Back to school: 3 mum influencers share their journey of getting the kids ready

As back to school season arrives, three mum influencers share their journey of getting the kids ready and making sure they fly out of the nest, safe and happy

By Laraib Anwer

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Dana Elarabeed with her son Adnan
Dana Elarabeed with her son Adnan

Published: Thu 18 Aug 2022, 4:54 PM

With early morning bustle, rushed breakfasts, and excited looks at ironed out uniforms, back to school season has arrived once again. Whether they are a returning student, or a little one entering this golden age of their life, getting prepped to spend the most unforgettable years at school, the adrenaline rush that one is filled with the night before first day of school, never gets old. But what we often overlook are the silent warriors behind the scenes, who go through a rollercoaster of a time ensuring their kids preparation reaches utmost perfection.

Yes, it is indeed the mothers, anchors to our ships, the branches holding our leaves together, the ones who wake up before the crack of dawn and lay out the necessities for the day while the rest of the world sleeps away. We spoke to some of these heroes, the mom influencers in the country, on how they tackle this prime time while also managing their busy careers and lives.

Nilufar Yuldash

(Instagram: @nilufar_yuldash, Followers: 205K)

A lifestyle and fashion influencer living in Dubai, Nilufar Yuldash hails from Uzbekistan and is a single mother to Kamron, an eight-year-old entering grade 3 this September.

Getting her son ready for school has not been a struggle for Nilufar; in fact, his love for academics has made this transition easier. “Currently, he has a strong passion for geography and aims to become better than his teacher at it,” jokes Nilufar.

Gearing the kids up for back-to-school routine can be challenging at times, after the relaxing and often lazy vacations spent over the summer. “I have started putting him to bed 10 minutes earlier already just to get his body clock in sync with his regular school routine,” says Nilufar.

Being a full-time working mother, while also juggling her career as an influencer and raising a child on her own, has not been the easiest journey, and has often resulted in her not being able to give time to herself. “When he is at school, it’s more relaxing for me because I can go to the gym and have my own time to get ready for work, whereas in summers it gets very hectic, and I have to accept mentally that I have to take a break from my gym sessions and ‘me time’ and be there with him.”

Time is everything for working mothers, as they try to manage their personal and professional lives, raising future beings of this world. Nilufar found a new school which specially caters to kids with working parents with flexible timings. She found out about it through Khaleej Times and rushed to get her son admitted.

“I have been through different stages and struggles being a single mom, emotionally, physically and financially, and what I have learnt is to go with the flow. If something does not work out, you can always change it tomorrow,” says Nilufar. You are never really taught how to be a parent, and it is something that you just pick up along the way as you raise children.

Living in the post-pandemic world has not been easy for anyone, and moms are no exception to this. Adding to the prevalent worries of their child’s physical wellbeing, many of them made conscious lifestyle decisions to keep their kids protected.

For Nilufar, sleep always topped above everything and has been the secret to her son’s wellbeing. Aided by a nutritious diet consisting of all the required portions of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and essentials of a day, she makes sure that Kamron’s meals are adequate for his age and are well practiced before he starts school. This way, once school begins he himself feels the responsibility to maintain this regimen, fuss-free and happily, ensuring a consistent boost in his immunity.

Faiza Ali

(Instagram: @faizaali, Followers: 62.3K)

A Pakistani-American residing in Dubai, Faiza Ali is a mom blogger who posts about her journey raising her kids, and is the original creator of the famous trend #ubermom, where she posts hilarious takes on the mundane routine of picking and dropping your kids to school. A mom to nine-year-old Asher and four-year-old Amelia, Faiza is big on preparing her kids for heading back to school — mentally as well as physically.

“A fortnight before school starts, I start pushing back their bedtime, since during the summer break it is all over the place. Another thing that I make sure to do is start them on vitamins to keep their immune system strong, since Dubai is a melting pot where people come back to after travelling all over the world during the summers,” says Faiza.

Apart from physical needs, catering to the little one’s emotional needs is equally important, if not more. But it is something that gets overlooked time and again. “My son will be starting grade 5 and he loves school so it’s no worry there, but my daughter will be going to fulltime school for the first time. So that is going to be something new,” says Faiza. It can be challenging gearing them up for school for the first time. “I have already been talking to her about how it is going to be like. I am also planning to throw a small treat for her and call over all her old friends right before this big transition, just so that she knows that it is going to be okay and that we all have her back.”

