By Saira Siddiqui
Ramadan planning for mothers is often difficult since so much of their time is dedicated to others. The distractions can be overwhelming — between taking care of one's family, one's home, and especially if she works outside the house!
One important step to Ramadan planning should be identifying the obstacles, or roadblocks to 'ibadah. The next step is to come up with solutions to those obstacles. Pure troubleshooting. (What are the things we can do to prevent the problems from happening OR what can we do to move around the obstacles when they come up?)
In addition, try to come up with a list of 'Ibadah I love to do'. So often when we think of ibadah our mind falls to praying, fasting, and reading Qur'an – that's it. But actually, there are lots of deeds that we can and should do to increase our emaan. So this year, in addition to the praying and the fasting and the reading of Qur'an, try to focus on other things, good things, that you really enjoy doing (and perhaps might be easier to do with the kids around as well).
The following is an example of some Ramadan planning with issues typical to many mothers. With respect to obstacles, we came up with three major issues moms face:
1. Fatigue. For lack of a better way of saying it, we just get tired. It's not easy to be on your feet all day, taking care of your children and your home, and still have enough energy left for increased ibadah. The solution? We came up with a few:
○ Watching what we eat. The foods that we consume often has a huge affect on our energy level, so it's important to make sure we're eating well.
○ Take vitamins/supplements
○ Pace yourself. We've all experienced burnout, especially during Ramadan. So, pace yourself. Start slowing so that you can keep your energy levels higher.
2. Children. Let's face it, our biggest obstacle is our kids. It's hard to find time to do extra ibadah when you have mouths to feed and when all they want is more of your time. And to make matters worse, Ramadan falls completely during summer vacation, which means all hands are on deck! What can you do about that?
○ Keep a stash of activities ready to keep them busy. While you might normally 'get by' doing little, it's going to be important to have an ample supply of things for the kids to do to stay busy. [And for an extra 'mom' tip, why not start an 'activity swap'? Get a handful of mommy friends together and have each prepare multiple copies of one activity for the kids. Then swap! You get many for the price of one!]
○ Try to get extra help. If you have family you can rely on, see if you can work out some regular, fixed times for them to help with the kids. Or, if its feasible, consider hiring help just for Ramadan. The time you gain is priceless, and often it's simply a matter of asking for help. (Don't try to do it all yourself if you don't have to!)
○ Take naps! Not all moms have the ability to nap during the day, but if you can, then DO IT!
○ Plan some activities for your kids when you go to an iftar, or if you go to the masjid for taraweeh. Keeping them busy is essential.
○ Put a cap on the number of iftars you have outside the house.
3. That time of the month. For many of us, the week that we find ourselves unable to fast is a big blow to our emaan. It seems like it kills our momentum. Ways to get around it? We came up with a mini game plan just for this week:
○ Listen to lectures.
○ Listen to Qurʾān
○ Increase in 'alternative' acts of Ibadah
○ Spend this time doing acts of kindness for other moms (One sister suggested sending meals to another mom)
○ Utilize this time to do things with your kids you aren't able to do while you're fasting. (One sister suggested going out as much as possible because the kids are usually homebound during the days of Ramadan)
○ Use this time to do a da‘wah project (One idea was to bake cookies with a note about Ramadan and pass them out to neighbors)