With fathers shouldering more responsibility domestically, and mothers working longer hours we asked three families how the home-life balance compares to when they were growing up:
Laura and James Pardoe
Parents to nine-month-old Jacob, Laura and James are both 30, British, and co-owners of digital marketing company Grow.ae
"Jacob wakes up at 6am and I'll get up with him," says Laura. "We co-sleep as I'm breastfeeding him and it means that we both get more sleep. I shower while Jacob plays on the bathroom floor, then I get dressed and go to the kitchen with him and prepare our oats and fruit. At 7am James wakes up; we'll take it in turns to entertain Jacob if he requires attention while we each get ready. James usually dresses Jacob (very well and colour coordinated!) and sometimes I'll need to pump milk for him. By 8am the three of us are usually ready to leave the house.
"Every weekday is different. Sundays are 'Nana days', when James's mother takes care of Jacob all day, while we work at our company, Grow. This is the only day of the week when we get to work together so we really make the most of it.
"Wednesdays are 'Daddy days', when James takes a day off to look after Jacob while I have my second full day of work. James gets Jacob ready in the morning, drops me at work, and then takes Jacob to soft play, the aquarium, or maybe to spend time with Jacob's grandfather, who is semi-retired. In the afternoon they go swimming in the Jebel Ali Club pool, and then pick me up from work at 5pm.
Every other workday (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) James works a full day and I'm in charge of Jacob. I have a strong group of mum friends and we do a lot with together, for example, picnics in the park and playdates.
"On weekends we share the responsibilities. I do the feed times whereas James carries him everywhere and looks after him when we're out. He's the baby-wearing-dad type! I give James a lie-in on Fridays and he gives me a lie-in on Saturdays. Once a month we'll do a big food shop, and I will make batch meals, so Jacob has three days' worth of lunches and suppers in the fridge. Weekday meals are usually quite simple, and James will take over the cooking for me once or twice a week. We're both slightly untidy, so we have a cleaner three times a week, which really helps!"
The hardest part
Laura: To be honest, it is not Jacob at all... It is trying to run the business while keeping him entertained. Sometimes there are calls I need to answer or an email that needs writing and trying fit that around his nap times is the most challenging part.
James: Running a business is the hardest part, especially now that Laura isn't full time. I feel there is a lot more weight on my shoulders as both my family and my employees depend on me now.
What would you like to do more of?
James: Feeding because I think it creates a stronger bond. I would also like more experiences with Jacob as my time with him is never enough!
Laura: I'm grateful for my 'two days off' looking after Jacob as it means I can work and then fully appreciate him for the other days I'm with him. I am very blessed having his dad and grandmother as his caretakers on those days. The routine can change slightly some days and I try not to enforce any rules. As long as Jacob is happy, I'm happy.
Are any balls dropped?
James: We frequently take a bit too much on (work wise and socially) and then it takes a while to recover before we're back on the bandwagon again!
Laura: I think I drop the ball occasionally at work. Sometimes due to sleep deprivation I may forget to call a client and then I end up feeling guilty about it for a while.
How does it compare to your own childhood?
James: My mum is a childminder and has looked after babies here in Dubai, so I think that's where I've learnt a lot of the hands-on stuff, since I looked after the children a lot alongside her.
My dad wasn't actually around much during my younger years. He lived in Saudi and would see us every two months, leaving my mum to do all the child-rearing. I do remember him taking us to the parks and having days out with him when he was here, but my dad has confessed to us now that he doesn't really have any interest in babies!
The tables have turned now though - we actually see a lot more of my dad now than we do my mum! We love spending time with him and he has all the time in the world for us.
Laura: My dad did a lot of evening shift work so I remember him sleeping a lot in the late morning (and me having to be quiet!). He was the breadwinner and we very much had the traditional 'Mum stays home to do the cooking and cleaning' situation, while my dad brought in the pay cheque.
My mum did take on a part-time evening job when I was at school. Dad was very good in the sense that he'd take on a lot of the work on weekends; he'd be proud to make his delicious cottage pie and was a dab hand at DIY. He'd help me with my homework and he was always (and still is) there for me.
