This Ramadan I will be fasting inshaAllah, and so I have been thinking about what I can do to prepare before the Holy Month begins.
One of the most helpful things I’ve done is dedicate a little notebook to all of my Ramadan related planning, whether it’s food to be cooked, gifts in the works, activity ideas for the children or goals for myself. I’ve also been recording the children’s input in this notebook. For example, last week we had a planning meeting and I asked them “What do you know about Ramadan?” According to H, Ramadan is about:
- Respect and being nice
- Saying Thank You to Allah
- We can bring food for people, like the poor
- Adults fast
- Making presents for others
It is important for me to know what knowledge or ideas she already has so I can meet her where she’s at, and direct her to more holistic understandings. For example, one of the things that I shared with her during this meeting is the idea that Ramadan is the month of the Quran and I hope that after the work we do this year, that idea is something that becomes part of her experience.
While Y didn’t have anything to add (he’s 23 months) he was very eager to sit with us and I realized instead of trying to work with H in his absence (which is rarely a reality for us), I can be more mindful of involving him in what we are doing. To be honest, at his age, he’s the more receptive of the two when it comes to more traditional acts of worship.
Another thing I was intentional about doing to lessen my distractions during Ramadan was to do the bulk of my shopping for Eid and Ramadan gifts in advance since this is something I enjoy doing and often spend quite a bit of time on. This last week before Ramadan starts, my focus is on getting groceries, stocking my freezer and getting things into functional spaces so everything is ready to go come next week.
This Ramadan, H will be turning 5.5 years old and Y will be turning 2. Because H is in school full-time, I thought about stepping away from the kind of pocket-style calendar I have typically done because I just assumed she wouldn’t have time for extra activity, and Y is still fairly young. But as Ramadan entered H’s thoughts, she immediately started talking about the calendar and how excited she was and we had this exchange:
“I don’t think I’m going to do a calendar this year.”
“But mama, you always do a calendar.”
“Not always. The year Y was born, we just did a simple sticker one, remember?”
“Oh yah. But I like the calendar.”
“Fine, I’ll do a calendar but it won’t be different activities each day. Some days, it will be other things, like verses of Quran or different things we can learn about.”
So because I believe in child-led learning, we will be doing a “calendar” this year, but I will not be reusing our beloved homemade one which I first made four years ago.
Instead, our plan is to have a learning circle every day at a consistent time (most likely sometime after she gets home from school and before dinner).
The plan is to spend 5 minutes on Arabic, 5 minutes on Quran memorization and then seeing what the special thing is for that day (equivalent to checking the calendar). Finding a consistent way to work Arabic and Quran into our daily lives has been a struggle for me so I’m hoping this is a habit we can continue outside of Ramadan.
I plan to use this diaper box that I wrapped in pretty wrapping paper (actually from winter but it works) and replace the contents every day. There will be a chalkboard next to counting which day of Ramadan we are currently on.
The contents may include the supplies required for an activity, a Ramadan-related book or an object that sparks discussion. I will try to include relevant hadith, stories or ayat from the Quran (this is something I’m currently working on getting together) where I can.
Here is an example of what it will look like. I will not be doing this particular activity on the first day of Ramadan but will be scheduling it for a weekend. H loves the book Bismillah Soup ( I love the story too) and she’s been asking to make Bismillah Soup at home for over a year now. A few months ago I looked up the recipe to make the special spice mix and bookmarked it. I saved the recipe card (all available through Ruqaya’s Bookshelf in addition to a wide range of Islamic children’s books, including Ramadan ones!) and planned to do it as an activity in Ramadan. A few weeks ago, I actually found the spice mix (pre-made) in a local grocery store so I bought because I wasn’t sure I would have the time to actually make it with the kids- it’s essentially a Somali garam masala.
I originally had stuff I was going to include in Ramadan baskets for my kids including new PJs, books and crafts, but have decided to spread the items out throughout the month so we can intentionally work through things.
These awesome PJs were purchased at Two Craftistas! These ones say “Ramadan with my Khandaan” which I thought was apt for our family dynamics hehe (khandaan means extended family). They have a wide selection of styles and still have some in stock, along with many other cool items. I was so happy to discover matching family Ramadan PJs and knew the kids would love them.
Last year, we ordered a set of matching family PJs for myself, my husband and our kids and my niece expressed her desire to also have matching PJs (coincidentally, H and her typically have at least one matching pair of PJs at any given time) but I know it will be a whole other level excitement to have their brothers in matching PJs too.
The books were purchased through Eastern Toybox, a wonderful retailer of high quality Islamic play items for children that I discovered when I used to live in Toronto (they’ve been around that long, mashaAllah). They have a lovely assortment of wooden and cloth toys that I know will leave some of you drooling! Their commitment to fairtrade and eco-friendly products and practices is very much in line with what I had envisioned for Discovery Dome when we were retailing products.
While I do a lot of shopping via Amazon prime, I like to support small business owners when I can! I encourage you to check out the amazing variety of clothes, books and toys at these three establishments.