20th July 2016

The last pregnancy

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 18.20.18As she wriggles around in my tummy, I think to myself ‘This is it now – 8 more weeks of feeling baby kicks and that is it. I will never feel a baby again beneath my ribs, stroke a bump in a maternity dress, or wash tiny newborn outfits to pack into a hospital bag.’

I tell myself ‘Enjoy it. Soak it up. Commit it to memory. One day, you can tell your daughter just what it’s like. But you won’t feel this again. This is it now. And soon, it will be over.”

I am pretty sure this is the last pregnancy. You can never be 100% sure with life’s twists and turns and a fourth baby would by no means be a disaster – but I am confident this baby will be our last. I will walk out of hospital in a few months time with a newborn in a car seat and that chapter of our life will be over.

The last pregnancy, now just a memory.

The first of ‘the lasts’.

I loved pregnancy so much the first two times that I imagined I would feel nostalgic and a little sad about that as my due date approached with my last baby. But the truth is that I don’t – I feel like it’s right. This pregnancy has not been easy on my body and I have no energy for my boys. I can’t wait for her to arrive. And even though she is still safely tucked up in my tummy, I already feel complete. I already feel done.

But I haven’t met her yet – and as much as I have got to know her wriggles, the positions she likes me to sit in, and the fact that she prefers me to lie on my left hand side at night (or I get a boot in the ribs for my troubles) I don’t really know her yet either. And I am sure that as soon as she is placed on my chest and we’ve met eyes, I will know exactly who she is – and saying goodbye to the newborn days for the last time will be harder.

Saying goodbye to the small sleepsuits, the tiniest vests, and the softest swaddles that all three have been wrapped in as newborns. Packing them away in boxes, selling them, having to hand them all over to a stranger to dress a baby I have never met. Or not having the courage just yet, keeping it stashed away, too painful to say goodbye to such precious memories (even if they are stained yellow with milky sick and bobbled from so much use).

That will be harder, I know that already. Not because I am aching to do it all again – but because I don’t want those hazy, but so special newborn days to be over too soon. I don’t want her to grow too quickly, to become a big baby, then a toddler, and then a child.

Then the baby days really will be over.

But for now, I can’t wait to walk out of that hospital and head home to my boys with their little sister, to start our life as a family of five. No more baby kicks in objection when I lie on my left side – but a baby girl swaddled in my arms.

The first of ‘the lasts’ – yes.

But more importantly, the first of the ‘the firsts’.

And I can’t wait for it all to begin.



19th July 2016

Currently Loving – July 2016

It’s been a while since I have written one of these posts, so I thought it was about time for some shopping and entertainment inspiration. As I’m in the UK at the moment (for another few weeks at least), there are a mix of UK and UAE companies this time round. And just shout if you have any queries about stockists or availability…

Currently Loving

1. Mammylicious.com (UAE). Good quality, fashionable, and affordable maternity wear has been a long time coming in Dubai – but all of a sudden, we are spoilt for choice. One of my favourite websites is Mammylicious.com. Not only does the store have a range of stunning maternity dresses (which fit like a dream), stylish tops, comfortable trousers and plenty of nursing wear for when baby arrives, but they are offering Mum of Boys readers 20% off everything on the site until the end of August using the code MUMOFBOYSREADER – which gives me all the more reason to shop… Shop here

2. Jelly Cat (UAE and UK). Both my boys have had Jelly Cat soothers as newborns. Stanley still sleeps with his blue bunny and Wilfred is rarely parted from his monkey – so now has come the time to choose something for their baby sister… I still can’t decide, but I am tempted by this pink bunny with liberty-style floral print inside the ears. Available at John Lewis in the UK and Db Babies in the UAE.

3. Cath Kidston (UAE and UK). I recently picked up this Cath Kidston Foldaway Overnight Bag at the gifting suite of the Stylist ME Social Media Awards – and although I can’t find the exact one for sale on the website anymore, there are lots of other designs to pick from. It comes with a small pouch to keep valuables in and is roomy enough to use as a nappy bag (and is washable and waterproof too). The long strap means I can sling it over the handle of the buggy, making it really practical too. Available at CathKidston.com in the UK and in Cath Kidston, Mall of the Emirates in the UAE.

4. Mumzworld.com Pregnancy Pillow (UAE). Thank goodness for my Mumzworld.com Pregnancy Pillow, which I bought a few months ago online. I am currently separated from it whilst in the UK and it’s not easy – and I can’t wait to get back to its pillowy support. I really recommend this style by Leacho (132 AED). Shop here.