Dina and Omar Butti
Parents to 18-month-old Faris, Dina, 32, is an Egyptian-Canadian TV presenter and writer, and Omar, 32, is an Emirati/American TV presenter and producer
"Like most parents, we find gearing up for the day can seem like a psychotic juggling act. We are blessed to have both sets of grandparents residing in the UAE and they're very much involved. However, since our production schedules are often inconsistent and hectic, we also have an awesome nanny named Ofelia, who comes for several hours on weekdays," says Dina. "Other than days when we need to be on set around sunrise, our little man is generally our 6am alarm clock. One of us will grab him from his crib while the other gets his milk. We then try to snooze for 15 minutes while he gulps down his drink - it never works. We sing, dance and distract while alternating getting ready and eventually make our way to the kitchen where 'Mama' packs lunch/makes breakfast and 'Baba' feeds him. It's a bonus if we manage to eat at the same time or, sometimes, at all."
Omar adds, "Faris goes to nursery from 8am to 12.30pm while we work. If manageable, Dina picks him up with milk in hand and ready to knock him out for his two-hour afternoon nap. If Dina's stuck at work, usually Ofelia, who arrives at 10 am, will grab Faris. The afternoon is a combination of Dina, Ofelia and the grandparents feeding and playing with him for the next few hours. Almost every late afternoon, Dina takes him down to the park where they get to spend their one-on-one time until I get home. Bedtime routine is almost always all up to 'Baba' - from dinner to bath time to knocking out the munchkin for the night."
The hardest part
Dina: I'm desperately trying to be one of those mums who can work, keep fit, cook, socialise, be a loving wife and hands-on mum every day and it's amazing how often I'm disappointed. And so I would say the hardest things to juggle are my expectations and the guilt - it's always there! Every once in a while I'll just end up bawling and not want to crawl out of bed until I can relocate my sanity, so I'm generally trying very hard not to put too much pressure on myself and to ask for more help.
Omar: I feel like I'm dropping balls all the time. My toughest thing is the same as most fathers, I think - I try to balance work and being there for my son. I feel guilty every time I come home too late for bedtime or miss an important milestone, but I haven't figured out how to clone myself yet, so I just try to do the best that I can.
What would you like more help with?
Dina: It amazes me how often I catch myself daydreaming about sleeping in. I would love to wake up when the sun has actually risen! We've agreed on no live-in help for the foreseeable future, but there are times I think about how incredible it would be to have occasional help so we can sleep in till 8am.
Omar: We're very fortunate to have as much support as we do. The only thing I'd want to change is to somehow get children to sleep when they're tired. I used to believe that falling asleep was the most natural thing in the world, until I had a son. Now I realise it's a full production to set the mood for sleep and even then it's a 50/50 chance.
Anything you wish you could do more of? Dina: I'm lucky that I am able to make the time to be present for most baby duties throughout the day, however, I wish that I had more energy while doing them. I'm often tired or stressed and catch myself doing them half-heartedly. In an ideal world, my little man would only get the best, most positive and energetic Mama all the time.
Omar: I wish I could help out more with everything, but with a full-time job I'm "breakfast Baba" and "bedtime Baba". It's a real pleasure to see my son's excitement when I come home though. Occasionally I get the benefit of 'celebrity' with my son that Dina doesn't get.
How does it compare to your own childhoods?
Dina: My parents were the best parents any girl could ask for and I wish I could compare us to them, but I can't. My dad worked crazy, long hours while my mum took care of us full time in a foreign country. They were so young, inexperienced, had no help and were on a very tight budget and yet always gave us all the love and energy they had in the world. Omar: Both my parents were quite hands on, particularly when I was young and growing up in the United States. We didn't have hired help until I was near my teens. This I feel was really good for me as I understood the importance of hands-on parenting and the responsibility that parents have towards their children.
Now, even though we do have a nanny come during the day to help balance our busy work schedules, we never forget the importance of doing the little things for our son, whether it's changing dirty diapers or handing out cuddles.
