My eldest Hana is attending Lubna’s Pre School (so sad it’s our last year there she will be off to KG next year!), every December they encourage parents to read to their children through a fun and engaging competition, mind you, they encourage us to read to our children all year long as well.

This week we read many interesting books, my favorites (and probably Hana’s) are those listed below, and they are adored for many reasons, but mostly the importance of the morals of the stories.

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OK, so let’s get real, you know how hard it is to be a working mom and to cook every single day? Every month, every new year, I say ‘this month is going to be different’, THIS MONTH: I’M GOING TO COOK DAILY and serve fresh, homemade meals every night of the week.

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Whether you have a house keeper or not, someone who comes once a week to clean, or you simply distribute chores to your family members, there are some things that only mom is diligent enough to do!

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A child’s first birthday is always special, especially the first child! When Hana turned one in 2016 we had a nice Hawaiian themes birthday in our garden. She wasn’t in school at the time, so we wanted to keep it simple, my friends were still in town (thanks for all ditching me and relocating to Dubai by the way), and of course cousins and family members gathered around for the celebration.

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As a mother of a baby (8 months now) and a 3-year-old toddler, one of the toughest decisions was to plan a vacation and act on it. Worried about not being able to provide nutritious food that is clean and age appropriate to my youngest Ayah, I was blessed to have my mom look after her. So here is my take on traveling with my husband Oz and our three-year-old Hana to Istanbul.

If you’re like most people, you might wonder, ‘why Istanbul’, it’s not children appropriate and your child would be out of her mind, but being a mom practically meant doing my research, and there is plenty for travelers with children to do. Here is some advice.

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I remember when Hana started walking; we would drive out to the Arabian Horse Club (Nadi al Jawad) out on the airport road and would walk around the stables meeting horses. We fell in love with a black horse called Obama who is just so friendly and beautiful, and visited him frequently on a Friday afternoon. That was the summer of 2016.

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I am very blessed to have my mom around to look after my daughter! A typical day in my life during the week days include dropping off my daughter to my mom’s house at quarter to eight in the morning, then heading to work. I don’t come back to collect her until 2. In which time she has breakfast, plays, naps, has fruit, and even has lunch before we head back home.  But how many other people enjoy that luxury?

Here’s the thing, as a mother, I would love to have my child with me. If I didn’t have a startup which gives me flexible hours to get going in case of an emergency, sickness, or any minor or major detail that could require my immediate attention – then I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. I can’t even put myself in the shoes of these women who have to quit their jobs to stay home to look after their children, if it’s a matter of choice then I completely support and applaud any woman who wants to do that, but when it comes done to not having a choice and compromising, that’s what makes it hard.

Earlier this morning, I attended the Sadaqa Study session which has revealed key results to the value of Daycare services at the workplace. While I couldn’t stay for the duration of the entire event due to other commitments at work, here are some astonishing numbers you should be looking at:

  • Only 13.3% of women contribute to the Jordanian work force (Stat as of 2015)
  • Among the many obstacles of women contributing to the workforce is the burden of caring for a child
  • 45% of women have left the workplace to look after the children and their families
  • The lack of contribution of women to our economy has a 46% impact on our GDP
  • The majority of unemployed men have a Tawjihi certificate (equivalent to high school education), the majority of unemployed women in Jordan have a Bachelor’s degree or more
  • Article 72 of the Labor law appears to be slightly flawed:
    • It is not gender neutral, since when is parenting only a woman’s job, what about a father? Doesn’t he deserve to have his children at day care? What about a single father
    • Corporations assume that having child care on site is a financial burden
    • Corporations would rather pay a cash allowance instead of providing a day care for moms
    • Establishments hire no more than 18 women in many scenarios to avoid having to abide by article 72

 

Group photo after the launch of Sadaqa's study on the value of Daycare services at the workplace. Photo Credit: Sadaqa JO FB Page

Group photo after the launch of Sadaqa’s study on the value of Daycare services at the workplace.
Photo Credit: Sadaqa JO FB Page

