Affordable schooling options rising in the country

In my recent Back-To-School discussions with parents, every parents concern seems to be leaning towards the steep cost associated with educating kids in this region. With rising costs in education, what are the options for UAE parents?  UAE is seeing a significant rise in Home Schooling and I have been hearing fabulous reports from friends who have chosen to go down the path of 'Home Schooling' their kids. In the near future i am looking at featuring experiences from veteran home-schooling parents and accredited associations involved in the process. 

For now, the focus is on options for parents who prefer to send kids to good schools and not get bankrupt in the process.  Good news for UAE residents!!- 'Affordable schools' are scheduled to pop up  this year and in the coming year. Newlands School in Al Warqa ( English National Curriculum, IGCSEs, A-levels)) is one of the first ones to come up this September 2017, with fees starting at 19,200 AED in FS1 to 26,400 AED in Year 6. Founding parents of the school also enjoy a great discount. The school will also offer five free scholarship places for Emirati girls as part of their commitment to the Emirati community. NewLands school also boasts of  the smallest class sizes (maximum of 25 pupils) than other schools in the same fee range

Newlands School offers a British curriculum and a holistic international education that focuses on innovative teaching and learning about the real world. The board of governors of Newlands Schools are the owners of Beacon House, the world’s largest school group by student population. They have a proven track record of setting up and running successfully schools in south-east Asia and the Middle East. This is definitely an option to consider for parents looking at a decent English National Curriculum at affordable pricing.

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Experiencing Boarding-School at Kodaikanal International School

Have you ever considered sending your kids to Boarding school ? I could not imagine ever sending mine, but after my recent experience of visiting a top-notch boarding school in India I have to admit, I am not completely closed to the idea (Well not exactly sold out, but 5% open to the idea)

My husband is a boarding school product. He does have a lot to complain about his early experiences away from home, however, he is of the strong opinion that boarding school to a great extend fosters unique social/personal development, a culture of collaboration and responsibility. I am one who was raised and nurtured in a well-protected loving home, hence the 'boarding school syndrome', presence of bullying and related issues worries me enough not to ever consider it for my kids.

My recent visit to Kodaikanal International School, a prestigious co-ed IB curriculum school in the hill ranges of South-India , opened my eyes to a new breed of Boarding schools. Set in many acres on a beautiful hillside, with stone structured architecture, excellent facilities for Academics, Arts, Drama, Sports and Music. This space aims to develop well-balanced adults who would go into the world to conquer and lead fulfilling lives.

We stayed in the campus and experienced hospitality of dorm-parents, staff and students. I could not believe how lovingly involved each dorm-parent was with the 12 kids they were responsible for. The kids had just returned back to school after their summer break and they ran into the loving arm of these parents and could not stop telling them stories of their trips and letting them know they were missed (I shed some secret tears. After all these amazing folks are filling in the shoes of  parents in the best possible manner) We also got to experience a dedicated camp sight for the kids in the hills of Poondi. The place was one of the most scenic locations I have visited and was brimming with opportunities for adventure.

This school has good academic reputation and puts real emphasis on activities such as Arts, Drama/Music and Sports. What captivated me most was the fact that there were responsible people involved directly with the daily realities on campus understanding/meeting the needs of the kids.

The best part being the young ones entrusted to the school actually experience a warm family experience during their most impressionable years. If I ever change my mind and consider boarding-school for kids, this would be my first pick.

Zippy kids store review

What? Zippy Kids Store

Where ? Dubai Mall, Festival city Mall

What’s in for kids summer fashion this year? Light weight fabrics, pastels, comfort fits, tropical prints and motifs

Looking for your kids to be a style force to be reckoned with? I just discovered Zippy kids store and was wowed by their selection of nursery accessories, feeding essentials, travel must-haves and fashionable ensembles. They also have a buy one get one free promotion running this season. What I absolutely loved was the breathable, summer clothes that they carry. I was also impressed by the price point for the quality and their stylish designs. My boys are sporting our favorite tees from Zippy.

Mattel Playtown Dubai Review

What? Mattel Play! Town Dubai

Where ? City Walk

Price? Child :AED 95 and AED 55  for every accompanying adult.

Tickets : online at http://www.playtowndubai.com or  ticketing booth at Mattel Play! Town

Timing: 10 am -10pm

Age Group : Best suited for ages 2 - 10 years

The Video below shows our fun experience in this space.

