Tag Archives: Her Little Black Book

The truth about overbusyness and parenting.

It hit me when author Rob Parsons discussed the countdown clock in our children’s lives.  When our children are born we have those 18 years  – that ‘s the equivalent of 6,570 days.  When your child is 10 years old, you have 2,920 days left.  In Rob’s words, ‘no amount of money, power, or prestige can increase that number.’  My eldest is 10.  I want to utilise those 2,920 days I have left wisely.

It makes you rethink life’s busyness.  Life always creates that busyness.  It’s no one’s fault but our own.  It’s hard to say no.

This is not to say, don’t work or don’t have a life. I think it is just a half-time call to reassess priorities. I truly thought that when my child was 6 months-old, he needed me most.  Yes, it’s true, he needed me.  I thought that need would dissipate with time as he potty-trained and learnt to feed himself.  However, I was truly mistaken.

Most mothers with children around age 5 and above would agree,  our children need us even more in a different way.  That surprised me. They need us around to discuss their day or random thoughts that fly through their minds, play boardgames, guide them with their homework, to support them when they have a bad day at school, or just be there with them, and the list goes on.  My children note how many nights I have out in a week, and they tell me off.

I have always tried to speak with parents with greater parenting experience; often I find it most interesting to observe or speak with parents with children ten years older than my own.  It’s an eye-opener to see the path they have experienced to get an idea of what is to come. Think about it, when you meet an 18-year old you know much of what they might experience, and everyone has some gift of wisdom to share. I, therefore, try to ask those parents who have wonderful relationships with their adult children what made the biggest impact of that relationship, what worked, what didn’t.  I have amalgamated a wealth of parenting knowledge that they have shared taking some advice that works for my family and me.

However, one thing is most common with all their answers.  They said, enjoy it all now.  Don’t be filled with regrets about not spending enough time with the children.  I feel that already.  Therefore, it’s important that we adapt to the new season our children are in.  I have reached that new season.

Five Languages of Love

Gary Chapman’s Five Languages of Love should be a must read – I highly recommend it. Even if time is limited, it is important to understand how our children need to feel loved. Sounds simple right?  This book was initially written for couples but it works with children, family and friends too.  Chapman identifies five main love languages: acts of services, touch, words of affirmation, gifts, and time.

For myself, I feel loved through acts of service – when my husband remembers to make me an espresso for example or helps me with the children’s reading without me asking.  For me talking is useless, it’s actions that matters.  For my husband, words of affirmation and time matter.  Each of us is different. This is similar with our children too.  This is a great way to arm ourselves to be an effective parent even if busyness is all around us.

Just the other day, I took time to discuss with my children individually over lunch about what makes them feel loved.  My eldest tells me it’s cuddles and tickles.  He feels loved when I tickle him until he can’t breath with laughter, and it’s the time he spends with me one on one.  Simple tasks like taking him grocery shopping makes him happy.

My third child loves words of affirmation and gifts so praises and presents makes a difference to his week.  All totally different children.

It’s amazing what children reveal when we ask them the right questions.  Armed with this knowledge, I try to fill up their love tanks so they feel loved.  I realised there was little point loving them how I thought love should look.  Almost none of my children mentioned acts of service.  Obviously, they do appreciate the things I do for them but that wasn’t what filled up their love tanks.  Some of those extra tasks I made myself busy with don’t matter anymore, and I ought to spend time with them in ways that fulfill them, not me.

Preparing for a new season

Therefore, this September, I am trying to rework my days.  I want to make sure that I am not exhausted by the time I pick them up like doing four meetings in a row. I need to ensure that my love tank is full by the time I see them and that may involve giving myself a break for an hour before pick up.  I realise it is also about preparing myself before picking them up at school so I am in the best mental state before seeing them.  I take note of what tasks I do that leave me feeling exhausted.  I now try to cut those out.  I am trying to protect my time to ensure I can handle motherhood in the best way.  I don’t always succeed each day, but I wake up trying again and again to make it work.

3pm – 8pm are the most intense hours everyday after school as most mums understand. I need to rework my patience as I read a ‘yellow’ colour band Biff & Chip book for the fourth time with 4th child and I am trying not to shout out in boredom wishing I was doing anything else but this, and this often exacerbated when I am low on energy and overcommitted. It’s important to not let myself get in that state. When I am feeling frustrated doing mundaning parenting tasks, I also try to remember the number of days left.


Rob Parsons eloquently put it about a life of illusions when it comes to parenting and over committing ourselves.  There are three main illusions.

1. ‘I am doing this for them’ – the number of times I have justified that to myself.  The truth is our children would prefer less things and more of us.  As one child psychologists said, ‘ We are so busy giving our kids what we didn’t have, we don’t have time to give them what we did have.’

2. We tell ourselves that life will not always be so busy.  I do tell myself that this is just a busy season, and that this too shall pass.  I will wait to make time to do more with the children.  It’s not a busy period, it’s life.

3. The door of childhood will be open forever is an illusion. I am guilty when I say ‘later’ when the kids are begging me to swim or to take them out on a bike ride. My son is 10-years old, and many mums tell me that in a few years, he won’t want bedtime stories, to hang out as much, and to just hang out.  I have to savor every moment.  Even if I fall asleep reading them their bedtime story, I want to keep trying whilst they will have me.  I have read Peppa Pig continuously for 8 years already.  I am longing to turn each page, as it is mind numbingly dull but I know there will come a day when my youngest won’t want to share that moment anymore.

We need to remember a useful proverb, ‘If we do this, we can’t do that.’  Therefore, parenting also requires self-care.  Like any athlete, its about getting into the right mind set, health, and protecting the energy levels to ensure that we are able to perform to the best of our abilities.  If that also means cancelling a coffee morning, lunch or a meeting, it’s worth reassessing.

