About Life, Parenting

Expats; This is for You!

This is not the first time I experience the life of an expat. In fact, my life started as one. First, I was born in Saudi Arabia, in a remote area which was foreign to my parents. In it, I experienced a unique childhood where I grew up appreciating the beauty of the desert with all its charming crimson and pale colors emerged in one painting.

Years later, my parents, like every Lebanese at that time, decided to go back to their hometown, and try to compensate for the lost years of living abroad. Seeking a better opportunity to provide us with an excellent level of education, they conceded to settle in Beirut during the weekdays, and headed to the mountains every weekend.

As children, we quickly learned to adapt and fit into two different cultures; the urban and rural life each with its own disperse traditions and contradictory lifestyles .

The first real cultural shock, though, hit me when I got married and moved to live in France. It was not only about learning to adapt and fit into a completely new culture, but I also needed to improve my French speaking, reading, and writing skills which I have acquired as a third language.

I left my family, my teaching career, my social life, and my home to create a new home for me and my dear husband. And what a shock it was to realize that I was all of a sudden fully responsible for the tiniest decisions I made.

Not too long after that, my husband and I embarked on a new journey to Abu Dhabi! Again settling in and creating our own circle took some time, but we soon managed to establish our solid grounds and deal with the daily challenges of parenting, work, and whatever life brought us. Of course, we had our ups and downs. Our moments of complete surrender and defeat. Instants of loneliness and uncertainty. At the same time, we encountered amazing moments and built particular memories with amazing people whom we will cherish forever.

All those years, have actually taught me how to adapt to change. They provided me with the courage of embracing modification and diversity. They have paved the road for me to make me accept the consequences of living the expat life!

So this is how I am now acknowledging our new move in Muscat:
Learn about the culture before hand:

Before moving to any country, I learned to read about the culture and the country traditions we are moving to. It is essential to know what is expected and accepted in the society. What is normal in one place could be against the law in another. That is how having an idea of what to expect makes things smoother for us.
Listen to the local radio:

Listening to the local radio gives me an insight about major events and programs taking place in town. It not only entertains me, as I drive back and forth a many times a day, but it also helps me select specific plans to carry out along with my family. These highlights open new opportunities for us to fit better into the new society.
Socialize:

To socialize is an innate human need. By nature, we are social beings and having like minded people who share similar experiences is vital. Relationships create a psychological space and a safe niche which help us explore and learn about others and about ourselves. That is why, being around people makes us happier. Although it might be difficult at first, but it will soon open new doors and slowly one’s social circle builds up. Moreover, I personally love having people over, and hosting play dates, dinners, and gatherings for children and parents alike is something I find great pleasure in. That is how I quickly get in touch with people coming from all walks of life in the community.
Get involved in local activities:

Participating in local events and activities help me in accommodating into the new country with ease and awareness. It is not always comfortable to go and about introducing myself to a new society. At the same time, I do find great pleasure in doing so which gives me a good reason to get out of my comfort zone and explore those popular and cultural occurrences that are happening in the city. So far, I have attended a few events which have helped me in building a clearer idea on how life functions here.

Explore the surroundings:

Acting like tourists, even in our own country, serves us well. It not only makes us appreciate the country’s culture and heritage, but it also opens great opportunities of learning and knowledge. In every country I have been to, I always make it a point to visit museums, historical sites, galleries, and exhibitions. I love to explore new areas and cities. I have never felt intimidated by the unknown and maybe that is what motivates me unfold any uncertainties I face.
Keep in touch with family and friends:

Keeping the bond with family members and dear friends whom I have met along those past years, is essential. That connection is healthy for both parties. After all, they are the ones who understand my feelings and help me overcome any obstacle at hand. No one knows me better than they do, and because I am aware of the fact that it is not shameful to discuss any weaknesses I encounter, I actually get the support I seek. That is how I succeed in pulling myself up whenever I feel broken on the inside.
Keeping busy:

It is essential for me to keep myself occupied with educational and recreational activities other than just maintaining my family and home. It is true that I have five children to look after, and it is true I need to support my husband. It is also true that I have certain obligations which I need to tend to, no matter how boring they might sometimes be. However, it is essential that I do not forget myself and my needs as well. Here is why, I always seek endeavors which keep my mind alert and my knowledge escalating. Currently, the great pleasure I am experiencing as a result of my piano and photography lessons is simply fascinating.

