I have to admit, I was quite nervous about Ramadan a few years ago; I kept thinking, ‘how am I going to fast an entire day with three small children?’ The more I thought about it, the more I stressed myself out! But then, I decided to change things up…
I made the decision to not attend any Iftar’s, which was a first because every year I either go to the Mosque, or to a family member’s house for Iftar. The deciding factor was the timing of Iftar – 10pm. Yes, at 10 pm I would rather have the kids in bed while I peacefully open my fast, instead of having my children cry at a family member’s house due to fatigue and being in an unfamiliar environment.
I have to say it WAS very peaceful! Instead of rushing to get three kids ready, and driving to a relative’s house, then having small talk with family, while trying to comfort my children- just staying home and reading the Quran with my children quietly playing in the comfort of our own home was a relief!
I also decided to open my fast with a date and a simple fruit salad- that’s it. I didn’t bother preparing fried foods, and I avoided excessive cooking altogether. While I did miss spending time with my family during Ramadan, I did enjoy taking advantage of every minute I could in devoting that time to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta‘ala.
I’m not saying to avoid Iftar’s, but I’am saying don’t feel pressured to go to every one- especially if you have small children, and your fast opens around their bedtime. Plus, seeing my family during Eid was extra special because I hadn’t seen them at all for a month. Alhumdulillah, I plan to do the same for this Ramadan!
With all of that said above, here are some of my tips for having a peaceful Ramadan with young children who are too young to know what Ramadan even is:
1. Avoid Iftar’s if they are during, or after your children’s bedtime
2. Keep your children on their regular schedule: make sure they are eating their meals on time and sleeping at their regular bedtime. Although, your timetable may change during Ramadan, it is key to maintian your children’s regular schedule, as it’s difficult for children to cope with a sudden change.
3. Keep your children busy with activities throughout the day, and make sure they have a list of activities to choose from. Some examples of activities include:
-reading books, playing with puzzles and building blocks
-playing in the backyards, flying kites, blowing bubbles, drawing with sidewalk chalk
-cololuring, painting, crafting
-cooking and baking with your children
-building forts with blankets and chairs
-Anything else that your children enjoy!
4. Take a nap: If possible, take a nap while your children nap- this will give you a little boost of energy to carry on with the rest of your day. I’m fortunate enough to have two young children that still nap; my oldest daughter usually reads quietly in her room while the rest of get some much needed sleep for a couple of hours during the day.
5. Take it easy! During Ramadan, keep the chores to a minimum- do just enough to have a clean house and happy kids. Ramadan is not the time to do a thorough clean each day, as you want to use every minute you can for ibadah. Moreover, limit your time in the sun; if you want to take your children to the park, limit the time they spend there- afterall, you don’t want to over dehydrate yourself too much! Finding indoor places for children is a great way for them to have fun and for you to sit in a cool, dry place and watch them burn their energy; some examples of indoor places include libraries and indoor playgrounds.
May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta‘ala make Ramadan easy for all parents!