Child 4 and 4a have been here on their holidays.
Most of the time it's just me and Peter and the cat and dog. Actually a lot of the time, it's just me or Peter and the cat and dog.
I like my own company, but I get bored and lonely. I guess what I actually like is just being able to do my own thing when I want and how I want, something I can't do when we have visitors.
At 46, I'd like to think I'm not old, but spending so much time on my own I get stuck in my ways, I have my own little routines and as Dubai is a vibrant and busy city with 5 tourists per resident, it gets busy, the roads get full, my stress levels go up and I retreat indoors.
The best way to see Dubai and explore the city is by setting off early in the morning. But 4 and 4a are in their early 20's and by comparassion they are party animals, night owls. Dragging them out of bed by 9am and having them ready for the day has been hard work. I've been going to bed later and I'm even more grumpier than usual.
After a day out they want to come home at 4pm, shower, rest, change and go back out at 6pm. I'm ready to get in my pj's by then having entertained all day, I'm hungry and get 'hangry' and having battled my way across Dubai already I really don't feel like doing it again at night when the traffic doubles, the number of people increases and everywhere is mega busy.
'You don't have to stay with us all day, just drop us off and we'll let you know when we want collecting'
So I took them to the Marina for 6pm and collected them at 9pm one evening. Of those 3 hours, I spent 90 mins dropping them off, going home, returning to collect them. During the 90 minutes of 'me time' I emptied the dishwasher, did a load of washing, walked the dog, cleaned the kitchen and swept up piles of sand from the house.
I find having visitors very tiring, I'm not on holiday, housework still needs doing and I have to adjust to being on my own all day, to accommodating others, not being able to just grab my bag and come and go when I choose, eat when I want and go to bed at my time of choosing.
I don't resent having visitors, I just forget what it's like living with other people.
Of course one of the benefits of people visiting is that as their unpaid tour guide, chauffeur and cook. I get free coffees, gifts, treated to dinner and lots of lovely company that I crave in a normal week and I get to book the activities and therefore choose the times and look forward to a day on my own as I send them off on a desert safari from mid day till 10pm. I also get to go places I wouldn't normally go to on my own, do different things and have new experiences.
Sadly when you're an expat with kids living in different countries, it's 'all or nothing' I've been learning to embrace time on my own, I have the freedom to travel to the UK when I want/need to and will be returning to the UK for the summer. Sadly, I still end up doing all the running around and the arranging or I just don't end up going anywhere. Although to be fair to Child 4 and 4a and their parents, they have looked after us very well when we've visited them in Northern Ireland