Tag Archives: New York Mums

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.

Disney World | Orlando, Florida | Tips and Hints on the best way to tackle one of the largest theme parks in the world

The Magic of Disney | Planning Disney this year?

Disney is probably on every parent’s agenda at some point in the first 18 years of their children’s life. Usually, between 3 – 15 years old would be the peak period when every family undertakes a trip, and at every stage of the children’s life the family will enjoy Disney in a completely different way.

Ever since I was little I had a thing for rollercoasters, the faster the better.  I had only been to Disneyland LA once when I was 10 years old, and that trip has been ingrained into childhood memory forever as one of the best holidays. It was my first time on Space Mountain –  back then it was so innovative to have a rollercoaster experience in the dark. So when I was invited by the Disney Team back in January to explore Disney World in Florida, I didn’t know how I would feel as an adult – I thought it might be best for children and probably be an anti-climax as an adult.  I was totally wrong.  For those of you who don’t have children yet, do go now!

For those who have been to Disney will understand how difficult it is to capture the essence of Disney in words.  Most of us won’t remember the details but we remember the emotional aspect of the experience. Disney’s goal has always been to be the best storytellers in the world.  I can see how and why they remain at the top of their game as Disney Imagineers for generations have brain-stormed to bring every story to life through touch, sound and visual effects resulting in emotionally connecting with park visitors. There is an element of ‘magic’ in it.  By walking through the park, you will see rides and go through experiences, and still many years after the death of Walt Disney his parks still remain at the frontier of new experiences.  The latest one being Pandora: The Land of the Avatars. Their new simulation ride, Avatar: The Flight of Passage, is a must, and I cannot describe the sensation of flying a banshee.  Before  the ride, I was warned people cried after as it was such an emotional experience.  I witnessed one or two guests in tears.  Needless to say, I returned and used my very last Fast Pass + token to ride Flight of Passage again.

Disney World | Orlando

Disney World is made up 4 parks; Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, and two water parks.  There are also  over 20 hotels & resorts to choose from.  By 2020, Disney World, to celebrate its 50th birthday would have expanded with even more attractions and hotels for guests to choose from including Toy Story Land and a Star Wars Hotel.

Children & Organisation

One thing I took away from my week at Disney and from experiencing all four parks is that there will be a great deal of logistics involved when booking your holiday. I am a mother who would prefer to ‘wing it’ normally on arrival and to be spontaneous BUT travelling to Disney with young children will take some thought, planning and consideration as hotel accommodations and restaurants are booked months in advance.  With the huge volumes of guests visiting Disney each year everything is booked in advance with restaurant bookings requiring 3-months booking prior to your trip especially for Disney signature restaurants. For mums and dads planning a trip, I would recommend doing some research online and to consult travel agents on how to tackle the parks.  Ideally, if possible, I would also recommend staying at a Disney hotel to enjoy the benefits of Disney properties especially the the Disney Hour.

Here is a schedule to start organising your trip.

#6months – 1 year in advance

Start looking at the seasons and when you might like to go.  Think about the 27 resorts you might like to stay at.

#6 months in advance

Book your rooms as soon as possible especially for resorts like the Grand Floridian and Four Seasons to guarantee adjoining rooms, concierge state rooms  or the villas.

Book your 16- hour flights via Emirates Airlines through Emirates Holidays to guarantee the right days as there is currently only one flight per day, and to ensure Economy or Business Class seats.

Book your VIPGuides.  See more below.

#3 months in advance

Organise your restaurant reservations at the top and most sought after Disney restaurants. The top restaurants include:

Tiffins Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom, Be our Guests as you dine at the Beast’s Castle, California Grill at the Disney Contemporary Resort, The Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios, and my favourite 1900 Park Fair at the Grand Floridian where you have breakfast with your Disney’s favourite characters.

#30- 60 days in advance

Organise your My Disney FastPass +.  Hollywood Studios has a high demand for FastPass so organise which rides you might like there in advance.   There are higher chances of getting Magic Kingdom passes on the day when you have used up all your fast passes.

#1 month in advance

Book also your Magical Express transportation.