My 5 year old, Lil Niki and 4 year old, Lil M spent half a day here enjoying every corner in this space and for mommy, it was just a nightmare to drag them out at the end of our trip.  From a parents perspective, what I loved most about this play-area is the fact that they have read my mind (most parents mind i presume) and brought out the cartoon characters that I have sealed safe for my kids to watch. The three storied themed indoor eduplay area is based on the five characters ' Thomas the Tanker, Barneyᵀᴹ, Angelina the Ballerinaᵀᴹ, Bob the Builderᵀᴹ and Fireman Samᵀᴹ'.  These cartoon’s are educational and filled with good values/morals - ( I wish they made more cartoons like these in this day and age). For basing an entire play area on these absolutely fabulous cartoon characters they have my solidarity and repeat business. I also love that this is not a place filled with gadgets and arcade games, rather the focus is on educational/developmental play. The attractive price (for all that it offers) is also a great plus.  What my kids loved most was all the pretend play and the gorgeous souvenir shop. The only down-side was the fact that we were not able to get the most of this space as we decided to visit during Ramadan season.  We  missed out on meeting the characters and enjoying the live shows that would usually take places every 2 Hrs.  With an interesting party area, fabulous cafe, five play zones, live shows and a 4D cinema, this space is worth every penny spent.

 

Train them young on MONEY MATTERS

The other day I was passing by Hamley’s (I am aware every parents dreads this walk) and my 4 year old son ecstatically screams “mom I need to get that super-hero set”. I responded, “you don't NEED TO, you just WISH YOU could have it. You're wish will be granted for your birthday”. To that he responds “why cant you get it now” . My reply “i am not carrying money for it now and you have a room full of toys, so there is NO NEED for more”. His jet-set response was “use your credit card”. I was shocked, What does a 4 year old think a credit-card is? A magic card to swipe away?? I most certainly had a fitting response to offer him.

On that note I have a few questions to pose. Were you taught how to manage money as a kid and make responsible spending/saving decisions by your family? Or did you just figure things out with time? Did your school have a special subject on personal financial management? I wish we did . Most of us went to schools that focused on academics and fell terrible short on teaching us how to manage our personal health, wealth and stress. Raising financially savvy kids means to be intentional about teaching them concepts on saving, investments, spendings, budgeting and planning. Our parents probably never taught us this and now stepping into the ‘parent shoes’ it can be an overwhelming task for us to attempt teaching the same. So, where do we begin?

I was interested to learn that UAE has a first of it’s kind ‘Money Savvy kids program’. The courses are presented by trained professionals and covers a broad range of money matters. I had the privilege to meet and learn more about the program from founder Marilyn Pinto. I was so impressed by the concept and the value it adds, hence decided to enroll my oldest for the same. Now, my 8 year old is one who has a need to be engaged and has to have interesting content delivered to him , or else you’ve completely lost him. He got back from his first day of ‘Financial Literacy course’ and was on a roll talking about his learnings, the fun atmosphere and he also brought home a piggy bank he made to carry on his interactions/learning at home. He looked forward to attend the courses every Saturday mornings at ‘Up Town School’. (they do offer courses in other locations too)

I understand that parents are the biggest influence on children's financial learnings. However, what other tools can we offer to make our kids financially capable adults. Kids in this day and age are juggling a number of after school activities and coaching. Have you ever considered an after school coaching for kids on finance? It could develop a strong foundation for life-long financial competence. If you ever consider (i would strongly suggest all parents to consider) a financial education program for your young ones, then ‘Kids Finance initiative’ comes highly recommended to you.  So glad i found them.

For more info on the program follow :

http://kidsfinanceinitiative.com

https://www.facebook.com/kidsfinanceinitiative/

Lapita Hotel, Daycation brunch

We experienced the Day-cation Brunch at Lapita hotel, Dubai Parks and Resorts where we felt like we were transported to an exotic tropical Island. Hard to believe this is in Dubai! Everything about this space reminds us of a laid back island holiday - from thatched roofings, Tikki themed cocktails served on arrival to the wooden pillars/fans at the Brunch area, drinks served in watermelon and pineapple shells, live music and performances which boasts of a paradise feel, a massage area (this was a highlight, no exaggeration here, A FREE MASSAGE area), extensive food selection (it’s like u make a wish for a food item and they have it, the only thing I could come up with they did not feature was game meat) . Out doors focuses on a variety of live cooking stations .The baked potato bar and bbq station was a favorite with my kids.

This brunch is just the perfect pick for families with children. They offer a Kids club facility with super friendly care takers who entertain children with games. The food selection for kids have a balance where you could pick a healthy selection and sweet treats. Post Brunch the kids could relax at the lazy river, have some water play at the splash pads or you could indulge in a swim in the  dedicated kids or adult pool. The options are unlimited and there is never a dull moment here. Definitely one of our top picks for Brunching with Family.

