Last minute weekend fun at Kiddie Ville Al Barsha Mall

We all love our weekends. Whether we decide to chill at home, go out shopping or indulge in a ‘stay-cation’ at a fancy resort, weekends are our chance to blow off some steam. My little one already has his share of fun and games at the nursery, but Fridays and Saturdays are our chance to do things together as a family. But with my poor husband down with the flu, battling a migrane,  a tooth cavity and a root canal, it was up to me to take the little one out for some weekend fun. But the thought of going to a mall on a weekend and having to deal with the nightmare of finding a parking spot with a super fussy kid in the car was just too painful. Then I remembered that Al Barsha Mall has this childrens play area that my Yehia always cries and nags to go to whenever we go grocery shopping. We drove over and we were there in ten minutes. On the first floor right after the co-op is Kiddie Ville. It’s not your typical children’s entertainment zone. It has a number of rides (carresole, flying airplanes,  a mini ferris wheel, go karts and the usual race car games) that you pay for by card. The area also includes a number of places to eat. So you can sit and enjoy a quick meal while watching your little ones play. The rides are also priced 11AED each, unlike many other play areas around. At the very end is a soft play area, priced at 25 AED per hour) Overall, its good value for money and for those living in TECOM/Al Barsha areas – this is a great place to check out if you run out of ideas a need a quick place to go to with your little one for some fun and games.

Advertisements

15 ways you know you have a boy

They say mothers of boys work from ‘son’ up till ‘son’ down. Well it’s true, and it comes with perks too. Here are 15 ways you know you are a mother to a little man.

  • You have endless drawers, boxes and bags of race cars, trucks, and more race cars.
  • You’ve become accustomed to stepping on Lego blocks and Spiderman action figures in the middle of the night.
  • There’s always a finger in your eye, ear, nose and mouth during cuddle time.
  • You have an obsessive, unhealthy knowledge of Pixar’s Cars di-casts.
  • You find yourself randomly running in shopping malls yelling things like: “No you can’t take off your pants here!”
  • You have a bag full of orphan socks.
  • There is no time for you to sit and watch a movie yourself and memorized lines and sequences from Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and Turbo.
  • The Barbie isle is the least of your concerns – you whizz through and spend a good 40 minutes deciding which car race track is more kick ass.
  • You don’t think bracelets, hairbands or skirts – it’s football jerseys, Nintendo’s, PSP’s and sports sneakers.
  • A separate budget for laundry detergent is a must to get rid of all these inexplicable stains.
  • Whether it’s a towel or a pillow-case, you can turn it into a cape and play superhero games.
  • You’re always prepared to catch a flying toddler boy as he jumps off the table or couch yelling: “catch meee” or “big hug”.
  • Your car always has socks, slippers, jumpers, sneakers and of course, toy cars.
  • You always talk about the day he turns into a rebellious teenager.
  • You’ve thought of ways to torture your son’s future gf/fiancee/wife if she upsets him.

..And still wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂
image22

2015 – Keep doing what you do best!

Oh God – looking at my last date post is a terrible thing – I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that so much time has passed and I’ve done so little on here. Yes – I feel guilty for not giving my blog some major TLC. I mean, it’s 2015 – the chance to start fresh, list down all these resolutions that I want to accomplish by this year, live the dream and get all psyched up about my new beginning. Hell – I didn’t even make the time to list them, so chances are I won’t even be able to achieve them.

My point is – and I think so many mothers and fathers out there will agree – we’re literally kicking butt by making it through every single day with all the other responsibilities that life throws our way. We should all give ourselves a huge pat on the back, maybe treat ourselves to some fatty Hershey Pie for making it this far, going through each day like a fighter and being amazing parents. So to all those who are in my shoes; who feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, from juggling a dzillion things from managing to make a career and a living, to changing diapers and folding through endless piles of laundry – you are doing an awesome job. WE are doing an awesome job. Lets keep doing it the way know best and don’t bother by anything or anyone else.

 

The Pacifier Review_AnanIbrahim_TPR_MOM_2015

A miracle worker to soothe your little cutie pie’s dry skin: QV Kids Balm and Moisturizing Cream

When babies are born, they have the softest skin ever; you spend countless hours touching their little feet and hands, powdering their bum and massaging them with baby oil after a nice, warm bath. But as your little bundle of joy starts to get older, they run and jump around, play in the sand, spend hours in the pool and even longer hours outdoors. A scratch on the knee, an elbow scab, a skin rash and before you know it, your baby’s skin is all dried up and is in need of some miracle worker to get it back to its soft, pink, bruise-free state.