Making memories is the essence of family, even if it comes at a price. “I put a pause on my work as an influencer during the summer because you get only 18 summers with your children in the house, and I want to make the most of them. Once they go back to school, that is when my work actually starts,” says Faiza.

Watching the kids fly out of the nest and stand on their own feet has an overwhelming effect on parents, especially since they are so accustomed to their children constantly needing them. “I usually get very emotional during this time, and my husband is a big support. You should always have someone as an outlet for your own emotions,” says Faiza.

Seeing the constant push of back-to-school products and shopping has its own psychological effect on kids and parents alike, where they feel the need to impulsively shop even though there might not be any requirement. “As a mother, it’s important to remember that we do not have to be influenced by what the influencer is saying. In today’s economy, it’s okay if your kids reuse their lunchboxes and stationery. I have been teaching my son that too, and I think it’s a good value to develop in your kids,” adds Faiza.

Our habits have changed with the pandemic, what used to feel foreign is now the new normal. “Usually when my kids used to come back from school they would not shower, but now I’ve made it a point that once they’re back home, they take a good shower and wash all those germs off. I think rest, the KHDA system and schools in UAE take utmost care of kids and that keeps us at ease,” she concludes.

Dana Elarabeed

(Instagram: @dee4dana, Followers: 111K)

With Palestinian origins and having been born and brought up in the UAE, Dana Elarabeed is a fashion and lifestyle blogger, with the word ‘Mother of Adnan’ proudly etched on her Instagram bio. Adnan, a four-year-old starting school for the first time this September, is excited about this new step. “He is so used to wearing his Spiderman shirts that I am mentally preparing him to wear his uniform. I keep telling him that you are a big boy, and you will brush your teeth, wear your uniform and go to school just like all your friends. Mentioning it time and again helps in making them understand,” says Dana.

From a no-homework environment to being given tasks for the day can be a massive change for first-time schoolgoers. “I am planning to have a conversation with him every time I pick him up from school about how his day went and what he learnt. It’s good to hear from the kids themselves about what homework they were given and how they want to complete it.”

Having an influencer career so heavily infused with their kid’s lifestyle, mom bloggers and influencers must find a balance between their own hectic schedules and their kids’ dynamic routines. “I have done a lot of campaigns with my son, but of course, I cannot let him skip school. So, I will try to work around when he is available and when I am free from my mom duties too,” says Dana.

“When my son started nursery, I was outside for two hours and told the principal if he needs anything I am here, and my husband still laughs to this day about how emotional I was,” says Dana. Emotions run high on seeing your kids run towards the school’s gate. “Honestly, this was the best decision because during Covid he has been so attached to me, so this will make sure that he becomes more social and makes friends,” she adds.

“Your life changes after you have a kid. Before when I used to earn money, I would spend it all on myself. But now everything that I do is for my son,” says Dana. As hard as it is for kids to make the transition, mothers have a harder time. “I make sure not to show him that emotional side of me.”

In the process of raising kids, many lose themselves to the cycle, struggling to find their own identity and personality. “As mothers we should not feel guilty about anything. Be a bit selfish too. If you want to go to work, do that. If you want to go for a coffee with friends, go to the gym, or be a stay-at-home mommy, do that. Take time out for yourself. That way you will be able to give your child more too,” says Dana.

The pandemic made younger kids more responsible when it came to their health, but there is also that downside of them not being able to enjoy their childhood like before. “Nowadays if my son falls, he will look directly up to me for help. When we go out, he goes looking for his mask and I think to myself ‘he’s just four years old’,” says Dana.

She adds that kids have already adapted to this fast-paced change post-pandemic and have become very responsible, sometimes a bit too much for their age. “The biggest thing that I am working on right now is making sure he learns how to use the restroom on his own, since there will not be anyone to help him at school. Another thing which is important to remember is to never say no to your child, rather it is always better to set boundaries. For example, if they use their iPad, you can reduce it from 15 to 10 minutes and tell them that you are going to take it after that. Teach them why you are doing something, rather than taking it away by force.”

No matter the profession, ethnicity, and background, this thrilling-yet-skittish time speaks to all the mothers out there who hope to give joy and love while their kids make this transition.

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