I come back to the UK a couple of times a year with my children – and these trips home last between two weeks and three months. So I get regular insights into what it takes to be a Mum in the UK. I arrived here again on Friday and have been busy with the boys ever since – and as we’ve been out and about, a few things that have struck me about why Mums in this country are brilliant…
(nb: Mums in the UAE are also brilliant! We are brilliant for different reasons and I will be sharing these soon!)
1 – Dressing children in a thousand layers before you leave the house. I have got very used to dressing my boys in two bits of clothing every day – T-shirt, shorts, and we’re done. And when you have a wriggling 14-month old who is trying to evict from the changing table and a stubborn 3-year-old who wants to wear his pyjamas to nursery, this is difficult enough. Mums in the UK, HOW DO YOU DO IT IN THE WINTER?! Vests, T-shirts, tights, trousers, jumpers, coasts, scarves hats, and socks? Don’t even get me started on the socks – I thought these things would be easy, but the simple act of putting a foot into a sock can take me 10 minutes. The toes move! The feet move! I give up!
2 – TV Adverts. It only took five minutes of switching on the TV for Stanley to announce that he wanted a Ninky Nonk train, Play-Doh Burger Machine, and My Little Pony Race Track. I’d left him in front of Peppa Pig, so you can imagine my confusion. Then I focused my attention on the screen for a few minutes. IT’S THE ADVERTS! THE ENDLESS ADVERTS! We don’t have many adverts on the TV in Dubai – and those we have don’t target children, so I was shocked to see how relentless it is. Stanley stared at the TV like a zombie, making a virtual wish list in his mind. Mums do not need this kind of pressure from a box in the corner of the room! Do the TV people not realise that we just want the talking pig?
3 – Mud. Children + mud = big mess. What do you mummies do? Bath them in the middle of the day? Bath them three times a day? Never take them out of the bath? Or is it just that my children, who are far more used to playing in sand, are attracted to dirty stuff like moths to a light-bulb? I don’t know, but I need some time to get my head around mud. The first time Stanley leapt into a muddy puddle in his wellies and slided straight onto his bum, I though it was funny. “Oh he’s just being a boy!” I said, silently wondering how many pairs of long trousers we had left in the drawer (we only own two or three, so we were running the risk of having to rely on pyjama trousers for a few days). Now that it happens every time we go out the door, I don’t find it so funny. I’ve never filled a washing machine and tumble dryer so regularly in my life.
4 – Supermarket Shopping. When I need to restock the cupboard or fridge, I call the grocery store down the road and they bring it to me. This means I don’t have to pile the children into the car, out the car again, around a supermarket, and then back home again – and I will admit that I have got very used to this ‘delivery’ culture in Dubai. Having to go to the shops with the kids in the UK every time you forget a vital ingredient for that night’s dinner (food?) requires serious mum skills. And I guess serious planning to make sure that rarely happens or you’d go a bit bonkers.
5 – Rain. When it rains in Dubai, we go outside and dance in it because it happens so rarely. I think we once owned a rain cover for our buggy, but I have no idea where it ended up. I had a comical moment on my trip home last summer where I attempted to walk a toddler and baby in the rain, holding a plastic sheet fashioned into a rain cover over the buggy and narrowly missing a serious eye injury thanks to the toddler’s umbrella. And me? Well I just got wet. Mums in the UK, I salute you for your rain skills. And I need some tips.