4 Morning Rituals You Will Wish You Tried Earlier

Since lockdown began, I have picked up some positive habits that have changed my life for the better. From reading (A LOT) to having the opportunity to trial different routines, I think I have found what works best for me and my lifestyle.

Working from home has definitely helped with the success of my morning routine; having extra time and nowhere to rush off to makes it easier but I will definitely make sure to still implement all of these when it is time to return to the office.

Obviously, everyone is different and what works for some, does not work for all; I just wanted to share some of the changes I have made and why they are working so well. Do what you love and if you don’t love it don’t do it!

“Success is something you attract by the person you become.”  – Jim Rohn

  1. Clear your mind. Wake up an hour earlier and just have 10-15 minutes of silence; don’t look at your phone or turn on the radio, try and just avoid all distractions. You can close your eyes if it helps. I guess what I’m trying to say is meditate but I feel like this verb might scare some people off and it needn’t. If you have never done this before, set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes and just sit with a straight back and focus on breathing. You will be surprised how many new ideas float around your mind and how creative you get when not focusing on anything.  This will set the tone and mindset for what you want to accomplish that day.
  2. Eat a low-carb breakfast and try and avoid sugar. I implemented this after my latest read by Jordan B. Peterson, ’12 Rules for Life’. Simple carbohydrates and sugars digest too quickly and therefore produce an energy spike and then dip. In an ideal world wouldn’t we all eat a bowl of Golden Nuggets for breakfast every day? Although I am not the type of person to watch what I eat or jump on the latest diet craze, this is a habit which makes sense to me, I understand the reasons behind it, and have already seen the benefits. My current favourite low-carb, no sugar breakfast is scrambled eggs with avocado and tomatoes. This takes me nicely to the next ritual…
  3. Exercise. There are hundreds of benefits of exercising in the morning, from setting the tone for the rest of the day, releasing ‘feel-good’ endorphins and being generally more alert and focused. This isn’t at all saying that going to the gym in the evening or of a lunch time is wrong, and by ‘exercise’ it doesn’t have to be an hour of Cardio. If you are someone who prefers going to the gym later, then you should continue doing so; even one minutes worth of exercise in the morning can change your day entirely. Personally, I do a 20-minute Pilates video on YouTube but even 50 jumping jacks will get the blood pumping and you’ll feel 10 times more awake than you did before.  *Remember, don’t exercise on an empty stomach after fasting all night. Your body will mop up all of your blood sugar making you feel tired all day and cannot be reset until you get more sleep.
  4. Write down 3 things you are grateful for. I think this is my favourite habit to come out of 2020. Every morning I write down three things I am grateful for. My lists started off with easy things like: eating dinner as a family, my plants, my job, living by the sea. As weeks went on, I’ve had to become more thoughtful and think a bit deeper. My most recent lists include: my mum’s work ethic, my ability to read and educate myself and working from a young age. My goal is to keep this habit going and read them back to myself to remind me how much there is to be grateful for. A lot of people I have spoken to, do this ritual in the evenings and it clearly works very well for them. If you are more of a Night Owl then I would recommend trying this instead, as I said before different things work for different people. As well as writing down what I am grateful for, I also have lists of goals. Quick ticks and long-term goals but all productive; nobody likes a busy fool. Prioritising and writing it down pen to paper emphasizes the importance and makes it more likely to get done. Soon, these goals on paper become real accomplishments.

Just these 4 changes alone have made such a massive difference to my year and overall productivity. It is never too late to start and with over 100 days left of 2020, you can still completely turn your year around. There is no rush, take time to appreciate the journey and the milestones, consistency is key. If anyone has any more daily habits that work really well, I would love to hear them and try them out.

Couldn’t talk about mornings without giving a special shout-out to the daily necessity, that is Coffee! This was at my favourite coffee shop in Nakheel Mall, The Climbing Goat Roastery.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have enjoyed this blog. You will find more blogs on my page.

https://beachmamadxb.wordpress.com/

Working and Parenting: Lockdown Edition

I would class myself as one of the lucky ones amid the pandemic, but there are many people like me who have managed to keep hold of their jobs and are supposed to be returning back to ‘normal’ at the office with the easing of restrictions. It seems that with these decisions, working parents have not been taken into consideration, at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel truly blessed to have spent so much more quality time with my 2-year-old; working from home has given me opportunities I never would have had, and being able to watch him grow everyday is a dream come true. We, as parents, are not burned-out, in fact to the contrary. We have time to eat breakfast together, dinner isn’t fresh from frozen, and time that would have been spent travelling, is time well spent. I find I drink less coffee, just me? Coffee in the office is an escape from the screen, a walk to the kitchen and a break from your desk.  At home I have p l e n t y of other things to be doing in these ‘mini-breaks’: prepare lunch, hang the washing out, play hide and seek etc. No, we are not emotionally burned-out, but we are trying to avoid being erased by a society which still has not accepted the truth about working parents. 

