Parenting in Dubai

A new year means the chance for a new start. We take a look at motherhood in Dubai and set resolutions for 2009.

The person who came up with the idea of New Year resolutions must have been a mum. The idea of making a brand new start and looking forward with blind optimism and hope is a very maternal notion. It is something I find myself doing every morning, only to find myself on the brink of despair somewhere between 5pm and 7pm.

Most New Year resolutions are forgotten within an hour. Pre-baby, it was because New Year’s celebrations where the resolutions were made were better left forgotten. Now it’s because I don’t have the capacity to remember. Nevertheless, I’m going to kid myself again and set resolutions. Here are my nine for 2009:

1. Have some ‘me’ time

In December, I went to three consecutive Christmas parties. Gifts were exchanged, the food was tasty and there were lots of good friends. The only downside is that all these parties finished at 5pm, the main dish of the day was jelly and ice cream and the guest of honour was Santa. Between mother and baby group, waterbabies club and a small handful of other new informal networks we’ve stumbled across, my son has quite an active social life. So now it’s my turn. 2009 is the year of the mummy. No longer will a night out for me be a quick dash to the local supermarket to buy something for dinner.

2. Give daddy a break
Since I started writing Tales From The Crib I’ve used this column to talk about my husband’s flatulence, several degrees of ineptitude and his ability to sleep through the loudest crying fits. It is all true (and you can throw in a comical lack of knowledge of nursery rhymes and a mild case of nappyphobia for good measure), but looking back I’ve given him a hard time. He is improvising on the job just like me – he just doesn’t write a monthly article about the strange things that I’ve been doing. He is a terrific dad and the perfect role model for a boy who adores him. I just wish the two of them would share my opinions
on wind.

3. Webcam grandparents more often
When I moved to Dubai I didn’t think I would still be here four years on, but with good friends, a great lifestyle – especially this time of the year – and a mind block when it comes to packing up my things and moving home, I think it is fair to say we are here for the long haul. With that in mind I have decided I must make more of an effort with the grandparents and make sure they have equal visits by way of the webcam. My husband tells me that online is the way to go, so I intend to make an extra special effort.

4. Make meals fun

As I see it, I have 365 opportunities to instill in my child the mantra: ‘Nobody makes it like mumma’. Weaning him off the breast and onto solids will be a blessing for us both, particularly as he has two teeth now. It’s a difficult bond to break, but it’s either the emotional pain or the physical. If only I could get him to stop projectile vomiting potato and embrace the best carb in the world.

5. Don’t say, ‘People without babies don’t understand’
I remember being in the UK and seeing an advert for Calpol. The last line of the advert was, ‘If you have children, you’ll understand’. I was so angered by this that I vowed never to buy it, no matter what. How dare they suggest I wouldn’t understand? In the past eight months I have realised that I really didn’t understand and people with children just, – well, I am not going to say it. But for the record, my cupboard is stocked with Calpol and now I get it.

6. Spend less. On everything
I can see now that I didn’t need three pushchairs in the first year (especially when I have a couple of papooses as well). I also admit that a cupboard full of 23 teddy bears, 12 baby spoons and 10 teething rings is excessive. So this year I am setting a budget and sticking to it. As a self-confessed shopaholic this won’t be easy, especially as Sam would look very cute in those dungarees I spotted.

7. Stop being diplomatic with strangers
Unwanted advice is something you seem to have to put up with when you have a baby, but this is it, no more Mrs Nice Mum. Two words – ‘butt out’. The other day Sam and I were sitting in the park with my friend and her baby and a stranger came over and practically took Sam off me and laid him on the floor telling me he was too young to be sitting up and I was going to damage his back. What these strangers don’t realise is that, firstly, he is seven months old, so he is plenty old enough, and if I don’t sit him up he will still be laying there when he is 12 as he is a lazy couch potato in the making.

8. Learn to let go
I always thought when Sam got to about 18 months I would put him in nursery for a couple of mornings a week. As he grows, I just don’t know if I will be able to do it, but I figure I have until September to work it out. This is going to be the hardest thing of all.

9. Bring Barney into our lives
One issue divides my husband and I more than any other. It isn’t the breast versus bottle debate and it isn’t anything to do with how to stop children crying. It is a big fat purple dinosaur called Barney. I think that it’s just one of those things kids like. My husband, however, would like nothing more than to see him extinct. Daddy versus Styrofoam dinosaur is a competition I’m not confident daddy will win, and I think Sam’s first birthday may be the day the battle takes an interesting turn.

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