When I first moved to Dubai I was a newly-wed in my 20s, living Downtown in “the Centre of Now”, working hard in my corporate job and playing hard at the weekends. Fast forward 8 years and I am a stay at home mother of two munchkins living in the suburbs. In the first of no doubt many “keeping it real” posts, here are just a few ways my life in Dubai has changed since having kids:
1. I wear pyjamas A LOT! Pre-kids there wasn’t much chill-out-at-home time, I was always at work or out. Post-kids I spend a lot of time at home and there is nothing better than a pair of pyjama pants to chase toddlers around the living room, sit cross legged on the floor building a puzzle or get cosy on the sofa with a few good kids books. One of my Australian best friends introduced me to Peter Alexander pyjama pants when I was expecting Monkey and since then I have developed a bit of an obsession – I now have at least 10 pairs! In fact even when I am wearing trousers they may as well be pyjama pants – the harem trouser/pyjama style trouser fashion trend is a complete godsend for me!
2. I LOVE going to the supermarket ALONE! Pre-kids a trip to the supermarket was an administrative chore necessary to get that night’s food in but mostly a complete bore. Now a trip to the supermarket alone is pretty much a mini vacation. One of my guilty pleasures is stopping by the coffee shop first to pick up a hot drink and perhaps a pastry or panini if I haven’t had a chance to eat yet. I can then leisurely stroll round the aisles sipping my drink and wondering what else I might want that isn’t on the list. Finally flicking through a magazine at the till before putting it on the conveyor belt knowing full well that once my “vacation” was over and I was back home it was very unlikely that I would ever get to finish reading that magazine!
3. I listen to nursery rhymes in the car, even when there are no kids with me! Gone are the days of being totally clued up on the top 40, these days I know the ELC nursery rhymes CD track list off by heart and often forget to switch to the radio for solo journeys. Our nanny has also caught the bug, she can often be found wandering round the house singing nursery rhymes to herself long after the kids have gone to bed!
4. I now consider 7.00am a lie in. Pre-kids I could sleep for England, as Mr always used to say. Weekends were all about the lie in. Mr would go off to play golf and I would laze in bed for most of the morning, getting up around lunchtime for some breakfast…. That is long forgotten now. With Missy still waking me through the night and Monkey rising with the birds, it’s a good thing I banked years of sleep while I could, although I think my reserves will be running out soon!
5. I bake. This is probably one of the things that will surprise people who knew me well in my former life in the City of London. Everyone who knows me will know that I have a sweet tooth, before kids this was always satisfied with shop bought goodies as I barely stepped foot in the kitchen. Since having kids I have been inspired to bake, whether it’s their birthday cakes, muffins and loaves with hidden vegetables or cookies and cupcakes for decorating activities, my KitchenAid is one of my prized possessions! It’s a bit of a cliche – the stay at home mum who bakes cupcakes for the kids – I am definitely not turning into that domesticated goddess of a mother but who doesn’t love an excuse for cake! It’s also a great activity to involve kids in, from measuring and counting out ingredients, mixing the batter, filling cake cases and decorating, we incorporate numeracy and motor skills as well as developing an understanding of food. Monkey has his own super cute apron and chef’s hat set that I picked up at the ARTE makers market for him and he loves playing at little chef. I always get asked for my fool proof sponge cake recipe so I will share that in a future post with my birthday cake bakes.
6. I love getting crafty. During my years working full time as a corporate lawyer there wasn’t much time for crafting. Then my kids came along and awakened that creative part of me that had been dormant for so long, inspiring me to get back into sewing, writing, arts and crafts, DIY and painting, amongst other things. I love to craft with them and for them, especially for their rooms or their birthday parties. I will share some of our projects in future posts. I still don’t have as much time as I would like to actually execute all the craft projects I have in my head but at least I have the supplies and the ideas ready to go when the chance presents itself. In fact, alongside this reawakening of craftiness, I appear to have developed a bit of an addiction to buying craft supplies! I’m hoping Mr doesn’t look in the cupboard under the stairs anytime soon else he may be in for a shock. Washitape is particularly tempting and I am always picking up a roll or two, keep an eye out for future washitape craft posts once I figure out what to use it for!