With that said, I am off to book a massage before pick up today.  It was a long weekend with the children.  I am trying to be my best self at pick up time. Yes, I do work too but we all need to find time to recharge.

Curiosity Lab Dubai | Self-admitted science geek, former jet engineer for Rolls Royce, creates the most amazing teaching science laboratory in our home.

My kids have just had the best afternoon filled with novelty, science experiments and wonder. Moheb Nabeel is a genius and that is no exaggeration.  He is the creator of Curiosity Lab, but he is formerly a jet engine engineer who worked for Rolls Royce in the UK.  He got his dream job and then he came back to Dubai where he grew up having attended Cambridge High School & Dubai College before heading overseas for University.  His other dream was to teach kids about science; he is seriously over qualified but the self-admitted geek says he realised teaching was a passion, and he started last year to pursue it.  The KHDA have also asked him to speak at several workshops to inspire teachers classrooms at affordable costs.   He is so enthusiastic about science that he spent 6 months working out how he would break down science into modules for children so that they would love it and enjoy it.  Most of all, Moheb  has a true passion and a thirst of knowledge, and his enthusiam rubs off on the children.

Moheb didn’t shy away from introducing to the children (7 years, 5 years and 3 years), to the physics concept of Force (naturally my sons’ both shouted out Star Wars), and he introduced Sir Isaac Newton to them.  I was surprised that my children understood from his explainations what the concept of Force was as this was not introduced to me until my later years of school.

If I had to give my children a dream teacher to teach science, Moheb is it.  He ticks all the boxes, and for younger children there is no paper based work.

We have decided to bring Moheb home to teach our kids once a week.  He charges AED125 per child (5 years and up), and would ask for a group of 4 – 6 children to be in the class.

For more details contact: Moheb Nabeel at Curiosity Lab

Facebook page or call 050 407 9007

Book soon as he has very little time spare because of his overwhelming popularity with parents and kids.

Some super supplements if you are in your thirties.

I am extremely lucky to have a doctor as a husband. (he is not a supplement expert but he explains the science to me when it gets technical when I do my reading).  We are both very much into healthy living, and we have the occasional slip-ups like most people, but we will both get back on the healthy living track to try and help our body live the best way possible. Whilst in London and New York, I always set half a morning aside to visit my favourite store, Whole Foods Market.

One of the great thing about being married to a doctor is attending his medical conferences where I often meet highly specialized anti-ageing experts from all over the world.  They can help me understand the stuff that I already know but it is always so confusing so I ask them to help me simplify some of the more important information on mind-boggling topics supplements.

Most recently, I met one of the leading doctors from LA who believes women around my age (mid-late thirties) should take the following supplements so I went shopping at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street during my trip back to London. I love the whole organic concept when it comes to food but struggle to be disciplined about my supplements – so I asked him for a short list that I could deal with on a daily basis.

#Vitamin D – it has several important functions including regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.  These nutrients keep bones and teeth healthy.  Vitamin D can obtained from sunlight but if you have darker skin, it is harder for the sun’s benefits to penetrate the skin.

Good food sources – oily fish and eggs

#Magnesium – is a crucial mineral to help keep the body’s function pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady.  If you regularly consume alcohol, drink dark soft drinks, caffeinated drinks, these tend to reduce the amount of magnesium available in the body.

Good food sources – beans and nuts, brown rice and whole wheat bread and green leafy vegetables.

#Zinc – it is much required by more than 300 enzymes in our body which are currently known and it plays a huge part in immunity, reproduction, skin health and vision.

Good food sources – oysters and other shellfish, grass fed beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeks, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, quinoa and oats.

#Omega 3 – there are a list of benefits from a healthy heart, regulation of cholesterol triglyceride and the  intellect of your children as it has  a big impact on the health of the brain.

Good food sources – fish (but be aware of mercury levels and other toxins) so the best would be wild Alaskan salmon and small sardines.

#Curcumin (contained in turmeric) – it has been used in India for thousands of year, and it is the spice that gives curries its yellow colour.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant properties.  Top tip:  this is even more absorbable with black pepper so add it to your cooking together.

Good food sources – you can add this spice to curries, pasta sauces, omelettes to boost your food.

Which brands

I discovered that the world of supplements was not as ‘clean’ as they like to make out – yes, the world of healthy living has to be researched well too.  Many of the supplement companies use binding agents to club together the ingredients making a tablet.  The problem is I don’t know which brands to buy. The shelves at Whole Foods are stacked with pills with so many brands  – and choice is mind-boggling these days.

I spent time with the Whole Foods in-house expert, and Viridian came out as one of the top brands because they don’t binding agents in their supplements, instead the supplements are placed in a casing which is softer on the stomach. Viridian products are also available in Dubai.


I am not selling on behalf of Viridian, and I am coming from a place of passion and I really want to share my research with you.  After my chat with the in-house expert I was curious to find out more about Viridian.  I went onto the Viridian website, and I fell in love with their ethical concept.  The owner of the company was 17 when she chose to become a vegetarian and spent her twenties passionately working on a Health Magazine in the UK before joining Solgar.  Then she worked her way up to become the MD of Solgar UK.  When the company was sold in 1999, she launched with a team of advisors and experts, Viridian.  This company finds the best quality ingredients, and some are organic, and they do not use binding agents.  She is also passionate about charities, and insists that parts of the profits are donated to charity.  40% to children’s charities, 40% to the environment, and she allows her consumers to vote for the charities they want these profits to go to.  I love supporting businesses like these and want to encourage more of them to be around.

Please note that I am not a doctor or nutritionist but I have a passion for trying to super charge my body. Please ensure that you speak to your doctor before taking any of these supplements.