When :Every Friday from 1pm – 5pm

Pricing: 195 AED (soft drinks)

295 AED (house beverages)

95 AED (children under 12)

View the video below to see more!

My ridiculously fun projects

From when i was young and the times I played with dolls, loved combing long hair and setting tables, I assumed I would end up with daughters. Then I would see my wild side, where I loved to jump off aircrafts, hike and ab-sail and wondered... hmmm who will share this madness. Along came an equally mad or even crazier husband and he complements my wild side, like none-other. I have come to a new realization in life. I was made to parent boys...they are my ridiculously fun projects.

My lil fellas who has all the makings to be a tribe discovering the wild, tried out Zip-Lining for the first time in their life. Vivanta by Taj ( Madikeri, Coorg, India) offers a 450 yard Zip-line adventure experience in partnership with Muddy Boots adventure company. The boys whizzed across a river, strawberry patches and paddy field  before they were caught and helped down to the ground. Watch them in action in the video below. This is Cocoon to Butterfly's first vlog, kindly encourage us by LIKING AND SUBSCRIBING OUR YOU TUBE VIDEOS.

FabyLand Dubai, Review

What? 'FabyLand' Family Entertainment Centre

Where? Dubai Festival City Mall

Age group ? 3-14

Price? The 125 Card + 25 AED Free Credit(125.0 AED )

The 250 card+(80 AED Free Credit)

The 350 card +200 AED free credit.

Cocoon to Butterfly clan checked out the new kids entertainment venue at DFC. We walked in to discover the destination is spanning across a massive 70,000sqf with a variety of arcade games, fun-filled rides, redemption games, art game machines, soft play area,  attractions for teenagers, also a concept that combines entertainment with physical activities for children and toddlers.

What the kids loved - The state-of-the-art Clip and Climb climbing wall (It cost AED 15 for 15 mins). My boys each had 2 turns in this area and could not get enough of it. They also loved all the redemption games (approximately AED 7 a game) which they were of-course indulging to amass tickets. Football pitch was also a big favorite as my lil tribe are all big into the game of football. My oldest enjoyed the bumper cars very much(the younger ones were sad as they were not allowed due to height restrictions) 

What could improve - I found the space to be understaffed. When we looked at redeeming gifts for all the points accumulated, we discovered there was no one manning the redemption counter. A few rides were not manned as well, hence we had to wait for a staff to finish with one game booth to attend to us at the other. However, i found the staff to be pleasant, they were quick to apologize and heeded to the rescue. 

Faby land offers attractive birthday packages that vary based on what suits you (starting price AED 65 a kid) .The expansive area appears hygienic and clean, which is a big plus considering the other play areas on offer in Dubai (yes! i am that mom that scrutinizes the surfaces and sanitizes the kids after play) . One major attraction for me is the fact that this space is not crowded with kids running at you and pushing and shoving at each other (the space probably did not appear crowded to me due to the fact that the venue is so massive, whatever the case, that is a huge plus for the destination) There is a feeling of spacious, fresh and airy ambiance in this space and I love the fact that people are not brushing against me and my kids in an entertainment zone - Now they’ve won me over with that!

 

 

 

 

Our Photoshoot experience with Studio77

A photo shoot is not just about some make-up, your best outfit and feeling beautiful, but it’s more about seeing the best in you and your loved ones captured while experiencing some authentically fun moments.

My lil boy tribe and I, experienced an entirely bespoke-fun session shooting our ‘Cocoon to Butterfly Parenting blogger’ shots with Studio 77 (newly rebranded from what was previously known as Picture People). I quite like the new contemporary look and feel to this space. They have also added outdoor and events shoots to their existing portfolio, which is just brilliant considering the scene in Dubai.

I am an avid picture crazy mommy. I have memories of my kids teething to walking all captured with my smartphone, but a portrait of memorable moments shot by a skilled photographer is unlike anything that’s possible to create with digital equipments you own. I cannot recollect the last time i’ve seen my kids more wired and exploding with energy like on the day of our photoshoot (wonder if it was all the easter eggs they gobbled or just a crazy bug that entered them!!) What I was surprised was not with my kids behaving like looney’s (I see that often enough that i’m acclimatized to those behaviors) I was pleasantlytaken back by the immense patience Adelle (the designated photographer) displayed and how she played along to capture the best out of their madness while making it fun and enjoyable. I look at the images now and every shot invokes happy emotions and i’m certain to all those who view these, it will bring smiles reminding the joys of motherhood and parenting.

