I’m not sure what possessed me. What made me think it was a good idea to take a 3 year old ice skating for the first time when I haven’t taken myself ice skating for at least 9 years?!
When I wrote my Summer Bucket List and included Dubai Mall Ice Rink on there I had idealised visions of Monkey effortlessly gliding round the rink with his Penguin Pal for support, a cheeky smile on his face and shouts of “catch me, catch me”! Of course in this vision I was the picture of graceful elegance, moving round the ice with confidence and ease, directing Monkey on what to do and snapping photos while skating along to capture these fun memories. The reality, however, could not have been further from it!
I had an inkling that iceskating might not be such a good idea before we’d even got to the skate hire counter. By the time Monkey and I had our skates on I had realised this might be harder work than I’d previously appreciated. Monkey’s first few steps across the changing room on his blades were encouraging but far from stable.
Then we stepped out on to the ice. Well, kind of shuffled onto the ice is probably more accurate. Immediately my little Monkey turned into a newborn Bambi, legs splaying out under him as he tried to figure out how to stand – on ice – wearing blades on his feet – probably quite a big ask for someone who regularly trips over his own shoes! I have to admit I was not much better – while I managed to avoid any face planting or dragging my son down to the ice floor with me, it was mostly as a result of staying within arms reach of the side, shuffling along, stopping every few yards and using the Penguin Pal for support. In fact I’m not sure who used the Penguin Pal more, me or Monkey. We managed to find some sort of rhythm with him holding on to the penguin and attempting to skate while I leant on the penguin’s head with one hand and used the other to hold Monkey up under his arms. That got us across one side of the rink to the other entrance at which point Monkey decided he was hungry and would much rather sit in the bleachers eating snacks and watching other people skate. So that’s what we did.
It was actually quite fun watching others skating, more fun than our own attempts in any event. I was really impressed with the ability of some of the kids out there on the ice. You wouldn’t think desert kids would be great ice skaters (or skiers for that matter) but, with so many amazing facilities in Dubai, it really does seem like our kids can do anything they put their minds to. There were kids whizzing along, both with and without penguins, one young girl having a lesson learning how to spin and jump, and groups of pre-teens having a giggle as they skated along. I was surprised that some of the skaters were in strappy tops whereas I’d prepared Monkey for a trip to the North Pole, layered up in every item of winter clothing I could find for him – I guess you don’t get as cold when you are actually moving around!
While Monkey sat and finished his snacks with my friend, I attempted to “find my feet” and do a circuit of the rink. I was pleased to make it round without incident but I can’t say that I was any better on my feet for it. Snacks eaten, I eventually convinced Monkey to get back on the ice and finish our circuit to take us back to the entrance. I’m not sure if it was the refuelling or whether we picked up some tips by osmosis watching the other skaters but either way we made a slightly better fist of it the second time as we completed one skate round the ice rink. It was still a fairly slow process and I’ll admit to feeling slightly better about my rubbish skating as I looked across the ice to see that I wasn’t the only parent struggling to keep myself and my offspring upright while attempting to navigate a route across the frozen ice and steer a gliding penguin. The expressions of concentration mixed with frustration and a little fear would have been funny if I didn’t think laughing would throw off my balance!
We eventually made it back to the entrance and both Monkey and I were ready to get off the ice, we may not have got our money’s worth in skating time but my back was in agony from hunching over him and the penguin the whole time and I would have paid anything just to be able to take those boots off and sit down. I didn’t see any of the bob skates I’d read about for little ones (and I’m still not entirely sure what they are) but I’m pretty sure that they would have been easier to drag Monkey around the ice and involve less hunching and back pain! Maybe I should look into them for next time.
While this was one of our less successful summer activities I’m still glad we tried it and I learnt some good lessons:
1. Just because Monkey meets the minimum age criteria for an activity, that does not necessarily mean he is ready for it.
2. It doesn’t matter how many times you have watched the ice skating scenes in Frozen, they will not help you once you are on the ice.
3. When trying to teach your kid a new skill, it helps if you are at least proficient! I only realised once I was on the ice that I didn’t even know what to tell Monkey to do to skate other than lift your feet up and down!
4. Don’t be too proud to admit defeat. There is no point forcing an activity if no one is enjoying it.
5. Penguins are not the answer! They will not magically teach your kid how to skate on their own so if this is their first time, be prepared to put some work in yourself.
I think skating is one of those things that gets better each time you get out there and the more often you go so I will definitely take Monkey back but maybe not for another year or so and I should probably try to practice myself before then. I think my initial instincts to go with our expert skating friend may have been right and maybe I’ll wait for him to be free next time! You can take something from every experience though, I got some cute pictures of Monkey all dressed up in his gear with his Penguin Pal and if you ask him how ice skating was, he’ll tell you fun and hard work!
The Dubai Ice Rink is open from 10am but you should check on the website what time the public skating sessions are on the day you intend to visit. You are issued a wristband for the 1hr45min session (we spent significantly less time than that on the ice!). There are also disco skate sessions, which would be fun for proficient skaters, and ice skating lessons with experienced coaches, perhaps I should book one of those next time!
We paid the following for our public skate session:
Adult (with skate hire):
Child (with skate hire):
Child’s helmet hire:
Children’s gloves (optional)
I bought the Dubai Summer Pass at the rink and used the Dubai Ice Rink Pass from that pack for my entry fee. The Dubai Summer Pass includes discounted entry for 5 of the main attractions in Dubai Mall and is valid until 5 September. It costs 250aed (or 215aed with an Emirates NBD card). There are also buy one get one free vouchers in the Family Entertainer Dubai Book.
Have you taken your kids ice skating? How did you find their first time? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you!