Michelle and Chris Meyrick
British parents to Mia, three, and Lexi, two, Michelle is an international events director, while Chris is managing director of his own relocation company, Promove
"Sunday to Thursday I wake up at 7am and get ready for work," says Michelle. "At 7.30 I get the girls up and dressed, and give them breakfast. Our nanny, Josie, is up around the same time as me to clean up downstairs before the girls come down. Josie joined our family when Mia was a month old, so we had two weeks together before I went back to work. Josie has three children of her own in the Philippines so she had the experience with kids I wanted our nanny to have. She lives with us in Mirdif five days a week and stays with her family at the weekend.
"Chris has his own relocation company, Promove, so he often feeds and walks the dogs and is out of the house already before the girls wake up. Mia and Lexi go to nursery twice a week so Josie has some time to clean the house and do some ironing. We have some friends with similar-aged girls so we take turns twice a week to host "kids' club" and the girls and nannies get together. They might go to Cheeky Monkeys play centre, or the park now that it's cooled down. I do the morning drop-offs and Chris does the lunchtime collection. Thankfully the girls still nap when they get home. They wake up around 3:30pm, have some food, and spend the afternoon at home in the sandpit, painting, playing with toys, and the like.
"I work in JLT so by the time I get home from work, it's around 7.15pm. I catch up with the kids and take them up for a bath, with Chris if he is home, and Josie feeds the cats and dogs and prepares dinner. It's lights out by 8pm or 8.15pm. Chris, Josie and I have dinner, then Josie goes up to her room to watch her favourite Filipina TV show, while Chris and I take the dogs for a walk. Then we either attempt not to fall asleep during a movie or watch an episode of something and wander up to bed.
"Chris works most weekends - unfortunately that's when people want to move house. So when it's just me and the girls I try to make plans on Friday and Saturday morning and afternoon and we have nap time in between. When the weather is lovely, as it is now, we generally go to the beach one morning, park one afternoon and do whatever friends feel like doing.
The hardest part
Michelle: I don't really have any me-time. I'm away from the girls for 11 hours a day during the week so I feel guilty if I'm not with them at the weekends or home in time to put them to bed.
Chris and I are supposed to have 'date night' every Wednesday to have some quality time together, but by the time we've done the whole nighttime routine I'm exhausted. I really need to do more exercise but there are just not enough hours in the week.
Chris: My work is by no means a 9-to-5 operation and this means that it's tough for me to know where I'll be as well as when. On the flip side, I do have the benefit of not being tied to my desk and so am able to take the girls and Josie to friends for playdates and nursery or the park as well as pick them up again. This usually works well if Michelle has dropped them off in the morning. At weekends I do wish that I was able to be around more so that we could do things as a family. I often feel that I am grabbing time rather than enjoying it when I'm away from work as the phone never stops - people want to move at the weekend. I do feel bad that Michelle has to do most things with the kids and wish I could spread the responsibilities a bit more.
How does it compare to your own childhood?
Michelle: My dad was a banker in London and would get home around 7pm every night and have weekends off - the complete opposite to Chris. My mum looked after us full time and just had help with the ironing a couple of times a week so, again, very different from me.
Chris: I was living abroad with my family from the age of two, so I am no stranger to expat life. My mother didn't work when my sister and I were younger and, even though it was the norm, we didn't have a nanny. I remember dad used to come home from work and still find the energy to take us to the park. I don't know how they did it. By the time I get home, help with bath time and read a story I only have energy for walking the dogs and eating dinner before I'm ready for sleep.
The highlight of your week?
Chris: Coming home to smiles and a big hug from everyone. Most days are long and often stressful, so it's always nice to come home to smiles! Michelle: If Chris is off and we get to do something together at the weekend, maybe go to the beach, it's lovely to have fun as a family digging holes and building sandcastles.
Anything you'd like more help with?
Michelle: Josie does an amazing job of keeping my girls safe and happy and our house clean. As long as Josie stays with us, we have everything covered.
Chris: Absolutely not. I wish I was more involved in home life and less reliant on Michelle and Josie to have things sorted. Let's see what 2017 brings...
Photos by Anas Thacharpadikkal