Ramadan Preparations, 2018

Ramadan is right around the corner and that means preparation for the holy month has started. There is a significant difference and momentum celebrating Ramadan in a Muslim country. The same goes to say for Christmas in a majority Christian country, the feeling is so contagious that even Muslim fall in love with everything about the season. The same goes for Ramadan in a Muslim country, there is an indescribable magnetic force that makes everyone excited for the holy month.

There a couple of traditions that I have noticed and began to adapt in my life, that happens in Egypt right before Ramadan starts. About a month prior to the holy month you began seeing grocery stores filled with Ramadan decorations and selling Ramadan’s popular foods, such as dates, dry fruits, juices, sugar, all types of flours and nuts and much more. People usually rush to the big supermarkets to fill their pantries with a month worth of supplies.

Women go out to shop with their children in search of that perfect outfit to wear for Eid day (the ceremony that commemorates the end of Ramadan). This allows the kids to get extra excited for Ramadan where most kids are given gifts, money and get to show off their new clothing.

Most people start uncluttering their homes before Ramadan, kind of what we do during spring cleaning in the states. This is a great opportunity to get rid of old unwanted items around the house and get everything tidy for Ramadan.

Lights and decor fill up the streets given an unique magical atmosphere to the chaotic country of Egypt. Lanterns, table cloths, pillows and much more with Ramadan patterns fabrics are sold everywhere in the streets.

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Photo taken by Mai Shasheen

Ramadan is not only expressed outwardly, many people start preparing spiritually as well. Many fast prior to Ramadan in order to gain a spiritual momentum before the beginning of the holy month. Others set daily goals and practices such as praying on time, reading the Quran everyday and doing charitable acts.

As a mother of three little kids and breastfeeding, fasting can be quite a challenge. As the kids don’t understand the strain that fasting has on the body, they still need to be fed, entertained and catered to while running on a very low energy. There are however, some hacks and tricks that you can have under your sleeve that will help you facilitate the process of fasting and provide more time towards your Ramadan goals and strengthen the connection between you and the Creator.

The best advice I got from a friend for Ramadan is to meal prep.  Having your veggies and meats already prepared in advance saves tremendous amount of time and hardship when you are fasting but have to feed your little kids. The kids still need to eat through out the day and one might need to spend more time in the kitchen during Ramadan than one may think. If we can make life easier especially while fasting than why not do it!

Get to organize what and where you will give to charity before hand. That might entail making a list of things you need to buy or give away and to whom or what charities you need to give to.

Fasting before Ramadan starts will help your body and mind adjust to not eating and drinking for the whole day before the holy month begins.Breastfeeding brings a whole new level of difficulties while fasting so seeing if I can fast before Ramadan is definitely a must for me.

Another challenge during Ramadan is your little kids inability to comprehend the aspects of fasting. However, there are a couple things you can do that can help your children understand that Ramadan is a special month. Decorations can be fun for you and your kids. Having the house filled with lanterns, lights, patterns and much more will definitely ignite excitement among the children. I bought a children’s book about Ramadan and I read it for bed time, no joke, everyday, so far no complains.

If you are living in the Middle East/ North Africa (I don’t know how Egyptian classify themselves geographically but that’s another topic of it’s own),than you know that Ramadan will be in the summer (summer heat starts in May and last until late August) and going out during day time can be difficult while fasting. However, the kids still need to be entertained, so what should one do? Minnie pools are always fun! They can play for a couple of hours in the pool and you can just relax next to them and catch up on the Quran readings. Some time throughout the day, you might find that you want to take a nap especially in very extreme hot places, a busy box is a way to go. There are a tones of busy box ideas on the net, just browse busy box ideas and you will find endless results.

This is probably the only time you want your kids to start going to bed later at night. You don’t want your children to wake up bright and early in the morning when you are running on 3 hours of sleep and have to fast throughout the day. That would be just, for lack of better words, hell!

These are some ideas I am sharing with you with the experience I have with my little kids. I would love to hear some tricks that you might have to prepare for Ramadan. Major advice before hand will be much appreciate it!

Happy Ramadan to all!

 

 

 

 

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How to get ready to go out with kids

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You need to leave the house for whatever reason and you are in a rush but your kids are throwing a tantrum and your heart is beating at 100 mph. You are ready to give up, scream or cry. You think to yourself, “is the outing worth all of this chaos?”

As a new mommy, the first outing is the hardest, we have to get the child ready, prepare the baby’s bag, get dressed and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. The more kids you have the more challenging it becomes. Before having kids, all we had to worry was ourselves, there wasn’t any diaper bag to be packed nor was there any necessities to carry snacks around. Obviously going from one step to 3 or more steps before leaving the house can be chaotic at first. I will share with you some tips I’ve learned along the way that I think will help with this problem.

I learned this first tip in college living with a Belorussian roommate but I didn’t practice it until becoming a mom.