5. Aden & Anais Swaddle Wrap (UAE and UK). I fell in love with Aden & Anais swaddles when Wilfred was born, with giant dimensions, the softest breathable muslin, and beautiful designs – and I’ve always secretly coveted the neon pink star design… Now that I have a little girl on the way, I am definitely snapping it up. You can shop online (with shipping to both UAE and UK) at Melijoe.com

6. Fred & Noah (UK). It’s no secret that I am a fan of Fred & Noah leggings for Wilfred (and I have a few pairs for baby girl already too) – and the latest collection is just amazing. Wilfred has been rocking dinosaurs, whales, stars, and clouds while he’s been back in the UK. I don’t want him to wear anything else! Shop here.

7. Etsy (UK and UAE). I’m a fully fledged Boy Mama for a few months longer – and of course, I always will be after that too, so I adore this T-Shirt from Etsy. Shipped from the US to all over the world, it costs just $19.95. Shop here.

8. Zoomer (UK). Thank you to the makers of Zoomer for sending Stanley and Wilfred this very cool garden ride-on for their summer in the UK. Created by two mums, Zoomers are designed cleverly to be stable, comfortable and easy to steer – we’ve tried a lot of garden toys in the past, but this ride-on is definitely the most stable (you could take it to the park or woods) and the boys love it so much there have been more than a few scraps over who gets to ride it. Lovely addition to Nanna and Grandad’s garden, especially now the sun is shining! They cost £54.95. Shop here.

9. Selfish Mother (UK and UAE). You may remember me wearing a ‘MOTHER’ T-shirt in photos on this blog a while back – and Selfish Mother have just started selling these cool year T-Shirts (with £5 of every sale going to the charity KIDS CHARITY UK). I definitely want a 2012 and 2014 for Wilfred – too cute! They cost £18 each – and although they’re a UK company, they ship all over the world. Shop here.

10. Finding Dory (UK and UAE). We were lucky enough to get a very early release of Finding Dory in the UAE and watched it before we flew back to the UK at the end of the June. We LOVED it. I have a slightly fish-obsessed two-year-old and I knew it would be a big hit – and I wasn’t wrong. Both the 2 and 4 year old were glued to it from the second it started and they’ve been talking about it ever since. It opens in the UK on 29th July – the day we fly back to the UAE, which is a shame as we’d definitely watch a second time. There seems to be a lot of merchandise around too, so that’s his Christmas present sorted! Watch out for the Octopus; he’s definitely their favourite character!

11. Bear Nibbles (UK and UAE). We’ve always got Bear Nibbles in our house – even when that has meant buying in bulk and taking bags back to Dubai in our suitcases! These days you can buy them in the dried fruit aisles of Waitrose and at Ripe Markets in the UAE. And in the UK, we are spoilt for choice, with countless different varieties available in every supermarket – from Bear Claws, to Yo Yo’s, to Dino Paws. And now every multibox box comes with 3 x Alphabet Cards inside to collect. Oh and one packet of these yummy dried fruit snacks counts as one of their 5-a-day, which is music to my ears as they think it’s a treat! Supermarkets nationwide (UK); Waitrose and Ripe Market (UAE).



15th July 2016

Dear friends, bear with me. I will be back…

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 19.22.23Being back in the UK is wonderful in one respect, but so hard in another.

The fresh air, the greenness, the parks, the ducks to feed, the puddles to jump in. These things are so alien to us now, living in the desert for the past 6 years. My boys lap it up – and being around their family and friends means a smile is plastered on their face for the entire time we are here.

It’s wonderful and we need a dose of it every year, but I find it hard too.

Why? Because as my responsibilities have grown as quickly as my brood, I just can’t see all the people and do all the things I have been missing. The things that ‘summer’ has always meant to me.

Long summer evenings in a pub garden, nursing a glass of Pimms and laughing with my oldest friends until my cheeks ache. Days in London visiting school friends and old work colleagues on their lunch breaks, treading the streets of the West End with shopping bags in my grip, watching the sun set over the Thames as we tuck into plates of food in our favourite restaurants. Long train journeys to visit friends flung further away, with a coffee in my hand, stack on magazines in front of me, and weekend bag at my feet.

None of these things work when you are the mother of two, nearly three, little people.

