Monthly Archives: February 2015

26th February 2015

10 Things No-one Tells You About Having Your Second Child

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 19.33.111 – That you will excitedly retrieve toys, gyms, walkers and ride-ons from their storage place for your new addition – but when you reveal them, the older child will look delighted with themselves and barely let their younger sibling touch them.

2 – That when you take your new baby home from hospital, your first one will have morphed into a giant.

3 – That the tiredness doesn’t just come from lack of sleep, but from the physical exhaustion of lifting two little people, heaving car seats and children into the car, trying to steer double buggies with a mind of their own, and then working out how to collapse them and lift it into the boot. It feels like you always have a person to lift, carry or push. And it’s true. You do.

4 – That if you own an iPad, there will be war.

5  – That there is absolutely no point trying to give your children different foodstuffs. And that you should practice cutting sandwiches into identical shapes, counting out blueberries, and carefully dividing snacks into half portions while you still have the time.

6 – That despite looking and acting nothing like your own siblings, you will be constantly amazed that your second is not a carbon copy of your first.

7 – That you will feel fiercely protective of your new cub from the moment they are born. And that this may include rugby tackling your own (precious first born) child when they launch themselves at the baby with a large toy tipper truck.

8 – That your youngest child will grow up so much quicker, mastering the art of a crayon months before their older sibling, wanting to eat the same food when he spots his siblings plate (baby food? pah that’s for babies) and getting the most enjoyment out of toys designed for children twice his age. And that baby toys will therefore gather dust and be completely pointless.

9 – That heading outside with both children on your own for the first time is as big a milestone as the first tooth or first steps – and that you will never forget the day you did it. And that the fear of doing it is almost always worse than the reality.

10 – That despite the constant chatter, laughing, whining and screams, you won’t realise quite how noisy the house has got until the children aren’t there – and then that silence sounds and feels very odd indeed.

25th February 2015

They won’t remember any of this

10444617_10154436552245607_555393105091746465_nI have a very fuzzy memory from my childhood of my Dad carrying me upstairs to bed. It was the night before my third birthday and I could feel butterflies in my tummy with excitement. I can remember him walking me up the stairs slowly, then along the corridor and into my bedroom. I remember him telling me that if I went to sleep, the morning would come quicker. I remember reaching out for my teddy bear and closing my eyes – and I remember feeling his goodnight kiss. It’s a fleeting memory and certainly not a vivid one, but it’s a memory nonetheless.

This is the earliest memory I have and I have thought back to that night often since becoming a mother.


Because it reminds me that up to this point, my boys won’t remember a single thing we have done.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

Stanley won’t remember the time we took him to Thailand and he fed elephants bananas. He won’t remember the way he squealed with excitement when the trunk sucked up the fruit and curled it into the animal’s mouth. He won’t remember the day he went to visit his newborn brother in the hospital, totally ignoring him in favour of a plate of chips, but sneakily stealing a glance when he thought no one was looking. He won’t remember his second birthday cake, or chasing bubbles on the lawn on summer days, or stirring pancake mixture with me in his pyjamas early on Saturday mornings. He won’t remember the bedtime cuddles or the goodnight kisses, the morning cartoons or the scooter rides to nursery.

Wilfred won’t remember waking up to a hard frost in December, staring confused at the glistening white grass as he pressed his nose against the cold window and jumped backwards with the shock. He won’t remember meeting my eyes as a newborn as he fed, going for walks in the sunshine and cooing as he spots boats, dancing with me in the living room while no one was watching, or being thrown into the air by his Daddy as he threw his head back and howled with laughter.

Neither of them will remember any of this.

I’ve been busy creating memories that won’t be memories at all.

My friend Aimee, who is a blogger at Raising Freddie and a qualified Early Years Professional (the owner of soon-to-be-opened Paddington Nursery, no less), tells me that this memory loss is called ‘child amnesia’. She continues: “Studies have shown that we do not remember much before we are two and even then many of us have no recollection of much before we are six.” 

Well that’s depressing, isn’t it?

