If this month could be easy, how would it look for you? Here are 6 simple tips to ease the blessings-turned-burdens of this Holy month; physically, mentally and spiritually.
6 Tips To Make Ramadhan Easier For Working Parents
The month of Ramadhan is one that we eagerly await, a month of spiritual revival and personal growth. With the days spent fasting and reading Quran, and the nights spent praying, and trying to remain in a constant state of worship. Except we are working. And have young kids. So, the nights are definitely sleepless, but not in an on-the-prayer-mat kind of way.
With the arrival of this long awaited month of Ramadhan come BIG expectations: waking everyone up for delicious Suhur, daily mouthwatering Iftar spreads at home; lavish Nigella-esque Iftar parties with Bake-off worthy dessert tables for our near and dear; decorating the house with Ramadhan art and craft projects made by our children (but really by us); attending the masjid for prayers, Iftars, Laylatul Qadr nights; listening to religious lectures, acts of charity; finishing the entire Quran in 30 days; and all whilst achieving a sense of spiritual rebirth.
Needless to say, this is all alongside working our day job, keeping on top of the household chores, looking after our children and their curricular and extracurricular activities, and any other responsibilities we may have (Oh, and did I forget to mention we are fasting too? And no Karen, we are not allowed water either. Yes, it is hot. No, not even a little bit. What can we say? Qurbatan Ilallah. And gladly so!).
For many of us, if not almost all of us, these expectations that are sometimes external but mostly internal can be physically exhausting, mentally draining and emotionally deflating.
Unfortunately, I can’t lessen your workload or mental load regarding the house or the kids, but I can share some simple tips and important things to remember to ease the blessings-turned-burdens of this Holy month; physically, mentally and spiritually.
If this month could be easy, how would it look for you?
For me, it would look something like this:
- Everyone is responsible for their own Suhur
- Iftar is a 4 item set menu. One fried thing, one boiled egg, a quick and easy pre-cooked main meal, and fruit for dessert. Carbs, protein, fibre, fat- done.
- Some spiritual me-time when I can connect one-on-one with my Lord- without interruption (hey, I said easy, not realistic!)
So if that sounds good to you too, here are a few tips and things we can try to make this month easier for us all:
Simplify Suhur by making sure every fasting person (over the age of 11) in the house has an alarm, a glass of water and something to eat next to their bedside from the night before. Their fast, their responsibility. Sometimes tough love is needed.
Things like dates, energy bars, breakfast bars, bananas, nuts, overnight oats are great for slow-release energy to see you through the day and can easily sit through the night without going off.
Disclaimer: if you do have little ones under 11 fasting (bless them), then obviously they need some TLC and go all out for theirs if you like- banana pancakes, french toast, whatever they fancy! They deserve it.
Get an air-fryer. No, seriously you need one.
Meal plan in advance and make a menu for the week- shop accordingly on the weekend, and prepare what you can ahead of time.
Stick the menu where it is clearly visible to all family members so that you can manage everyone’s expectations from the outset, including your own.
There’s no harm in having one or two fried things you know the kids (or the adults) can’t do without at iftar time, but limit it to just that. If iftar is the only proper meal you and your family are getting during the day every day for a month, you need to make it count. There are lots of quick and easy recipes you can look up and recreate that your family will enjoy but will also give you the satisfaction of knowing that you have all eaten a proper meal and not just filled up on oily starters. Unless they’re air-fryed (buy it). Remember- fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, fibre and water are all key components for a balanced diet. And things like boiled eggs and fruit chaat are brilliant ways of getting in some of that balance right.
The Holy Prophet SAWW has said that even the sleep of a fasting person is counted as worship. We as working parents (or stay at home parents of young children), do not often have the luxury of sleeping whilst fasting but there is still something we can take from this hadith.
Anything legitimate we do whilst fasting will be considered Ibadah.
So, if we are cooking Iftar, that’s Ibadah. If we are working all day, that’s Ibadah. If we are doing the kids’ homework with them, that’s Ibadah. If we are feeding our babies through the night, that’s Ibadah.