Messages pop up on my phone on a near hourly basis and I try and fit in seeing everyone. I even have a spreadsheet this year to make it fit like a puzzle. Morning slots and afternoon slots (as Wilfred sleeps at lunch). Every day has a plan and I’m already exhausted with over a fortnight left to fill. Stanley asks me ‘what are we doing today?!’ and I know he’s so very excited to hear the answer every single morning – and that fills me with so much joy, but I feel the pressure for it to be ‘a summer to remember’ too.

When we say goodbye to friends after each meet-up, they ask ‘when will I see you again?’ and I don’t have the heart to tell them that there is only room for one visit per trip. How can I only have time to see these people that I love so much only once in a whole summer? In a whole year? I can’t ask the grandparents to do any more than they already do to help me with the boys – and I want to be with my children anyway; after all, they are the highlight of my summers too.

Then there are the people who I don’t have time to see – not through lack of interest, but absolutely through lack of time, as their free time just slot into the jigsaw of our free time. I type back ‘I’m so sorry, I’ll see you at Christmas?’ but I know that it’ll probably be the same story (with even less time) when December arrives and we fly back in.

Being an expat returning home is something you can’t understand unless you’ve been there – but all mothers understand the pull of their old life, their old hobbies, and their old friends. We all know how hard it is to fit things in when we have small people in tow – and even if our friends have small people too, it’s still not easy to find convenient dates and places that suit the various ages of all our children.

The difficulty in scheduling friends in may be all too obvious in my short summers back in the UK – but I feel like it’s a mirror, an exaggeration, and the perfect example of what every mother feels as their responsibilities grow. Plans made and then cancelled. Months, often years, between visits. Messages pinged back and forth before a suitable date, time and location is found. Snatched dreams of pub gardens, weekends away, and day trips to cities are just that; only dreams. Until their children grow up, at least.

But friends, please believe that I will be more present again one day. Once my small people get older and my time frees up once again. Maybe when we’ve relocated back to the UK, which has always been the plan one day. One day in the future. I will be back in that pub garden, I will be back visiting with my weekend bag slung over my shoulder and excitement for the days ahead bubbling in the pit of my (flat, not remotely pregnant) tummy. I don’t want to wish away this time in my life, but I know that one day it will pass.

As it will for most of you too.

And most importantly, I know you understand. You are either mothers yourself with equally difficult schedules to keep – or you are my friend, who has stuck by me for the past 4 years when so many others didn’t.

One day I will be back. And I’ll buy you a Pimms (or a jug, in fact). That’s a promise (I think…)



8th July 2016

Oh Wilfred, you are about to become a middle child…

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 19.57.42I am one of three children – and I am the middle child.

All through my childhood I felt a bit hard done by as the middle child. I didn’t get the privileges of being the oldest, nor was I babied like the youngest.

I fought battles for my sister – creating a petition when we wanted our ears pierced, for example – and then had to wait another two years to have my chance. She was marched off to the ear-piercing place and I hated her for those shiny gold nuggets and red ear lobes when she arrived home later that afternoon. I envied her when she washed her ears with sterilising fluid and winced with pain. I wanted to experience that too and felt the world was against me.

It was only fair that I should wait until I was the same age, my parents said. I disagreed.

On long drives across Europe, I had to sit in the middle seat of the car. The one without a door to lean on. The one with a bump under your bum and an uncomfortable strap across your middle. My head lolled from side to side when I tried to sleep and I woke up with neck ache, whilst the other two slept soundly against their doors.

My sister was too tall, they said. My brother was too small. I disagreed.

I helped my brother to write his name in chalk on my blackboard, teaching him the same way I had learnt at school – and when he decided to scrawl it up the side of the house in gigantic letters across the bricks, I somehow took the blame.

You encouraged him, they said. Or at least handed him the chalk, they added. I disagreed.

Can you see I’m still holding a grudge being the middle child?!

I always knew that I wanted three children – so not long after Wilfred was born, it suddenly occurred to me that (god willing) he would become the middle child one day. He’d wear the badge and maybe he’d feel the same injustice. In fact, maybe he’ll be writing a blog post just like this in 30 years time – or at least bringing it up every Christmas between glugs of port, while everyone laughed at his misfortune.

He’s always been the more “challenging” child – and I’ve found myself pointing out to friends that he is the classic middle child (takes one to know one). They pointed out that there are only two children, which threw me for a moment – but now that his baby sister is gearing up for her appearance in the world, he has the chance to fulfill my prophecy.

So Wilfred, as you veer into territory I know so well, remember this…  Being the middle child gives you an advantage in life too – you become a negotiator, you learn to fight battles, you are definitely a people person (seeing as they are everywhere) and you will find a streak of independence that will serve you well in later life.

