take things to heart, allow life to pile on top of me, so I need all year round buddies not just fair weather friends. There of course are lots of well established groups of friends you meet, they are friends but you’ll never really be allowed right in. I am very I have some great friends here, some old some new but the one thing they have in common is that I love them dearly

Lub you guys

Lub you guys

 

Being is parent away from my family and Friends is normal for me, it always has and I’m not really sure how I’d cope parenting in the UK or Ireland if I’m honest, Id probably feel like a fish out of water. It’s kind of why I didn’t really like Amsterdam, it looked and felt too normal, too much like home….It makes sense in my head anyway!

Dubai is a strange place for some, you either love it  or hate it. I’ve heard it called a few names, pretentious, over the top, breath-taking, cosmopolitan, money…….To us its home, they say home is where the heart is and our hearts will always be in our home towns but we left a piece of us here too, thats why we returned last year.

Parenting is NEVER easy wherever you are in the world and parenting here is a complete minefield. Parenting with postnatal depression while away from your family and everyone familiar is absolutely hell. However we  have coped and hopefully we’re getting closer to that light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is what I feel is different to parenting in Dubai

The added pressure

Being here has allowed me to have the best full-time job in the whole world, a stay at home mammy. I am at home all day with my two babies, I see them explore new things, I see LPV coming home from nursery with amazing vocabulary , Miss C babbling to herself in the morning sun out on the terrace. Being back here has helped my mood, I’m a happier mammy, I feel everyone in the house feels this too. LPV often comes up to me and tells me “Im his best friend”. That, right there, melts my heart and makes me feel so full of love and warmth that there’s no need to be sad  anymore. I have a long way to go with my depression I know this but I have great support network Dubai  and my friends are awesome. I can answer the door in my Pj’s and its Okay!!

However I do sometimes feel the Dubai pressures, The constant need to look how the glamazons do wandering through the malls,with their Gucci diaper bags and 2inch waist. I find never leaving the house without make up exhausting to be honest.  The women who don’t sweat getting their kids in and out of the car, how do they do this? It occasionally runs away with me but I look at the kids and it bring me back to earth and focus on what really important.

The pressure to be super mum is rife here, who has made best costume for dress up day, is your name closer to the top or bottom of the phone tree? Are you even on the phone tree? probably not. Are you a member of the PTA?  It’s not just pressure on you as a mammy, it’s the pressure on the children that ruffles my feathers. The whole school assessment process is appalling, two sometimes even three assessments on 3 year olds to get a school place. They come to your home, your child’s nursery and then you get called to the school. You as a parent are judged, by your clothes, your relationship with your child and worse of all…..What type of passport you have! When you meet mammy’s in the playground the first questions is what schools have you applied too, have you got a play, did you get an assessment? If you mention you’re applying for a particular school “Oh that’s really academic based” Yes and your point being??? Just what are you implying? I have personally felt a lot of pressure on LPV, for him to be able to write his name etc. I’m told it’s what is expected here….Well I won’t push my child into anything and he develop at his own pace.

Safety first

My kids are my life, to keep them safe is my priority, I think this  is why we haven’t moved to the US yet and be honest I’m not sure if I could ever go with so many shootings there. That’s what I love about this city, I feel safe, I feel my kids are safe. I’m not saying there are no threats or unsavoury people here but punishments are harsh with a lot of zero tolerance  is  a  deterrent. However this doesn’t stop me from having a complete and utter nervous breakdown when LPV does one of his “runners” in the supermarket or  doing  his favourite, hiding in clothes rack in sports shops!! So relieved in finding him we of course rip the head of him for running away then hug him when the blood pressure stabilises. 

Haha, they'll never find me here

Haha, they’ll never find me here

Healthy and safety rules can at times be very flippant here, a friend has reported seeing live wires hanging out of wall in a school. The complete lack of common sense of some parents from all walks of life when it comes to car safety is just beyond belief. You have to blink and rub your eyes to believe its true, when you see a child no older than two, hanging out a car window like a dog!! However standards shave improved and lots of changes are being made!

I am a proud mother of two gorgeous children, they’re fair have beautiful blue & green eyes I want to photograph them all day. However  I find it very difficult when strangers are  wanting to touch, hold and photograph my children . No one asks you if its ok and to be honest NO, NO its NOT ok that you’re a perfect stranger and you want  touch my pride and joy. My husband almost threw some guys phone in a fountain when the came right into LPV’s face and took a photo. It’s wrong, some could say I have double standards posting my children on my blog…….The word I offer you here is choice, this is my choice and have control over how much and what goes on here.

Safety issue can swing both ways, on the other side of the coin are the concerns about the bubble they live in. Dubai can be very shut off from the rest of the world. The zero tolerance they have on most things is awesome but is living in this environment making them naive? Being sheltered from the bad world  I worry they’ll be sitting ducks for the horrid people out there. I have a friend whose eldest son wanted to go to the UK to boarding school, he’s grown up here in Dubai but had never been on a bus or train by himself. I feel that the children will find it hard to learn basics life skills that will make them a bit more street wise. At night I lie awake thinking about what they’ll become, have we done enough to turn them into well-rounded individuals what can we do to protect and educate them

Money & the Class system

Every country has them, however I feel it’s to the extreme here. A lot of households have live in maids, a small percentage of maids here practically raise the children. I believe that behaviour mirrors behaviour and when you see small children talking to these grown women like they’re dirt I feel embarrassed to live here. A lot of expats come here earn tax-free salaries and enjoy the high life, why not if you’ve worked hard enough for it. However don’t forget where you have come from and the fact you would NEVER have it at home.  Here in Dubai you don’t pump your own petrol, wash your own car or pack your own groceries, I find it hard when the children are watching this, I purposely try to find a cashier with no help so I can do it myself, then someone rushes over to help. I don’t want my children to feel that this is the norm, A massive fear of ours is ending up with the stereotypical EXPAT BRAT so we’re giving LPV little chores at home, like picking his dirty clothes and taking out his plate, our children need to know that this isn’t normal life to have all these things done for you.  I’m super proud to say I have very well-mannered child, who is pleasant and helpful.

