By Sadaf Ahsun
The blessed month of Ramadan is here and all of us are indeed fortunate for getting another opportunity to reap it’s rewards. As we prepare ourselves for this holy month, let’s not forget our little ones who might be too young to fast but old enough to enjoy and benefit greatly from this month.
Here are some ways in which we can help our little ones get into the spirit of Ramadan and by doing so we shall also benefit by making our ibaadah easier, Inshallah:
1) Build up excitement
A few weeks before Ramadan, start talking about it as a special time so that kids look forward to it. Explain to the kids that Ramadan demands a change in our regular schedules which means that Mama and Baba might not have the time or energy to take them to the park every day or go for a swim in the pool but Inshallah, it’s still going to be a really enjoyable time.
2) Adjust their routines
While it’s always a good idea to stick to routines throughout the year in terms of bedtime, meals etc., during Ramadan it becomes necessary to tweak kids’ schedules in order to involve them in Ramadan activities. Alhamdolillah, like the last few years, this year too Ramadan is falling during the summer vacations which means that we don’t have to worry about putting the kids to bed early or getting them ready for school early in the morning when we are trying to catch some much needed shut-eye after suhoor. We can make the kids take a nap during the day so that they can sit down with the family for iftar and dinner, which is going to be quite late this year. It might also mean that we can take them to the masjid for taraweeh .
3) Plan some Ramadan related activities to keep them busy
While Ramadan coinciding with the summer holidays is great in terms of flexible schedules, it also means that we have to to plan for activities to keep the kids busy while we are doing our ibaadah. A quick search on the Internet will reveal a lot of Ramadan related activities for children such as Ramadan coloring pages, arts and crafts. Try to choose age-appropriate activities which require minimal adult assistance. If your kids are old enough to read or you can manage to keep up your schedule for reading aloud to the kids try and choose some stories which revolve around Ramadan. Some popular ones for young kids are Hamza’s First Fast and My First Ramadan.
4) Take the kids to the masjid for Taraweeh and Community Iftars
Alhamdolillah, many masajid have made specially designated areas for mothers with young children so that others are not disturbed if the kids make a noise. Even if you are praying in those areas, it’s important to teach children the proper adab of the masjid so that mothers can at least hear the Imam’s voice and not simply stand in prayer amidst the commotion. Most masajid allow food and drinks in the children’s area but mothers should try and avoid snacks which create a mess such as chips or cookies that crumble too much. Also, we should remember to tidy up the area before we leave. To keep the kids busy in the masjid take some coloring books or toys which don’t make a noise. Encourage the kids to stand in prayer atleast for a few rakahs.
Community iftars at different masajid are also a great way for children to get into the spirit of Ramadan with fellow brothers and sisters from different cultures. Once again it’s important to make sure children follow the proper etiquettes and do not waste food.
5) Set some goals for the kids too
Just the way we adults set goals for ourselves during Ramadan such as completing the Quran a certain number of times or memorizing a part of it, we should discuss with the kids about setting some goals for them too. These goals need not be too lofty, rather simple ones like learning a short dua or surah or even abstaining from watching TV during Ramadan. Of course, the ultimate reward for this will be from Allah SWT for both the parents and the kids but in order to motivate them, promise them an extra gift of their choice on Eid if they manage to reach their goal. Inshallah, this can become a Ramadan tradition or habit which the kids will follow even when they outgrow their desire for material gifts.
6) Lastly, make Eid as enjoyable as possible
In Western countries our kids see a lot of hype over Christmas, Halloween, birthdays etc. In order to make sure that they do not feel prey to these traditions we have to make sure that we do our best to make them understand that Allah SWT has designated the two Eids as days of celebration for us . As adults we might be too weary after the last ten days of Ramadan or might be in a new city or country where we may be missing family and friends but we have to make an effort to make Eid as enjoyable as we can for our kids. Buy lots of gifts for them and their friends, preferably before Ramadan but keep them away from their eyes until Eid day. Clean and decorate the house on Eid. Take them to an Eid Carnival after the Eid Salah, anything that classifies as halal entertainment. All these will create lasting memories and make the children proud of their own customs and traditions.
May Allah SWT make this a blessed Ramadan for all of us. Ramadan Mubarak to everyone.