But Aimee continues: “It is still so important for little ones to have a range of experiences before they can form lasting memories. No your child won’t remember that expensive day out when he was one, however the positive, nurturing atmosphere that you provided will impact hugely on their emotional wellbeing as they grow up.  Even babies can record their memories through love, smells, taste, song, and friends.  If you sing your child their favourite nursery rhyme do they recall it? Of course they do. Children remember things they enjoy, like mummy and daddy, their favourite food, and familiar sights. This is because it interests them. If we expose our children to different interests and experiences throughout their early life, these will inevitably impact on their adult life. Ensuring your child has a loving environment to be brought up in from a young age is the key to (hopefully) a positive adulthood.”

Talking to Aimee has made me feel a lot better about memories – or, as it turns out, the lack of them. Everything we have done so far will shape them as little people as they grow up.

And one day in the future, maybe my grown-up boys will be thinking back to their earliest memories, just as I have done. And when they do, the fuzzy memories of warm hugs, bedtime kisses, and exciting adventures will feel totally familiar. Because it’s what we always did and what we always continued to do. It was worth every second making sure they remembered that. Even before they could remember at all.

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23rd February 2015

6 x Apps I Use Nearly Every Day

OK, I admit it. I’m totally addicted to my iPhone. I feel naked when it’s not within my grasp – and whilst the boys aren’t allowed to play with it for long periods, they do enjoy kiddie-friendly apps when they are allowed.

These six apps are probably my favourite – they are the ones I use most days and find very useful. Plus, there’s a couple thrown in for the kids too, which I love as much as they do.

I’d love this post to be a place where you can suggest your favourites too – as everyone loves a recommendation and my iPhone could do with some fresh blood. So please do comment below (or on Facebook or Twitter) with your favourites!

photo.PNG1 – Pocket, Free (iTunes and Google Play)

This app is genius. Do you find yourself scrolling through Facebook and getting distracted by the links to web posts you want to read? Download Pocket and you can send those links to the app in a second, saving them to read when you have more time (like when the kids are in bed or you are on your lunch break at work). The really clever bit, however, is that the links are fully downloaded when you send them across, meaning you can scroll through your list and read the posts when you don’t even have an internet connection.

2 – Project 365, Free (iTunes)

I blogged about this app back in January here. The idea is that you take one picture every day as a visual diary and upload it to the app on your phone. You also get a password-protected page online to upload your photos to protect them (in case you lose your phone or a toddler throws it down the toilet). I have been taking photos for over two years now and absolutely love looking back at how the boys have changed and what we were doing at the same time in previous years. I really recommend it.

3 – Art Kive, £2.99 (iTunes)

Here’s another app I have blogged about before here. ArtKive is an app that allows you to photograph your child’s artwork, upload it into albums, label it with their age or school year, and keep it filed away forever. There is also the option to create photo books of the artwork, so you can document it in physical form too. And yes, I know that you could just take photos on your iPhone – and if you can then be bothered to create folders manually for each child and remember to keep uploading, you can save yourself £2.99. But I really can’t be bothered to do that. So, in my humble opinion, this app is really brilliant.

4 – Nighty Night, £2.49 (iTunes and Google Play)

This app is for children and it’s quite simply a work of art. Designed for children between 1 and 4 to play when winding down before bed, children can click through a farmhouse with different animals in every room. They turn off the light for each animal and watch them settle down for bed. The graphics are really beautiful and the soundtrack very serene – it’s definitely worth paying £2.49 for.

5 – The Wonder Weeks, £1.49 (iTunes and Google Play)

You know when your baby is being fussy and unsettled and you think to yourself ‘maybe it’s teething or he’s going down with a cold?’ Well according to this app, it’s very often developmental leaps that cause babies to act like this – and not only that, they can be predicted as it’s all linked to their age. So you can log onto this app, check whether baby is going through a leap, and feel better equipped to deal with it. There’s even helpful tips for getting baby through the leap happily. I still log on very regularly for Wilfred – he still has two leaps to go before his ‘Wonder Weeks’ journey comes to an end.