There is money here, lots of it! Unfortunately we’re not up to our knockers in the stuff but we have a great house in a compound with our own pool,  so the wee ones are very lucky! Dubai gives us so many opportunities, how many children do you know that have valet parked for lunch and flown business class? It’s hard not to get sucked in by it all, surrounding yourself and children by others who keep thing real is so important. Activities that are available to children are phenomenal,  So I try to limit their activities to “normal” ones, swimming lessons and a music class. I really don’t think there a need for Miss C to visiting the spa and LPV to go an activity everyday, we actually just love going to playdates in the park. We are just doing the best we can , keeping it real while the rest of the city gets sucked into the lifestyle everyone thinks we lead. We get out of bed each morning, argue as to who’s going to get up with the baby. Feel like the worse parent ever when you forget their library book ,or sent a cereal bar in their packed lunch. We’re just being parents, we just do it in the sunshine!

Yes, flight attendant I'd like some aptamil please!!

Yes, flight attendant I’d like some aptamil please!!

First plane ride for miss C
First plane ride for miss C

Me, myself & I

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As a mother why are we hell-bent on doing everything ourselves, taking on too much and just generally running around like headless chickens. The role of the mother has changed and I do believe motherhood as an expat here in Dubai is especially hard work. Yes there are some of us who are extremely lucky to have help and they are angels sent from heaven. However I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about running ourselves into the ground, taking on tasks, playdates extra projects that we know we just don’t have the time for, why do we do it? To moan about how busy we are, because we’re feeling guilty for not working? Because we’re feeling guilty for having help? Who know’s…….. All I know is that during one of the last few picks ups left of term I arrived very early, parked my car, closed my eyes for 2 minutes and BOOM I was gone..only waking up by the sexy tones of Adam Levine 10minutes after pick up had started. Now I’m sure there will be a few super mammies out there who will be disgusted by this and my response to them can not be published I’m afraid. It’s just made me realise that I’m not looking after myself, okay I exercise but I know I’m not eating properly and not getting enough sleep (clearly)

So this summer I threw caution to the wind  and actually made sure I had a good time too. Ok I wasn’t out every night clubbing etc. I still exercised but I didn’t let it consume my whole holiday, if I couldn’t do it I couldn’t do I didn’t beat myself up about it. I ate what I wanted and I enjoyed it, I drank…a lot  and I enjoyed it. I read a book!!!!! which never happens here, ok I came back to Dubai a lot fatter than I went but I was happy and I will be happy to get back into the exercise as it is something I want to do for myself. Dare I say it? it felt good, going forward from this I making myself a promise to take better care of myself.

With life becoming busier everyday for us all, the rat race demanding more and more it’s difficult to lose sight of whats important, your health & your happiness should be top of the list. So I ask you now not just Mammies but everyone…What have you done for yourself lately?

take-care-of-yourself

*photo source: Google Images

 

Old skool

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We’re rocking it old school in our house at the moment, introducing the children to the games I used to play when I was a child. The TV gets switched off and we start with a family game of hide and seek, our Harry potter cupboard under stairs is an awesome place to hide. However the kids follow me there all the time so daddy always finds me first. They love it, its great to play in large and small space, its free and its inside away from the sweatbox out.

Found you!!

Found you!!

Miss C’s absolute favourite is “Whats the time Mr wolf” however when she’s the wolf we only ever get to walk 2 steps as that’s the only time she knows and then its dinner time. I love this game I think it helps with their numeracy skills, gross motor skills and well to be frank I love scaring the s**t out of them when I shout “dinner time”. I have really fond memories from my childhood of playing this on the grass outside our house. Again if you have the space you can play it inside, smaller spaces maybe a bit of a disaster waiting to happen.

Duck, duck goose, not the greatest of games if daddy isn’t home to play, as we have a rather small circle, again  this is a favourite of the little humans living here. To be honest they just adore running and a few quick games of this before bath time isn’t going to do any harm ;-) I think it helps to learn to take their turn, they also have to except that sometimes you can’t win (this is when our games hastily end when a certain someone doesn’t win……yes daddy I’m talking about you). And all of that running is great exercise and good for their physical development.

I spy is a fantastic game as you can play it literally anywhere, LPV likes to play, while Miss C doesn’t really understand  she’s just babbles “something beginning with trees” we all clap and then its someone else’s turn. On Sunday evening we sat outside for ages waiting for daddy to come home playing I spy. It made the kids really aware of their surroundings, it can also help with their phonics too. Can be great for the airport for our impending travel and anytime you just want to still sit.

We’re working on our “Simon says” but to be honest neither of them listen to me so why should they listen to him. Another great one for small spaces and to kill a bit of time in the Dubai summer. I think it encourages them to listen *laughs head off* also taking instructions and if you want to be mean and make them try weird and wonderful things, it can help with balance and coordination etc.

Really can not wait to try new games in the winter like bulldog and hopscotch  and I don’t think our landlord would appreciate chalk on the white tiled floor. Stuck in the mud and blind mans bluff  are two other great ones however I think I better wait until Miss C gets a little older to stick a blindfold on her, that’s just a trip to A&E waiting to happen.

Image source: Google

Image source: Google

What games did you play as a child that you’d want to share with your wee ones?