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Ramadan is the month that tends to bring out the best in every Muslim; whereby the sins committed by Muslims throughout the year are shed off by fasting and long night prayers. I used to have extremely productive Ramadan when I were a bachelor, and had minimal domestic responsibilities. But now, it has been around five years since I last went for Taraweeh at any mosque, and had a spiritually uplifting experience. Sadly, my Ramadan is not the same. Five years with two kids have made me move away from my otherwise intimate relationship with my Lord- that strengthened ten times during Ramadan.
All these past years, I used to dwell upon how I went away from the religion- since, I were unable to attend Quranic lectures held exclusively in Ramadan; and how I could not pray with similar attentiveness and consciousness. The anger and frustration would not allow me to have the desired level of sincerity in my prayers or fasts. I would sometimes bash upon my children for they were the reason of my lack of spirituality. Constant degradation of self would let me lose my cool, and drift into the pool of guilt very other day in Ramadan.
It was another normal Ramadan day when I decided to go to this lecture in our vicinity. Equipped with all the things to keep my son busy while I listen, I went there with high spirits. However, my son barely let me stay there for ten minutes- as he was too excited at the new place, and kept running around disturbing all other ladies. Frantically, I ran back to my house intensely disturbed. Upon reaching, I bellowed hard at my son, and slapped him across his face. Poor two year old child had no idea what he had done. It was my maid who came running across from the other room to console my child. She sat with my child on her lap, and asked me to cool down. “Such beautiful children are not born every day, you are so lucky! People are longing to have kids through all means. Don’t be so ungrateful, beta.” (This maid had been working in our house since years so yes; she had the right to talk to me in that manner). Struck hard by her words, I did not reply and went inside my room to make my boy sleep, while his sister was at her granny home.
Her words kept ringing in my ears all through the day, and I contemplated over how my life has changed drastically. Life is not a constant- I heard this phrase, and now I knew it too well.
Once my son slept, I decided to put on some recitation on my laptop to listen peacefully. The words of Quran seemed to drown me more into the bouts of guilt, and realization about my unjust attitude to my children- especially when I found they were the reason for my low productivity.
My search on Google and other blogs made me understand that Muslim women across the globe go through similar situations with their children. Anger was not the solution. Instead, we need a schematic structure to deal with kids in Ramadan. Following are a few tips that I found on web for myself, and for all the Muslim mothers who cannot find ways to deal with their cranky kids in Ramadan:
Prepare them for Ramadan:
The parents need to provide knowledge to their kids about the month of Ramadan. A four year old cannot fast along with you, but he/she needs to know what this month is. How mommy will be praying longer than usual, and how Allah (swt) would be giving them all the gifts they ask for.
Make them fast with you
If your kid is old enough to fast, make them fast with you; the shared experience will make them relate to your tiring routine and more knowledgeable about the ritual too.
Integrate afternoon naps in your routine
Make sure that you set up your routine in such a way that kids wake up early in the morning so they could sleep at noon. Of course, this would demand a lot of sacrifice from your end- but it will allow you to have rest at noon according to Sunnah, and a break from tedious multi-tasking that is demanded from you by your little ones.
Share the Load
Since you will be working in the kitchen, ask your toddlers to help you out in all possible ways. For instance, I would ask Tayyiba (my four years old daughter) to pick up cutlery from the table, while I prepare food inside the kitchen. Only the idea that they are doing something important and appreciative makes these young souls super-active, and she runs about hastily for the chores I assign.
Decorate your house
Kids get more excited when they find new things placed in the house. Add to their vigor for Ramadan by decorating a particular spot in your house with balloons and creative stuff, like cardboard mosque.
Take them to Taraweeh (where kids are allowed)
There are many mosques where kid-friendly Taraweeh are being held. Visit such places where you can find trusted company, while you pray in peace.
Keep your cool
Allah (swt) knows you might be missing out on Quran recitation that you would have done otherwise. Don’t let the guilt push you on the negative side of scale. Chat with your kids, play with them, and carry on with your deeds while they are asleep. You might be doing little, but Allah (swt) is the one who knows your circumstances, the Omni-presence will weigh the quality of your deeds, not quantity.
Ramadan is a brilliant opportunity to inculcate love for the Quran in your kids, and train them according to the Sunnah. Motherhood is a great responsibility, and you might have to make great sacrifices right now- in order to reap the benefits in future when your kids would eventually change the fate of Muslim Ummah through their character and actions. Insha’Allah!