So, while I am glad things are moving forward for the economy, nurseries and schools remaining closed changes nothing for us parents. Of course, some people have the privilege of a nanny, close family or maybe the choice to leave the workforce, but wouldn’t it be completely crazy to base a decision around the support a parent ‘might-have’? Are working-parents not ‘essential’? What worries me is the number of mums who will have no choice but to leave their job if their companies do not show understanding and empathy. It is a fact that women who drop out of the workforce to care for children often have trouble getting back in.

In a system which was created around keeping work and home life separate and “leave your problems at home at home”, the ‘Zoom’ era has created a massive shift. My team mates have seen my 2-year-old running around with nothing but a nappy on, I sang Happy Birthday to my boss’ teenage daughter over Zoom and waved at a colleague’s Mum through the camera. We have started to see 100% of everyone rather than the 50% we bring to the office. This has created two great realisations: Parenting isn’t confined to non-working hours and child-care is a societal need.

Without social interactions, our little ones crave parental attention all day which when working, we cannot always give. But children cannot be expected to understand why. They are not burning as much energy, either mentally or physically, and so bedtime has been postponed by an hour. All of these things have a massive impact on the children and we naturally can’t operate like this forever.

Certainly, implementing social distancing in schools will be the biggest challenge yet, but after nearly 5 months (since our nursery closed) governments worldwide still don’t really have a solution on moving forward. How can an essential worker turn up to work with no child-care? How can a parent working from home, be expected to complete a full day’s work as well as home-schooling and child-care?

Personally, since the beginning of lockdown I have been working from home full-time, most nights I am catching up with work in the evenings with added, extreme ‘mum-guilt’ of constantly being on my phone and laptop. And I am one of the ones with ‘cushioning’. I have an incredible family around me (my mum and my sister) who I wouldn’t be able to live without! My husband is a chef, so he works round the clock and isn’t home for bedtime most days, this adds pressure and slightly differentiates us from the average household, but I speak from a position of privilege, still having two incomes coming in each month (despite a cut).

Moving forward I would like to see a change in what employer’s consider a ‘good employee’, flexible working hours and continued remote working. But more importantly, working-parents should be part of the conversation when businesses are considering reopening and repercussions on families to be discussed. I really don’t want parents to feel forced into being a stay-at-home mother/father or having to cut down their working hours, just because society couldn’t accommodate them.

Our favourite lockdown activities include: painting in the shower with yoghurt and food colouring, 'creative corner' with glue and just about anything we can find in the kitchen cupboard and building a living room fort.
Oh and BAKING!!

The Ultimate Dubai Resident Checklist

Is there anything Dubai doesn’t have? Here’s a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past 18 months…

Taste of Dubai

Dubai is home to seven-star hotels, celebrity chefs, luxury restaurants and underwater dining – it would be an understatement to say Dubai has it all. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you just fancy a good ol’ Shawarma. Here is a list of my favourite ‘eats’ around, obviously there is way too many to list but here it goes: 

Al Reef Bakery – A cheese and honey Manakeesh for 10aed will solve all your problems. The best Manakeesh in town. It is located on Al Wasl Road so if you are passing by, I would definitely recommend a try. You will not be disappointed.

Arabian Tea House – For authentic Emirati food and atmosphere, Arabian tea House in Al Fahidi is a hidden gem. If the atmosphere and interior isn’t enough to draw you in, then a cup of ‘gahwa’ and some of their tanoor bread will be enough to win you over. Afterwards, you can wander around the courtyards, admire the architecture and journey back into the city’s past.  

Arabian Tea House

L’Antica Pizzeria De Michele – Straight from Napoli, this Pizzeria is THE pizza place from Eat. Pray. Love. and it is Dubai’s best Neapolitan pizza. It has now been open for 1 year, located in City Walk so if you haven’t managed to visit yet then this should go to the top of your list. For children they have their famous ‘Mickey Mouse Pizza’ which is just perfect whilst you enjoy their signature Burrata pizza!

Fibber McGee’s – Dubai’s best kept secret. If you are craving a Full English Breakfast or a traditional Sausage and Mash (yes, real Pork) then look no further than Fibbers. The closest to the old man’s pub back home you’ll get in the Middle East.

Flamingo Rooms by Tashas – Or any of Tasha’s Café’s for that matter. Food. Interior. Ambiance. Perfection! For a special date night or celebrations, this restaurant in Jumierah Al Naseem is my go-to! From beef wellington, shoestring fries to their lobster pasta, the food is incomparable.

Must-Have Apps

“Is it on The Entertainer?”

The cost of living in Dubai isn’t cheap so of course we’d like to see what discounts and savings are up for grabs. There are plenty to choose from, although I do miss my Boots Advantage Card!

As soon as I arrived in Dubai, I was forced by family into buying ‘The Entertainer’ and I never looked back. The Entertainer offers 2 for 1 vouchers for not only restaurants, but theme parks, cruises, spa days and brunches. It is so user friendly and incredible to keep track of how much you save.

