It’s that time of year again-Ramadhan displays, the jam packed schedules for the kids, and (if you’re anything like me) – the mum (or dad!) guilt in overdrive for doing none of these things. So here’s a bit of a survival guide so that we can all make the most of this month, insha’Allah.
Ramadhan While Parenting- A Survival Guide
It’s that time of year again – the Instagram perfect Ramadhan displays, the jam packed schedules for the kids, and (if you’re anything like me) – the mum (or dad!) guilt in overdrive for doing none of these things. So here’s a bit of a survival guide so that we can all make the most of this month, insha’Allah.
Have an appreciation of the Season of Life we are in
Speaking about myself first and foremost, I tend to put way too much pressure on myself to compare myself to others, or even to my former self, without an appreciation of the differences in the scenarios. Allah in His infinite mercy can appreciate my unique situation day by day and year by year – why can’t I? The pressure can be crippling and stops us from moving forward – instead we are stuck in a spiral of guilt and inadequacy. Rather, we should enter this month by firstly forgiving ourselves for what we cannot be, as much as we would like to, and go from there.
From the food you eat, to activities you plan or goals you set, be kind to yourself. Ramadhan with kids is difficult. Show compassion to yourself throughout and know that Allah sees your intention and knows how much you want Him within your heart. Sometimes a single, heartfelt conversation with Allah in the middle of the night, is more powerful than nights full of physical worship.
Quality over Quantity
We hear this again and again, but it’s so true. In the past we could have finished the whole Qur’an in the month, recited Layl, fasted extra days beforehand. But the reality is we have very different lives now to back then! And at the moment, even doing the “bare minimum” can seem like a stretch. Whatever we are able to do despite the various other pulls of life, we should try and make it count. Spend an extra minute getting into the zone before Salaat, add a new Dhikr in one Sujood, learn a new Du’a for Qunoot that is relevant to us that day and speak from the heart. Make an extra effort to be gentle with the people around us in spite of being hangry! All these seemingly little things can and do add up to overall more lasting change – which is so much more useful to us than a big bang change of lifestyle for a month followed by reverting back to old habits as soon as Eid comes around.
Think about how you want your child(ren) to see Ramadan
This doesn’t have to take the form of beautiful Ramadan displays in corners of our homes, or fancy activities that will actually just stress us out. If that comes naturally to you, it’s beautiful to see! But if not, our children just need to see the love, spirituality and happiness that comes from true connection with the Divine, and that will only come when we prioritise to allow ourselves to feel that. Children, especially young children, learn through imitation, and our role as parents is to show them what we want them to take on. Thankfully for the first time in a long time, there will be more in person fun they can have with others – so sharing the load with other parents this year will insha’Allah be easier than it has been in recent times!
Set yourself a goal
At the outset of Shahr Ramadhan, we should give ourselves a target of what we would like to achieve within the month. At the risk of sounding corporate, make this target SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound (that last one is kind of done for us!) The key thing here is being realistic about what is achievable for me, rather than making it so much of a stretch that we feel rubbish if (when?) we don’t achieve it. The whole point is to make incremental improvements to ourselves. What’s more, if we can prove to ourselves that with an acceptable level of effort we can achieve this improvement, it’s motivation to continue to do so all year round. On the other hand, if it takes too much from us and is unsustainable, we’ll find it nigh on impossible to keep it up outside of the holy month.
Back to basics
There was a year I heard this and it was exactly what I needed to hear at at the time – Allah has commanded us to abstain from food and water during daylight hours in this month, whilst we are in good health. That. Is. It. If that is all we manage this year, we have submitted to His will and discharged our duty. Anything above and beyond that is extra. Beneficial, by His will, but extra. If we are not able to fast this year for whatever reason, His infinite wisdom has dictated this is best for our situation. If only we could learn to see ourselves with the same mercy that our Lord looks at us with!
Before the month of Ramadhan kicks in, have that one-to-one with God. Ask Him sincerely to allow you to get the absolute most you can out of this month. Pray for strength, sincerity, love, patience and commitment. Pray for Him and you will find Him.