After travelling to Egypt, I’ve noticed that Yehia’s skin has become very dry to that extent that it started to irritate him. He would constantly scratch his arms and legs even more frequently, leaving terrible scratch marks on his skin and even sometimes his bum.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I’ve literally tried EVERY moisturizing product and even took him to see a dermatologist who asked me to try this medical ointment to soothe his skin and nothing worked. Until one fine day, I was at Boots and spotted a QV Kids Balm. I immediately picked it up kept applying it on Yehia’s arms, legs and bum every single day after his showers. After exactly eight days, I noticed a significant change. His skin got a lot better. It’s now much softer and he even stopped scratching his legs.Even though its a balm, it doesn’t have that super greasy feel to it and he doesn’t get irritated when I apply it to his skin, unlike many other products I tried.

11

QV Kids Balm Available in 100g tube and 450g tub

 

I even got him the QV Kids Moisturizing cream and started using that and the effects are just unbelievable. My little boy feels better and he now has softer, smoother skin. The fun thing about the moisturizing cream is that its super easy to apply. It contains vitamins A (retinyl palmitate) and E (tocopheryl acetate) in colorful, skin friendly blue and purple micro-beads that quickly dissolve when applied to the skin. So now after shower time, Yehia sits up and is ready to be lathered up with his favorite moistorisor. Not only that, I let him apply it on his arms and legs and he has heaps of fun doing so.

22

QV Kids Moisturizing Cream – available in 100g tube

 

You can get all QV kids products in almost all pharmacies in the UAE. Price range: 45 – 70 AED.

For younger babies, check out QV Babies product range

Why play time is important for our children’s development

1How many times have you heard your parents or an older family member say: “We truly enjoyed and lived our childhood” or “Back in the day, we used to go out and play in the streets, climb a tree house or play hide and seek, unlike your generation of kids”. Even when I look back at my childhood days, I remember spending endless hours on end on the swings, playing with pebbles and riding my rainbow tasseled bike in the park. But now that we’ve fast forwarded to the year 2014, things aren’t quite the same and I honestly think that it’s not fair to blame it entirely on the children of this generation.

My Yehia is one mini tornado. He loves to jump, play and run around. Kais and I decided to enroll him at Happy Learning Nursery so that he gets a chance to interact with other children and spend his time on activities that would help with his behavioral and social development. When we all call it a day and head back home after work, Kais and I don’t always have the energy to play with Yehia or run around the house with his toy cars. After what would seem like endless hours of constant nagging, we give in and pull out his iPad, or turn on the tv for him to watch some cartoons. We both know and hear of the negative impact of too much TV, but when it’s 8:00 PM and your kid is still in hyper mode, you’re just tempted to find the an easy way to keep the little one occupied.

Yesterday, I was invited to attend a conference, where the results of the 3rd Fun City’s Play Index were revealed.  The study, which covers four countries for three different age groups shows a significant increase in the time spent on passive playtime; this includes watching TV, surfing the internet, spending time on the tablets and playing video games.  Based on the index, watching TV has increased up to 16% in 2014 from 12% in 2013.

Not only that, the findings of the study show that for children within 2-3 years of age, only 31% percent of their time is spent on physical play which is staggeringly low. Engaging in physical activities and play time is vital for the development of toddler’s motor and sensory skills. Also, encouraging your little ones to spend time on creative and role play activities like painting, or playing pretend doctor for example,  enhances their self-expression, imagination and creative skills.

One thing I found really interesting is that even though playtime increases considerably during weekends, our kids are still not making the most out of their time and are still spending it on the same routine they have gotten used to during weekends.

I guess this seems to be a trend that’s taking this region by storm. But, I am a firm believer that our kids are what we raise them to be. It can be a challenge, especially if you lead a busy work life, but no one said parenting is a walk in the part, nor should anything come in the way of our children’s well being.

In order to change these habits and encourage a well-rounded and balanced upbringing for our children, we have to make more of an effort to encourage them to take part in more physical play. Not only that, but also to make the time to play with them and take part in their activities. It won’t matter where you are or what activity you choose to play, as long as you’re doing it, then you’re making progress.

Here are some tips that could help you change your little explorer’s habits:

  • Just turn off the TV, hide that iPad or just simply stop charging it. Get on the floor and pull out the crayons. Color together and draw funny shapes. Make a fool of yourself, your little one will laugh with you and find it endearing.
  • If you have to get some chores done, let your kid help you out. I bought Yehia a little baby mop and every time I clean the apartment, I let him help and play with his little mop. He feels a sense of accomplishment after he’s done with his so-called ‘cleaning’.
  • When your child starts to get a little antsy and asks for his favorite cartoon, or his/her PSP, resist the urge to take the easy route. they will then realize that he/she has more time to do things and will think of ways on to better spend their time. This will even encourage his intuitive thinking. Take a step back and let them get creative and choose an alternative to how they can spend their time.