All I can say is folks at Studio 77 really have the ability to bring out the best in anyone. The pictures speaks for itself.

The Middle East Film and Comic Con

What: The Middle East Film and Comic Con

When: April 6-8, 2017.

Where: Dubai World Trade Center

Tickets: Available online through Platinum List and in stores at The Toy Store, Hallmark,UAE Exchange and Zoom outlets across the UAE.

1 Day 100

3 Day 250

VIP Power Pass – 3 Day 500 . For more information, visit www.mefcc.com.

The Middle East Film and Comic Con returns with its 6th edition in Dubai. This is one festival that attracts adults and kids alike. It is the region’s largest popular culture festival showcasing Film, TV, Sci-Fi, Animation, Gaming, Manga, Comics, Collectables and more.  Fans can meet celebrities, buy exclusive merchandise, take part in creative workshops & competitions, compete in gaming tournaments or just relax with friends and family. 

Highlights for this year : Anthony Mackie who plays Falcon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Kane from WWE are confirmed to join this year’s burgeoning lineup of guests.

A message for new MOMS

The hazy new beginnings of motherhood filled with lack of sleep, anxiety, hormones all over the place, a sense of guilt when you just don’t know what to do to get a crying baby to stop….arggghhh!!...we’ve all been there. You know what's the real torture?? you have friends, aunts, neighbors, even strangers at every nook and cranny advising you ; sleep when the baby sleeps - Really!! (try it please). New moms are not an electrical appliance that  can be switched off with one press of a button, and in case it does happen it won’t be long before mommy hits her pure state of rest that a crying baby wakes her up - Then you wish you never hit  bed to begin with.

Another common reframe is "enjoy this time with your baby, they grow up too fast and you will miss these years” (i am guilty of saying this to new moms) The fact is, at that moment there ain't any mom looking at enjoying colic and spit ups. All a new mom wants is a decent day with a healthy baby and some good nights rest. I am here to shout out to you and lend hope saying..the hard times will pass and a new season awaits (well.. it does not come without it's set of challenges) But you have ran your course and been made stronger to face them.

As my kids have passed baby/toddler phases and moved on to school-going years now, I wake up each morning realizing I have had a full nights rest, no more repetitive routines of feed, change poopie diapers, clean, put them back to sleep with no space to even finish up  sides of a meal or even worse finish a solitary chain of thought. Those days are long gone and forgotten!!  I now have time to watch a full movie, enjoy a 3 course meal and have a decent time away with girl friends( New mom's you will all get here soon). However, my mommy challenges are new ; I am worrying about not being late for pick ups, getting homeworks/projects tasks completed, making the right decision of what my kids could have without spoiling them, sorting sibling rivalry, managing education expenses. I am presented with new sets of challenges to deal with..phew! and sometimes I wish I could rewind time to those baby years (diapers and spit up looks like a piece of cake). I  don’t think any mom can be fully prepared for the many new stressful situations you will face over the years as your child grows. I cannot even begin to think how teenage years is going to look. God give me grace and empower me with much wisdom and patience..yes that will be my prayer!!

A few tips i can give new moms is to allow yourself space to make mistakes and learn from them. Be willing to set limits on your anxiety and be present for you kids. Do not be shy to ask for help when you are exhausted -there's no shame, you only gain. Challenges will come and go but don't let your focus rest on them. You do not have to be the perfect mom society expects you to be, shake off the pressure, slow down and know you are not failing. Even if you fall take courage to pick yourself up and move on further- know you’ve got this and a prayer always works wonders. Know this one truth and let no one steal this from you -YOU ARE THE PERFECT MOTHER FOR YOUR CHILDREN. YOU MATTER!!

Kids' Activities at Etisalat Beach Canteen

As most of you are aware the Dubai Food Festival has kicked off in full swing. There is quite a few activities for kids to indulge in this season .  I will be there with my lil ones, hope to bump into a few of you there :)

Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights for families and kids of all ages to enjoy at the Etisalat Beach Canteen(the popular festival hub) this festival season:

THE BIG DIG: Friday, 3rd March, 10am – 11.30am

A fun “treasure” hunt on the beach where little ones can dig deep into the sand and win fantastic prizes. Participants will be encouraged to roll up their sleeves, grab a shovel and get digging to be in with a chance of winning.

ETISALAT FAMILY FUN DAY: Saturday 4th March, 10am – 10pm

From sports games and arts and crafts, to sand sculpting competitions and even Hula Hoop dancing, there’s plenty of excitement to be had down at the Beach Canteen. 

