Is it just me or do kids go to school less than they used to? I remember as a kid the glorious summer going by so quickly that, before you had come down from the excitement that it was beginning, it had already ended. But where my summers consisted of building treehouses, going fishing, or playing cricket with a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape, the holidays for children in Dubai nowadays seem to be an entirely different proposition - namely soft play areas and other equally expensive activities, fighting with each other non-stop and generally being kids who are bored of being trapped in the house.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my children dearly.
Well, at the end of summer term I did.
Come July, after they had been away on holiday for a couple of weeks and I’d become accustomed to a quiet house, I began wondering why I even had children.
And by the end of August, which we spent entirely in Dubai, I found myself searching the web for boarding schools.
When it came to dropping them off for their first day back at school, I couldn't get out of there quick enough.
Summer in Dubai is a hard time for parents. The heat, the boredom, the heat, the emptiness, the heat, the constant bickering, the heat, the search for things to do, did I mention the heat? When did children go from being independent, fun-loving mini-criminals to oppressive bullies forcing their parents to do things for them or take them places? I offer this to any would-be dictators: come and take lessons from my children.
But I digress – after a couple of outings to play centres and the cinema, I resorted to just throwing them in the pool every weekend (which I am lucky to have… woe betide those parents that don't have a pool for their kids in summer).
Nowadays in Dubai, everything costs money"
The problem with Dubai in the summer is that everything costs money. I don't remember my parents spending money on us during the summer holidays and I certainly don't remember being stuck for things to do.
A trip to the beach used to be a free activity. Now it’s free plus the Dh500 you are forced to fork out by those aforementioned tyrants for a bounce on the trampolines, an overpriced ice-cream or burger, not to mention the parking fine that you inevitably get.
I also wonder if we overstimulate our children here in Dubai. From iPads to STEM courses, from the Green Planet to after-school activities, it seems that parents are constantly trying to find different exciting activities for their children to do, without actually letting their children get on with just being children and learning to stimulate their brains themselves.
Read more: 'Why boredom is good for your children'
Remember the days when you would finish school and head to the park to play a massive 21-a-side football game with jumpers for goal posts until it was dark and then it was ‘last goal wins’? They seem long gone. Are we trying too hard to force our children into things without actually letting them develop their own creative and imaginative minds? What’s more stimulating: a day at the park playing cops and robbers, or a couple of hours spending an obscene amount of money in an overrated play centre which claims to have the latest in stimulating toys?
I don’t know the answer – I am no expert, just a parent of three children. But I know that come half-term break, which is only two months away, I am going to be chomping at the bit to spend quality time with them at the beginning and then probably desperate to get rid of them by the end. However, at least by then it will be cool enough to go to the park for the day. Time to dust off the frisbee, kites and the picnic hamper. Game of Bulldog anyone?