This summer is already showing us some of its hottest signs and sizzles and as hot as it is right now, the month of July 2012 has been predicted (and only Allah knows best) to have longer days and shorter nights. In this same July, Ramadhan 1433 will be upon all Muslims around the world. And we must fast. We must put our trust in Allah and fast through thick, thin, hot, and humid. It is a fact that it is going to be challenging and tough. Everyone seems to be speculating and developing a mental picture of how to cope in the fasting month. Days in the summer are usually longer, so we might be fasting for 15 to 16 hours.
After I was assigned this topic, I thought that it will be counterproductive if I did not make it a family affair. Really, to make Ramadan fun for children, whether it took place in the heated summer, or any other season of the year, children have to be included in the project and their active participation has to be acknowledged and appreciated. So, I sat down with my children and husband. I asked them what they needed and wanted from me, in order to enjoy this coming Ramadan to the brim. It was a learning experience for us all. I was delighted because most of the tips were actually their own suggestions. My two older children are ages 9 and 7, and I have been discussing with them about the possibility of fasting for longer hours in this coming Ramadan.
Ramadan is a month that excites them and I am very sure it excites many Muslim children all over the world. Even my two youngsters ages 5 and 3 feel the excitement too, because they graciously and willingly take part in decorating our home in preparation for Ramadan. For parents of young children, teenagers, and adolescents, now might be the best time to educate your entire family on what to prepare for, in order to cope during the long hours of fasting. This is the time to be productive and get geared up to face the challenges ahead of us.
Below are ten helpful and fun tips that can make Ramadan enjoyable for your children, and boost their energy during the fasting mode. And when children are happy, moms are happy and energized as well.
1. Fast together as a family
Remind one another of the glad tidings for those who fast. Children see their parents as role models and imitate them in their actions, knowingly and unknowingly.
2. Play through acting
My children mentioned play because they do cherish their playing moments. For the month of Ramadan, my oldest suggested taking on role plays on topics that center around Ramadan and Islam. A few years ago, they acted Abraha and the elephants after reading the Ad-Duha mini Tafseer book on Surah Al Fil. And that moment really touched my heart.
3. Keep a Ramadan Journal
My two older children did this in the past and they plan to do this again. It is like a checklist for all the good deeds they carry out and all the naughty deeds they say they “mistakenly” did. They enjoyed the healthy competition that ensued between both of them. And of course, they relished the gifts of love they received after their Ramadan journals were completed.
4. Read children’s books on Ramadan
We have a book at home titled, “Magid fasts for Ramadan” by Mary Mathews. It is one of the books my children love to read because they can easily relate to Magid, who is the main character of the story. For the story to be lively, we either take turns reading, or everyone takes on a character of preference in the story.
5. Hold Ramadan competitions for children
There are yearly Ramadan competitions that take place in many masajid. From Al Baqarah contest and Juz Ama contest to Ramadan quizzes, there is something for every school-aged group. The Ramadhan competition that my children and I enjoy doing is the MuslimVille Ramadan competition. It is a good way of instilling Islamic education in the young minds of our children, and cultivating good habits and characters from a very tender age.
6. Take a nap together
This might not be feasible all the time especially if some members of the family are not home such as the working fathers and mothers, as well as the school going children. However, one can still manage to inculcate this habit in a minimal manner by allowing oneself and one’s family members, special downtime during the tedious summer fasting. Even just twenty minutes can have a profound, positive, productive effect. If taking a nap seems challenging for the young folks in the house, try to organize an informal halakah that would keep every family member awake and engaged. Remember to make it fun though. You can even discuss about current affairs in the world. For the children being able to relate to the discussion, talk about other children and families in other countries who do not even have food or water for their iftar. Yet, they fast graciously. This will really hit home.
7. Break fast together
From my own experience, my two older children are the timekeepers of the house in the month of Ramadan. They keep the community’s newsletter handy and do all it takes to make sure we break our fast on time. Their excitement bug does itch everyone when iftar time arrives. Since many families all over the world, cook special meals for iftar, partaking in the kitchen work does leave a lasting impression on the children who love to be their mother’s helpers. Their faces glow with joy and they feel energized to prepare for the next fasting days ahead of them.
8. Pray Taraweeh together
Children do enjoy going to the Masjid together with their parents to pray Taraweeh. Choosing just the weekends to pray Taraweeh with one’s family, along with the community members, goes a long way for our children. Attending Jumu’ah services in the month of Ramadan can also instill family togetherness.
9. Invite families, friends, and neighbors for iftar
This should be well planned in advance so that there would be discipline, and things would flow smoothly as planned. Children should be taught that there are huge rewards for feeding a fasting person. Also, Ramadan is an opportunity for da’wah to our neighbors, and also a means to feed the poor, the orphans, and the travelers.
10. Prepare for Eid by decorating the house together
Before you know it, it’s Eid time! SubhanaAllaah, how time flies! Give your youngsters a treat by buying a few decors for the entire house including their bedrooms. Get them engaged by assigning small tasks to them depending on their ages. Give your home a complete makeover with the help of the young members of the family. They can help by cleaning the surrounding areas outside and inside your home. This can also include recycling or reusing some old household items. Also, shop for their Eid gifts in advance, way before Ramadan starts. Any time you decide to present their Eid gifts to them, tell them you love them dearly and you are very grateful for their hard work throughout the month of Ramadan. Make dua that you all live longer and healthier to witness the next Ramadan.
What are the other ProductiveMuslim Moms out there doing to make this Ramadan a fun and special month for their children? Share in the comments below.
About the Author
An aspiring poetess, a freelance editor and writer, and a committed nutrition educator Maryam Funmilayo is a married mother of four. She is a big fan of Productive Muslim. Hence, she strives to stay productive even under good, intense stress. With Ramadan around the corner, she is already working hard with planning to use the tips above for herself and her family. Her work can be perused at maryamsmusings.weebly.com
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