School is out!
Spring Break/Easter Holidays have just commenced.
This means a break from school runs, packing lunches (that most times are retuned “as is”) and running around from one after school activity to another.
If you are a working parent (and haven’t enrolled your kids into spring camp) it also means that any excitement of the foregoing is short-lived when the stark cold realisation hits — the boss has not approved your leave — the kids will be home for the whole two weeks! Cue tears, boredom and sanity checks.
For any parents looking for inspiration to keep the kids happy and entertained for the next two weeks, here are some ideas that don’t involve play areas and that hopefully work for working parents.
Whilst you are at work *
Order one of these beauties.
The KenziBox brings the world of crafting to your house in the infamous shoe-sized blue box. For working parents this box is magical. You don’t have to hunt around town for craft materials and it’s delivered to your doorstep!
The contents of the KenziBox are carefully curated to channel your child’s imagination and to provide hours of arts and crafting fun.
- Bake up a storm
It’s a known fact that your child is head chef of that toy kitchen and some amazing make-believe meals have been cooked with lots of love. Most times, the kitchen is a ‘no-go’ zone for the kids, however with school out (and the rules also out the window), the kids could learn to bake.
The internet is full of amazing and easy recipes. Head over to One Handed Cooks for inspiration (and one of my personal favorites).
It also means you have some treats to look forward to after a hectic day. With the rules out the window, so are any diet rules!
- The great-out-doors
The best thing about Spring break is that it’s Spring! If you are fortunate enough to have yards, put them to use! Nothing is better than going analog, getting the kids to ditch screen time and letting them run havoc outside.
Alternatively, let those play sets in the local parks get some use outside the typical post 4pm school rush!
- Step up rotating play dates.
More than likely you’re not alone and there are probably a handful of parents in your school, neighborhood and/or network of friends that are in the same boat. Alternate hosting play dates and keep the kids ‘entertained’ with friends. Safety in numbers I say.
For those looking to get the kids out of the house for a couple of days and not having to book and commit to a full time spring camp, try My Gym Children’s Fitness Centre (My Gym) or Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children (AJCCC).
My Gym has various classes (such as mixed martial arts and gymnastics) suited for all ages where kids can play, learn and develop. They also have a special needs class.
AJCCC offers a creative environment for children and their families that draws on Emirati and Arab cultural heritage. The center is truly a wonderland! It has its own radio station, music studio, kitchen, organic garden and movie theatre (and that’s not the whole list). They have an endless list of classes which are ‘out-of-the-box’ — pottery, Arabic, robotics, colour studies and so much more. AJCCC will keep the kids entertained for days.
- Spend your lunch break with the kids
If you can take an hour or so off for lunch, have the kids join you at work. They will love seeing where mummy or daddy works and it is a nice way to break the usual lunchtime routine.
If it takes just as much time to pick up the kids then it does to have lunch with them, get a Careem Kids driver to help with transportation. Careem Kids’ drivers are fantastic with kids (having been trained specifically to deal with transporting children), their vehicles have installed kids car seats (so you don’t have to worry about whether the seats are installed properly or even at all!) and the best part is that you can keep track of their journey via GPS.
- Educational Apps
Whether it’s via an iPad, laptop or other smart device, some limited screen time can also be a good source of entertainment and education for the kids!
Here are three of my favorite applications:
- Grandma’s Preschool by Fairlady Media
- Peg + Cat: The Tree Problem by PBS Kids
- Sid the Science Kid Read & Play by PBS Kids
For when you make the made dash home (or make a sneaky exception to working late and leave early) here are some after-work ideas:
- Dinner at the mall
There is something about malls that kids just love. With carousels (both at Dubai Mall and Marina Mall), in-door trains (at most malls) and oodles of lights and distractions, most kids are in heaven.
Subject to any tantrums and parking issues, a 30-minute stroll after work followed by dinner is an easy ‘something’ to do with the kids after a long day at work (and a mid-week outing is always exciting).
We personally love having dinner Carluccios (with its kid friendly menu, thoughtful kids colouring-in sets and puzzles) and watch the ‘magical, humungous’ fountains.
Catch an afternoon movie session with kids. It will be quieter than usual and a fun outing for all; who doesn’t love popcorn and a good show? Try out VOX KIDS, the only children’s cinema in the region at Mall of the Emirates.
- A stroll down JBR or Box Park
Both The Beach at JBR and Box Park each have an array of restaurants which are great for dinner options. But what we totally love is the ability to just take a stroll and enjoy the community vibes at either of these locations!
Who didn’t love bowling growing up? The beauty of bowling is that it can be played with the whole family anytime! The Dubai Bowling Centre, located in Al Qouz, is over 7,000 Sq. meters and features 16 professional bowling lanes to choose from. Make it a two-part competition with a session each week if you’re running out of ideas. My son will literally trash-talk the “competition” until round two.
Finally, for the one or two days you are at home, here are some weekend ideas:
- The Journey
All the rave at the moment, but worth every bit of it, The Journey, located at Kite Beach is a fantastic outdoors option and way to spend the weekend.
This nature enclosure makes you believe that you have left Dubai! Trees, waterfalls and flowers surround the place and wadis draw the kids in for hours of cheeky fun. There are cooking lessons, sports, crafts, a café for the parents to relax.
Entrance is AED 30 for two hours.
- Go to the beach and have a picnic
Carrying on with the theme of ‘enjoy the weather while you still can’, a great option is to take the kids to the beach and have a picnic.
PAUL Bakery and Restaurants recently launched their picnic bags, which are full of delicious French goodness. The lunch option includes salads, sandwiches, fresh juices and most importantly yummy éclairs and tarts! They come with their own picnic blanket and cooler bag (that you get to keep). All you need to do is pack up the swimming gear and those buckets and spades and enjoy the day! We love anything that makes life easy!
Make the most of the market season, which is in full swing and effect, before the insolent summer takes over and banishes all markets indoors. The Ripe Market at Zabeel Park is always a favourite. With the number of vendors increasing, an open park and amazing food options, you can’t go wrong. Oh yeah, the shopping is amazing! The market is open from 9am to 3pm every Friday.
Marina Souk have a monthly designers market in the fishing harbour of Umm Suqiem 1. This Saturday they are hosting a special Saturday Family Market edition from 9am to 3pm with local favourites such as KenziBox, Caramel and Sun and Baker and Spice all in attendance.
- A kid friendly brunch
A place where you can eat all you want and the kids play fuss free whilst you do so? Sign me up! A quiet, non-rowdy and kid friendly brunch is definitely a great family day out.
With it’s laid back style, all-you-can-eat buffet featuring Easter favourites, the Boulevard Kitchen at Manzil Downtown Dubai* is a great option.It even has a dedicated children’s activity section that will keep the kiddies entertained.
Here’s to keeping the kids happy, and more importantly, keeping your sanity!
Happy Holidays xx
I would love to hear what ideas you have for the Spring Break! Full disclosure, I may steal one or two of those ideas for my kids!
* Activities assume you have help of a guardian at home. In my case the amazing super creative and super talented nanny!
** Stay tuned for a full blog post on The Boulevard Kitchen coming soon.