But most of all, understand that in my eyes, it will not change anything. You will still get cuddles, you will be smothered in kisses, and you will still get just as much attention as you need.

In my case, it turned out that I wasn’t going to be the middle child forever, losing my brother 12 years ago and suddenly becoming the youngest. But in my heart, of course, I will always be the middle child – and I am adamant that my birth order shaped me into the person I am today.

Wilfred, I am sure that will be the same for you too – but you can count on one thing.

I will stick up for you between glugs of port at the dinner table every year.

It’s our birth right to moan, after all.



1st July 2016

Just the four of us – for a little while longer, at least…

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 19.58.58It’s been easy for me to bumble along in this pregnancy without giving much thought to the fact that our family unit is going to change beyond recognition in September.

My lovely little family that I adore so much.

Changed completely.

Easy, that is, until I started to feel so uncomfortable that I wanted to skip forward 10 weeks and have her in my arms – not in my belly, kicking my ribs, squishing my stomach, and putting ever-increasing pressure on my hips.

I am starting to struggle – and it’s much earlier than it was with the boys. I feel like I’m full term already, mooing like a cow as I attempt to turn over in bed (to the point that my husband sometimes even glances up from his book or phone to check I am not giving birth in the marital bed). I feel uncomfortable walking around for too long, but uncomfortable sitting down for too long too. My tummy feels like it’s going to pop. I limp for the first few minutes when I heave myself up from the sofa. Put simply, as happy as I am that I am growing a little miracle to add to our family, I am wishing away the third trimester so I can hold her in my arms.

But whilst I am counting down the days now and get a flurry of butterflies when I think about meeting our little girl for the first time, it has suddenly hit me like a lightning bolt that life is going to change as we know it.

My boys will have a sibling, which is wonderful – but how will she fit in?

My husband will have a daughter – but will he love her as much as his boys?

I will have a little girl – but will it feel the same as it did with my little boys?

And most importantly, we will change from a tight-knit family of four to a family of five – so can life ever be the same again?

I’ve had these worries once before, of course – whilst heavily pregnant with my second little boy in 2014, not really knowing whether I was going to be able to love another child like I did my first. Worrying about the fact that our family was changing. Unsure my husband would bond in the same way a second time.

There was nothing to worry about. Everything was wonderful – and that second little baby was as loved as his brother. And now, two years later, I can’t imagine life any other way. My heart swelled the moment I gave birth, with more than enough room for both my babies.

So I know that everything is going to work out in the end – but that doesn’t stop me looking back at this period as a family of four and feeling a little sad that it’s coming to an end.

My littlest baby will soon be my middle baby, his older brother will suddenly seem older, taller, and more mature – and I don’t know if I’m ready for all that.

I am so very grateful and happy for our little girl to be joining us – but I’m scared too. And if I’m honest, a little sad that this happy time as a foursome is coming to an end.

So for the next 10 weeks, I am going to try and put the aches, pains, kicks in the ribs, and sleepless nights to the back of my mind – and soak up every second I spend with my lovely little family of four.

Just the four of us – for a little while longer, at least.



30th June 2016

Our flight back to the UK (booked with Air Miles Middle East)

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 10.55.57We made it! We are currently in the UK with two small boys – and we have 5 weeks ahead to enjoy cooler weather, rainy days, family fun, and reunions with friends! We’ve literally been counting down the days since there was about 30 sleeps, so it feels like it’s been a long time coming, but we are really enjoying being back in Blighty…

So how did we book that flight? A while ago, I told you about how my family was saving with Air Miles Middle East so that our biannual flights home. You can read the post here if you didn’t catch it. Well after saving thousands of dirhams by simply shopping where we usually do, we have now taken that flight – and I just wanted to tell you about how easy it was to book and travel.

Booking

Once we had collected all the miles we could, we simply logged onto the Air Miles Middle East website and browsed for flights on the days we wanted. Every flight qualifies – so it’s not like we had to scrawl through lots of flights until we found one that allowed us to redeem miles. A little like booking on an airline website or somewhere like Expedia.com, you get a run down of the flights available and what they cost in miles – and when you have chosen the one you want, you simply click ‘Select Departure’.

You need a minimum of 30,000 Air Miles in your account to book a flight – and if you don’t have enough to cover the full cost of your flight (which we didn’t), the online system will work out what you need to pay in cash to make it up. Simples.