6 – My PlayHome, £2.49 (iTunes and Google Play)

I like this app for children a lot. It’s essentially a huge, interactive playhouse where a touch of the screen can fry an egg, close curtains, switch on a washing machine, get the family dressed, put the baby to bed, and much more. I like the fact it encourages children to be imaginative through play. Be warned though, once Stanley left an alarm clock on in the app and threw the phone down on the sofa. It took me a long time to work out where that alarm was coming from…

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21st February 2015

Family Update: Fire in the Marina, Crocodiles in the Mall, and Dinosaurs over lunch

imageToday has been a funny old day. We woke up to the news that one of the tallest residential apartment blocks in Dubai Marina had been on fire overnight. My thoughts immediately turned to the residents – and I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach when I realised there would now be families, just like us, who no longer had access to their homes or belongings.

Thankfully, there were no casualties in that tower and people are starting to get back into the building (I have joined a Facebook group to donate things to the residents of Torch Tower, so have been getting regular updates). We swung by the building this morning on our way out as we have a friend who owns an apartment in the tower and wanted a first-hand update. The damage was a lot less visible than I was expecting, so I’m hoping the damage inside isn’t as devastating as everyone first thought. Only time will tell as people start getting back in.

Of course, it leads you to think about your own safety – and with two little boys, living in an apartment on the 21st floor, I suddenly feel very vulnerable. What if my husband is out when the alarm sounds? How will I get the boys down 21 flights of stairs on my own? How will we get out quickly if it’s the middle of the night? We need to think about these things. It’s the wake-up call we need to put together a solid plan for our family.

In other news, the weather has been awful this weekend. Sand storms, high winds, and very little visibility – so waking up this morning and seeing that our usual Saturday beach day was now off, we decided to jump in the car and drive over to The Dubai Mall to take the boys to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

The aquarium is located in The Dubai Mall (the world’s largest mall) and anyone can stand in front of the tank and watch the fish, rays, and shark in-between a spot of shopping. We paid to go in today, walking through the tunnel to see the creatures swimming around us.

photo 1

We last did this with the boys a year ago, when Wilfred was literally a week old, so it was amazing to see how much more Stanley enjoyed it as a nearly-three-year-old – and of course, his little brother could now enjoy it too, enthusiastically pointing and squealing as we pushed him through the tunnel.

After we had walked slowly through, we took the lift up the second floor to see the rest of the creatures – including a seriously big crocodile called King Croc, one of the largest amphibians to ever be in protected environment. Stanley was absolutely terrified of King Croc, which I wasn’t expecting as he isn’t usually scared of anything, but he loved the penguins, jelly fish, octopus and otters.

photo 2

It was time for lunch – and after trying and failing to dine in The Rainforest Cafe (Stanley was feeling fragile after the King Croc experience and said he was scared of the thunder storm), we decided on The Cheesecake Factory – and were lucky enough to have a table overlooking DubaiDino.

It’s crazy to me that there is a dinosaur in The Dubai Mall that is estimated to be 150-155 million years old. He’s not even in pride of place anymore, as they’ve moved him into the Gold Souk and you have to follow dino-paw-prints on the floor to find him. He’s a Diplodocus Longus and was discovered in America in 2008. Now The Dubai Mall owns him and we can gaze at his jurassic bones between bites of macaroni and cheese. Totally surreal.

photo 3

Sometimes I struggle with the crazy side of Dubai – and the fact there are sharks, crocodiles, and dinosaurs in the mall, just a few paces away from GAP and Marks & Spencer, is always going to be a bit bizarre to me. I really want the boys to have a childhood like I did, playing with other children at the rugby club every weekend while their Dad is on the pitch, attending family teas with their cousins in front of Sunday afternoon TV, and walking down a high street in the rain whenever their parents needed to do a spot of shopping. But our life in Dubai means that isn’t possible and we do our best to embrace it.

So we might have had a shock today when we woke up and read the news, but the boys have had the time of their lives. And I think the smiles on their faces mean that was a success. I’ve got to be honest though, I’m kind of hoping we are back on the beach next weekend. Come on sunshine.