#1 week in advance

It’s time to get excited and to get packing.  Pack comfortable shoes (I cannot stress this enough as you will be walking a lot), sunscreen, hats, swimsuits, goggles, comfortable clothes, and for my family there will also be some healthy organic snacks.  There is a dress code in Disney’s signature restaurants (no shorts, flip flops) so do pack shirts /polo t-shirts for boys and a casual summer dress for the girls.

Top 10 rides for children 8 years and over

Top 10 rides for children 7 years and under

Consider VIP Guides

We hope to take our 4 children to various Disneys around the world at least 3 or 4 times during their childhood.  As time is precious in Disney, we will recommend booking at least for half a day a VIP Guide.  You can think of them as Disney gurus or high ranking Disney conceierges who make the time spent at the parks extremely efficient including transportation. They are a little pricey but totally worth the investment.  They will cost approximately USD1,500 for 7 hours for up to 10 adults and children including infants.  The guide will be able to plan your wish list allowing to skip queues, book restaurants in advance of your arrival (again, do give the guides as many weeks notice as possible as everything is fully booked months ahead).

Book 6 months in advance as there are only 30 full-time guides so they do get booked up much in advance.  They are all very professional with decades of experience working in the park.


If you are coming from the Middle East, the most popular hotels chosen by Middle Eastern guests would include the following

#1. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort)

Disney’s Grand Floridian resembles colonial hotels such as the Raffles Hotel in Singapore with its impressive white buildings and red roof tops nestled next to the Seven Seas Lagoon. The property design is inspired by the Victorian era, and the property is furnished with genuine antiques and artefacts collected from around the world. The property has 867 rooms but it doesn’t feel so vast as the rooms are located between 6 separate buildings, with two shared outdoor pools.  The hotel has baby sitting and childcare options available upon request.  The most popular rooms would be their private villas and adjoining rooms, and it is important to book this 6-months in advance of your stay. It has 7 restaurants of which 1900 Park Fair is one of their signature restaurant and families can have breakfast with Disney characters, but like everything at Disney it is worth booking this 3-months in advance of your stay.

#2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House ( Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort

We stayed at the property, and it was pretty magical to wake up in the morning to see a family of giraffes walking past your window.  There are over 30 species of African wildlife and you can spot zebras, gazelles and flamingoes amongst them.  Do ask for for view of the safari park as it is not always guaranteed.  There is also the Simba Kids Clubhouse for children aged 3 – 12 years.

#3. Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review (Deluxe Resort)

This hotels is at it sounds – a modern take on a Disney resort.  It is a contemporary building giving guests a different feel to more traditional Disney hotels.  It one of the few resorts that has direct access to the Magic Kingdom via the monorail making accessibility very easy.  The resort has two pools and one has a 17-foot slide.  Don’t forget to book in advance the California Grill, a Disney signature restaurant at the top of the hotel with beautiful views of Magic Kingdom.

#4. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

It is the only hotel in Central Florida to receive the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award.  There is a complimentary kids club, and have an adult pool, family pool, splash zone, lazy river and a water slide. Kids under 5 will eat for free.

Tips for families with children 7 years and under

#Don’t stress and don’t cram. Disney is not a cheap experience and understandably many families try to ensure they schedule as much in as they can.  However, be mindful of the fact that if you are travelling with young children, you won’t be able to cover much of the park as it spans 40 square miles. Be realistic with the number of rides you wish to cover in a day, and have plenty of breaks for snacks and let the children experience other activities like Cinderella’s Castle and make sure each day is a Happily Ever After for everyone.  The children won’t realise they missed a single ride.

#Bring a water bottle to fill up because purchasing bottled water at every kiosk will quickly start adding up.

#If you stay at a Disney resort, do make use of the Magic Hour which opens one-hour for Disney residents before the general public arrive.

#Do check if there are any closed attractions prior to your trip to avoid disappointment as there are always a few rides closed for refurbishment and safety checks.

#Ensure the children are well-fed before the firework displays in the various parks.  Disney’s Magic Kingdom Happily Ever After fireworks begins at 8.55pm and lasts for 18 minutes so it is worth getting there early to find a fabulous spot on the grounds near the Cinderella’s Castle.

