From sprinkler sessions to mall days, Maysaa has us sorted for summer in Dubai.
Have you ever seen this meme?
That is a precise portrayal of how it feels living in Dubai during the months of June – September. Add some humidity and you have yourself a recipe called Do Not Leave The House Or You Will Melt.
This is all fine and dandy, but with three young children, staying home all day is not an option. I need to get them to burn energy and this is how we have managed to do so.
Firstly, staycations are brilliant. As obvious as this might sound.
Packing up a small bag and taking my kids and hubby to a resort is a perfect way to beat the summertime sadness. Firstly, the kids have an amazing time and it gives parents the chance to relax (thank you kids club!). Secondly, there is no hassle of airports and jet lag – you are able to maximize your time. Some kid friendly places I highly recommend are: Bab Al Shams, Rixos Ras Al Khaimah, Zabeel Saray. Keep your eyes peeled (and sign up to any newsletters) for specials. Summer specials offer a huge saving in Dubai and we have managed to book some stays for 50% off.
Tip: If you can manage to get some time off work (partners included), I highly advise you book a staycation during a weekday for a quieter time and it’s usually cheaper.
However, when hubby is back at work and it’s just me and three kiddies begging to go out, this is when the real creativity starts. We tend to start our mornings by the pool. We live in a compound so our pool is close by and on Friday mornings at around 8am we are at the beach. This keeps the children happy and I am satisfied that the sun is not at its worst yet.
Tip: If the kids are still buzzing, a beach trip close to sunset is also a perfect time to take a dip! The sun is not bearing its strong rays, and the water is very warm.
We tend to research play centers the night before and then I choose which one is most suitable. The problem I have is that there’s 7 years age difference between my eldest and youngest child and, because I am not a taxi (although I sometimes feel like one), I don’t have the energy to drive each kid to a different playcenter. This year in particular was an extra hard year because almost all of my friends and family travelled, so it meant I had to hunt down fun places for my brood. These are the worthiest ones I have encountered (bear in my mind my children are 3, 7 and 10 years old):
Extreme Fun, My Gym, Kids HQ, NJoi, Le Petit Palais, Little Explorers, Bounce, Atlantis kids club and Favourite Things.
Tip: it is ALWAYS a good idea to check some reviews on play centers before you go. Also, I like to make sure my children are fed very well before we leave or they’ll want to eat all of the junk on sale. Don’t forget that loads of places require socks to be worn or else no entry!
The first year we arrived in Dubai, I was eager to put my kids in camp for the entire 10 weeks because I thought that it would be a camp filled with love, joy and aspiration (like those you see in the movies). NO. I learned very quickly that I needed to be careful with the places I chose, and that most camps were about quantity not quality. Four summers later, and I am very particular with where I place my children and for how many days. This year I was especially pleased with my choices for summer in Dubai:
Goal at Dubai Mall, Mathnasium, Monroe’s Nursery, Kids HQ and Atlantis Summer Camps (Mad Science and Extreme Fun).
Tip: Bear in mind, the best indication of whether the camp is any good or not is to actually ask your child. I do not put my child in a camp for more than 2 days (despite the huge money savings they offer).
In true Dubai fashion, we spend most days at a mall. I used to groan at the thought, but upon closer evaluation – what else is there to do when outdoors is a no-go zone?
Here are some favourite things we do:
Ice-skating is a great way to burn energy and a nice change to the heat.
Kidzania is a brilliant all day affair. We once spent around 7 hours in Kidzania but my best tip is to bring a truckload of patience (and ear plugs!).
Book World is incredible – it’s a gazillion squares of books, gadgets, knowledge and more importantly child friendly spaces!
Mall of the Emirates
Bowling at Magic Planet is perfect because it is tucked away from the noise and clamour.
Skiing at SkiDubai is loads of fun. They have a lot of cool rides and the children love to throw snowballs because, well, lets just say it feels so exotic.
Tip: EVERY mall in Dubai is child friendly, the trick is to accept the fact that you will have zero time to shop!
After a while, nothing seems to excite the children so I have invented a new activity called Let’s Go To The Toy Shop. My big kids earn small amounts of money from doing chores, so sometimes they will purchase their favourite toy. However, usually, it has turned into a great way to waste some time.
What makes this activity extra helpful is the extremely friendly customer service. My 3 year old is usually playing the demo remote control cars, my eldest is on the PS4 and my youngest is sitting with the lady making loom bands. I’d scoff at the thought to do this back home, but remember, in Dubai, everything is different.
Make your village
Remember the old saying, it takes a village to raise a child? If you are lucky to have family and some friends that live in Dubai, it is an excellent idea to create your village. Usually, one of the adults takes the older kids to an activity (like a trip to the cinemas) and the other two adults have the younger kids for an activity at home (like play-doh).
The Aussie in me remembers the many summers my brothers and I spent running through sprinklers. I live in a compound that has timed sprinklers and sometimes I manage to get our life in order to make it down during this time. In reality, only my middle child enjoys this activity, but it doesn’t stop me from basking in a small part of an Australian past time.
Baking and making ice-cream masterpieces
If you can handle mess – this is an awesome activity. I choose a recipe and get my kids to make it (under my supervision). Have you ever seen a child try to crack an egg? It’s a Kodak moment.
Sometimes I’ll also lay out several flavours of ice creams, cones, bowls and a multitude of toppings for them to go mad with.
Remember that is it a looooong summer holiday, so do not stress at not being able to do something every day. Kids love simplicity and some days I allow them to stay in their pyjamas all day, playing their iPad, board games and eating at their leisure. I want them to create memories that don’t resemble a strict routine. More importantly, I am constantly reminding them about creating their own fun, whether that be riding their scooters indoors or creating an PowerPoint presentation about why they love Minecraft.
I do understand that dealing with babies and toddlers (I have to deal with both spectrums!) is a different ball game, but it’s the same philosophy. Clear your schedule and hang out with your baby/toddler, as that’s all they really want. The best thing about Dubai is that when you have exhausted yourself at home, there is ALWAYS something to do in this sandy city.