My dear sister – I need no explanation.

Asalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu everyone,

I hope you are all having a fruitful Ramadan. I’m off social media to take advantage of this blessed time but I popped back on to share this reflection which I think some of you may resonate with.

Yesterday, we went to our local masjid and as we walked into the sister’s section the salaah had already begun, the Imam was reciting, there was a wonderful atmosphere, filled with peace and serenity.

But just as I was about to join the jama’ah with my kiddos I was swiftly told I had to go upstairs since this area was for women without children.

I didn’t mind, and off we headed upstairs. But as soon as we reached the top of the stairs, I almost felt like I was in a different masjid. The atmosphere was totally different.

I wasn’t met with silence but with the sound of a crying baby, the smell of bottled milk and a sight of scattered baby bags.

As I made my way further into the room, I walked past a woman trying to settle her child before the next rakaah began, another scrambling to find things to keep her toddler busy and another who just looked worried; I’m guessing she was hoping her baby would sleep through the salaah.

And it dawned on me. That even though I didn’t know these women, and they didn’t know each other; we were connected.

We didn’t have to say anything but the struggle voiced itself.

I didn’t know where she was from, but I had a good idea of what was going through her mind.

And I’m pretty sure we all had a pack of baby wipes in our bag somewhere.

You see, when Ramadan comes, we as mother’s often voluntarily put ourself at the back of the queue. We facilitate everyone else’s ibadaah, be it ensuring our children read more Qur’an, to making sure our husband’s clothes are ready for taraweeh, to cooking up a gourmet iftaar.

And while that is wonderful, and a path to seek reward, sometimes we need to just put everything aside….just for a few moments, and think about nothing and no one, except for ourselves.  Because these precious moments give us the momentum to then give back to those around us.

Aside from that, I noticed something just as wonderful. Our common struggle resulted in a non judgemental atmosphere.

You see, I understood why the sister was there….and that was far dearer to me than caring if her child was in her pyjamas. 

Sisters didn’t get mad when a random toddler tugged at their khimar…they were used to it.

Noone seemed to point fingers when a child was disruptive – there were no stern looks. 

My dua for you my dear sister is that you benefitted from those few moments of peace…may Allah reward you in abundance for all your beautiful effort, Ameen.

And if you ever run out of baby wipes? I have plenty…don’t worry.


Crack the Ramadan Code: Junior Edition!

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu sisters,

I hope you are all well.  I had several sisters message me to say that they will be doing the ‘Crack the Ramadan code-challenge’ with their families, which is super Allahuma barik.  However, there were some sisters who told me that their children were a little too young to participate, so I made a toddler-friendly version!
Ramadan Code Challenge printables -Junior-page-002

The setup is exactly the same as the original challenge, even the code itself is the same.  However, for the junior edition, the questions are much easier, with clues and pictures to help the child further.  Of course, a grown-up helper can help spell out the word too. Read More


Family Challenge: Crack the Ramadan Code!

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu

I hope everyone is doing well and getting excited for Ramadan which is less than a week away!  

Today, I’d like to share another Ramadan activity that can be done by the whole family.  Like our Gratitude board, this ones not just for the kids.  Kids, parents, grandparents and guests can all join in.  But there’s a big difference….. this is a CHALLENGE!

Let me introduce our ‘CRACK THE RAMADAN CODE’ challenge.

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The concept is simple.  Every day, for the next 30 days (or 29) you will be handed an envelope.  In this envelope, there will be a question related to Ramadan.  There are some simple questions, and some fairly challenging.  I kept them varied so everyone has a chance to help crack the code! Read More


The self-care myth

Asalamu Alaykum ladies
Ever find yourself…

Still wearing the same pjs/shalwar kameez/sheedh or baati you woke up with at 5pm?
Forgetting to brush your teeth?
Eating the whole family size bar of chocolate, instead of a couple of squares?

I feel you, I’ve done the same.

You see as mothers, and homeschool moms, in particular, I feel, as our responsibilities increase and the demands of daily life seem like an ever-growing mountain, we tend to put our self-care on the back burner.  

Ahh yes, the infamous old ‘Self-care’ that we’ve all heard about before.  It’s the term we google late at night when we’ve slept with our coffee-stained PJs, wondering whatever happened to the old me. 

But self-care for me is simple. 

It’s anything you do for yourself that feeds your mind, body and soul. 

And a word of warning here..it doesn’t have to be so elaborate! One mistake I feel we make when we do have those late night panic attacks, is to associate self-care with something that takes up hours of time which we don’t have, hence we swiftly click off Google and go back to binging on our chocolate bar.  

