By Nohad Mouawad

 

Dubai Parent of the Week: Nataly Abdelnour Bouri

Profession: Former Brand Design Consultant, Current Interior Design Intern at Bluecamel Interior Design and Fitout

“I’m a Mom of two to Lea (3 and 4 months) and Michael (22 months). I’m currently a 40 year-old intern, as I decided to learn interior design after more than 15 years of working as a graphic designer and brand design consultant for companies such as Emirates Group. My son (my second child) was born during the pandemic, so between taking 6 months off because of him being in intensive care after birth, and the lockdown, I ended up taking a total hiatus from work. The pandemic and changes in my industry like social media, made me question what I wanted to do with my career. I have always loved interiors and I thought that now is the best time to do what I really love instead of constantly trying to keep up with social media trends in my industry. I really admire moms who continued to work full-time after having kids, as it has been a struggle for me! Motherhood has changed every aspect of my life and routine, and, with small kids, I don’t go out very much or stay out late.”

Daily Routine: “I wake up and go to bed quite early. Every morning I’m up at 6 am, I get the kids dressed, brush their teeth and go downstairs to get their lunchboxes ready. If there’s food that I need to cook for their lunchboxes, I do that too. My husband takes Lea to school by car and I drive Michael to nursery. After I’ve dropped him off, I come home, shower and go to the office at my brother-in-law’s interior design studio. I’m the 40 year-old intern! At 1 pm I have to leave the office to pick up Michael again, as the office where I work is very far away from his nursery and there’s lots of traffic. I pick him up, then I pick up Lea and we either head straight home or go to an afterschool activity (for Lea). By 6 pm the kids have dinner, at 6:30 we start their bedtime ritual, and they’re asleep by 7:30, or max 8. Once they’re asleep I go downstairs and spend time with my husband, do online shopping or just watch a show I like. That’s the only time I have to unwind from a hectic day. You won’t believe it, but I rarely stay up later than 9:30 or 10.”

Favorite Neighborhood Hangout: I live in Jumeirah Park but my favorite place to hang out with the kids is West Beach at the Palm. They have this pedestrian strip that’s not so busy, and the kids can go on their scooters and ride-ons. You run after them, but there are no cars, so you don’t have to worry. There’s a beach and the kids can also play in the sand while you eat or have something to drink at the restaurant. I also like to go to Mina Siyahi/The Westin. To be honest my husband and I have never been ‘day at the beach people,’ so we prefer to go to a club where the kids get entertained without getting covered in sand! Mina Siyahi also has a mini aquapark which is perfect with two toddlers.”

Favorite Kids’ Activity: “I spend a lot of time at soft play areas with my kids. There’s a new one that opened next to my house in Jumeirah Park called Playtorium, but my favorite is Cheeky Monkeys on the Palm. There is one entry and one exit for the kids, so you can’t lose them! Play areas are great especially when my youngest is with me. We have also been spending a lot of time at Woohoo, since all the birthday parties lately have been there!  It’s pretty similar to OliOli, although I think OliOli is more creative.

Sometimes I take the kids to Play Land at Nakheel Mall. They have lots of games to keep them busy. My daughter Lea loves Kidzania, she even goes into the different areas on her own, but it’s not an activity we can do every week as it’s pricey (unless you use the discount on Qidz for up to 125 AED off). One of the kids’ favorite things to do is feed animals, and at my sister’s place she has a rabbit, so if all else fails, we go over there and feed the bunny!”

Favorite Activity to do Without Kids: “I wish I could just go to Sensasia spa at Emirates Golf Club and just get a facial, or sit by the beach on my own. For now, all I can do is catch some ‘me time’ after I put the kids to bed. That’s when I sit and watch a show on Netflix for an hour on my laptop. I’ve recently been watching The Good Doctor, House of Dragons and The Empress.”

Parenting Hack: My advice to parents is: “Don’t get FOMO! It’s okay to miss out during the early years of having a baby or kid. But, do whatever makes you feel comfortable and don’t don’t compare yourself to other parents. You are doing enough and you are doing your best.”