7. I love kitchen stores. Kind of like my craft supplies, I feel the need to keep buying kitchen equipment. Maybe it’s my dream to be able to feed my family good healthy home cooked food and an irrational hope that the more equipment I have the more likely it is that good wholesome meals will magically appear on my table! Whatever it is, my cupboards and countertops are rapidly filling up and I really need to use that air fryer, that mandolin, that juicer, that pressure cooker and that slow cooker before I go ahead and get the next thing on my wish list – a spiraliser!
8. My online browsing habits have changed. Instead of news, current affairs, politics, fashion and celebrity gossip I now find myself forever on Pinterest, etsy, mummy blogs, craft blogs and of course, Facebook. From nursery decor to kids activities, from one-pot family meals to fun packed lunch ideas, pillow case dress tutorials to DIY storage solutions, even when the kids have gone to bed I find it hard to switch off from planning for and thinking about them. I don’t even watch that much TV any more, I can pass the time quite easily with my iPad.
9. I have become a bit of a bag lady! Gone are the days of throwing a credit card, keys and my mobile phone in a small bag and walking out of the house. These days it is rarely possible to leave the house without looking like the proverbial pack horse. Kids need so much stuff! Snacks, water bottles, sun hats, suncream, spare clothes, muslin, wipes, organic child friendly hand sanitiser, extra snacks, disposable bibs, nappies, changing mat, wipes, creams, teething powder, antihistamine, toys….. the list goes on. I’m pretty sure not every mother heads out prepared for every possible eventuality but sod’s law dictates that any time I am less than fully prepared I will find myself in a situation where I desperately need said supplies and I am so annoyed with myself for risking to leave them at home.
10. I moonlight as a taxi driver. Well that’s what it feels like anyway. I now totally understand what my own mum used to say when we were young, claiming she spent half her life driving us around town. From nursery runs to supermarket trips, doctor’s appointments to playdates and tots classes, I now feel like I spend at least half my day in my car, racking up more miles than my frequent flying husband (and mostly with a soundtrack of nursery rhymes – see 3 above)! The state of my car is evidence of that fact as well. Two car seats, snack crumbs, empty water bottles, scuff marks on the back of the front seats, random leaflets, deflated balloons and who knows what else. Its a good thing Dubai has so many car valet to your door services, in fact I think I’d better go call one now….. For someone who moved to Dubai without a driving licence, from London where I walked everywhere, who only learnt to drive here and was totally petrified of Trade Centre roundabout, that is quite a change. Although I still don’t like Trade Centre roundabout – them drivers be crazy!
11. I get cuddles all night long, just not from Mr! Mr and I had always been cuddly sleepers, until kids came along, then we were unceremoniously relegated to perching on opposite sides of our big bed by one or other of the children who insisted on sleeping between us, usually sideways. Now I still get cuddles but they are currently mostly from Missy, and sometimes just from her foot, as she continues her plan to take over our bed and push me off the edge while simultaneously wanting me right next to her so she can sleep.
12. I feel more. Bear with me while I get a little deep as this has been the biggest change for me. It is as if becoming a mother has forever shifted my emotional balance and no matter what I do I will never be able to go back to the carefree spirit I was before kids. Now I feel unmeasurable pride and joy in my kids but at the same time anything that causes them any pain or sadness cuts me more deeply than I would ever suffer on my own account. I laugh more, I love more, I cry more, I worry more. I suffer more guilt and I feel more hope. Everything I do or feel is amplified by the presence of these little beings in my life, my reasons for being, my number one priority. And I feel these things not just for me, my family and my kids, I feel them also for all families and parents and their kids. Becoming a mother has made me feel connected to every person who has ever become a parent. Reading news articles I rejoice in the achievements of other kids and of families that find a happy ending to their tale. And then I read about tragedies involving children and my heart breaks, I can’t help but cry at the pain these parents must be going through, knowing my world would end if I were in their shoes, such stories haunting me forever and reminding me to hug my little ones closer and be ever thankful for the blessings we have received. I know that this is just the beginning, that being a parent means you will never stop worrying, but it also means that you will always have more love and more joy than ever before and your life will never be the same again.
Can you relate to any of the above? How has your life changed since having kids? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you!