With two kids very close in age, I’m always hunting for twin and sibling discounts - if a place doesn’t advertise, I always ask. Sponsored events like those run by Mamavents are a great value afternoon out, and big events like the Twins Plus Festival (held in March) offer cheap entry and a huge amount of freebies. At home, I use my slow cooker and try to do a big batch cooking session every few weeks so I have loads of frozen toddler meals all portioned out.
Laura Russell, founder of Sand Angels Dubai and Mum to Ayda, one
I get most of our toys and books from the Baby Bazaar market, which is held every month in Time Square. You can always get a bargain and the quality is great. Ayda also loves the Play n’ Shop market days at Cheeky Monkeys with free play, held by the Mummy & Co group.
Elena Artal, Mum to Lewis, one
We spend all our time outdoors at the park or the beach during the winter months. We’re very lucky to have a wonderful park close to us on The Palm where Lewis has regular play dates. It saves us a fortune on the cost of play dates.
Leanne Henderson, Mum to Olivia, two and Penelope, three months
We moved into a villa a couple of years ago and now have a garden to look after. We have a timer on the sprinklers which we adjust each season to keep the water usage down and we buy our plants and things for the garden either from the Plant Souk out in the desert or from local garden shops. They all get supplied by the same people as the big garden shops, but are much cheaper.
Vicki Ashlin, founder of Buttoned with Love and Mum to Poppy, three
My friends and I created a weekly messy play date for the kids. We meet at 3.30pm to have a catch up before the activity starts. After the messy play, the children all sit down and have dinner together and we leave at 6pm. The host arranges the activity and dinner, and it rotates on a weekly basis. It works really well as the children learn new skills while having fun – and the mums only pay to host on our day and then get weeks of messy play and dinner for free!
Carol McGuinness, Mum to Sorcha, one and twins James and Jackson, four months
We fly regularly, so we signed up for a credit card with Etihad. Whatever we spend accumulates in air miles, which can then be used to pay for flights. We use the card for all expenditure, but make sure we pay if off every month. By doing this we get maximum air miles towards flights, but don’t pay any interest. We travelled home four times last year and used air miles for every trip. We even managed to upgrade to business for some of them!
Dru Campbell, Midwife at Healthbay Polyclinic and Mum to Ryan, four
One of the most enjoyable ways we save money and spend time together is by cooking. We cook for bake sales, for friends, and of course for ourselves. It’s a wonderful way of saving money rather than eating out and it teaches Ryan about food hygiene and is great for his development. I ask Ryan to crack the eggs (which he is great at!) and mix together the ingredients. It also shows him that reading from a recipe book can be fun.
Emily Glynn, Mum to Estelle, seven, Tess, four and Cyprien, two
With a family of five, we save money by limiting trips back to our home country to just once a year. It’s so tempting to nip back to see friends and family or attend every wedding or family reunion, but it can set us back as much as a term’s school fees. If we really feel the urge to escape Dubai, we stick to mini breaks in the UAE.
Katie O'Sullivan, Mum to Rafferty, one
Being blessed with such perfect weather this time of year, we are able to take advantage of the outdoors, such as the beach, playgrounds, and parks. Heading out with a full picnic and drinks has become a necessity. We walk wherever we can, armed with lots of water and sun cream. We stumble across all kinds of interesting things and places that we would never see from the car, saving money on cabs too!