In a research that has been conducted in the Telecommunications Sector among employees of Zain and Orange Jordan, with a majority of 60% being between the ages of 30 to 39 and 25% being between the ages of 20 and 29, has shown the following findings:

  • 88% have considered that having a day care on premises is a priority
  • 86% of respondents have said that a maternity leave that goes beyond 70 days is equally important
  • 85% of respondents have said that equal pay between man and woman is a must
  • Transportation, flexible working hours, working from home, and other benefits were less important than the three above

These same respondents have said that a day care that is near work or on site is very crucial, that hygiene and safety is a priority, and having a day care that has the same work hours as the organization is a must.

So why don’t we have more day cares in the work place when pretty much everyone is willing to point us to the right direction? It seems many corporations consider the fact that a financial burden of having a day care is not worth the investment, while forgetting that by the end of a fiscal year, the numbers that add up are very minimal. In a study by Connelly, the average cost per employee per year for organizations to provide on-site child care for their employees is between $125 – $225 (per employee per year)

  • Women would take less leaves, less vacation days, and will be able to accomplish more without a financial incentive
  • Increased productivity, especially with the peace of mind of having your child with you
  • Decrease in employee turnover
  • Providing a day care on premises is a non-financial incentive to parents

Which brings one to think, if a law has been passed by the Ministry of Labor on this, why don’t we have more? Simply said, the law requires that any corporation that has more than 20 women to have a day care available for those who have children below the ages of 4 as long as they are not less than 10 children. Organizations are subsidizing via cash value instead of providing day care, or ensuring that they don’t hire more than 20 women in order for this article not to be applicable.

To many parents a day care is a necessity, in my case, my mom is very hands on with my child, but in the case of others, this might not be applicable. You don’t always have a grandparent or a relative who can stay at home and look after your children. Quitting the workplace to raise children for many women could also cause financial hardship on the family.

By providing day care, not only are you contributing to better performance, productivity, and efficiency by the employees, you are even contributing to the future generations who  have opportunities to learn socialization skills and how to deal with different types of personalities and cultures at a very young age by being placed in a day care with other children.

It’s important for us as a society to empower women, having equal rights while having many constraints whether through social norms or double standards really does put a woman back, bearing in mind that enabling more women to work by improving access to child care can help diminish the gender wage gap and economic contribution.

Just look at all of these women with Bachelor’s degrees or more who have compromised leaving the work place for a family, not only are we losing amazing talents and contributions of educated women, we are also adding financial hardships to these families who will now have to rely on one pay check instead of two, and in such a tough economy that would make the man of the house stressed and agitated constantly, which at the end will also lead to a declined work performance from men in the workplace as well.

Only by understanding the drawbacks, risks, and shortcomings of each of these sacrifices by women can we see the bigger picture and invest in providing quality day care to our children, which at the end also is essential to the success of our organizations which are led by these parents who will excel at work when they have the peace of mind that their little ones are getting the high-quality child care that they deserve.

I saved the best for last: The annual savings amount was JD 737,000 per year per company on average… May this be an inspiration to more companies to commit in providing more to women in the workplace, after all in the long term, you do reek the benefits.

Make sure to follow Sadaqa Online for frequent updates:

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My little Hana is 15 months old, and this Friday was her first visit to the Children’s Museum; Located in Al Hussein Public Parks, we spent a lovely 2 hours there; I literally had to drag her out as it was almost her nap time.

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My little one loves animals, she is now 15 months of age and she interacts daily with our domestic cat, she feeds the stray cats that hang around in our garden, visits her grandmother’s turtles on Fridays (granny has 11 of them!), and doesn’t seem to mind dogs either.

Lately she has shown much more interest beyond cats and dogs, while watching TV she started clapping when horses jumped fences and has been going through her animal books more often than ever, so i figured my best bet would be a family outing to the nearest zoo. This blog will have a recap of our visits to various zoos. I will keep this post updated as we explore more zoos and animal parks.

Now seeing as we live in Amman, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I know of one Zoo called Ghamadan Park and while I don’t approve of the animal conditions at all, I figured I really didn’t have a choice.