#Do purchase a Disney Autograph book (one for the whole family), to collect Mickey’s and the whole cast’s autographs.  They will be available usually at the hotel gift shop.

#Download the Disney App which will tell you about the waiting times, shows and locations of various activities

#Do bring a stroller – the kids will be exhausted, and it will be tiring trying to carry them around when they want a quick snooze.

#It is also lovely to get out of the parks for one day by visiting Disney Springs, a lovely retail therapy day for the family.  Visit the Lego store, Sephora, Anthropologie and have lunch at Paddlefish.

#If you have time do consider a three-night cruise to the Bahamas on Disney Dream.  Click here to find out more.


Emirates Airlines flies once a day from Dubai to Orlando – 16 hours.

The team at Emirates Holidays will also be able to help you plan the trip as many of the team themselves have experienced Disney World. They can arrange hotels, flights and much more and be able to guide you on the best time of the year to visit.


To find out more about the Disney Cruise

To find out more visit www.disneyworld.go.com

Five Luxury Holidays for Families over the UAE National Day Holidays | Lightfoot Travel Dubai

For families looking to travel during the upcoming UAE National Day Holidays, our friends at tailor-made travel company, Lightfoot Travel, have picked their top five luxury destinations that are fantastic for families and parents alike!


The Maldives is best known for its crystal clear waters, white sand beaches and plethora of luxury hotels – each on its own private island no less (the best ones anyway)! There are activities for kids of all ages available from the moment you step out of your beach or overwater villa – snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, dolphin cruises and fishing, and many properties have their own diving schools for older kids who want to learn to scuba dive. Maldives hotels are also known for their phenomenal Kid’s Clubs, with many having specific facilities for both younger children and teens.

Where to stay: One&Only Reethi Rah

A property with some of the most beautiful villas in the Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah is also known for its family friendliness. There’s a dedicated KidsOnly Club (ages 4 and up) with its own pool, clubhouse and plenty of outdoor activities such as treasure hunts and sports. Older kids can keep busy with a separate roster of activities such as tennis and swimming lessons, sushi-making classes and lifeguarding lessons. Reethi Rah is also a large hotel, giving families ample dining choices and plenty of space to explore, with none of that stuck-on-an-island feeling.

#Sri Lanka

For such a little country, the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka sure packs a big punch when it comes to diversity – from the ancient cities of the Cultural Triangle and wildlife-rich safari parks, to colonial hill stations and golden beaches. Properties range from big brand hotels and beachfront resorts to private luxury villas and charming boutique accommodation – there is something to fit everyone! Travelling within Sri Lanka is safe and convenient, there are none of the food safety scares that are widespread in neighbouring India, and Sri Lankans are exceptionally warm, welcoming and love children.

Where to stay: Taylors Hill and Last House

Taylors Hill is a lovely five-room boutique hotel in Sri Lanka’s tea region. Two of the rooms can accommodate extra beds for families with young children, and the chef will happily adapt meals for young palates. There’s an infinity-edge swimming pool with views over the hills, tennis and badminton courts, croquet lawn and a children’s playroom. Sister property, Last House, is a six-bedroom seaside escape set on two acres of grassy lawn that is perfect for picnics and games. The Cinnamon Suite is particularly well suited for families with a large double bedroom upstairs, and two twin bedrooms downstairs for the little ones. Lightfoot Travel has a special Family Offer for combined stays at these two properties during the National Day break. This includes Stay 3 Pay 2 at Taylors Hill with a family lunch on the house, followed by a complimentary cooking class or head massage with three nights spent at The Last House.


With majestic animals, sweeping grasslands, vibrant culture and first-rate lodges and camps, Kenya gives you a safari experience like nowhere else. Cap off your time spent in the bush with a few days on the beach, and you’ve got yourself the perfect combination of safari and sea for the National Day holidays. For something that the children will never forget, an overnight in Nairobi at the beginning or end of the itinerary could mean a stay at the legendary Giraffe Manor, where these peaceful, iconic animals will join you for breakfast!

