Like any place, Kuwait poses its own unique set of challenges to raising children. But whether expat or local, we all share many of the same concerns when it comes to our kids. We want them to be healthy and safe, to learn, to grow and be challenged, to succeed and most importantly, to be happy. As a mom in Kuwait, giving my children the best life in Kuwait has meant enjoying what Kuwait has to offer, accepting its limitations and laughing as much as possible.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned for getting the most out of life with kids in Kuwait.
1. Grass is at a premium. Finding and having access to a clean, well-tended lawn really is like finding Atlantis. Kids love to play on the grass so find a bit for them when you get the chance. The Corniche by the Scientific Center is one option. Some of the Kuwaiti neighborhoods have public parks with a bit of green. I also love the walking track/play area sponsored by Wataniya in Mishref, which usually has fresh flowers and lovely patches of lawn from fall through spring.
2. Playdates are a lifesaver, especially in the slow summer months. Having a good network of friends with children of similar ages is a must for survival in Kuwait. Find a local community or moms group – there are plenty listed in our directory or check out Kuwait Moms Guide's Facebook page for more info.
3. Strangers will give your children candy, nuts, chips, soda, bubblegum and pretty much everything you don’t want them to have. Don’t get upset. They are trying to be nice and friendly. Just smile, accept and say Thank You and if you want, bin the items when you leave.
4. There are dozens of great parks, play places, entertainment zones and learning places to visit with the kiddos but sometimes the best afternoon is spent simply picking up rocks on the beach. Don’t forget to spend time outside!
5. Your children are in a multi-cultural, multi lingual environment, take advantage of that to help them learn another language whether it be Arabic, English, Tagalog, Tegulu, Malayalam, Polish, French, Spanish or Amharic.
6. Children love the 100 fils shops in Salmiya Souq (where City Centre is)...it’s like a little bazaar for them. Take a whole group of kids, give them each a basket and a dinar each and watch them go nuts! It’s also a great place to find toys and trinkets for birthday party swag bags.
7. Cover baby and children's car seats with beach towels or baby blankets during the summer when parked out of the shade to protect your children from burning buckles and hot seats.
8. The local coops often have lots of fresh herbs for incredibly cheap prices (around 25-150 fils) and are great for adding to soups, stews, rice, casseroles, pastas, etc.
9. Take advantage of the desert to teach your kids about their environment. Winter and spring the desert is full of camping sites. If you drive down toward Wafra, you’re sure to see camels roaming freely. You can rent a desert camp for the weekend or even just visit friends.
10. Smile. People don’t smile enough in Kuwait and they certainly do not smile enough at each other. But I’ve found that when you smile at someone – in the checkout line in the grocery, while walking along the Corniche, in the playplace or at the bookstore – people generally smile back and that moment of community can brighten your whole day.
Originally published in the Kuwait Moms Guide 2013.