On the day that we booked, the online system was having a hitch – so I rang up and we did it all on the phone. This is always an option if you prefer talking to a human!

Within 30 minutes of booking the flight, I received confirmation from Air Miles Middle East and got an email from British Airways too, with our booking reference. From that point onwards, I did everything online on the British Airways website – it was as simple as if I’d booked directly on their site.

The Flight

Let’s be honest; flying with children is never as easy as those blissful, easy days of flitting across the globe with just a small rollalong case as company (in hindsight, of course, as it never felt too easy at the time).

But it was a really smooth flight, the boys behaved impeccably, and we were seriously impressed with both British Airways and Air Miles Middle East.

If you are interested in our journey, check out my latest Vlog here.

To find out more about Air Miles Middle East, visit www.airmilesme.com



27th June 2016

Vlog – Hello UK!

This week’s vlog is a shorter one – and it’s all about heading back to the green, green grass of home!

Music:

I Won’t Cry by Monarques
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Mon…
Needle Drop Co. - http://www.needledrop.co/artists/mona…

Sandbox Jingle by Scott Holmes
http://www.freemusicarchive.org/music…
http://www.facebook.com/ScottHolmesMusic

Airline: British Airways - http://www.britishairways.com/travel/…



18th June 2016

A letter to my husband, on the eve of Father’s Day…

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 16.28.40Right from the beginning, it was all about me.

I could feel the waves of nausea in the early days, the kicks under my ribs, the bouncing on my bladder in the middle of the night.

For you, it was just about watching my tummy grow, staring at grainy scan pictures stuck to the fridge, and occasionally raising your eyebrows in shock when I announced how many weeks there were to go.

And then it was time to go to hospital, driving me in the middle of the night to be induced, feeling helpless when the contractions took hold, holding my hands while an epidural was inserted, and then running around the ward trying to find a midwife when nausea ripped through my body near the end.

You felt just as scared, just as daunted, just as helpless as I did.

But when they came, every eye in the room was on me, rather than the man stood by my side.

And when he was born, he was given to me first. After all, I had carried him for 9 long months and I had just birthed him for 12 long hours.  But as I glanced into your eyes as I held him for the first time, I could see the reality of the moment was finally dawning on you. Tears pricked your eyes as you stared at the human we had made.

And finally, I passed him to you – and as you pulled this tiny, wriggling human to your chest, a smile spread across your face.

That was the moment that you became a Daddy.

That was the moment that it became about you too – 4 years ago in that hospital room, with the sun streaming through the window, our music playlist filling the room, and feelings of disbelief, relief, and pure happiness coursing through our veins.

That was the moment that you became a Daddy.

So much has happened since that day 4 years ago. Another baby joined us – just as beautiful, but without the disbelief. We were already parents and we moved through the baby stage with a newfound confidence, knowing how to change nappies, how to sterilise, and what to do when his little body was wracked with sobs.

And now we are waiting for a third baby; a little girl – and I have no fear. I know you will stand next to that hospital bed, no matter how the birth pans out. I know you will be my rock. And I know that when we get home, we will make it work. We always do. We always make it work, together.

And since the day in that hospital room, life has changed. On the surface, it may seem like it’s still all about me – as I am the one at home with the kids, I am the one picking them up from school, I am the one cooking their tea and often putting them down to bed on my own. But that just isn’t true.

You are such an important part of our world. You are our provider – but it’s so much more than that.

So much more.

You are the one that makes us smile, the one that protects us, the one that arrives home to a house full of smiles every evening, the one that our world revolves around every weekend. The boys echo you in so many ways – their mannerisms, their funny little sayings, even the way they sleep on their side and snore every night. As much as they are like me, they are like you too.

You have made me proud in so many ways; not always the perfect husband (as I am not the perfect wife) – but without exception, always the perfect Daddy.

In a world where not every child has the privilege, I know we are lucky to have you.

So lucky.

And on Father’s Day, I want you to know that.

Because at the beginning, it was all about me.

But that changed the very moment you became a Daddy.



Vlog Week 2 – Turtles, Lobsters and Water Fights

Here’s my second Vlog!

After the fun of last weekend in the desert, this is what real life looks like for us in Dubai!