Where to stay: Sala’s Camp

Sala’s Camp is one of the few places in Africa where children of all ages are welcome. Special safari programs see spotters teaching young guests the secrets of the bush, and children are able to join game drives with their parents and see the animals up close. Parents will enjoy sundowners overlooking the incredible natural scenery that unfolds over the Masai Mara Game Reserve, and dinners served outdoors under the brightly starlit Kenyan skies.

#Phuket, Thailand

While no stranger to tourism, Phuket still tops our list of favourite family beach destinations due to its incredible mix of properties, clear and calm beaches, impeccable service and simple convenience – once you arrive you can literally kick back and not have to lift a finger until you leave. With direct flights from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this is the ultimate in easy “fly-and-flop” relaxation.

Where to stay: Trisara Phuket

Trisara’s kid’s club, located in a dedicated pavilion for those between the ages of 4 and 16, and is supervised by qualified child minders. Outdoor activities include sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and island hopping cruises. Meanwhile, parents can indulge in a couple’s spa treatment, play a round of golf at a nearby course, or head into town for a parent’s night out. The infinity pool villas are also some of the best we’ve seen on the entire island!


Beyond the glitz and glamour of the resorts in the Seychelles, this island nation is an eco-tourism paradise with lush jungle trails, countless native bird species and world-class diving amongst rainbow-coloured reefs full of marine life. Properties are often situated on larger islands than in the Maldives, which bring added opportunities for hiking amidst the forested interiors. Additionally, being just a 4.5-hour flight from Dubai, it’s incredibly easy for families with even very young children to make the flight over.

Where to stay: Desroches Island Resort

One of the most spectacular properties in the Seychelles, Desroches Island Resort is also one of the best for families. Its Kid’s Haven provides educational activities in a wonderful outdoor setting, and encourages parents to get involved as well. The island is incredibly safe, and parents can rest assured that it is malaria-free, which means no vaccines necessary. There are no dangerous animals, insects or snakes; and you don’t have to worry about cars as there are no tar roads. The whole island is essentially a parent’s dream when it comes to providing a safe and fun-filled environment for kids of all ages. Plus – it is home to an impressive number of giant tortoises, a Seychelles speciality that will enchant children and adults alike!

Lightfoot Travel is a Dubai-based luxury tour operator specialising in tailor-made family holidays, honeymoons, private villas and corporate travel to countries spanning seven continents. Visit lightfoottravel.com or call +971 4 455 8788 for further details.

Summer Slumber Party | The Mark Hotel | New York | Our favourite hotel in NYC

Our favorite hotel in New York has to be the stylish boutique hotel, The Mark Hotel, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  It is where we run to every year to do some pre-Christmas shopping  with a child or two in tow.  The location for us is unique and convenient for our children as it is next to Central Park and the shops are literally on your doorsteps – perfect for mums with strollers unlike the concrete jungle of mid-town which can be extremely stroller unfriendly.  Other pluses include the Jean-Georges restaurant which we love for breakfast, lunch and dinner located next to the lobby downstairs, easy with an infant not to venture to far out in the evenings.

New York, itself, isn’t baby or child friendly for a lot of reasons so we really do appreciate a hotel like The Mark Hotel that is accommodating towards its little guests. This summer, The Mark Hotel  is organising a slumber for families with children.  We just hope that they can offer this during the Christmas period later this year too.

Suite guests with children at The Mark will be treated to*:

#A customized black-and-white striped teepee tent set up in room including house-made chocolate milk and cookies

#Complimentary breakfast in bed each morning for the whole family from The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges

#A selection of family movies to choose from for a movie night while mom and dad enjoy a romantic dinner at The Mark Restaurant by Jean Georges

For families, The Mark also offers custom-designed strollers, a new selection of welcome amenities from Zittles, whimsical rides and gourmet picnics next door in Central Park with The Mark Custom Bikes and The Mark Pedicabs, among many other luxuries. Moreover, The Mark’s Concierge will be happy to arrange for services such as access to the best family-oriented destinations in New York City, child-care and baby-sitting.

*Guests must reserve upon booking.

For more information and bookings, please visit: