“You can’t do this”, “this is Haram”, “this is not allowed” are often what we say, when our kids want to have fun. Instead of always saying no, provide them with Halaal alternatives. There are many ways to have fun, while staying within the boundaries of our Deen.
Not every fun activity needs to include dance, music, lots of money or copying of another faith. Allah (swt) doesn’t expect us to spend our entire life on the prayer mat, secluded from the world. We have to practice our Deen, while living in this Duniya. However, Allah (swt) has set limits for our own good. Joking is allowed in Islam, but it should not include lying as in April’s Fools Day, frightening as in Halloween or insulting someone’s feelings.
Religions before the advent of Islam mentioned the things that were allowed. However, since Islam is the final religion, only the few things that are prohibited are listed. For instance: out of all drinks, alcohol is prohibited – this shows that all the other drinks are Halaal. There is more of what we can do than we cannot.
Celebrate Eid big time
The Prophet (sa) encouraged celebrations on such occasions as Eid or marriage. For instance, when Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) tried to stop two young girls from singing in the Prophet’s house, the Prophet (sa) told him: ‘Let it be, for we are now in the feast.’
While both Eids are celebrations for the whole family, special attention needs to be given to children. Throw for them an Eid party, buy gifts, give Eidi, take them to places, where they want to go, and make their holiday so special that they would not feel deprived at any other time of the year.
Instead, parents are often too busy on Eid to have quality time with their kids. They buy them new clothes and sort of stop there. Parents drag them all day for visiting people, where there is nothing planned for kids. Parents are busy with the Qurbani or entertaining the visitors, while children are plopped in front of the TV – even on Eid! Take kids shopping before Ramadan, so that they can pick something they like. Get surprise gifts as well. Help them buy or make gifts for their friends, instead of exchanging gifts on birthdays. Cook or buy their favourite foods and treats.
Fun with the family
Fun doesn’t have to start and end on Eid. The family unit is an integral part of the Islamic culture. Those, who find peace with their families in their homes, are very blessed. While there should be times to meet others, socializing should not rule your lives. By staying at home, hopefully you get the opportunity to get down on the carpet, open up a board game and challenge your family to some good, clean fun.
Use the Internet to your advantage. Visit such websites as www.familyfun.com which have easy craft projects and other family oriented ideas that you can replicate or adapt to your situation. Keep paper, glue, scissors and other art supplies in stock, so you are always ready to whip up a card for a new baby or to wish someone a speedy recovery. Encourage each child to have a hobby, so that they can channel their talents into something creative. Stamp collecting, knitting, painting, sports … the possibilities are endless.
Put a fun twist on anything to transform the mundane into fun. Give your child a gift after completing a Juz, memorizing a Surah or getting good grades. Hide the gift and put clues all over the house. “Look in a cold place” will take him to the freezer, while “Look in a wet place” may take him to the shower … and all around the house to find his treasure.
Family board game night
Try to squeeze in a short game every night, so that your day ends on a happy note. If daily is impossible, plan family game night for the weekend. You can play such classics as “Scrabble” and “Quran challenge Game” or try a new game. Invite younger siblings to join in, as they can learn how to take turns, count pieces, sort money and so on. If time is an issue, decide on a time limit and total scores after one hour. It really doesn’t matter who wins; when you spend an hour as a family – everyone is a winner.
Use what you have
Spending time with the family does not have to involve spending tons of money. Having dinner in the lawn can be a fun, impromptu picnic experience. Playing dress up with grandma’s old Saris is a great way to spend an afternoon. Recycling tissue rolls into binoculars and bowling with empty plastic soft drink bottles are just a few ideas. Kids don’t care, how much money was spent on an activity. They value the time their parents spend with them using their imaginations.
Encourage hand made gifts and cards
Model how you can knit a sweater for a new baby or make a card with glitter glue for a niece and ask your kids to do the same. Appreciate it, when they make gifts for you out of stuff they already have. Allah (swt) has gifted us all in one way or the other – one may be an artist, the other a wordsmith, the third a sportsman and so on. Expose your children to a variety of interests, so you can see where they shine.
Don’t have such exclusive furniture, white carpets and one-of-a-kind decorative pieces that kids aren’t allowed to enjoy their own home. Section off a formal area at most, but let the kids enjoy their home for the most part. Set up an art station in the kitchen (for easy clean-ups), supply them with paint, glitter, clay and glue and see, what their imagination cooks up.
Host parties for your kids, without it having to be an occasion. Plan activities, so that you can keep an eye on them and evaluate the kind of company your children are keeping. Having a bake sale with proceeds going to the Masjid can be a fun way for teenage girls to make brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Put a basketball hoop in your garden and see, how the neighborhood boys come running.
If your household responsibilities are overwhelming, encourage your kids to join you. You may think it’s boring, but give a toddler a ball of Aata (dough) and see what happens. Older kids can build on their math skills by helping you measure ingredients and learn about food groups and healthy eating. Younger kids can sort laundry and find matching socks – anything can be a bonding and learning experience – provided YOU want it to be.
If your extended family is known for their New Year’s Eve party, start your own tradition of an Eid party for kids. If we go with the flow, our children will do the same. If we stop and take initiative for them to be nurtured in all walks of life, then we can hope that Allah (swt) will be pleased with our efforts to instill values in the mini-Muslims entrusted to us.
You do not need a university degree or a lucrative career for being creative with your kids. You only need the will – and everything will fall into place. If there is one thing you want to take from this article, it should be to press the pause button in your life, get down on the floor and play with your children today – you’ll be glad you did!