Living in Dubai and the lack of free play for toddlers


Lately, I have started having guilty feelings: my kids will never grow up to experience what I experienced while growing up – as long as we are living in Dubai. My son, Benjamin, most especially. Unlike Pristine who was already 3 years old when we relocated in 2007, Benjamin was born here.

Pristine has had lots of free play in the great outdoors, all throughout the year in Japan (well maybe except when it’s raining or snowing though those two seasons I wish they could experience too right now).

Benjamin is mostly indoors and I feel so bad about it because I know as children get older, physical activity play a key role in their ability to learn and it improves their cognitive function, concentration, social skills and mood.

We take him outside on the weekends but that’s about it. And only when the weather allows – maybe a few weeks more and then we’re stuck indoors as the desert heat starts to pounce.

Now that I am off on Saturdays too {I work full time 5 days a week}, I make it a point to take Benjamin to either to Safa Park or the play area inside the school where Pristine goes for Japanese language classes once a week. He lacks outdoor activities because we don’t live near a park so unlike boys his age in say, Japan or Philippines, his leg muscles are not that strong. He climbs very slowly and is very cautious. The first time he faced this rope and knots, he hesitated.

It’s like he doesn’t know what to do with it. And didn’t understand what they’re for.


We are not aiming to train him to be Spiderman or something (although he has demonstrated he’s got the potential) but just wanting him to be you know, a boy, who can climb trees and be more agile. 

Technology is partly to blame (and my less than stellar parenting with regards to this). Benjamin had been playing with the iPad more than necessary so I’ve decided to change it. I have hidden the iPad from him for two weeks now. Thankfully, he is not looking for it.

I grew up in the suburbs where there is plenty of free play. There was no time waster called the internet and iPads.

I would love to send my kids out the front door in the morning and tell them to come home when the street lights come on. Our parents used to do that but now, the problem is … there’s no one else out there. I wish we lived in a community where there are plenty of children his age. For now, it will be a weekly going out to the park for him.

Do you live in Dubai and have kids? What do you do for your children’s free play?


  1. Other than parks and beaches, the closest thing to free play are the museums in Sharjah. Yes they are indoors, but he will still be exploring like crazy. The entry fee is so cheap compared to soft play areas in Dubai.

    Also, have you been to the Posh Paws Animal Sanctuary in Khawaneej? It’s EXTREMELY overwhelming at first (there are massive emus walking around freely), but after a couple visits the girls are so used to everything and love going!



    1. Thanks for all the suggestions!! One of our hurdles is that we are both working and can only take the kids out on the weekends 😦



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s