Baby Hana watching the bear at Ghamadan Zoo

Baby Hana watching the bear at Ghamadan Zoo

Name: Ghamadan Zoo

Location: Airport Road inside the Amman National Park

Phone Number:  (06) 413 3399

Entrance Fees: 1 JD for Adults and children, Free for children under the age of 3

Overall, the zoo has been neglected for years at a time, the cement pathways are botched up and the zoo has a distinct smell that tells you that the cages are not well maintained at all. The animals as the case with other zoos in Jordan are not as active, the summer heat is definitely a factor. They used to have a beautiful black jaguar a few years back, but it has passed due to age.

The animal selection we’ve seen during our visit includes three ponies, two bears, husky dogs (which in my humble opinion are better off being adopted than in a cage at the zoo), tigers who were fast asleep during our entire visit, monkeys, and deer’s There is also a wide selection of different birds.

While my overall opinion of the zoo is not that great, I was happy to see that every single cage had water supply for the animals! While some lions were sleeping, others were playing around, and one even gave us an impressive roar while munching on a big chunk of meat. The ponies had a good area to run around, so did the deer’s and ostriches.

The zoo does have games and entertainment but I wouldn’t recommend anyone to take the rides, not quite sure how well maintained they are, as they look old and rusty. The staff is very polite and helpful. A kiosk is available on site for tea/coffee and water.

Lion at the Ghamadan Zoo

Lion at the Ghamadan Zoo

Name: Jordan Zoo

Location: Yadoudeh – take the Madaba Bridge but don’t turn as if you’re heading back to IKEA, instead go straight and take the first U-Turn, zoo will be on your right hand side

Phone Number:

Entrance Fees: 1 JD for Adults and children, Free for children under the age of 3

Baby Hana at Jordan Zoo

Baby Hana at Jordan Zoo

Well, the Jordan Zoo is at least better than the Ghamadan Zoo, it doesn’t smell and it has properly paved grounds. I did specially enjoy the fact that they had benches in front of each cage which are also shaded. However, the animals are also in a very poor condition. Lots of birds and many species of lions, a few tigers, deer’s, lamas, monkeys, as well as reptiles which I have avoided at all expenses.

The wolves are too sad to belong in the zoo, they look like harmless dogs, and the hyenas have no interest in moving. While some of the cages are huge, others are too small for the size of the animals that are withheld. It would be nice to have stones, logs, trees, and a fresh supply of water going on in these cages.

The zoo has many games and entertainment, some looked old, and some looked ok to play with, at least the small ones that require coins to be activated.

Several kiosks are available for beverages and treats for the children, as well as numerous booths with toys and crafts.

 

 

Jordan Zoo

Jordan Zoo

 

Jordan Zoo

Jordan Zoo

While I do not approve of the zoos that we have visited because the conditions of the animals is beyond unacceptable, there is currently no alternative, and I wish we could find a way to give these animals a better life. 1 JD is an affordable entrance fee, how about making it 1 JD and 500 piasters? Perhaps this minimal increase could aid in bringing in more supplies? After all, while the entrance fees are minimal, managing a zoo could be quite costly, as animals do need a proper environment and need to be well fed.

However, I do see this as an opportunity to exposing my child to new things. We read about different animals in books, watch them as cartoons on TV, and even see them in actual TV, but making things familiar in real life is always different.

While visiting different cages I would say “Say hello to the Lion” and “Say hello to the “Tiger”, in hopes that one day she would be able to make the connection between the word and the picture. Of course that doesn’t happen overnight, but you will be surprised at home children process information. While she has seen horses in books and on TV, the excitement over seeing a real horse was beyond any words that i can put in writing.

Baby Hana at the Prince Hashem Bird Park.

Baby Hana at the Prince Hashem Bird Park.