KIDS’ FITNESS FUN & GAMES: Sunday, 5th March, 12pm-10pm  

Featuring a mix of music, dance, relays and games, there’s plenty to keep kids of all ages happy.

AL ISLAMI KIDS COOKING CLASS: Tuesday, 7th March, at 2pm – 4pm and again at 7pm – 8pm.

Kids’ cooking class hosted by Scafa, Dubai’s School of Culinary and Finishing Arts.

TIME OUT MOVIE NIGHT – ZOOTOPIA: Thursday, 9th March 8:20pm

Enjoy a special beachside screening of Academy Award Winning movie Zootopia on the large screen. Set against the backdrop of the ocean, families can grab a beanbag and lounge on the sand whilst watching a movie under the stars. 

SASSY ON THE SAND: Thursday 9TH March, 12pm – 6pm.

Mummy-blogger extraordinaire Sassy Mama Dubai returns to Etisalat Beach Canteen, with a fun filled day-From pumping exercise classes to al fresco to arts & crafts, delicious nibbles to pampering treats and wonderful experiences, there’ll be plenty for everyone to enjoy.

FUN FARM BY AL TAMIMI STABLES:  Friday, 10th March  Open from 10am – 10pm, 

Little ones will be able to meet, pet and feed some furry friends whilst learning all about caring for animals and being gentle with living creatures no matter how big or small.

 

 

SKY CARNIVAL: Saturday, 11th March, running from 10am – 8pm.

As the festival draws to a close on Saturday, 11th March, enjoy a day of beachside fun and kite flying for all the family 

What we did to avoid Middle Child syndrome

Ever heard of 'MIDDLE KID SYNDROME'? Does that even exist? Well, it does if you fall short of parenting. They say when you have three kids, it’s easy for one child to be ignored and it’s usually the middle kid.  I am no expert in parenting, i learn as i go along. However, i am immensely thankful for folks such as my father and many wise souls who advised us of 'fair parenting' . As parents to 3, we were advised to pay equal attention to all kids. Hence in our home we have not encountered this 'middle kid syndrome'. it’s way different at our home.. we may have given our middle child a little too much attention, if not for anything else, and occasionally I have had to check daddy to see if he was playing favorites with our middle kid (He's such a daddy clinger). I can let you in on something- this intentional parenting has paid off. It’s really how you approach it. So when our middle boy turned 3, I let him in on a big secret. I let him know he was the luckiest boy in all the world as he could help mom with his lil brother at the same time get to do adventurous big boy stuff with his older brother.

Some things we did intentionally to make our middle boy feel special and not go through any syndrome.

1. We have tuned in to make special time for our middle boy. Lil Nicky gets special staycations and dates with mom and dad alone. I often set up dates on my calendar and let him know in advance. He gets all excited when he knows it’s coming.                                         

A staycation at bab al shams, my husband and I went on, with only our middle child

A staycation at bab al shams, my husband and I went on, with only our middle child

An afternoon tea date with mommy.

An afternoon tea date with mommy.

2. We’ve ensured to have tons of single pictures taken of him and in the family pics we  make deliberate attempts to see he’s not always stuck in the middle and lost with the shuffle. 

This gorgeous shoot was done by our dear friend and photographer  @dtourphotography

This gorgeous shoot was done by our dear friend and photographer  @dtourphotography

3. My middle boy did not have the pressure of giving up his cot or his toys just because he had another sibling come along. He had his extended time and when he was way past the stage to use them, his  cot, bouncer was all asked to be given up.

4. Lil Nicky is given the same opportunities and privileges as the older or younger child is entitled. I noticed he often complained of play dates as he did not have as many friends as my older social butterfly did. These days I am making a conscious effort to ensure he gets to go for his friends birthday parties and build bonds. Planning a simple play date for him is high up on my to-do list.

5. Affirmation is a secret key, we let him know every day he’s loved and we praise his achievements. I have noticed that by lavishing praise for his tremendous effort and skill at biking, or his art work, he is less likely to dodge his bike over furniture around the house, or paint all over the walls just to get me to notice him. He's just a calm soul, I love his personality!

His dream was to ride a big bike like his older brother. We let him know he is a super biker and a fast learner

His dream was to ride a big bike like his older brother. We let him know he is a super biker and a fast learner

6. We always went with hand-me downs with our second and third, but also ensured that they got a special toy for their birthday or an occasional ‘new’ thing. This has helped my lil middle child to never ever feel like the second best or a clone to his older brother.