Acceptance:

As expats, we know for a fact that we will experience living in certain places for only a couple of years. It will not last forever! Some expat experiences could be more challenging than the others, especially if we were localized in countries which do not provide the accustomed facilities and services we used to have. However, once we gratefully accept what we have signed up for, we could actually enjoy those years no matter where we live.

In conclusion, no one said that the expat life is easy, and behind all the amazing facilities we are blessed with, there are many issues that come along. While it is normal to experience some challenges and frustrations when living abroad, applying the above tips have helped us ensure that our stay here could be yet another adventure which we will include in our diary.

That is why, with a positive attitude, we could actually build a new strong network no matter what the circumstances are. After all, it depends on how we decide to perceive the life we have chosen for ourselves and for our children.

So if you relate to a similar situation, let me know how you have adapted to the changes you witnessed as an expat!

Parenting, Reviews, special occasions

Why Travel with Your Significant Other?!

Going on a short vacation with your significant other, allows serious growth in your relationship. Ever since our eldest son was almost two years old, hubby and I decided on having some time on our own – away from the usual parenting routine. We soon found ourselves booking a staycation for a few days, every summer, where we used to keep our little son under the care of his grandparents. As the years passed, and the number of our children increased, we reduced our break to a day or two. Still, as a couple, those short breaks helped in rejuvenating our relationship. However, this year, we decided to take our break to a higher level and headed over to Amsterdam for five days! I fully acknowledge that without the support we have, we would have never been able to achieve our goal. It is indeed very true that it takes a village to raise a child – and in our case our support system is even beyond that village! To that, we are so grateful!

So why is it essential that couples get some time on their own?

We are fully aware that sooner than we expect, our children will embark on their own and soar around the world. That is why, we need to establish common interests together so we enjoy ourselves when we are older and on our own. We are also aware that if we do not work on strengthening our bond as a couple, by time, the sparkle might lose its glimmer. Having this in mind, we both put whatever effort is needed to preserve the solid connection we have!

This trip allowed us to destress, renovate in new ways, and appreciate what we have established during those fifteen years of marriage. Further, it served as the perfect occasion to focus on being husband and wife instead of putting all our attention into being Mama and Papa.

Not having our children around us, broke up that parental routine making us closer to one another. We were more understanding and patient with one another. We could feel that it strengthened our teamwork skills, and mostly we had plenty of time to discuss new plans and clarify certain points of view. Sometimes you feel more connected when you’re away from your comfort zone.

As we freely roamed around the beautiful streets of the city, we enjoyed the uninterrupted closeness to one another. Moreover, once we left the hotel, we were completely disconnected from our phones and had the chance to live in the moment of just being with each other!

After all, this voyage has enhanced our emotional connection and cut the monotonous work and stress we endure all year long. It also provided us with enough time to spark some romance. The latter could be easily concealed after a few years of marriage, due to the endless parenting obligations.

What we also appreciated is the fact that we got to discover new things together. In addition to visiting A Beer Brewery, The Red Light District, and The Water Canals, we also got the chance of being educated together through the rich museums of Van Gogh, Anne Frank, and the Diamond Museum (to name a few)…

We also loved how Amsterdam presented a real example of a society which is composed of a variety of people who practice different forms of employment. At the same time, everyone is so welcoming and warm-hearted making tourists enjoy their stay.

Personally, I strongly recommend experiencing the world with your significant other. Not only is it an enriching experience for you as a person, it’s strengthening as a couple and can honestly take your relationship to new levels.

The indelible treasure engraved in the heart and mind when experiencing something together, can be everlasting. After all, any new sort of experience creates a memory that will be forever unique to the relationship between a couple.

Together, we have built up those great memories which we could hopefully go back to once we are old and gray!

What experiences have you learned through traveling with your partner? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Life, events

Beloved Abu Dhabi – Good Bye

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I dedicate this last post from Abu Dhabi to each and everyone person I have met throughout those years:

Thirteen years ago, on a warm Spring day, I stepped foot in Abu Dhabi for the very first time. I was so excited to turn the few pages of anguish and start with a new chapter in my life. I have always embraced change, no matter how challenging it might be, and this time I could not contain my happiness and excitement. I gently rubbed my swollen tight tummy, feeling my first child kick me on the inside, as if he gave me a sign of approval and contentment. He could feel my delight, and he was satisfied as much as I was.

My life back in charming Paris, was not like one would imagine. Everyday living in Europe is not actually a luxury and requires a lot of patience, effort, and endurance -which I was not psychologically prepared to – especially when I got pregnant. Coming to think about it now, I wonder if, back then, I was still inexperienced enough to deal with life’s toughness.