Name: Prince Hashem Bird Park

Location: Rafeeq Al Adm Road in Shmeisani

Phone Number:  (06) 566 4436

Entrance Fees: 200 Piasters for Adults and Free for children

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM till 30 minutes before Maghrib Prayers, daily except for Tuesdays

I think I have enjoyed the park more than my little one who wasn’t impressed with the birds. She did however enjoy the ducks, must’ve been the water. The park includes numerous species including but not limited to parrots, peacocks, turkeys, geese, ducks, and more, as well as a monkey. With a nicely shaded area, a huge play area, and being well maintained and clean, I think we will be coming again. I would classify it as a park/bird zoo.

Prince Hashem Bird Park

Prince Hashem Bird Park

Prince Hashem Bird Park

This blog post is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.  Stay tuned for more…

Do you have any recommendations for zoos or animal parks that we should visit? Please leave a comment and tell me about it in the comments below!

Growing up I was a little book monster, I loved my books! I loved the touch and feel of the pages, the smell (yes, seriously), and everything about reading cover to cover, I would even reread favorites on a rainy day or whenever the need for a good book struck, so now with a little one of my own, I would love nothing more than to encourage her to read the way my mom did!

What I loved about my mother was this mantra she holds to date “Spare no expense on books and education”; and I will be forever grateful and in debt to her way of thinking because my ability to read, write, and process information comes from years and years of reading and exploring with different genres, whoever said reading for pleasure wasn’t a thing has never really indulged before.

I have been reading to my Hana since she was 6 weeks old, around 40 days or so. I was just sit her in my lap and read, she always had books and whenever I am at the mall I always make a point to stop by a place that sells books and I look at what they have available. I grew up in a family that has overwhelmed me with books, so it’s only natural for me to share my love of reading with my own daughter, in a world of iPads and smart phones, even I have given up my piles of books on bookshelves and replace it with frequently bought books in an iPad, but I really believe it’s not the same without an actual book.

I’m not trying to paint a picture perfect family portrait here, trust me, Hana seems to enjoy tearing the pages of her Peel-A-Book Books but even then, she always finds a way to run back to her books and grab them and just flip the pages. I hope that this little 15 month old would turn her love for books as a baby to what would end up being a better learner and an early speaker.

Up till Hana turned one, her love for books was simply hearing me read; now her appreciation seems to go beyond the occasional page tearing. I like to read and point out the pictures in the book. I personally love some series that I would love to share with you mainly because they encourage interaction with your child.

The Ladybird publishing series have these great Touch and Feel Books. The books encourage interaction on each page as they have textures and fabrics resembling the different story lines, which the children get to explore and experiment with. I got mine starting at 6.99 from Readers at Cozmo Centre and Readers at Taj Life Style.


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I also love the Pop-Up PeekAboo series by DK! Some are available at both Readers branches for 9 JDs and others are available at Virgin Mega Stores in City Mall for 10 JDs. The series are great, you get to read with your little one and lift the various flaps to reveal different objects, in my case, colors, farm animals, and toys. I find it great for reading out loud with tons of excitement, and possibly developing an imagination and memory skills.

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At the young age of 15 months, I am actually quite surprised to learn that Hana has a few favorites, and once she grabs one, I’m always prepared to read a story over and over, although sometimes it feels that she just wants the WHEELS ON THE BUS on repeat so she can dance and twirl, a book somehow finds itself to my hands during the day.

While I have always envisioned a book to be a bedtime ritual after Pajamas are on, it simply isn’t so! Books are so exciting in our household, that we turn everyone into a theatrical fiesta! It’s a perfect play time, and between both of us, I enjoy it as much as she does.

I’ve taken books with us on road trips, on a plane, and I always remind myself, that my favorite part of learning growing up was books and not academics!

Does your one year old have any favorite books? I’ve listed all of Hana’s favorites in this blog! Tell me yours, and I’ll add them to our wish list of expanding our humble home library!

Shelves from IKEA JO, I bought the SKURAR Picture Ledges to show case the little library... You can use them in various places of your child’s room for their favorite items, and especially books

Shelves from IKEA JO, I bought the SKURAR Picture Ledges to show case the little library… You can use them in various places of your child’s room for their favorite items, and especially books