To help you compute your own child’s Play Index and get some understanding on their play behavior, Fun City launched the  Fun City Play Index Calculator. Here are a few screen shots to help you get a feel of what it’s like:

32

At the Fun City Play Index Event, we were invited to step outside to engage in some ‘play-time’. When I walked out, I found a little basketball hoop, a ball and some awesome race-cars.  Every Tom, Dick and Harry and myself engaged in some play time and I have to admit, it was a lot of fun. This made me think of my Yehia and how I know that if I can help him spend his time better, he will be a happier, healthier little man.  We all say that old is gold, so why not give our children the chance to change their ways and enjoy their childhood?

If you want to read more on the results findings and how the study was conducted, click here.

Five Survival Tips for Travelling with a Toddler

PhotoGrid_1417700673992I recently took off three weeks from work and traveled back home to Egypt with the fam. It’s been more than a year since I boarded a plane with my little Yehia and I must admit – it wasn’t as easy and breezy as travelling with him when he was younger. In short, yes – there was a lot of running around, chasing, hiding under counters and trying to jump on baggage belts. But there’s hope; there can be some tricks that can help you keep tabs on your excited little traveler and minimize your urge to pull that exit door handle and just jump off the plane.

Rise and shine early in the morning: I’m not really an advocate of using cough drops to make your little one drowsy so they can doze off on the plane. However, if your child happens to have the sniffles, then you’re in luck. You can give him his regular meds an hour before the flight takes off. What I strongly recommend you do is wake your toddler up really early in the morning, so by the time you’re at the airport for passport control, baggage claim and your duty free shopping, your little Columbus would be worn out and exhausted; all ready for his nap. At least this way you can enjoy a hassle-free trip on the plane, read a book in peace or enjoy a good movie.

  • STROLLERS, STROLLERS, STROLLERS: For some odd reason, I gave in to Kais’s constant pleads to leave the stroller behind. I ended up having to run after Yehia in terminals, duty free shops and toilets and the killer part: carrying around for what seemed like hours on end. Yes, I was plotting Kais’s ‘accidental death’ on my three-hour flight to Egypt and kicking myself for not doing it my way and taking the stroller anyway. Rule of thumb: ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH A LIGHT-WEIGHT STROLLER.
  • Charge up that smartphone/iPad: If you have some animations or movies that you know your baby likes on your iPad/Tab or smartphone, then make sure to charge up your devices. You can also purchase a power bank from the airport’s duty free, if you already don’t have one in your hand luggage. Most airlines have a good set of movies on their in-flight entertainment programs, but just so you can keep your little one distracted while you shop or as you roam around the airport terminals, some movies or games can be handy. I also had to resort to Youtube, since Yehia seemed to want to watch some random car videos rather than his actual favorite cartoons. So a device with an enabled data package would also be a plus.
  • Pack your toddler’s favorite items: If your little boy has a favorite stuffed animal, book, blankie that you know keeps him sane – make sure to pack them in your hand luggage. Avoid small toys that can be easily lost – otherwise, you’ll have to deal with constant tantrums once when you can’t find them in the airport or on the plane. Also make sure you have extra diapers, a change of clothes and a whole bunch of pacifiers – we all know how they magically disappear when you need them the most.
  • Where you sit on a plane makes all the difference: When my kid sees open spaces, he gets a sudden urge to just get up and run around. For that, I insisted that we get three seats by the window and have him sit in the middle. With not much to see and barely any room on an EgyptAir Economy class seating, he was settled and dozed off since we woke him up at the crack of dawn. If you are travelling with a younger baby, it’s always best to sit at the very front facing the separators so you can ask the flight attendant to get you one of those baby cribs for your munchkin to sleep in.

Traveling with a child will never be easy; so say goodbye to those old days when flying solo was a walk in the park, but I do hope that these tips help make your travel experience a little less painful.

If you have any other tricks up your sleeve that work wonders for you – share them in the comments section below!

 

A working Mom’s dilemma: Nanny vs Nursery

For every working mom, leaving your little one behind in someone else’s care whether with hired help/house maid/nanny or a nursery is one of the most difficult decisions you’re forced to make. It’s never easy, especially at first, to accept the idea of leaving your baby for such long hours. Feelings of guilt, doubt and constant worry surface, but you just need to trust your instincts and know that your decision to go back to work is so you can give them the best life that you possibly can.

