Michelle, 44 is a busy British mum of 3, and co-owner of Aquatix Swimming Training – a small swim school that teaches children from as young as 3 months right through to competitive swimming. Having lived in Dubai for the last 6 years, it hasn’t always been easy for Michelle to juggle working with motherhood, especially with a toddler. Here Michelle tells us about the changes she made for her family and what she loves most about living in Dubai.
Q. Where’s your hometown and what do you love most about it?
A. I’m from Cornwall and Devon has been my home town since I was 12 years old. It is a place that has it all – it’s a thriving historic university City with great shopping, fast trains to London and easy access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK.
Q. Does Dubai feel like home to you?
A. For us home is ‘where the heart is’. We arrived with our eldest daughter and soon ‘Team Slade’ became 4 of us and then 5 – plus two rabbits! We live in Al Safa and enjoy being outdoors most of the year and my children love their school and their friends – and we truly feel they have so many opportunities here; I mean, where else in the world do children visit ‘Little Explorers’, ‘The Jam Jar’, and the theatre to watch ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ in a year of school trips? The time will no doubt come for us to go home, but for now, we’re really happy.
Q. What do you miss most about back home?
A. I miss my family and friends, although I am lucky as my my folks visit regularly. But I miss those impromptu catch ups where an early drink with friends after work sees you rushing to catch the last train home – that just doesn’t happen here.
Q. Most British mums will stock up on things when they visit the UK. What are your must-have items to pack in your suitcase that you can’t be without?
A. Dubai has it all so I don’t go too overboard but we’ll always have a case full of kids clothes, toiletries, calpol, marmite, milk chocolate hobnobs, birthday cards, Peppa Pigs and M&S goodies!
Q. What age were your children when you returned to work and did you struggle to balance being a mum and working?
A. After 20 years as a PE Teacher and Athletics Director, I was able to actualise my dream 2 years ago to be able to spend more time with my children and focus on sharing the other passion in my life – swimming. With both of my daughters I returned to work when they were five months old. Being a PE teacher and needing to attend fixtures after school and weekends was a challenge and when I had to return to work 45 days after the birth of my son, I admitted defeat and resigned. I do miss teaching, but now I have much more of a balance – (as much as you can being, a full time working mum).
Q. Tell us something about yourself that people don’t already know.
A. I am absolutely terrified of snakes and am one of Take That’s biggest fans! I’ll be there with bells and whistles on if they’re coming back to Dubai!
Q. What has been your favourite family holiday destination and why?
A. We haven’t been too adventurous when travelling with our children so far. They are happy to go to their Grandparents house in the UK where we can enjoy the sandy beaches whatever the weather, or we also love taking staycations. Now they are getting older we are planning our first ski trip and hopefully a trip to Thailand to see friends in the next few weeks which we’re all excited about.
Q. What are your ‘pet hates’ in life?
A. Smoking and my husband leaving everything until the last minute!
Q. What’s the thing you love doing most with your children?
A. Just hanging out really. As my 3 are very close in age and also very happy keeping themselves entertained, we love doing things like going to the pool, the park, baking or just playing games. They are all my heroes as they really enjoy life and are eager to learn new things every day.
Q. You’ve lived in Dubai for the last 6 years so you must have discovered a few hidden gems in your time here. Please share your favourite places to go and things to do that will be great tips for other British mums!
A. If you haven’t done it already, taking the Abra across to the Gold and Spice Souks and exploring the old areas of the City is a must! Tasting the amazing Indian cuisine in Karama and Satwa and enjoying the parks and beaches in the cooler weather also comes top of our list.
Q. What are your best money-saving tips to share with British mums living in Dubai?
Using the Entertainer and Groupon and Cobone for days out makes such a difference – especially when you have lots of children like me!
Q. What’s your favourite family-friendly restaurant in Dubai and why?
Pizza Express – my kids will eat anything from the menu there and we also love visiting the Polo Club as we are members and so we often have a long lazy tea after a few hours at the pool. The play area there is also perfect to keep the gang entertained after they have eaten and we can enjoy our food watching them play.
Q. Where’s your favourite special restaurant in Dubai and why?
A. Ooh that’s a question – Prime 68, Pier Chic, Toro Toro, La Serre … there are too many amazing places to choose from. I just asked my husband and he laughed saying ‘The Rose and Crown’ (W hotel). It’s our local and they do a mean fish and chips and we always have a lovely few hours there!
Q. We all need some down time occasionally! If you had a whole day to yourself, what would be your ideal mum’s ‘me time’?
A. I’d love to be checking into a hotel where I can visit the spa, read a book, enjoy some room service and sleep!
Q. What’s the last book you read and the last TV series you watched?
A. Reading a book! – I never get past the second page before I drop off! Sadly, the last time I read a fiction book was when I was pregnant with my eldest daughter. I spend time reading swim coaching articles and the BBC News website which sounds really terrible but once my kids are in bed I need to catch up with all of my admin. As for TV, I have two series ; the current season of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Line of Duty’. My husband won’t watch Grey’s Anatomy so I had to have an alternative!
If you’re a British mum and would like to be featured, we would love to hear from you. Please drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org