But self-care doesn’t have to mean we need to go on a mountainous hike, all alone, with a coffee every morning before the kids wake up.  Or that you must commit to a gym workout every day while the hubby keeps the kids.  While it’s fantastic if you can do this (!), it’s not realistic for everyone.   

On the other hand, don’t make the mistake of thinking that those pockets of time you do have for yourself though, are better spent on doing something else either. When we make self-care an extra thing to squeeze in ‘if we have time’, as opposed to a ‘priority’, we fall into a vicious circle of feeling like we’re living in the same day.  Lack of nourishing ourselves, and giving to others constantly without replenishing, leads to a bad case of getting burnt out. 

So make a promise to yourself today and… 

Don’t skip that shower to get an early start on breakfast.
Pray on time, the hoover can wait.
Brush your teeth first, the kids seemed to be immune to each others ‘morning breath’ anyway.
Realise when one cup of coffee becomes one too many, and replace with water instead.
While the kids are playing, read that book which inspires you.
Don’t skip making the juice because of the mess.  It doesn’t bother you when you know allowing the kids to make pizza will make them happy, so it shouldn’t bother you when you know how good it will make you feel after.
Get the workout in – come rain or shine!
Schedule a class for yourself, either in person or online.  Do what works for you.
Go for a long walk, and take the kids with you if you have to!

Have a wonderful day ladies!

 


Family Ramadan Craft: Have an Attitude of Gratitude

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu

Ramadan is mere days away, and as it draws closer our excitement increases.  Most Ramadan crafts and activities tend to be for children but this one is for everyone.  We have done our gratitude board before, and now everyone is looking forward to using it again, Allahuma barik.

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The concept is simple.  After you break your fast and have completed another day of the blessed month, everyone lists down one thing that they were grateful for that day. Kids, parents, extended family and guests you have that night join in and take a turn to write onto a post-it note. 

By the time Ramadan has finished, you will be left with a board brimming full of things that Allah has blessed you with, a drop in the ocean compared to the number of the favours Allah has blessed us with, Alhamdulillah.

See, there is always something to write about….but not enough space to write down everything.

It will take you less than 10 minutes to put this together, but it will be memorable for your whole family, inshaAllah.  It’s also inexpensive, and easy for someone who is not an avid crafter!  Read More


Parenting is the popping of my personal bubble.

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies, what comes to your mind if I was to say…

“Parenting is the popping of my personal bubble”.

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Let me elaborate.
Do you ever miss…
Praying salah without someone tugging at your khimar, perhaps in a quiet room, with lit candles and bukhoor burning in the background?
Eating a chocolate bar, without having to share a piece?
Being able to focus on your needs, without having to pause to cook, clean or tend to kids?
Having a decent nights sleep, without that having to mean you wake up to twice the amount of chores?
Attending classes at the masjid without worrying about finding a creche?
Having time with your spouse, when you could take impromptu holidays and have alone time that didn’t need to be scheduled?
Being your pre-baby weight, since you’ve had children your body has not been the same?

Read More


My Bad Homeschool Day Survival Guide

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies

No matter how much we plan, schedule, and prepare, it’s safe to say that sometimes those wonderfully planned school days just don’t work out. 

But don’t panic!  Heres a quick guide to help you recover your day and not let one bad homeschool day turn into one bad homeschool week!  Be it the night before, during the day, or dealing with the aftermath, we’ve got you covered.

My Bad Homeschool Day Survival Guide-page-001 Read More


Lesson plan: My hijab and me

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies

When I think about my own journey with hijab, I vividly remember being told when I needed to wear hijab, but not so much why I should wear it.  I wanted to cement a memory for my girls, a deep heart to heart discussion that they would remember inshaAllah. So, since my daughters love having a girls night in, I thought I would make it extra special and have an evening themed ‘My Hijab and Me’.

I prepared some questions that I wanted to cover the night before.

My Hijab and Me.-page-001

Then while the girls were outside, I set up the table with cupcakes, icing, henna and candles to make it extra cosy. 

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And that was it…

Allahuma barik, we had the most wonderful evening discussing hijab while decorating cupcakes and putting on some henna.  The girls tried on jilbab, and niqab, we went through the mushaf reading out ayaat where Allah mentions hijaab, and the girls had an opportunity to ask me anything they wanted relating to hijab.

Im sure we will revisit hijab again in a more structured way, but I’m hoping this evening was something my girls would remember and is the beginning of a lifelong love and understanding of our beautiful hijab. 

You can download the questions we used here.

I would love to know how you introduced and explained hijab to your girls, share your experiences in the comments below! 