Something so amazing about our middle child is, the fact that he is independent, confident, secure and he’s always the peace-maker when his brothers break into feuds. I guess the middle child shapes up to become a person with great leadership, negotiation and good decision making skills - all this only if you intentionally parent them to avoid the nasty 'MIDDLE CHILD SYNDROME'  The needn't have to live with any syndrome! 

The BEEHIVE

The Place you Wanna BEE

Cocoon to Butterfly kids were recently at the opening of the latest play-area in town, ‘The BEEHIVE’ which is an edutainment play-area catering to 1-12 year olds.  This unique concept and differently designed space is located in the heart of the Dubai Canal, at Blue Bay tower, next to Steigenberger Hotel, Business Bay.

At the INAUGURAL of 'The beehive'. we are in the front row- far left corner, enjoying some pop-corn and sweet treats waiting for the show to begin.

At the INAUGURAL of 'The beehive'. we are in the front row- far left corner, enjoying some pop-corn and sweet treats waiting for the show to begin.

At the inaugural  of 'The BEEHIVE'. We love Photo Booth's!!!

At the inaugural  of 'The BEEHIVE'. We love Photo Booth's!!!

My youngest- Lil M, enjoying the Giant bubbles at the inaugural of 'The Beehive', his brother Nicky is looking on with keen eyes!

My youngest- Lil M, enjoying the Giant bubbles at the inaugural of 'The Beehive', his brother Nicky is looking on with keen eyes!

The Bee Hive is designed to promote creativity, exploratory play, cognitive development, motor skill,  education, entertainment and great to host kiddies parties.

The concept is taken from the ‘Bee Hive’, where there is more to the hives than just honey - the different hives serve several purpose : pollination, nursing, housing, etc. Each hives in this play area is themed differently to create a memorable experience : for Role play, exploring science, gaming area, reading corner, hive full of tunes, artistic hive etc.

My lil fellas are born to entertain. How they love everything to do with music. Never a dull moment with these champs!

My lil fellas are born to entertain. How they love everything to do with music. Never a dull moment with these champs!

The space is much smaller than a Kidzania or other ‘edutainment’ areas available for kids to explore  in the city, hence the lil ones could be done with each hive before you even settle in. This would be an ideal pad to while away a few hours (not a full day). However, the quaint setting does give you a sense of safe and cozy feel. What I love about this space is that it is not about gadgets and screens (like most play areas) but it is an escape where kids would explore some educational play. The BEEHIVE is a great option for a moms group, for a coffee morning date outdoors by the Canal. The  kids can be entertained at The BEEHIVE, while the moms grab a coffee and indulge in some much needed girly time. The one reason I would be back here with the kids is for their price point (much more affordable when compared to the big names in Edutainment). The prices go as follows:

For 1-5 year olds : 1st hour is AED 45, Every following hour AED 25. Full Day pass is priced at  AED 95

For the Busy Bee’s 6-12 year olds : First hour is AED 65, Every following hour is AED 30. Full Day pass is priced at AED 125.

10 Beautiful lessons I have learned from my kids.

As parents, we aspire to teach kids life lessons. But most often we look past the truth that there is so much we can learn from them. As a mom of 3 boys, I can now say that motherhood has made me a better person and shaped me to be who I am today. I look at life and the world around me with brighter eyes and an open heart.

Here is a list of beautiful lessons my kids have taught me. 

  1. Find pleasures in little things . Savor every morsel of that cotton candy and look like you have just had the finest experience ever.
  2. Never Give up, keep trying even it it means you fall off a baby cot and bump yourself.

3.Every moment you have is an opportunity you have to make the most of it. Have fun, experience something magical and live in the moment. Enjoy dancing in the rain.

4. Live in wonderment. Explore the world around you and find beauty in it, even if it means to crawl on the beach, get dirt to scoop out that one little shell.

5. Cuddles and Kisses can be one of the greatest medicines. How a boo can seem less painful with just a kiss.

6. Forgive easily. You could go from “I am not your friend" to "you are the best brother ever” in one minute.

7. Being funny, silly and some good giggles  is way better than screaming, shouting and being a serious ol’ grump.

8. Be Brave. The waves are not a force coming to sweep you away under, rather one you can ride and have the most fun time.

9. Curiosity is a beautiful thing. Never hesitate to ask why and to keep on asking..till you get an answer.

10. Learn to trust and not doubt. You could jump off a railing and know that Daddy will have you tight in his hands with the perfect catch.

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How to deal with 'Bickering and Sibling Rivalry'

Bickering and squabbles, does that happen with your kids in your household?