20th February 2015

I promise to take less photos of my children

10956549_778562995558614_209114734_nIt was a Saturday morning and we were enjoying a few hours on the beach. I had a cappuccino in my hand, the husband was building a sandcastle with Stanley, and Wilfred was bashing the sand with a spade. The sun was warm, but not uncomfortable, and there was a gentle breeze to keep us cool. It was just as lovely as it sounds – and as I sat there and watched my family, I felt pretty pleased with my lot.

Bored of bashing the sand, Wilfred sat up and thought for a moment, clearly making a decision about his next move. I saw him glance towards the water and mentally prepared myself to chase a quick-as-lightning baby towards the shore. But clocking his older brother, he decided to crawl in that direction instead. After all, there are few things more satisfying in life than knocking over your brother’s sandcastle.

Much to my surprise, he stopped just short of the sandcastle and decided to sit next to his brother and watch him filling the bucket – and noticing he was there, Stanley turned to his baby brother and smiled.

But instead of keeping my eyes clamped on this beautiful little moment between two brothers, I instinctively reached out to grab my phone. It wasn’t at the end of my reach and I had two choices. Dig around in a beach bag to find it and risk missing the moment completely – or sacrifice the photo and make sure I captured every second in my mind.

I made the decision to sacrifice the photo – and at that very moment, Stanley lowered his head and gently kissed his brother’s forehead. I’d never seen him do this before and I felt my heart swelling in my chest as I watched such a sweet little moment. But within a split second, it was over – and Stanley was back to shoveling sand into the bucket as his brother watched.

If I’d made the decision to find my phone, I would have completely missed it.  I would have turned back round to see that the moment had passed. I would probably have clicked away anyway, thinking I’d caught a tender moment between two brothers as they sat together on the sand.

I would have had no idea I had missed the most beautiful moment of all in my attempts to remember this morning on the beach.

When we’d got home, showered off, fed the boys their lunch, and got them into bed for their lunchtime nap, I sat down on the sofa and thought about that sweet little moment between the boys. And that is when it suddenly dawned on me that I must have missed so many more moments in my attempts to document their lives.

I’m the first to admit that I like taking photographs. I am addicted to Instagram and complete a challenge to take at least one photo every day for the Project 365 app on my phone. But the truth is that I usually take a lot more than one, it’s probably more than 20. Every single day. And I genuinely feel naked and panicked if I don’t have my phone, as I have developed a very real fear that if I don’t photograph a moment, I will forget it.

And I don’t want to forget a second. Not a single one.

But here is the silly thing. That memory of two little brothers on the beach is so much clearer than any photograph I have taken. It is burnt on my mind and replays several times a day – especially when one of the boys has clonked the other over the head with a toy and I need to be reminded that they like each other.

I remember the way Wilfred looked up as Stanley touched his head. I remember the expression on his face was one of familiarity, rather than shock. I remember the sound of the waves gently lapping the shore. I remember the feeling of the sun beating down on my shoulders as I watched. I remember the moment just afterwards, when their attention turned back to the sandcastles – but I stayed frozen to the spot as I processed what I’d just seen. I remember their Dad glancing at me to check I’d seen it too. And I remember feeling such relief that I didn’t try and find that bloody phone.

So I have made a vow to take less photos of the children. I won’t give up my photography habit completely, of course, but I am determined to cut down. When these special moments unfold, I want my instinctive reaction to be to sit and watch them, committing them to memory, and drinking up every single second. I don’t want to miss them in a desperate scramble for my phone.

From now on, I want my eyes to witness these moments. And I’m looking forward to seeing what I have been missing.

19th February 2015

25 Creative Pregnancy Announcements

Love them or hate them, pregnancy announcements are getting more and more creative thanks to the world of social media. They can be funny, cheesy or emotional – literally anything goes (but please, no-one wants to see the pregnancy test you wee’d on). If you have a baby currently brewing or are thinking of adding to your family soon, here’s some inspiration.

