| Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Family & Friends, Dubai Marina

Louise Emma Clarke drops her two-year off for supervised play at Dubai Marina’s pay-per-hour crèche…

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I’ve lived in Dubai Marina for years, but didn’t know that a childcare facility existed with pay-per-hour options and qualified, experienced staff until very recently. Better still, Family & Friends is located right next to a gym, beauty salon, and business hub, making it the answer to a busy mum’s prayers.

I scheduled a visit for a Wednesday morning. The plan was to have a quick look around, before leaving my two-year-old for an hour if I was happy with the staff and facilities. I would then sit in Make Business Hub (located right next door) to catch up on my emails with the baby in tow, who would conveniently be bang
on schedule for a nap.

Feeling optimistic about what was in store, I drove to Al Fattan tower (located on the JBR side of the Marina) and parked in the underground parking allocated to Family & Friends. After a walk across the carpark, we travelled up to the first floor and discovered Family & Friends right in front of us.

Clocking rows of strollers parked outside, I prepared myself for hoards of children as we walked through the doors – so I was very pleasantly surprised to discover the crèche area almost entirely empty. I was told the owners of the strollers were the full-time nursery children (as Family & Friends also runs as a term time nursery), who were currently engaged in an activity in a separate room. For this reason, I wasn’t allowed to walk around the facility for a tour so not to disturb them.

I felt slightly irritated by this – after all, I was about to leave my son for the first time and felt entitled to see the full facilities. But despite the setback, I felt very reassured that he was in good hands.

The crèche area was soft and padded, making it ideal for even the smallest toddlers. With slides, tunnels, and low climbing apparatus, there was lots of room to let off steam in a safe environment. Meanwhile, the receptionist was extremely warm and very helpful, taking my number in case of emergencies and promising to call if he became unsettled. Most importantly, I felt very reassured that all staff (Teachers and Teaching Assistants) were fully qualified and experienced, meaning I was getting high quality nursery care under a convenient pay-per-hour arrangement.

With a quick glance back at the crèche area as I walked out the door (my son was halfway up a ladder and hadn’t even noticed me leaving), I made my way to Make Business Hub next door and spent an hour catching up on work and sipping a cappuccino as the baby slept. If I had wanted to hit the gym, I could’ve headed up to Fidelity Fitness Club for a workout – while En Vogue Salon was located just along the corridor for hair styling, manicure and pedicures, or pampering.

After an hour, I returned and watched my son for a while. He was playing nicely amongst a few other children his own age, all under the careful watch of a member of staff. After clocking me, he ran out with a huge smile on his face, closely followed by the same staff member who gave me an update of the time he had spent in the crèche. He had eaten his snack alongside children from the nursery class next door and had his nappy changed (both provided by me); all details that I’d expect from a nursery and was impressed to receive from a supervised play facility.

After paying a surprisingly affordable hourly rate and turning to leave, several members of staff loudly called ‘Bye Stanley!’ in unison. He was thrilled with this personal treatment and shouted goodbye back to them with a big smile on his face as he turned to leave.

As he skipped happily to the car, I felt reassured that he’d be happy to return if I needed another morning catching up on work – and the gym was also starting to look seriously tempting, especially as Family & Friends take babies from six months old, so his brother could soon spend an hour in their care too. Maybe I finally had a route to working off this baby weight… Either way, we will definitely be heading back soon.

Family & Friends is located in Al Fattan, Dubai Marina. They accept children into the crèche from 6 months to 4.5 years, at a rate of Dh40 per hour. The facility also runs as a nursery. Call 05 0316 4025 for further details or visit www.dubaifamilyandfriends.com.

By Louise Emma Clarke
Time Out Dubai,

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