 

 


Ramadan Lapbook

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies

The beautiful month of mercy is around the corner, and we need to enter the month feeling prepared. So, over the next couple of weeks, I will be covering the fiqh of Ramadan with my older kids, using ‘Fasting in Ramadan as observed by the Prophet (peace be upon him)’ as our main resource.  We won’t be covering the whole book, but rather taking the basics and covering them in more detail.

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For the younger kiddos, I made a lapbook covering some very basic aspects of fiqh.  We haven’t started the books yet, hence everything is blank, but all the information can be found in the same book.

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Read More


The best personal development course, ever.

Asalamu alaykum ladies

Im sure you’ve all either attended or at least heard of some type of self-development course, be it via CD, YouTube or in person. They’re the courses we feel the urge to take when we feel life is not quite how we expected it to be, maybe we don’t feel fulfilled, or we need some direction in how to reach our dreams that are so perfectly well drawn in our minds.  I myself have taken a few, and whilst I have benefitted, it dawned on me today just how much homeschooling is an ongoing form of personal development for me.

Below are some topics that you’ll often see such courses cover, and my take on how homeschooling provides the perfect platform to learn and focus on these areas, without you maybe even realising. 

Vision

So, our decision to homeschool was not something that was thought well in advance like some other families.  And when I did decide to homeschool, I dove straight into the deep end, searching curriculum, printing worksheets, buying stationary and reading all the blogs and homeschool routines I could get hold of. 

Well, that didn’t end so well…

Two weeks in I was totally overwhelmed.  I couldn’t believe how much life had changed, and I didn’t feel I was ready to take on the commitment. See, I was missing a key ingredient.  My intention and my vision were missing.  So, I went back to the drawing board, and after lots of reflection realised that raising and teaching my children for the sake of Allah had to be at the core of my decision to homeschool.  Alhamdulillah, having a clear intention and vision for myself is what keeps me going, especially through the more difficult days.  

Taking ownership

Well, homeschooling certainly provides an opportunity to take ownership.  You’ve decided to take ownership of your children’s education, it’s pretty self-explanatory!

Goal setting

This is probably at the top of the list of most self-development course outlines.  We get so caught up in life, we fail to plan and set our goals, eventually leading to lack of fulfilment.  I actually felt like I was pretty ok with goal setting before I began homeschooling because I naturally like to plan my day.  But homeschooling took this to another level.

Now I plan goals for myself, for all my children collectively, my children individually,  break goals down into physical, spiritual, and academic, and I have a better idea of our goals as a family. Phew!

Short-term and long-term goals

Following on from goal setting, the commitment of homeschooling really pushed me to think of our goals on a much broader scale.  I was quite content with weekly goals before, but when I decided to commit to teaching my children that just wasn’t enough.  I was forced to have a much broader vision, and now long-term goal setting is something we do all the time. 

Problem-solving/Overcoming barriers

Boy oh boy! I can safely say this has been one of the main areas that I have felt the most improvement.  Children are all unique in their own way, and of course, as a mother, I knew that.  But I wasn’t quite so aware of how different their learning styles were.  And of course, homeschooling uncovers many learning challenges along the way.  But since you are teaching your children, it’s up to you to solve these problems (I don’t think I’ve ever researched so much in my life!).  Homeschooling has also helped me overcome many of my own personal barriers, and that’s not something you necessarily think of when you do take the decision to homeschool. 

Listening skills

I think most of you will agree with me if I was to say homeschooling makes us better listeners.  From listening to my children’s hifdh, having one to one reading time, watching presentations, brainstorming, or planning crafts with them, its a must that we as homeschooling mothers are present and ready to listen.  Its one of those areas of improvement that gives me the most satisfaction, Allahuma barik.

Stress/anger management

Picture the following homeschool scenario: One of your kids isn’t paying attention in History, the house is a mess, you had several subjects planned but the toddler keeps interrupting everyone and you’re suffering from major homeschool burnout.  When I first began homeschooling, my initial reaction would have been “AAAAARRGGGHHHH!”  I was so used to things always being in order, even the smallest things would get to me, let alone all the above!

But as a homeschooler, you come to the realisation that every day is different.  It comes with fresh challenges, a whole new set of things to do, and if you’re not able to adapt or if you become stressed at the sight of things out of place, it sucks all the happiness out of your homeschool.  It’s a lesson I learnt the hard way.  But Alhamdulillah, I’ve managed to become less ‘rigid’ over time, more flexible, and easier upon myself. Im now able to recognise when Im getting overwhelmed and rather than reacting, I take some time off and manage things in a healthier way.  

So, there you have it.  These are just a few ways in which homeschooling really has been the most fulfilling self-development course Ive ever taken.  If you feel like you’ve benefitted from this post, let me know.  I can already feel a part 2 coming!