It is that time of year for most expats in Abu Dhabi. When we sit down and try to sort out what are we going to do for the summer. If it wasn’t so hot here in the summer this wouldn’t be a big issue. If my husband and I came from the same country, if visiting family didn’t require a 14 hour flight followed by a 4 hour car journey, if trying to sort out who you are going to stay with to save on accommodation cost, it would not be an issue. Whilst traveling is fun and exciting, it can be a bit of a nightmare and requires a lot of planning – especially if you have small children.
Summer in Abu Dhabi is not an ideal place to be with little ones. It is dangerously hot out from mid morning until early evening so the amount of time spent outside is limited. Don’t get me wrong… there are things to do but you must plan on spending the majority of your summer at home, in a mall or get a season pass at a waterpark. Everything costs money too – summer camps, play areas, movies, eating out, etc. You get the idea. By the end of summer you will never want to set foot inside a mall again – unless it is to get your daily dose of Starbucks.
Every summer in the UAE there is an exodus of moms and children. Since most husbands can only take 2 weeks leave in the summer, the moms are left with the travel duty. I used to wonder how can families be separated for so long (sometimes up to 6 weeks) from dad? Well, what I really was thinking was, “There is no way I am taking care of the kids for 6 weeks on my own!” That being said, deciding on the duration of your stay is quite important. Last year we went away for only 2 weeks. This was not enough time. By the end of August my kids had ME climbing the walls, counting down the hours until school started.
My Eureka moment – I was doing the dishes (yep, no maid on holiday for me) planning the day out in my head like I normally do back in Abu Dhabi. I could hear the children laughing and having fun outside. I watched from the kitchen window as they played. They were playing in the grass, rolling down the hill, exploring the woods, watching the birds. I realized I didn’t need to plan anything. Playing outside was enough. It all clicked. I understood the reason behind the family summer exodus and knew I was going to become a member of that club – whether I liked it or not.
So here we are again this year. What are we going to do? This summer we will have a new baby in tow in addition to the other 2 children aged 4 and 2. Not ideal for traveling but we will juggle out some sort of solution. Whilst the traveling itself may be a nightmare, once you get to the other end catching up with friends and family make the long journey worth it. For me it’s watching my children play outside, exploring nature and most importantly making memories that they will talk about long after we have returned back to Abu Dhabi. There are worse problems to have than wondering where you are going to spend the summer with the kids. Oh, the burden of expat life…….