Credits:

Tuesday:
Sheraton JBR – http://www.sheratonjumeirahbeach.com/
Swimming Lessons by Ultra Sports Solutions UAE – http://www.ultrasportsuae.com/

Wednesday:
Dinner at Bystro, off Al Thanya Street – http://bystrodubai.com/

Thursday:
Turtle Release at Burj al Arab – https://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/burj-al-arab/

Friday:
Cinema at VOX, Mall of the Emirates – http://uae.voxcinemas.com
Dinner at Lobster and Burger DIFC – http://www.burgerandlobster.com/

We now only have 3 sleeps until we fly back to the UK for 5 weeks, so next week will all be about flying and arriving home! I’ll vlog again then!



15th June 2016

5 of the best ways to save money in Dubai…

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 09.26.21There’s an assumption to those outside the UAE that expats living here are stinking rich – but when it comes to my family, I can assure you that after we’ve paid our rent, school and nursery fees, and done a few weekly shops, we certainly aren’t driving around in a gold-plated rolls or dining in Dubai’s version of The Ivy every night. We have to save money wherever we can, which is why I’ve become quite savvy at finding ways to stretch the cash.

Here’s my list of ways to do it – and if you have  ideas, I’d love you to list them in the comments!

1. Air Miles Middle East. I told you about this company in a recent blog post here – and I genuinely think it’s one of the best ways for families in the city to save money. To put it simply, you download the app (search “Air Miles ME” in the UAE store or click here), collect miles when you shop in certain places, and then use those miles to pay for things. We build ours up to help pay for biannual or annual flights home (we saved thousands this summer), but you could use them for grocery shopping, cinema trips, staycations, family dinners and much more. It’s easy to build them up if you regularly shop in participating outlets, such as Spinneys, The Toy Store, and Booking.com – and if you have a HSBC Credit Card, you can get double the points every time you use it at those outlets. Have a browse at www.airmilesme.com for all the info.

2. Guzzle App. If you enjoy the odd night out, but don’t generally have the funds – let me share a little secret… Download an app called “Guzzle” for free – and you will have access to a plethora of 2-for-1 drinks offers around the city. No need to pay for a package – all you have to do is download and register. Then click redeem when you want to save on a number of offers, such as ‘2 for 1 glasses or bottle of grape’, ‘2 for 1 bottle of hops’, and ‘2 for 1 mixed drinks’. Venues include the likes of Mahiki, Belgian Beer Café, The Balcony Bar, The Gramercy and much more.

3. Baby Bazaar.  Most of us have heard about this bi-monthly baby and kids market, where other parents sell their unwanted items – but have you attended yet? Everything costs money in Dubai – and inflated prices in Dubai stores have made the whole ‘buying for number three’ process a little daunting. I’ve considered dressing her head-to-foot in her brother’s outfits (and she will definitely wear a large chunk of it), but I do want a few girly things too. Step forward Baby Bazaar, where you can shop until you drop at a fraction of the price of the shops. And as a Mummy myself, I know that babies wear outfits very few times before they move up a size – so most of my buys are nearly new. Details here.

4. Free Play Areas. The absolute best way to save money on entertaining your kids during the hot summer months is to “like” every Facebook page for play areas in the city to keep in the loop when they run promotional free play sessions for kids and tots. For example, Kids HQ in Umm Suqeim (where Stanley recently had a brilliant 4th birthday party, see here) runs a free play session every Sunday between 11am and 3pm (call 04 379 4233 for details). There are also a number of indoor play areas in the city that offer completely free access, including IKEA Festival City; a small area for tots in Hamleys, The Dubai Mall; Pan Emirates on Umm Suqeim Street; Elevation Burger on Al Wasl; and Fat Burger on Beach Road. And don’t forget the free fun to be had in malls – we love visiting The Dubai Mall for a cheap morning of entertainment – a visit to DubaiDino, gazing at the fish in The Dubai Aquarium, watching the skaters at Dubai Ice Rink, and finishing with a frozen yoghurt. The boys feel like they’ve had a brilliant morning out and it cost us no more than 50 AED.

5. Shop the sales. This sounds obvious, but simply timing when you make big purchases can save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dirhams. For example, if you need to make a big purchase now (such as furniture), you should wait a few weeks, when the DSS festival kicks off (Dubai Summer Surprises). Taking place every year, this 43 day festival promises huge savings in almost every store in the city – and this year it’s taking place between 9th July to 20th August (details here). If you don’t need it right now, wait! There will be some huge savings announced soon! Meanwhile if you need a new car (like my family, with a third baby, gulp), now is an excellent time to buy with all the Ramadan offers on. You’ll find a round-up of deals here. Being savvy is the best way to shop in the UAE – there are savings to be made, but you just need to know when to be patient.