In a fast-paced society, routines tend to become rote and mechanical. Day in day out, we commit to the regular tasks of the week: driving to and from work, taking kids to and from school, and fitting in as many extracurricular activities as possible – all without much thought and emotions. As the pace picks up, we can unknowingly disengage with the important people in our lives such as husbands, wives, children, parents, other family, friends and neighbours. Even though we interact with these people on a daily basis, we can still find ourselves emotionally detached. We may be physically there but with our thoughts racing to catch up with our busy routines, our minds can be elsewhere.
Following routines is very important for a productive Muslim. We want to make the most of every moment we have, yet when our plates become too full, these routines can become a blur of activities disrupting the fine equilibrium of relationships. To maintain a healthy balance, we need to include a variety of activities which will allow us to slow down and reconnect with the loved ones in our lives. Doing so doesn’t require large investments or dramatic changes; it’s actually the little things that can go a long way when done together with people you care about.
As parents, it is important for us to model family unity. After all, we are raising future adults who will take the lessons learned at this tender age and implement them in their own families and in turn help enrich their future relationships, In sha Allah. There are simple things we can do starting today which can have a positive impact on their lives tomorrow. Not only will these simple activities help form family unity, but will also help each individual develop sympathy and compassion for others.
Share Meals Together
There is more barakah when you eat together, as per a hadith narrated by Abu Dawud : “Some of the Companions of Messenger of Allah said: “We eat but are not satisfied.” He said, “Perhaps you eat separately.” The Companions replied in affirmative. He then said: “Eat together and mention the Name of Allah over your food. It will be blessed for you” [Riyad as-Salihin]. Numerous studies have also claimed that eating together can be highly beneficial for family structure and well-being. Many communication skills can be enhanced simply by sharing a meal. In one sitting you can be working on your listening skills, speaking skills, manners, and expressing your feelings, thoughts and ideas effectively. Sitting together for meals can give you a chance to share exciting things that happened in the day, deal with a difficult day or even share some laughs allowing you to reconnect. Typically, shared meals are also home cooked meals, which means they will be more wholesome than fast-foods eaten on the go.
Invite Guests Over or Send Food To Others
When you are enjoying a shared meal, also think of others such as your neighbours and friends who also have rights over you. Invite them over for a meal and take some time out to reconnect with them. See how they are doing, how their health is or if there is anything they need help with. You can also cook a little extra and send the food over to a friend; it’s a thoughtful gesture which means a lot to the person who receives it. They may not be feeling well, be busy moving or may have just had a baby. Sharing food increases love and understanding between people. You can even get your kids involved in the preparation of a meal package. Here are some clever and fun ways to create fresh meal packages.
There is an elderly man we know whose wife suffered a debilitating stroke. Due to her health, her husband cooks all the meals, keeping them simple yet nutritious. He has become the main caregiver in the household. However, it’s what he does after which was moving. When he prepares his meals, he always makes a little extra. The extra food is put into a small container which he takes to the masjid during the next salah. Then, the first person he meets is gifted this container filled with his home cooked meal. It’s this thoughtful gesture which warms and unities the hearts. Our family has been a blessed recipient of this container, which left a lasting impression in our minds and hearts. It doesn’t take much time to cook a little extra but the rewards of doing so will go a long way, In sha Allah, with the right intentions.
Read and Learn Together
Make it a habit to sit together with the family every evening, even if for just 10-15 minutes, and read the beautiful stories of the Prophet or his companions together, and have healthy discussions or study parts of the Qur’an together. Take advantage of these times for reflection and spiritual recharge. In this day and age, many people unfortunately look up to dysfunctional celebrities, fabricated super heroes and comic book characters as role models. However, we are so fortunate to find real heroes from our own rich history whom our children can look up to and take examples from to instil in their lives. You can also pick an ayah or surah from the Qur’an, learn its meaning together and take it to memorization. Set up a chart and reward system for family members to add some fun to the challenge. When you do such activities as a group, it becomes more enjoyable and leaves a lasting impression in the minds of our children.
Another activity you can do is volunteer some time to a needy organization together as a family. There is no better way to dedicate your time selflessly than to volunteer it without expecting any monetary rewards in return. Doing something only for the sake of Allah’s pleasure can teach an invaluable lesson to children. It will enable them to develop compassion and sympathy for others. As a family, you can research and look for a local pantry, community events, senior citizen home, hospital, masjid or even library that could use your help. Having the opportunity to volunteer at various places can help children also learn important life skills, build self-confidence, instill good work ethics, supply work experience, enhance social skills, provide positive role models, help develop leadership skills and even open valuable networking opportunities for the future.
Do Fun Recreational Activities Together
Spending time together doesn’t always have to be a structured task. You can also unwind, have fun and still be able help build character and instill valuable lessons in a child’s life. Take this opportunity to unplug, go outside, reconnect with nature, play sports and games, get creative with some crafts or anything else that interests your family. It’s about strengthening bonds and relationships. Sharing positive experiences together will form the most lasting memories. If you look back at your own memories, a large number of them will be of a special moment you shared with your family or dear friends. It’s these memories which unconsciously help us navigate through our lives as adults. These are the legacies we leave behind for the next generations, starting from your very own children who will experience them first hand. So, make these moments valuable ones filled with positive reinforcements and lessons which they can pass on to the generations that follow, In sha Allah.
Write a Handwritten Note or Card to Someone
There is nothing more thoughtful than a handmade gift, which can be as simple as a handwritten note or card to someone. In this digital era, taking the time out to make something by hand can mean so much more. It shows the recipient that you took the time out to make him or her something special. It could be for an inspiring teacher, beloved grandparents, someone who fell ill, an expression of appreciation or gratitude, or ‘just because’ to help make someone smile. Set out some time on a weekend or after school, get your kids involved and create some meaningful cards for others.
If you think you cannot manage to make a card from scratch, invest in some card-making kits containing all the materials and cut outs you would need to make some very creative, thoughtful cards. Recently, our family tried such a kit from HafsaCreates and we had such a great time. By the end of the activity, we had a handful of cards ready to be delivered to some lucky recipients. They were delighted upon receiving the handmade cards and thoughtful messages inside.
So, starting from today, make it a goal to take some time out to spend quality time with your family members. It doesn’t have to consume a great deal of time but will surely leave a positive impact on the lives of your children. These children are our future, the growing citizens of society. One day, they will become parents, too, so impart in them values which will perpetuate goodness to generations to come. It will be worth the effort, In sha Allah.
What other activities do you engage in as a family to spend quality time together? Please share your ideas below!
About the Author:
Sobia Hussain is a professional soapmaker and artisan born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She founded The Olive Tree Soap Company in 2011.
(Website: www.olivetreesoap.ca | Store: theolivetreesoapco.etsy.com | Facebook: facebook.com/OliveTreeSoapCompany)
Inspired by nature and its healing elements, she has created distinct formulas for a wide variety of artisanal skincare products as an alternative to the conventional ones with an eco-conscience influence. When not soapmaking, Sobia is a passionate writer for various international publications and projects. She has also taught creative Discovery Workshops designed for children to help discover their inner talents and inspire creativity through exploration in areas of science and art. Sobia is a mother of three and draws much of her creative inspirations from them and her surroundings. She is currently running a local upscale store, Kaamilah Boutique, in Toronto with a talented team of women entrepreneurs.