How to keep your kids entertained this summer

How to keep your kids entertained this summer

Families – 05.07.21

Mum of two Helen Farmer shares some of her top tips for surviving, and even thriving, over the next few months


I recently took my girls to the ophthalmologist who told me, for eye health reasons, that screen time should be capped at three hours. I smiled smugly. Even my early rising, Bluey-addicted kids don’t watch THAT much TV in a day. Then she clarified. Three hours per week. Oh! Personally, I find that pretty unrealistic (major kudos to you and yours if you can pull it off), but I’m hyper aware that another long summer in the UAE might mean even more screen time than my relaxed/slack parenting technique is comfortable with.

So we’re making a plan. We’re hoping to travel for a couple of weeks (sadly not to the UK, despite my mum’s email to her local MP), so that leaves around a month to fill. Regular playdates with kids in their bubble will be a big part of it, plus early mornings at the beach, but there are some great spots to try around Dubai, and summer deals might make them more accessible than ever. Here are some of our favourites.

1. Pirates Surf Rescue

My kids are in this term-time activity, which takes up two afternoons and one weekend morning per week. Think beach fitness, paddle and body boarding, self defence, water skills and team work. While the full-time sessions are full, they’re running summer camps through July and August (priced from Dhs 700), with early mornings of energy-burning fun, before it gets hot. Contact them via Instagram

2. OliOli

My kids LOVE messy play. I do not like it when my sofa cushions are nearby. Time to bring in the experts. OliOli is a delightful mix of kids’ play space and science museum, home to various galleries where they can explore, climb, learn, build and yes, make a mess on someone else’s turf. There’s a choice of summer camps for ages 4 and up, with morning or afternoon sessions and sibling discounts. @olioliUAE

3. Privilee

We’ve been members of this beach club programme for a long time – every weekend feels like a holiday and you have unlimited access to more than 60 five-star hotel pools and beaches, plus gyms, classes, spas and dining, where you get generous discounts. There are some fab family-friendly spots (a few allow free access for a nanny, too), and kids’ clubs are back.

4. QidZ app

I’m under no illusions that you’re reading this thinking “Sounds great, but HOW MUCH?!!!” so download the Qidz app for serious deals on some of the major attractions. My highlights include Motiongate for AED 189 instead of AED 275, buy one, get one free on Bricolandia in Nakheel Mall (a must for LEGO lovers), Green Planet for AED 69 down from AED 99, Aquaventure Waterpark at AED 205, discounted from AED 245. These are the once-a-week treats in our house.

5. Stay at home – but do it properly

I recently interviewed Pascale from Moments of Parenting and her advice about what toys to have and which to chuck out/donate was fascinating. For child development and education, more open ended play is a great – think blocks, books, arts and crafts, and musical instruments, while she advises ditching anything that is too passive, ugly, character driven or faddy, or toys that annoy you.

Really hope this helps keep them entertained, your stress levels low, and maybe some fun for everyone along the way. Have a great summer.