With mothers justly extolled for their incredible work, it can sometimes feel like us fathers only make a cameo appearance.
Words: Miles Buckeridge
No, we don’t want a medal; unless you’ve bought one already, in which case it makes no sense to take it back to the store. No, what we’re looking for is guidance. Let us be clear: not instructions, dads do not do instructions – but a basic series of suggestions, tips and pointers – with a bit of local relatability, that couldn’t hurt surely?
Support is just a click away
With the majority of ex-pats not having wider family around, many of the traditional networks of support are not available. Coupled with the time formally passed with friends, now being spent bonding with your newest wingman/lady and the fact us males traditionally don’t make a habit of talking about our feelings, it can be an isolating experience.
There are groups specifically for dads in Dubai on various social media forums (British Dads in Dubai, on Facebook, for example). In between the internet-mandated sprinkling of memes there is a real community, sharing experiences – questions asked and answered and the occasional organised gathering.
As fathers we all want the best for our little ones, and giving them a head start in life by starting their education early is probably a temptation. Whilst they are still in the floppy-headed stage, there’s little chance of them mastering trigonometry – they can’t hold protractors properly, for a start.
Something that does seem to have scientifically-supportable benefit – as well as being immensely fun for baby and parent – is sensory classes. We visited one, hosted by the irresistibly charismatic Jamie; whose sense of wonder and delight in entertaining children is beyond Disney-esque. They offer sessions in Abu Dhabi and all over Dubai, and the age range spans from 0 months all the way up to toddlers (in separate sessions).
Call 055 112 6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book
The dad bod
There is a reason it’s called a dad bod. A uniform earned by observing a strict regime of insomnia, consuming food that takes a maximum of 18 seconds to prepare and sporadic gym sessions normally concluded by feelings of guilt or Whatsapps from your wife asking you to return home as player two on the world’s most complicated videogame. Accept it, embrace it, it’s a hallmark of proper priorities.
Al Barsha hack
Babies come with a LOT of paper work. Possibly our best pro-tip for any new parents in Dubai is check what you can do at the government services site in Al Barsha Mall, which has been relatively quiet every time we’ve visited. Plus, there’s free parking.
There’s also the Al Manara Centre, which can be crowded at peak times. Make sure you inform the supervisors /security guards that you have an infant with you. They will help you skip the queue as much as possible, and all the people waiting can’t even force a scowl at you because, well look at the cute baby.
albarshamall.ae. Saturday – Thursday, 8am-8pm.
Up in the sky and under the sea
With summer time temperatures in Dubai, one of only two things known to stop the Terminator, spending long periods outside over these months is not high on the agenda. Fortunately there are plenty of places to allow the central air-conditioning to run through the hair of the young heir.
The Sharjah Center for Astronomy & Space Sciences has a wonderful planetarium (pictured above). Aquariums are incredible spaces, “the little ones like the different colours and moving shapes” says Chris, a British dad living in Dubai, “then as they get older they start pointing and waving to the bigger fish and penguins.” Dubai Aquarium offers annual membership with unlimited visits at AED 250 per adult (children under three are free).
The truth is that, ultimately and as cheesy as it sounds, the most important commodity you can spend on your child in the first six months is time. There is no substitute.
The celebrity baby whisperers concur on practically nothing, but they all agree on that one fact. Most men are a capable of being a father, it takes somebody special to be a dad. Change those nappies, make those goo-goo noises you promised yourself you wouldn’t (behind closed doors and in sole company of your partner) – it’s the most important networking event of our lives, and also, bizarrely, not necessarily the one with the least vomit.