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Mama's Ramadan plan


muslim woman sleeping
"Until I became a mother I was oblivious as to just how difficult and stressful life can be for one. Throw Ramadan in to the mix and you're halfway towards a complete meltdown."

Without the addition of small humans to take care of, Ramadan can be pretty exhausting even if you're single or married without kids. I remember always looking really forward to the Holy Month, that was prior to becoming a mother. I'm sure I'm not the only Muslim mother who feels how I do but I'm just going to be honest and say that the excitement of Ramadan is not the same for me anymore. I think I feel like a failure because I'm unable to perform as much ibadah as I've previously done. Even the exhaustion and the constant trying to juggle everything but feeling like I'm actually failing at it all. It's been tough and honestly speaking, after two years of getting it wrong I'm ready to try and make this Ramadan a better one for myself and my family and here's how...


Sleep

I know it might seem silly for me to begin with this but my husband and I have been blessed with a child who (since birth), has had low sleep needs. In other words, she doesn't sleep a lot! So planning out a good sleep schedule for Ramadan is crucial otherwise it could all come down crashing on us.


So I've done some calculating and fajr will begin before 5am at the start of Ramadan which is just shy of my little one's wake time. I've figured if she sleeps by 7pm and wakes around 5am (that's her current routine), then the best thing for me to do is to go straight to bed after Isha and any voluntary prayers because I definitely won't be able to sleep again after fajr (after she wakes). I've told myself this is alright. I'll still be able to pray Tahajjud and get some ibadah in before suhoor ends. I can live with this.


Food


Create a range of menus

As many of you know, one of the biggest bane's of a woman's life is deciding what to cook for dinner. Luckily, this is something that I addressed a while back with my husband when we sat down together and wrote a list of the many meal options and ideas that we know we like to eat and would like to try and eat. I can't tell you how much easier this has made my life. When I'm struggling to think of something, I just open the list in my phone and scroll through until I find something we haven't eaten in a while from the list. I've decided to create a new meal list just for Ramadan - quick and easy recipes and some that we don't generally eat on a regular basis (just to change things up). To make life even easier, I'm going to spend this coming weekend marinating meats in different flavours ready for different meals and will pop them into freezer bags as well.


Fill the Freezer

This is one that many mothers have been doing for a couple of generations now and why fix it if it isn't broken? I've been taking out a few hours every week before Ramadan to prep batches of our favourite savoury iftar snacks for the freezer. I'll tell you now that as much as I'd love to batch freeze some homemade samosas it's just not happening! Why? Because some of these snacks require communal effort. So round up those aunties, sisters, cousins and friends and get prepping! And if there's no time for that then just do a Facebook search for batch cooked homemade foods in your local area for collection.


Manage Expectations

"No kebabs and no samosas this year", is a sentence that I think most of us say before Ramadan begins. Does it last? Well done to you if you manage to stick to the 'no fried food' rule. Whatever you're thinking or however you're thinking to eat this Ramadan make sure it's an open conversation between yourself and the other grown ups at home and then try your very best to stick to it. This year I'm going to introduce "cheat days" into our Ramadan, meaning we'll have healthy iftars starting with soup and ending with a hearty meal but will allow for a maximum of two days per week where we'll be allowed to spoil ourselves with something like take away or homemade fries and burgers.


Prep, prep, prep!

I cannot stress this enough but prepping batches of ingredients is going to be a massive timesaver for you. I started meal prepping some months back and it's only then that I realised how much of my time and energy, actual energy that cooking takes out of me. My daily fatigue was reduced immensely when I stopped cooking daily. The other day I saw a reel of a woman freezing chopped and sliced onions - why did we never think of this before! Just stick it all in food bags in the fridge or freezer and help yourself to as much or as little as needed! I have also found this to be a great opportunity to involve my toddler in a skill-building task. I often have her next to me in the kitchen in her learning tower and pass her some garlic cloves to peel (which she loves doing). She also enjoys washing veggies although it's often because she loves splashing around in the sink.


Ibadah


Qur'an

I find making time to read the Qur'an every Ramadan to be my biggest challenge but last year I realised why and what made it so difficult for me. I set myself this unrealistic challenge of starting to read the Qur'an on the first day of Ramadan and told myself that I must complete it by the end of the month. Taking my lifestyle and circumstances into consideration, I was setting myself up for complete failure because it I simply couldn't manage a Juz a day. This year I've decided to start reading the Qur'an before Ramadan begins and in order to balance my reading throughout the month I have set myself a goal of reading what I can between suhoor and fajr. I've seen lots of Juz reading plans online but the truth is I cannot commit to reading a set number of pages after every salah because my days are filled with chaos and with the unpredictable demands of a 2-year-old, it's simply impossible to plan some things.


I've also ordered a Qur'an Cube which should be arriving today and I'm so excited! I figured that I can listen to the Qur'an and its English translation while I'm doing my chores throughout the day to increase my spiritual connection with Allah, increase my knowledge and keep me grounded to my purpose during the Holy Month.


Voluntary prayers

Since becoming a mother I have found it much easier to perform my voluntary and extra prayers after my daughter has gone to bed. Having said this I want to be entirely transparent when I tell you that motherhood has meant a significant decrease in my ability to perform extra prayers in comparison to what I was able to recite before. I used to feel really guilty about this and felt like I had become a lazy Muslim, almost as if I had gone backwards in life. I used to be the girl who never went a Ramadan without praying taraweeh at the local mosque and now I was struggling to even pray the 'long surah free' rakahs at home by myself. However, with time I realised that 'lazy' was the last thing I was. Allah had simply opened new avenues to ibadah for me when He blessed me with a baby and this took some learning and accepting. If you're a mother reading this and feeling like my words resonate with you then hear me when I tell you to let go of the guilt and embrace ibadah in all its many forms.


Anyway, in terms of voluntary prayers, I often choose to perform either taraweeh prayers at home or salat-ul-tasbih. I know taraweeh is the sunnah but considering my list of memorised surahs is relatively short, I opt for salat-ul-tasbih on most nights as it feels like more of an effort for me and therefore (in my mind), a more rewardable deed. If you haven't heard of salat-ul-tasbih before I highly recommend reading the book 'The Three Abandoned Prayers'.


Family time

Alhumdulillah the 'fasting' part of fasting is never really a struggle for me. Fatigue and lethargy unfortunately always get the better of me and make my Ramadan incredibly tough. This year I'm even more conscious of how my low energy levels will affect my daughter and my time with her as she's older, more aware and more demanding of my time and energy now. I have decided that when I find bouts of energy in myself during the day, I will use it to play with my daughter no matter what else I might have to do. If there's one thing I've learnt, it's that housework will always be there, so unless it's almost iftar time, I'll be doing what I can to entertain my child. Thanks to my daughter's much loved YouTube series Omar and Hana, I've learnt that ibadah comes in many forms and taking care of my daughter, attending to my family and their needs, performing household duties and cooking for my loved ones are all forms of ibadah. Therefore I will not let guilt overcome me this Ramadan because as long as I will be doing my best to carry out any one of the above tasks, I am confident that I will be performing ibadah. At the end of the day, Allah knows what is in my heart.


May Allah make this Ramadan easy on all mothers out there and increase us in our ability to perform ibadah and perform our roles as wives, daughters, mothers and sisters successfully, Ameen.



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