Abu Dhabi welcomed me with open arms. It gave me a new essence to life. It sheltered me. It assisted me. It helped me grow. It offered me learning opportunities. It provided me with many occasions to examine new experiences and meet amazing people throughout those years. In addition to establishing a family of seven, I was also able to pursue my career life. I had all the help and support which I could not afford back in France. All of this has actually collaborated in what I achieved today, starting from my children, my work as an Elementary school teacher, and reaching to my current blogging world which is not restricted to any physical distance. This truth somehow alleviates me knowing that I will continue to reach out to all of you through my journey as the helicoptermommy – but this time from a new destination!

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After thirteen years, which of course had their challenges, failures, and successes, my family and I are leaving the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and heading to Muscat, Oman. As much as we are excited about the favorable changes we are going to experience, it breaks my heart to leave behind, family members, precious friends, dear students, close colleagues, supportive parents, and fellow like-minded bloggers and followers I have met and worked with in this part of the universe.

Thirteen years make history! As a matter of fact, what we have witnessed and experienced cannot be summarized in a few lines. Still, I can decipher a few unique moments which I have gained by being part of Abu Dhabi’s society. I am grateful for knowing each and every person I have met along those years. After all, I strongly believe that I always learn something new about myself by knowing others. As I look back, I realize how lucky I am to have had the chance of making friends from different parts of the world. Each one of them taught me about a different culture, a certain norm, and a cosmopolitan vision, making me more open to humanity with all its homogeneous and heterogeneous compositions. All of that taught me to accept people the way they are, and I soon realized that there was no room left for any judgement. We are all humans under the same sky battling against certain struggles and celebrating glorious triumphs. We are all humans who can give a lot of goodness to the world through kindness and acceptance.

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And maybe because giving and goodness have a rippling effect, my heart was filled with gratitude for receiving endless touching messages, compassionate phone calls, teary hugs and emotional farewell gatherings for the past weeks! How could I not feel that gnawing pain twisting inside my chest when I know that I am leaving part of me here?

If I send my gratitude to each and every one of you, whether we are close or far, I would drown under the heaviness of its intensity. My dear readers, followers, supporters, and confidants I cannot thank you enough for helping me become the mother, wife, sister, and woman I am today.

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Yes, I know that very soon I will pack our stuff in taped boxes! Yes, I know I will physically depart! Yes, I also know that I will close the door to our home very soon! Yes, life without us here will move on. Yes, I am experiencing different emotions! Yes, I might be in denial! Yes, I know the truth to all of that, but I also know that all of you and Abu Dhabi will remain in my heart forever!

So for now good bye, to you and good bye to Abu Dhabi…. but the journey continues because ‘every ending has a new beginning!”

events, Parenting, Reviews

Review; Parenting by Connecting Approach

The talk with Tanshi2a that took place two weeks ago at Silkor in Abu Dhabi Mall, left the moms with mixed emotions of guilt, accomplishment, difficulty, success, and puzzlement. As Mrs. Anisa Al Sahrif, Conscious Parenting Educator and Social Entrepreneur, discussed a few essential tools that help in building a solid connection with our children, she also provided the audience with real life situations and examples from daily challenges we, as parents, face.

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Human beings are characterized by being emotional, and our emotions play a major role in our decisions and actions. In fact, understanding a parent’s emotions is as equally important as understanding that of a child. As per Mrs. Al Sharif, once we comprehend ourselves, we will definitely apprehend our children. Once we work on our sentiments, we are able to grasp our children’s reaction with more ease. Thus, we build an extraordinary connection with them.

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As parents and caregivers, we need to learn to accept that crying is a healthy way to process emotions. It allows our children to  let out their frustration and address certain needs – like having you around. A child might cry because of fatigue, hunger, or simply because she misses her parent’s presence. Mrs. Al Sharif adamant statement is that the more love and warmth we provide our child with, the more trust and cooperation we build.

A child’s behaviour, Mrs. Al Sharif, explains is very similar to an iceberg. We tend to see only the tip of it, but we need to learn to look behind it in order to recognize and address the emotion that lies beneath. At the same time, as parents we need to learn to put limits in a way that gives them the space to experiment and make their own mistakes in order to build their personality and resilience.