Oh and before you ask, there definitely isn’t a Mum of Boys baby on the way – but if it ever happens, I’m totally going to announce it with superheroes.

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e1912a41b31591be989533863a2ebd05Which is your favourite?

17th February 2015

10 of the coolest bedrooms for boys

OK, I admit it. I’m addicted to Pinterest. And sometimes, when I’m sat twiddling my thumbs waiting for an appointment, I pick up my phone and start scanning through visual ideas from people that are far more creative than me.

The latest thing to get my attention is cool bedroom ideas for boys. It’s probably because we rent in Dubai and don’t have the freedom to do what we want to the room – so of course, I torture myself looking at things we could do if we owned the place. There are some ways, however, I could transform the room without getting a team of builders in, such as the metallic paint in the first photo (I may well be doing this in Stanley’s room) – and for the rest, such as the army hideaway with slide, I guess I will just keep dreaming.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 ideas for cool bedrooms for boys. Which one gets your vote?

photo 5 copy photo 4 photo 4 copy photo 3 photo 3 copy photo 2 photo 2 copy photo 1 photo 1 copy

photo 5

Very cool!

15th February 2015

The day I realised how much I missed maternity leave

27ff7b0e67d111e2b55422000a9f1377_7It was last Thursday morning. I was sat in a coffee shop working on my laptop, after having a meeting in the building next door. I was sipping a cappuccino and trying to clear my inbox, before moving on to write a feature for a magazine that was due in the next day. I was keeping an eye on the clock, as I needed to jump on the tram and pick up my oldest from nursery. I was happy enough; it was a pretty average morning of work.

And then suddenly, one by one, a group of mums with buggies started arriving to have lunch with their babies. The café was filled with the sound of warm greetings, babies babbling away, and chat about how everyone had slept the night before. In the way that mums do when they join up together for a good chat, seeing each other suddenly gave them energy and the conversation was non-stop, happy, and familiar.

I haven’t regretted going back to work in the mornings once since I made the decision to do it. But as I sat and watched the group from over my laptop, I felt a pang of utter jealousy.

Because I was just like them once. Only a couple of years ago, in fact. And at that moment, I would have done anything to swap places with them, ordering coffees and slices of cake between stories of projectile vomits and breastfeeding woes.

And the thing is, I don’t think I fully appreciated it at the time.

After I had my first baby and I was all alone with him in our echoey villa, I filled the long days by making plans to meet up with friends. We rotated around each other’s homes, baby-friendly coffee shops, and play dates in the park. I wasn’t officially on ‘maternity leave’ as it doesn’t strictly exist when you work for yourself, but those days revolved around this little person who had come into my life and caused a tsunami of total chaos and fierce new love in the process. He was absolutely my world – and those meet-ups with friends, just like the one I was witnessing, kept me sane when I was dog tired and constantly worried about whether I was doing it right.

I wish I could go back and tell myself how special that time was. I wish I could make myself appreciate his tiny body, his strong grip around my finger, his milk-drunk smiles in the middle of the night. I wish I could go back and soak up every second of those meet-ups with friends, laughing at the stories, sipping on the strongest coffees money could buy, and pushing my sparkly new pram through the mall as he slept.

I was supposed to be working, but I couldn’t help but listen in to their chat and watch them pass around their babies to allow each other to eat. I wanted to shout out ‘I have children! Can I join your gang?’ I wanted to tell them everything I have told you above. But I knew that they’d think I was mad. And I knew that one day, when they returned to work (or had their second baby and realised coffee dates weren’t quite as relaxing with a toddler in tow), they too would realise how precious that time was. And they would miss it too, just like the mad lady eavesdropping behind her laptop.

So I flipped the laptop shut, asked for the bill, and walked out of that coffee shop. And when I picked that baby up from nursery 20 minutes later, now a nearly-three-year-old that has the same big blue eyes but much more interesting vocabulary, I pulled him into a hug, breathed in the familiar smell of his hair, and walked home hand-in-hand as we talked about what he’d done that morning. And I reminded myself that one day, I would no doubt be missing these moments too.

