With Ramadan just around the corner, you are probably wondering how you can make the most out of this holy month as a mum. The long hours of fasting and prayer present a mental and physical challenge for Muslims all around the world, but as a mum you’ve got the additional responsibility of taking care of your children whilst doing so.
As a modern Muslim mother myself, I completely understand the pressures we face and how the month of Ramadan can seem daunting. We prioritise our household duties, iftar (breaking fast meal) prep, work and motherhood, which leaves deen (religion) at the bottom of the pile. Ramadan is all about connecting with Allah (God) and I’m sure you want to be able to spend the time to do so, no matter how busy you are.
In case you need to hear this, we’re all in it together and it’s not just you that feels this way. I’m experiencing Ramadan for the second time as a mother and have two young children in tow (a 20 month old and a 9 week old).
To help you get through Ramadan as a mum, here are 8 things that will give you the confidence you need to survive the long days of fasting, help you to connect with God and continue with parenting during this blessed month.
1) Plan your days
In the UK, our fasts are 16-17 hours long and let’s be honest, our memory isn’t always going to be great (mum brain doesn’t help either!). It sounds so simple, but planning your days out on a piece of paper or on your phone can really help to make you feel like you’ve got it together. That way, you can refer to it at points in the day and know what to expect next, without feeling overwhelmed or forgetting anything important.
Make sure to write down each of the five daily prayers within your plan so you can set aside time for the compulsory salah (prayers). After that, you can add in any chores or appointments or shopping for Eid gifts. However, do be easy on yourself and do not expect that you’ll get the same amount of things done in the day as you would have when you are not fasting. It would also be handy to plan a weekly menu, which brings me onto my next tip…
2) Meal plan and prep is key
I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at this as I have two kids under two and life is super busy these days! Even during a normal week, I actually only cook about twice a week. I plan my meals to a T, go shopping at the start of the week and batch prep / cook. The key to nailing this is making sure you are smart with your ingredients and dishes.
I’ll let you in on what a weekly menu could look like for me and how I’ve prepared for it.
A lasagna is one of the easiest dishes to prepare as you can use sauces from a jar, pre-grated cheese and if it’s a vegetable lasagna, you’re cramming in some goodness. Best of all, make a big dish so you can eat it for two days.
Butter chicken is one of my favourite dishes because it’s so hearty and comforting, which is exactly what you want after a long day of fasting. It also keeps in the fridge and freezer really well so you can make it in advance. Cook up a big portion of the dish and all you need to do on the day is cook some rice. The following day you can pop it on some naan bread with cheese and you’ve got yourself a naan pizza!
The end of the week is an opportunity to use up any old ingredients from the fridge / freezer and make a stir fry. Make sure to stock up on frozen vegetables, frozen prawns and packet sauces to make the dish even more simple and easy.
Saturday is a great day for a ‘fakeaway’ which can be as simple as taking out some fish you picked up at the supermarket earlier in the week and some oven fries. You can also recreate a fillet o fish or chicken wrap.
Sunday is a treat day - hello takeaway! I’m sure that loads of delivery apps will be offering discount codes so make sure to take advantage of these if you can.
3) Weaning during Ramadan
If you’re planning on starting weaning during this month or have already started weaning, try and plan ahead as much as possible. Your freezer is your best friend so feel free to fill it up with homemade purees. When cooking your meals simply make them baby friendly by removing any salt and spices. Also, don’t be afraid to use a pre-made pouch - it’s what they are there for! For Aisha offers a fabulous range of halal baby food and they are usually available at Asian supermarkets as well as larger supermarkets.
4) Breastfeeding during Ramadan
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding during Ramadan, you are exempt from fasting (as long as you make it up at a time where you are able to). However, if you are planning on fasting, do take advice and guidance from your GP. It’s likely that your milk supply can drop during fasting as you're not consuming the calories required to produce milk.
5) Tackling tiredness
I’m going to keep it real, Ramadan with children is tiring, especially when they are young. The days are long as you are waking up for suhoor (meal eaten before dawn) and then staying awake until after Taraweeh (additional Ramadan prayer). So make sure to take it easy with your to-do-list. As mentioned earlier, be realistic and try to only do the things that need to get done. Everything else can wait.
If your child naps, try and nap when they nap. Alternatively, tag team with your partner so you can get a break or arrange for your little one to spend some time with their grandparents or a family member.
6) How to explain Ramadan to young children
Depending on the age of your child, you may want to get them involved in the holy month or begin to share the significance around it. For young children you can think about decorating your home to get them excited. A countdown calendar, Ramadan-themed books and stories can also help them understand. Omar and Hana is a great starting point for young children too. For slightly older children you can think about introducing Islamic habits such as a ‘good deed a day’ or a sadaqah (charity) jar.
7) How to keep children entertained while fasting
Entertaining children during the month of Ramadan takes a new level of energy (and patience). So prepare and plan some activities that will allow them to play independently or in a way where you don’t have to be right beside them and instead have your feet up on the sofa. Here are some ideas:
• Busy book
• Building blocks
• Pop its
• Activity table
• Water colouring mat
• Soft play / park / garden walks
8) Remember that parenting is an ibadah (act of worship) in itself
Something I wish I reminded myself of more often on a daily basis, let alone in Ramadan, is that parenting is a form of worship in itself. Raising children to worship Allah (God) and follow the Sunnah (practices) of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) is part of our duty as Muslim parents.
So if you feel like you haven’t had a chance to pray as much as you would have liked to, or connect with God during the month, you’ve actually been doing it all along as you are already carrying out an act of worship by parenting.