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She continued to explicitly provide the attendees with a set of five main parenting by connection tools that can build that bond:

  1. Special Time:

For this tool, Mrs. AlSharif suggests that the parent sets a date every single day with the child. It can be anything between 3 minutes to an hour. Put an alarm to set a boundary, and let the child choose what she wants to do. It could be anything from doing experiments to jumping on the bed. Make sure to provide the child with much warmth and eye contact. She strongly encourages the parent to simply enjoy those moments with the child, promote laughter, and not to give advice.

  1. Playlistening:

In this spontaneous tool, Mrs. Al Sharif encourages the parent to follow the laughter and encourage the fun in their relation with their children. The child will always take the lead in these situations with the adult taking the less powerful role. Laughter has an incredible power to heal any hard emotions – exactly like crying. When a child is comfortable to express her feelings, the handling of emotions is achieved. In playlistening, it is advised not to tickle the child in order to leave the feelings of joy and laughter come from within the child. Apparently tickling a child results in having forced emotions which might result in negative consequences later on in life as adults.

  1. Setting Limits:

Setting limits with a child is essential for both. It is advised that a parent takes a minute to breathe before interfering with the trouble that is causing the child for having a tantrum or any kind of frenzy outburst.  A parent can learn how to stop off-track behavior with love, warmth, and respect.

  1. Staylistening:

Once a child’s needs are understood and listened to, the tension is released and the child can think. At the most challenging times, parents need to listen deeply and attentively. Once the issue is resolved the child can connect and ponder on the behavior that resulted.

  1. Listening Partnership:

Parenting is tough, and parents need to be supported. This tool is about processing our own emotions and understanding what triggers us as parents. Having a person who can listen to us, with no judgment and without offering any advice, is a great way that can help us identify and handle our own emotions.

In conclusion, a child’s neural pathways grow through love, respect, eye contact, and listening. All of these result in connection which is vital for parents and children alike.

Thank you Mrs. Al Sharif for this insightful talk which was an eye-opener to most of our attendees.

To learn more about the Parenting by Connecting Approach head over to www.tanshi2a.com or www.handinhandparenting.org

 

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PS: More pictures will soon be posted on the thehelicoptermommy Facebook page, so stay tuned.

Reviews

Review: Morning Coffee with Forever Living

Our coffee morning at Leopold’s Nation Tower, was filled with a boisterous group of amazing women living in Abu Dhabi. We started off with a detailed presentation by Katy Holmes who came all the way from Dubai to inform us about the wonderful Forever Living Products, and talk about a possible business opportunity to such a unique group of supportive ladies.

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We, then, enjoyed a rich breakfast composed of eggs, croissants, and cheese along with fruit yogurt and of course coffee.

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As usual, and thanks to the raffle draw, many ladies were showered with beautiful gifts from Healthy Home Me, Zumba Lena, Ghanem Salon, Mama’s Garden, and Hunter Foods. Finally, each lady left with a mini-chocolate box from Patchi, a helicoptermommy mug from Layan Emirates, and a bag of Himalaya pink salt chips from Hunter Foods. Those pinks bags were specifically designed to support the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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I would like to take the opportunity and thank each and every single one of you for your endless support and continuous enthusiasm. I was also very pleased to have met new people, and I am grateful for all the learning opportunities I am receiving through you and through my blogging experience.

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Head over to my Facebook page to see the rest of the pictures, and tag your friends to know all about our productive morning.

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Love to all!

About Life, Parenting

What Would I Tell Myself If? 

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGBeing surrounded by a few new moms and hearing the various struggles they are going through with their little ones took me back twelve years ago. I was able to relate to a lot of the difficulties they are currently facing and was assuring them that this too shall pass. Listening to them also gave me the chance to reflect on the path that I have been on and was wondering what message would I have sent myself if I was able to go back in time?

Avoid perfection:

First,  I would lower my expectations to be the perfect mom with a perfect baby. At that time I thought I could maintain an organized routine the way I have always done.  So instead of napping when he did,  I continued to tidy up the house,  cook, and do the never ending laundry. Moreover, he wasn’t the type of babies who slept through the night. I used to spend my days and nights indulged in feeding,  diaper changing, and more of those inexplicable heartbreaking cries!  The result;  I was drained due to the excessive pressure I have put on myself by aiming to seek perfection.

Learn to accept reality :

I learned through my experience that I needed to be more patient and to happily accept the sudden changes that quickly became our daily routine.
I also learned that those long nights and endless cries will come to an end.  It is only a stage before you move on to maybe yet another more complicated one.

Learn to accept advice:

I learned that advice coming from experienced people could be taken into consideration. For example,  I completely refused to give my boy a pacifier thinking only of its disadvantages. I was also afraid that he might get attached to it, leaving me unable to control it later on. Instead, I would nurse him every time he started crying, wondering if I had enough milk supply!