I used to deal with tantrums and routine issues, Alas! I have passed that stage (at least i believe so, crossing my finger and hoping it is not wishful thinking!). As my kids are growing older (8,5,4) there is this new 'Bickering and Squabble' phase that seems to have surfaced from no-where. It usually goes like this :

"Mom he’s calling me names”

“I did not, he’s such a liar”

“Mom he pushed me”

“That’s coz, he started it"

The easiest solution for a parent would be to ignore, and I plead guilty of using that tactic many a time (That’s just horrible, I know!) It usually come from a place where you want to distance yourself from conflicts . Ignoring is a tool, However, it is only a tool to be used when you have ascertained that your involvement is not necessary and at times you want your kids to learn problem solving on their own. I have realized that as parents one of our key responsibility is to teach our lil munchkins life skills - an important one being conflict resolution and making peace with family, friends and peers. 

Some steps I follow.

  1. Let the kids know, It is never OK to hurt someone and you respect the other - this is a non negotiable with the family
  2. Refrain from over-reacting as a parent.
  3. Do not take sides as a parent and be fair.
  4. If the fights escalates and it gets heated up, separate the siblings. 
  5. When they have cooled down have a talk with each of them and hear them out.
  6. Help each child hear the other. Make sure each apologies to the other and hugs.
  7. Work together with them on a resolution. State the issue and come up with the best possible resolution. When you are  helping kids decide on a resolution, consider the fact that each child's personality and temperament is different.

How do you help your kids make peace with their siblings or even peers? I would love to hear your tips and tricks.

Hot TOT Kids Hair Care Line

As a mom of boys, I’ve scouted near and far for some safe, sulfate free, effective hair-styling products for my lil tribe . Who does not love to have their lil tots look dapper in some spikes, structured or wet-styled look. I’m glad there is a mom out there whose line of thought matches mine. Megan Gage, struggled to find a hair product that was safe to use in an infant and went about experimenting with baby lotions and pomades. After many months of encouragement from moms who shared fondness for her son’s hairdo, she assembled a team and set out to develop safe hair products for babies - this marked the birth of 'HOT Tot' Products and Hair care line.

Hot Tot has just been launched at 'Be Bar’, Jumeirah. At the launch, my lil models had the privileged to be styled and photographed. I have personally had the opportunity to play around with ‘Structure Whip’ and ’Styling Gel’ and i have to admit, they have me won over! The ’Structure Whip’ i noticed added structure and definition without drying out my lil studs hair. This features Aloe Vera Gel, Sweet Almond oil and Shea Butter. The ‘Styling Gel’, gave a medium hold with a definitive sheen adding volume. This product features Japanese Green Tea for hydration and sheen.

I’ve finally said ‘NO’ to diluting hubby’s Hair Wax with water!

PS: Hot Tot products are available for purchase at ‘Be Bar’. For more info follow them on Facebook and instagram: @hottotdubai

A NEW YEAR THOUGHT

Out with the old, In with the new ! Trust all of you are surrounded with new hope for this new year. The past year saw new ventures for the blog, the likes of parenting conferences and also recorded exponential growth/engagement  across the channels. This could not have been possible without you. Shouting out a BIG ‘THANK YOU’.

This year i want to encourage each of you to be ones who stand tall with the right attitude - ‘A SWAG TO STAY'. 

Stand strong when tested, Reframe your challenges, Embrace a positive mindset and Choose to be grateful . Take your focus off the strings that seem to be snapping and instead choose to see the silver lining in every cloud.  Leaving you with a quote from my favorite leadership pundit, John. C. Maxwell  “You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.” 

Blessing you with Love and hope.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Mommy’s Expressing Lounges popping up at work

Now here is a brilliant Initiative from Philips AVENT, encouraging employers in UAE, to become more baby-friendly . I recently attended a talk and discussion held on the subject and walked out feeling so happy for the new moms and the expectant mommies in the city.

Returning back to work after maternity leave is emotional and physically daunting, add to that a plan for pumping breast milk at work…phew, that’s a mammoth challenge moms face! Breast feeding exclusively for around the first six months is highly recommended by WHO. After this period breastfeeding is recommended along with solid food. But let’s face reality here, most often moms are faced with workplace challenges and an environment that is not conducive to expressing milk which may compromise mothers ability to reach these breast feeding goals. How do you navigate through all of these curve balls.

GOOD NEWS MOMS..well it’s a start of something good,atleast! Philips AVENT, the company’s Mother and Childcare brand has collaborated with multidivisional conglomerate Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group to help companies outfit breast pumping rooms in their offices through a one-stop shop solution, thus encouraging employers to become more baby-friendly.