And maybe a mad lady was watching us from the other side of the road, wishing she could tell me just that.

13th February 2015

8 Myths About Dubai


1389369_620256411345722_643562108_nMyth 1 – We worry about being arrested all the time. Friends back in the UK have frequently said ‘I couldn’t live there’ when they hear about people being arrested for breaking the law. But they could live here – it really isn’t hard if you know the laws and respect the culture. If you hear about somebody being arrested, it’s almost always tourists that think they can act exactly the same as they would at home. The irony is that I feel a lot safer in Dubai than I ever felt when I lived in London, there is very little crime and everyone is very honest – for example, if you leave your wallet in a taxi, the likelihood is that you will get it back. So no, residents don’t walk around trembling at the thought of being arrested. Respecting the local culture isn’t difficult either. We chose to come and live here, after all.

Myth 2  – It’s hot all the time. Lots of people hear the word ‘Dubai’ and think about the heat. It is in the desert after all. But we have winters too. They aren’t as chilly as home by any means, but between November and February, you’re going to need to wear long sleeves in the mornings and evenings. We also get a fair few overcast days and quite a few rainy days during these months. When it gets to April, the temperatures do soar and we spend most of our time inside until late October – but the irony is that during those scorching months, we are usually quite chilly as the air conditioning is switched up so high.

Myth 3 – There’s no green space. It’s true that we live in the desert and there is a lot of sand.  There are patches of sand everywhere, waiting for buildings to spring up or used as make-shift carparks. If you drive out of the city, it takes a matter of minutes to reach the desert – and when you get there, yes, you do see wild camels walking around. But Dubai also has a lot of green space. The city is full of lovely parks – from huge sprawling parks with boating lakes, to small community parks to head with the kids and a picnic. We spend a lot of our time at the weekend heading to these parks and spreading out a blanket on the lawns. So our children are definitely not alien to a bit of grass. We can get a green fix whenever we want it.

Myth 4 – You see people walking their pet tigers down the street. I’ve been here five years now and I’ve never seen it. Disappointingly.

Myth 5 – Everyone is materialistic. It’s true that there are a lot of people in Dubai with money. It’s also true that there are a lot of people without it. And it’s true that there are lots of people in between. It’s certainly not true that everyone you meet is money-hungry, shallow and materialistic. The community spirit is so strong here and there are appeals for charity donations and volunteering roles on a daily basis – and people respond in their droves. The truth is that people don’t come here because all they care about is money – they come here because that is where the job is and they want to do the best for their families or further their careers (and that is true for every job, every salary level, every nationality). I have met very few people that are shallow and materialistic (there are always a few, of course, wherever you live) but I meet lovely, down-to-earth mummies on a daily basis that are just trying their best for their kids. We don’t talk about what car we have, where we are going on holiday next, or what we fancy buying our kids to spoil them that week – we talk about the fact our toddlers are going through the terrible twos and got about two hours sleep the night before with a teething baby. Most the time, life is as normal and repetitive here as it would be at home, with the benefit of sunny weekends on the beach.

Myth 6  – Dubai is rubbish for kids. I wasn’t aware of this myth until a few friends at home mentioned coming to visit and told me that they wouldn’t bring the kids, as ‘obviously Dubai isn’t suitable for them’. I was surprised, as this city revolves around families. It’s so much more family friendly than I have experienced elsewhere in the world – kids are welcomed everywhere, breastfeeding is encouraged and accepted everywhere, and weekend events seem to revolve around families. Dubai has a very young population, as people tend to come here to have their families, before returning to their home countries several years later. Prams, pregnant ladies, and small children are everywhere you look – and the city seems to revolve around them.

Myth 7 – Dubai is rubbish for women. I’ve been here for 5 years and haven’t felt repressed or belittled once. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I feel totally respected in a way I hadn’t experienced until I moved here. It’s not surprisingly really, as women are traditionally the backbone of Emirati families. In fact, the UAE was ranked number one in the world for treating women with respect in 2014’s Social Progress Index study. I’ve been trying to think of examples to demonstrate this, but I’m struggling to put it into words. It’s really just a case of being seen wherever you go and helped if you need it.