Back in Egypt when my little munchkin was younger, I was a stay-at-home mom. I freelanced from home and Yehia I pretty much spent the entire day together. Given the current circumstances in Egypt, our outings were relatively limited, leaving very little room for me to take him out to places where he can run, play and enjoy some greenery and space. When Yehia turned two and we moved back to Dubai, I was ready and eager to dive back into the non-stop craziness and self-inflicted stress of PR. Before I started job hunting, I had to face the one thing I procrastinated for so long: enrolling my boy at a nursery. I was never an advocate of hiring help/nurseries and the idea of a nursery was more appealing to me. But the very thought of dropping Yehia off and not being with him gave me panic attacks. I couldn’t imagine leaving him alone or out of my sight for more than an hour, let alone eight. But desperate times call for desperate measures and with Dubai’s soaring rents, financial commitments and the need to live a comfortable lifestyle; finding a job became a must.

I found Happy Learning Nursery, which is close by my building and enrolled Yehia on a part-time basis (01:00 – 05:00 PM) just to make1661544_641198926971_843459051_n the transition easier for him. His first day was a total nightmare; he constantly cried and wouldn’t let go of me; didn’t listen to his teacher or enjoy the company of other children. It felt like he was never going to accept this. Day two, his teacher (Mrs.Caroline – who is by far, one of the most patient, understanding and diligent teachers ever!) told me to drop him off and leave. I literally hung out by a cafe close by because I was in such bad shape. I was freaking out! I kept picturing him on the floor crying, or curled up in a corner scared that I wasn’t around. All these random scenarios got the best of me that I even went and picked him up an hour early.

After a couple of weeks, Yehia started accepting that sometime during the day, ‘mommy leaves, but will come back in a bit to take me home.’ When I finally landed a job, I enrolled Yehia on full time (08:00AM – 06:00PM). A couple of months later; he gradually started to enjoy his time at the nursery. Happy Learning is one of the very few nurseries that I visited and automatically felt good about. The staff, TA’s, teachers and management are some of the nicest ladies I’ve met and are very hands-on and reassuring; which made the transition for both Yehia and I much easier.

So, If you’re about to take that leap, I thought of sharing some pros and cons of sending your baby/toddler to a nursery or deciding to hire help/housemaid/nanny at home:

Nurseries: The plus side:

  • Meeting new people and playing with other toddlers, babies and TA’s gives your child a chance to develop their social skills and help them with speech development.pros_and_cons_of_sending_to_daycare
  • Exposing your child to countless fun activities that stimulate cognitive development and growth; such as painting, imaginative play, story time and reading, construction blocks and play-dough, jigsaws and puzzles, moving around and dancing based on the curriculum they follow.
  • Gives your toddler a chance to enjoy messy play; sand box, palm painting and things that you would be to scared to try at home.
  • Disciplines children: after spending time at a nursery, a stubborn toddler may start to follow directions, respond to your calls and eat better. Various studies indicate that children tend to copy one another and are encouraged by each other’s actions.
  • Assists and compliments your efforts at home throughout various transition phases; such as potty or sleep training.
  • Your child’s safety and well-being are your top priority. Nurseries in the GCC and particularly the UAE, follow a set of guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Social Affairs and The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). They also conduct random visits and searches to ensure that these nurseries abide by the rules and guidelines. Trained staff and teachers also put your mind at ease when you know that your child is in safe hands.

Some lows:

  • They are expensive.
  • Some nurseries timings may not fit with your schedule, or may be closed on certain holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter when you can’t take time off work and alternatively, you’re forced to look for an immediate back-up plan for your baby.
  • The spread of illnesses is very likely: with so many children in one place, colds and sniffles become super common.

Pros of hiring help/nanny/housemaid:

  • Your baby/toddler is in the comfort of his own house with a dedicated resource to look out for him and give him/her her undivided attention until you are back home.
  • You get an extra helping hand with some house chores, depending on your arrangement.
  • Less of a financial burden compared to nursery fees.

Some cons:

  • Your baby/toddler is not exposed to as many stimulating/engaging activities, nor does he/she get to see new people, surroundings and will generally get bored quickly; especially if you have an active little monkey.
  • Unsupervised care: If you can’t find someone you trust, it becomes difficult for you to leave your baby behind without constantly worrying about him/her.With an increase in child abuse cases from house help in the GCC region, mothers are forced to think twice about leaving their children with hired help.

It all boils down to how you feel and what you’re more comfortable with. No matter what people say, just follow your maternal instincts and do what you feel fits your financial budget and what’s more convenient for you and your little one.

To help you decide on how to pick a nursery, check out this article from Baby Center about what to look for when deciding on a nursery. For more info about how to sponsor house help in the UAE, check this article out.

To all mommies and daddies out there: how did you go about this and what did you end up choosing: nursery or hired help? Share your stories and tips in the comment box below 🙂