As part of the Mommy’s Expressing Lounge initiative, Philips encourages corporate offices to sign up for a partnership program, additionally the first 10 companies get a free ‘designed ideal expressing spaces fitted’. To be part of the Philips AVENT initiative, email expressinglounge@philips.com for more information or log on to www.philips.com.ae or check the Philips AVENT UAE Facebook fan page. Create awareness with you employers and moms around. This could evolve into something huge that could be life transforming for moms returning to work.

I would love to hear about personal ‘Expressing challenges’ moms have faced at their work places. Also suggestions to improve them if any. I have my personal story in the comment box below.

Christmas Festivities in Dubai

Highly Recommended Christmas Market:

What ? Al Habtoor City Hotels Christmas Markets. 

When ? December 7th until December 31st, 2016.

Where? ST Regis Garden, Al Habtoor

Time? 17:00-21:00 on a Weekday, 15:00-21:00 on a weekend.

Price? NO ENTRY FEE

What’s there? 

  • Ginger bread house
  • Santa Grotto
  • Retailers selling christmas gifts
  • Food, drinks including Glühwein.

Highly recommended Christmas Party for Kids

What ? Christmas with Splash 'n' Party

When? 8th December, 2016 and 15th December, 2016

Where? Splash ‘n’ Party is located in: Villa no. 1, Street 8A, Al Safa 2, Jumeirah, Dubai

Time? 15:30 to 18:30 

Price? AED 140 per kid, 1 Adult is Free for every 1 Child paying - Any Additional Adult will be charged AED 50 

What’s there? 

  • A fascinating fire and magic show
  • Delightful Christmas party filled with splash pads
  • Gingerbread house decorating
  • Live Mermaid shows, Spend your afternoon swimming with Ursula, an underwater resident mermaid at Splash n Party
  • Quality time with Santa
  • Groove to ‘your favorite holiday tunes and moves’
  • Tuck into a tantalizing kid’s Christmas meal filled with holiday-themed treats. 

 Highly Recommended Mall to visit for Christmas Festivities

What? Christmas at WAFI Mall

When? December 8th Onwards 

Price? Santa Grotto AED 60

Time? DESS & DESC Choir at 5:00pm.

 6pm- Christmas Tree Lighting

 6:30pm, 8:00pm and 9:30pm every evening-  Festive Light and sound show

 December 10th at 4:00pm- Christmas Performance by DESPA Academy

What’s there?

  • Animated display that follows the theme ‘Wafi Express: The Magical Experience’.
  • Festive Light and Sound Show
  • Performance by DESS & DESC Choir
  • Christmas Performance by DESPA Academy
  • Santa Grotto - Children who visit Santa in his grotto will receive a cuddly soft toy, a framed photograph with Santa, a raffle coupon to win a family trip to Germany courtesy of Lufthansa German Airlines and much more. Tiny tots that visit the grotto can enjoy the free Arts and Crafts area where they can create their own festive decorations while patiently waiting to meet Santa!

Highly Recommended Christmas Tree Lightings                       All FREE ENTRANCE YAY!!!!

  • Raffles Dubai -December 6 , from 6pm to 7pm
  • St Regis Dubai - December 7, from 6pm to 8pm
  • Fairmont The palm - December 7, from 5pm
  • Towers Rotana, Sheik Zayed Rd- December 12, from 7pm
  • Sofitel the Palm - December 18th, From 6pm

Highly Recommended Christmas Festival for kids

What? Dubai Winter Festival

When? From 8-10 December, 4-10pm on Thursday, and 3-10pm on Friday and Saturday.

Where? Dubai Media City Amphitheatre

Price? Advance tickets start from AED40

Tickets are available now from www.dubaiwinterfestival.com/tickets

What’s there? 

    •    Santa’s Grotto

    •    Shopping at the Winter Market

    •    Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony 

    •    Special concerts

    •    Everyone’s favourite West End show ‘The Rat Pack’ are set to perform their greatest hits with special evening magical entertainment to get everyone in the festive spirit during the opening night on 8 December.

    •    This year’s pantomime is “Aladdin & Princess Jasmines Adventure”, where guests will watch Aladdin and Abanazer fight to use the powers of the magic lamp in order to fulfil their dreams.

    •    The Special Occasions Kids Zone promises an unforgettable weekend out for families, with plenty to keep the kids entertained, including cookie decorating, arts and crafts and face painting. For those feeling creative, kids can decorate their own edible gingerbread house at the family workshop led by French Bakery.