With a lot of families staying in Dubai this summer, ‘Privilee’ could be the secret to a successful stay. As temperatures soar above 40°C, for 1699aed, you and your family can enjoy unlimited access to 5* hotels, pools, gyms and more for 3 months!

Madinat Jumeirah

If you do your weekly shop at Carrefour, it may be worth downloading the SHARE app; you earn points with each spend which can then be redeemed in Carrefour or any of the other Al Futtaim stores. I have countless loyalty cards from the mall which I tap and have no idea what happens next – the SHARE app is a lot more transparent.

Don’t forget to check Groupon! The overwhelming amount of choice can be difficult to filter so having a look on Groupon to see where is offering good value can be a massive time saver.

 Unexpected Laws

These are some of the strangest ways you can get arrested in Dubai –

Did you know poppy seeds are banned in the UAE? Being caught in possession of poppy seeds is a serious violation of the law and can result in a jail sentence.

The UAE is very strict about preserving the privacy of others, this is why it is considered a very serious offence to take a picture of someone without their knowledge or consent. You can be fined up to 500,000aed and jailed for up to 6 months. Furthermore, you are not permitted to take pictures of any road/aviation accidents you see – this also has serious repercussions.

Swearing, curse words and gestures are strictly forbidden. Even on WhatsApp and other social media sites, if caught you can receive a fine or even deportation.

Keep your feet flat on the ground! Did you know crossing your legs is seen as disrespectful to the person opposite and showing soles of your feet implies the other person is ‘dirt’?

Health Insurance

Health insurance is a legal requirement for all expats and is provided by your employers, but do you know what your policy includes? Are your family included or is it just for you? What would happen if you were to become ill and unable to work?

In a recent survey by Friends Provident International, when asked, ‘Does your Medical Insurance pay a lump sum on diagnosis of a Critical illness?’ 49.2% of people answered Yes. Unfortunately, this is not the case, there seems to be a lot of confusion around Medical Insurance and Critical Illness Cover and both are equally as important to have. Educate yourself and make sure you are protected. 

Tour of the Emirates

When you say you live in the UAE, people assume Dubai, but in fact Dubai isn’t the Capital, nor is it the richest and nor does it have the following…

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Musee de Louvre, Yas Island – Abu Dhabi (The Capital City).

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Snoopy Island, the best beaches (in my opinion) and gorgeous coral reef which you can snorkel alongside – Fujairah (The only Emirate that does not have a coastline on the Persian Gulf).

World’s Longest Zip Line and hiking in the mountains – Ras Al Khaimah (The Northernmost Emirate).

Sandy Beach Resort, Fujairah

Sharjah is home to the best Museums including Sharjah Art Museum, Heritage Museum and Centre for Astronomy and Space. (The only Emirate that has Persian Gulf Coast and Gulf of Oman).

Walk around the old City, amazing beaches and birdwatch – Umm al-Quwain (The least populous and last Emirate to get big resorts).

To complete the list and to say you have visited them all, the smallest of all Emirates is Ajman.

Networking

80% of the population are expats, so seek comfort in the fact that everyone is in the same boat as you and probably away from family and friends. There are so many groups and forums to join to make everyone feel at ease, here are some of the main ones:

·        Shop Well for Less UAE (Facebook Group with tips on saving money and bargains around the city).

·        Bite Club (WhatsApp group for Foodies to meet up and try out the latest hot spots).

·        Internations.org (Connect, go to exciting events and network).

·        Community groups on Facebook (items for sale in your area, latest local news and open discussions).

·        British Dads Dubai (not a member but have heard great things). 

Managing your finances

Many of us move to the UAE to earn a higher wage without having to pay tax. Every penny earned is ours to keep which is highly advantageous in the short term but, many people aren’t saving anything at all. This can lead to poor financial planning and would explain why 8 out of 10 expats are leaving the same or worse off than when they arrived. 

Here are a few tips for saving and planning for the future –

·        Set up and start paying your voluntary National Insurance Contributions so you can be eligible for the U.K. State Pension. (Contributions are currently £3.05 a week and the full amount of State Pension is £9100 per year).

·        Put some money aside for your retirement and make sure you keep track of all existing pensions. It can be very easy to lose track especially if you have worked for more than one company.  

·        Avoid credit cards and loans as much as possible and if you have a credit card, pay this off first each month.

·        Consider renting out your family home if you still own one in your home country, this can help pay the mortgage and takes off some of the burden.

·        Be smart when transferring dirhams into any other currency. Watch the exchange rate to see when is the best time to transfer and avoid high street banks. This website offers best rates for expats: http://www.deverefx.com/

What else you would have included on your Dubai Resident Checklist? Would love to hear your thoughts. We are well and truly spoiled for choice and this list barely scratches the surface, I can’t wait to continue discovering more hidden gems and meeting more inspiring people in this crazy City we all call home.

Thank you for reading my first blog!

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