Be less anxious:

I admit with my first,  I was kind of worried about small  and unimportant details,  despite the fact that he was a healthy baby. By experience, I learned how these worries and anxieties can be felt by my babies.  So why would I reflect negative feelings when I can supply them with excessive positive love?

Give some time for myself:

If I look back at how I neglected myself and my appearance at that time,  I would be surprised.  A friend once told me how important it was for me to go for a walk alone,  have a Mani-padi every once in a while.  Of course, I did not as I thought I would be that bad and egoistic mummy if I don’t sacrifice every single minute for him.

Give some time to my hubby:

In the same talking,  I indirectly neglected our relationship focusing mainly on our baby, his needs, and then I would be too tired to even consider an outing or to spend some fun time with my hubby.

The good thing behind this, is that I have drastically changed throughout the years.  I learned from my mistakes, as I matured into motherhood. Thankfully, I succeeded in avoiding these inconsistencies with my other children, and I learned to enjoy being a mom of five. After all nothing is worth all the stress, the guilt, the pain, and even the physical fatigue. What really matters is the loving positive message we can provide our precious children with, right from day one.

If you like this post or find it helpful, please support my blog by sharing it on your social media. Thank you!


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Parenting

Bonding Time with Dad

Years ago, when my brother was around 6 years old, he and his friend, Simon, were boasting about their dads who were both doctors.

So Simon goes,” My dad is the president of the hospital!!”

My brother looked seriously at him, thought for a while before he replied and then said: ”Well, my dad is the president of Oxygen!”

Simon was shocked by my brother’s reply as he was unable to understand what it meant, so he sprinted towards his dad scurrying for explanations.

We always hear children bragging about their father’s super powers, but the peculiar part of it is that deep inside they do believe it is true.

To create a successful bonding and have the hero image become realistic, Dads, like moms, have a great role in raising their children. However, there are still some dads who find it a bit challenging to bond with their kids.  Here are a few tips that can help in establishing strong roots which would last for years to come.  That is why, it is important that the dads intervene as early as possible in order to transfer this heroic image into a solid bonding.

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Participate in their daily routine:

Dads who take care of the children’s basic needs like showers, teeth brushing, etc. show them that their dad cares about their well-being and hygiene. Here, the children have a one on one time with their dad where they can confide in him and tell him about their day and friends.  A dad’s involvement with daily tasks helps the children become independent in the sense that dads usually have the children do the tasks on their own while they supervise. Hence, the independent spirit within the child flourishes in a positive way.

Doing sports together:

Whether it is swimming, playing football, basketball, or tennis, dads can profit from such occasions and direct their kids towards fair playing. Sports games offer a vast opportunity that helps children learn about team work and communication skills between the players. More importantly, it teaches about trust and cooperative work which are vital transferable skills for a successful future. This makes us move to the next step.

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Go out on special trips:

Depending on the child’s age group, a dad can plan simple yet influential outings with the children. For boys, for example, he can take them to a car exhibition, where they can discuss the functions and different parts of vehicles. As for girls, he can accompany them to any activity, like chess or music lessons, which they are participating in. This way, the children and their father can enjoy their time together while doing something they both enjoy. Riding bikes, going ice skating, having an ice cream, or simply playing in the park are all essential activities that make the child feel closer to his dad.

Read books to them:

Reading books is incredibly helpful in connecting with children. Usually, the child is relaxed and feels secure as they snuggle in the warm lap of their dad. These reading sessions help the children to hold discussions about the events of the story and indirectly learn how to make a proper dialogue.

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Go to the supermarket:

Even though going grocery shopping may seem trivial, but children learn a lot from this experience. For instance, they learn to be responsible, make calculations, understand the concept of classification, and know how to choose good types of products.

Play board games together:

Playing games has always been the best tool where a parent can teach without preaching about the basic guidelines in life. Board games are a great way to explain to the child about those rules, and to learn how to respect them. “Snakes and Ladders” is a favourite of my third son, and the minute his dad comes back from work, he directly gets it and they have a quick round.

Even though daddies are busy with work and responsibilities, setting a time for the children is essential. Once they feel the closeness of their dad, they know that they can confide in him and share their highs and lows which eases discussions between them. Participating in each other’s lives also helps in establishing a strong bond. In other words, dads become his children’s father, protector but most importantly friend for life…

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N.B: Pictures are taken from Pinterest