Myth 8   – There is no culture in Dubai. Of all the myths, this is the one that winds me up the most. In fact, at a wedding recently, I got in a really animated discussion with a man who told me there was no culture (having been here for one day, nicely tucked up in his five-star hotel). There might not be much in the way of culture if you don’t venture any further than your hotel room, but head to the old town (or further afield) and you will discover so much waiting for you. You will find old wind towers built in the days before air conditioning, you will find abras crossing the Creek that have been in operation since the first settlers on its banks, you will find bustling old souks filled with glittering gold and pungent spices, you will find camel races with locals following the animals around the track, you will find historical villages showing off ancient crafts, and you will find so much more.  So yes, there is culture. You just have to be brave enough to leave those shiny hotel lobbies to find it.

And a few things that are true:

– A tank of petrol costs us about Dhs100, which is £20

– We have the world’s tallest building, biggest mall, tallest dancing fountains, and tallest residential tower.

– You can drink alcohol, as long as you have an alcohol license.

– 24 per cent of the world’s cranes are in Dubai – there’s that much construction.

– We have an indoor ski resort, located in Mall of the Emirates

12th February 2015

My favourite places to shop for my boys

One thing I’ve heard repeated frequently from pregnant mummy friends is that it’s not as much fun to dress little boys. A lot of shops admittedly seem to give up on boys’ clothes, filling the rails of the girls’ aisles with pretty prints and classic shapes, so that you don’t have to spend a lot to dress  girls classically and beautifully. For the boys, however, there might be a few pairs of tracksuit bottoms, with a tacky embroidered logo on the pocket for good measure, and a couple of different choices of T-Shirts with neon cartoon characters emblazoned across them. So no; it isn’t always easy to shop for boys, but if you shop in the right places, it really can be just as much fun to dress them.

Here are my favourite places to shop for my boys. All 6 are available in the UK and 4 are available in the UAE (I highly recommend getting yourself a Shop & Ship account if you don’t already have one so you can ship the other 2 too).



1 – ETSY. This online marketplace has a bit of a reputation for crafty, homemade buys – but you can pop anything into the search engine and discover some very cool buys for boys. The above three buys are all by UK sellers (Top, Leggings, and Downloadable Print) and cost very little. I’ve just ordered Wilfred this pair of leggings and another covered in monsters, oops. Shop here.

2 – H&M. You need to hunt through the rails of H&M to find the best bits, but I have dressed my boys from this store since they were a couple of months old. I usually go for the simple basics. Don’t expect them to last too long, as you get what you pay for in terms of quality. Shop the UK online store here. View the UAE collection here.

3 – NEXT. I’m a sucker for Next. I like the simplicity of a lot of their clothes and I love the fact that things are always comfortable. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t bear to put the boys in scratchy clothes that I would never dream of wearing against my own skin. The prices are very good too. Shop the UK online store here. Shop the UAE online store here.

4 – OFFICE. I get all Stanley’s shoes from Office. He lives in TOMS and Converse, which look cool but also support his feet. The TOMS are especially good, as he’s very independent, meaning he can put them on and take them off himself. If we lived in the UK, he would also be wearing Timberlands. Shop the UK online store here.

5 – GAP KIDS. Oh I love GAP Kids. Such simple, stylish pieces for boys. I just wish it was a bit cheaper, especially in Dubai where everything is inflated by another 30% – I just can’t bring myself to spend the equivalent of £30 on a pair of shorts. When the stuff goes on sale, however, I’m the first through the door. The 2-for-1 T-Shirt deals are also brilliant. Shop the UK online store here. Head into store if you are in the UAE.

6 – ZARA KIDS. Also a bit pricey, but really lovely for the odd piece for your boys’ wardrobes. There’s a real mixture of classic and quirky. The store is especially lovely when boys are teeny – and make sure you pop into Zara Home too, for the irresistible choice of baby blankets. Shop the UK online store here. Head into store if you are in the UAE.