And looking at all that we do through the lens of this Hadith will help ease the spiritual guilt we feel for “not doing enough ” ritualistic acts of worship.
3. Time Management
There will be so many religious lectures going on during this holy month and beautiful Du’as being recited that we can still benefit from even if not conventionally. Having to do life things doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the spiritual things this month.
Use the time you have to do the best you can, and make use of every minute in this month.
Whether you are driving, cooking, or putting away laundry (ugh), put on a religious lecture from your favourite speaker, or Dua-e-Iftitah, or Tafsir of the Holy Qur’an in the background of whatever you are doing.
This will ensure that you don’t miss out on what it is that feeds your soul whilst also getting done what you need to get done in a timely way.
A tip one of my good friends shared last year was putting youtube videos on a faster playback speed so that you can listen to the Du’a or Surah in less time. Works a treat on A’mal nights with restless young children!
4. Carve Out Some Spiritual ‘Me-Time’
I know you’re probably thinking “I wish”, but there is a way!
Take out ten minutes a night, before you go to sleep just for you and Allah. Schedule it as an appointment or a meeting, and treat it like one. The meeting agenda is for you to connect with your Creator. For some, that may look like journaling, or reading a chapter of the Quran, or reading a Ramadhan Du’a with the meaning, or simply taking account of yourself for that day. It is very personal to you and how you want to connect. You may just want to spend those 10 minutes talking to Allah in your heart. Whatever it is, make time for it. Schedule it as part of your bedtime routine as integral as brushing your teeth or getting changed into your pyjamas. Do it. You owe it to yourself this month. You are responsible for your own spiritual well-being, not anyone else. And you’ll feel better for it.
5. Rethinking Our Relationship With The Qur’an
This may not be for everyone, but I have found it helped me last year. Rather than join the race of finishing the Holy Qur’an this year, why not take it an Ayah at a a time? Learn one Ayah in Arabic with the meaning, and try to infuse it into your life on a day to day basis.
Qur’an journaling is another wonderful way to get personal with the Qur’an and help bring the Ayahs to life, and there are so many examples online based on Bible journaling to really inspire your creative side and that of your children!
Or you could simply read the translation of one of the stories from a chapter of the Qur’an, reflecting on the lessons you learn from it on a personal level, and how you can implement those in your own life.
These sort of connections with the Holy Qur’an will help you grow spiritually rather than reading just for the sake of it. Allah really does speak to us personally through the Quran if we open our hearts and minds to try and see it.
6. Be Mindful
This month is for all of us to learn to discipline our souls and our bodies, as we fast and worship Allah with all our senses.
Being mindful of how we deal with our interpersonal relationships this month will serve us well on our path to spiritual growth. Having greater compassion for our family members, being intentionally more gentle towards them, and being mindful of how we interact with those around us will make for a more joyful and peaceful atmosphere. It will also make all the difference to how our children’s young minds perceive this month and what they learn to associate with our beautiful religion.
And if you know there is a newly grieving family who may be struggling with their first Ramadhan and then Eid without their loved one, check in with them. Invite them over. Send them food. Be as supportive as you can in a way they would like. And if you’re not sure, just ask. It’s better to ask than to assume, or not do anything at all. Above all else, be kind. They will be hurting this month as they navigate their new reality.
Finally, let’s all try and have much more grace for each other this month.
Whether Mum is irritable and snappy because she tried so hard to make this new recipe that she spent ages on which is now charcoal-burnt, or Dad is cranky because he is in withdrawal due to fasting, or Parents/Parents-in-law are hangry due to being borderline hypoglycaemic or want things at Iftar to be “how they’ve always been in this family”…
Take a step back. Take a deep breath. And have some grace. Qurbatan Ilallah. For the sake of Allah’s pleasure.
And then see how you transcend this month insha’Allah.
After all, remember that when Allah talks about the month of Ramadhan in the Holy Quran in Suratul Baqarah (Chapter 2) verse 185, He says:
أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty
I hope this month brings ease, peace, health, Emaan, joy and spiritual fulfilment for you and your family insha’Allah, and may Allah make it easier for you and yours. Iltemase dua.