I get some questions from time to time asking what it’s like having kids here, being a mother and trying to live everyday life. Dubai, to many people is part of an unknown world. I certainly did not have much reason or opportunity to visit before moving here, so I give my sympathies to those who really do not know anything about this beautiful place(you are missing out!). I hope you can experience it yourself one day. And I hope that I can continue to experience many things, I am still learning!
I mentioned in a past post what a normal day in UAE is like for my family. Raising children here is pretty average, aside from the adjustments that everyone has to make when they first get here. The adjustments that we all make moving here will vary according to our families traditions and preferences. Raising children for me has not changed a huge amount compared to what it was before moving here.
Before moving here my children were young and not in school. Too young to participate in most activities beyond playing at the park and making a mess at home. Once here they are still young, not yet in school (although it IS an option), and still playing at the park or in the apartment and making messes. All the same sports and activities are available for children when you take a look around for them. There are “Mommy Groups” to attend, loads of parks, beaches, free entertainment at the malls, plays and shows for children, etc.
Education is where I feel a lot of adjustment takes place. My two oldest can attend school. They are “Nursery” aged. Nursery here however, costs an arm and a leg. In some countries it is free, and in others you pay some fees. UAE has fantastically high fees for school. For me, it is not worth it to send my children to Nursery to learn their colors or ABCs when I can do it at home for basically free (Maybe use money to buy some cards or books I would buy anyways).
“Average school fees in Dubai can range from Dhs2,479 to Dhs120,145 depending on the age of students (that’s USD675 to USD32,711 per annum), and is not including additional fees for admission, transportation, school uniforms and books.” (What’son)
The cheap ones are notorious for being . . . not so good. So you DO end up paying a large sum of money for your children’s education. And if you have more than one child? Almost your entire paycheck can easily go towards school and forget about the price of rent as well!
Home-school is a decent option here, and I am doing that with mine while we are here and they are still very young. I wholeheartedly agree that getting the social interaction and other aspects from a school are great and I want to give my kids that but I think in the case of money and age, you might be better off teaching them to count to 20 on your own. But that is of course if you are a stay-at-home parent, not everyone is fortunate enough or even desires to do this (to each their own). I also raise my children without the assistance of a nanny, it is what works for us.
You can raise your children however you want to in Dubai. No one is going to scream at you for letting your child play outside alone (if they are old enough, and that age varies from family to family). Children walk to the next building over to buy ice-cream after dinner, on their own. Children are taught whatever religion the parents choose. You can find a multitude of brands to dress your children in. You want to let your kid run ahead of you at the mall, go ahead, there’s a whole herd of kids running around too. Vaccinations, up to you, there are no strict requirements (that I am aware of! Are there any?). Co-sleep, separate room, breast, bottle, who cares what someone else is doing! No one judges. But they are supportive and offer tips for whatever choice you have made. And those tips are coming from other women who do care and are trying to help, not judge.
I’ve mentioned before, but Dubai is extremely family friendly. Families are very close here and they go out to do things together more than separated. There are plenty of sports, art, music, everything classes available as well. You will only be bored if you let yourself.
Aside from education, the biggest change (in my opinion) is that of climate when moving to Dubai. If you went out year round in your home country, you might have to adjust to spending summers indoors a lot more. If you are used to cold winters you get to spend the winter outdoors in the best weather ever! Beware of that first summertime though.
Really, raising children in Dubai is not much different than raising a child in most places. You can do it alone, with family, and with outside help. You still have choices to make and will be influenced by your personal religious beliefs, customs, bank account, and so forth.