  1. Limit the amount of clothe you have in your closet. I got rid of a lot a clothe and stopped buying excessively, like I used to prior to being a mother. This Belorussian roommate had literally 7 outfits. She would wake up 20 min before having to leave the house and get dressed really fast and off she went. Don’t be fooled, she always looked great because she had a couple of good pieces that she would wear continuously.
  2. De clutter the closet and your house. I try to go to one room at a time and find things that are not useful anymore and I either throw it away or donate it to a family member. Not having a tone of miscellaneous items around will help you concentrate during the times you are in a rush to leave the house.
  3. Get storage items, boxes, drawers to throw crap inside. All of us have these random items that don’t make sense but we feel like one day we might need it so we like to keep them around. The best thing is to have a drawer or any storage that we can throw these items in. This helps with quick cleaning and decluttering the mind.
  4. I am not one of those women that prepare things overnight but one thing that helped me getting out of the house quickly, is having my bag with the essentials at all times. This includes, diapers, wipes, water and quick snack where I can grab and insert into my bag.
  5. I think this tip is the most important one. Help your child become independent and take responsibility for herself. I was lucky because my first child really wanted to do pretty much everything by herself. I just had to teach her how to do it right, sometimes she didn’t even let me help her which would take a very long time to get ready but it’s now paying off. At 4 years old, she can pick all her items from her closet and get dressed all by herself. My second child was not ready to be independent as early as my first but that’s ok. As she is watching her big sister dress herself, she is eager to try out herself too.
  6. Having a uniform. What I mean about this is, sorting out your clothe by what event you have for the day. For example, I have clothe that I wear only for errand purposes,  casual sporting clothe if I am going to a sporting club or playground, dark clothe when I think I might get a little dirty mostly shopping in souqs, cotton/linen for really hot days and the most important clothe that I have when I will go out alone without the kids or frequenting a nice place.
  7. Having pieces in your closet that are seasonal friendly or that fit you. When summer comes there is no need to have your winter clothe occupying space in the closet and vise versa. Also having items that fit, whether it is too small or too big, either donate or storage it outside of your closet.
  8. I also stopped buying a lot of kids clothe. I just buy the most essential and sort them out by outings as well. If I am going to perform an errand than mostly likely they will be wearing shorts and a t-shirt and so forth.
  9. This next tip is something I just recently adapted into my routine which is wearing the same outfit more than one day and especially when it comes to kids clothing. I used to see a little stain in my daughter’s clothe and I would throw in the laundry. I seemed to have endless amount of laundry that entailed mostly children’s clothe. Now if I see one stain I make my daughters wear it again the next day.
  10. Lastly, invest in few but very good quality items. I don’t shop as much as I used to but when I need something, I will invest in good quality items. I also try to compare prizes for certain things that I need to buy, instead of purchasing at the first store. This implies for the items that I use in the daily basis such as my bag and shoes. For my kid’s shoes I try to buy a very good quality so that it can be passed around for the next child. I also buy items that can go with many things such as simple sneaker that can be dressed up or down. I usually buy one pair or sneakers and than one sandal for summer and one pair of warm shoes for winter.

These are just some tips that have worked for me but the most essential thing is to create a routine and have the children get involved. It doesn’t have to be the 10 tips I wrote above. Having things that you do every day to help you get out of the house as stress free as possible, will soon become second nature to you. I am sure we all experienced having the kids running behind us like little ducklings when we are trying to leave the house which can be a little irritable. If you include your child in the process it will make things easier for example, telling your child to turn off the tv, getting the water from the fridge and so forth.

Let me know what are some tips that helped you get out of the house as quickly and stress free as possible.

 

Ramadan 2017 Series-Day 1

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Happy Ramadan to my fellow brother and sister who are celebrating the holy month of Ramadan.

Months prior to Ramadan, I was convinced that I would not fast this Ramadan because of being pregnant. I was fatigue and tired; being pregnant with two toddlers was hard enough and I was not going to add another obstacle on top of that.

However, as time grew closer to Ramadan my mind began to swift and I started making some research online about women who fasted during their pregnancy. To my surprise many women can fast while pregnant and although I have the green pass from my Creator for not fasting if I feel physically overwhelmed, it is still encouraged to give it a try and fast.

I must confess, I was very nervous to fast. I’ve fasted while breastfeeding and I know how much harder it is on the body than someone who is neither nursing or pregnant. I can imagine being hard on older people too, who do not have the same strength of the young.

I tried to find online if there were any pregnant woman sharing their experience of fasting during Ramadan. I didn’t find much but the one I did find gave the final push to try and that was an youtuber that I admire dearly, Chealsehijablove.

Therefore, I resorted to write my experience here on the blog so that I can motivate someone else in the same situation, who is on the fence of fasting.

My night prior to the first day of Ramadan could not have gone worst. My youngest daughter kept waking up crying from a stomachache and my oldest had vomit all her dinner in the bed and on herself. I mean, she had vomit everything out! I had to clean her up, clean the bed and the floor and tuck her in bed. Before I knew it, there was only one hour left until I would have to get up and make my breakfast before the call of the first prayer.

I had slept one hour in the night and went to bed around 4:30 AM after I had my breakfast. Luckily, since the girls were fidgety during the night they woke up pretty late in the morning a little after 9:30, so I was able to get enough hours of sleep to keep me insane through the day.

I tried to keep my mind as far away from food as possible, even though I still had to cook for the kids. I was surprised how I still had the strength to do my house chores but I concentrated mainly on homeschooling my oldest.

I went down to my mother in laws apartment for a change of scenery and realized I needed to nap if I was going to survive the day. So we all nap and surely enough woke up less than two hours away from breaking my fast. I couldn’t believe at this moment that I did it! A pregnant woman can actually fast, I was shocked!

Towards the end of fasting, I was feeling a little shaky but nothing that I couldn’t handle. I must confess what had helped me the most was not having to cook dinner as I ate at my in laws.

The first day is always the hardest so keeping it low key was the best thing for me while fasting. I know I will have to cook dinner some days and go out side and my kids will give me the biggest test during my fast. But it should get easier with time as your body gets used to it.

Advice for women who want to fast while pregnant are;

  • take your prenatals every day
  • drink loads of water
  • eat a balance meal
  • skip junk food your body will need as much nutrition as possible
  • try to sleep, most people are sleep deprived during Ramadan so if you can squeeze in a nap that would help a tones.
  • listen to your body and your baby
  • don’t do too much, try to spread your errands throughout the week
  • pray for a safe delivery