Alhamdulillah, Ramadan is here again! Not only is this year’s Ramadan unique as we’re facing unprecedented times globally due to the Covid 19 pandemic, if this is your first Ramadan as a parent, you might still be adjusting to life with a newborn or newly minted toddler. Babies change so quickly from month to month, especially in their first year of life and there is so much that needs getting used to.
Here are a few tips that could help you navigate through your first Ramadan together.
Any new parent knows that remaining focused when you have a child hanging on you is a challenge, and might wonder how it would even be possible to fully engage yourself in ibadah during this month. It is easy to feel disheartened that you’re not able to do the things you did in previous Ramadan’s but remember that every action when intended for the sake of Allah is an act of worship in itself. Raising your child is one of the greatest blessings and responsibilities you can have.
“Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them; a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for them; a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
As with everything we do as Muslims, intentions are first and foremost one of the most important things we can do reap the rewards of this holy month. Renew your intention every day, so that everything you’re doing for your family is for the sake of Allah - be it having sleepless nights, cooking meals, playtime with your baby or even cleaning up. Having this sense of purpose and clarity helps to keep things into perspective because it turns even mundane everyday things into acts of worship ?
2. Read up on rulings pertaining to fasting and praying with a baby
If you’re a new mother, you might be still breastfeeding your baby at this time. Research and understand the rulings on exceptions to fasting and whether your fast needs to be made up later as there are differences of scholarly opinions on the matter.
It’s okay to fast if you’re feeling energetic enough and are sure that your child will be fine, but it’s also okay to not fast if you’re unable to due to breastfeeding, especially if your child is still fully dependent on you. Make sure you discuss it as husband and wife and are both clear on the issue. Remember that these exceptions are also a mercy from Allah, and Allah loves it when we take the concessions He gives us.
This year with mosque closures throughout the month, what better place to pray at than in the comforts of your own home. Read up on the permissibility of praying while carrying your baby (as many mothers will know this can be a necessity sometimes), as the best way to encourage your children to pray with you someday is to include them in the prayer too. Even the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to pray with his grandchildren on his back.
It was narrated from 'Abdullah bin Shaddad, this his father said:
"The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came out to us for one of the nighttime prayers, and he was carrying Hasan or Husain. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came forward and put him down, then he said the Takbir and started to pray. He prostrated during his prayer, and made the prostration lengthy." My father said: "I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) while he was prostrating so I went back to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) finished praying, the people said: "O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), you prostrated during the prayer for so long that we thought that something had happened or that you were receiving a revelation.' He said: 'No such thing happened. But my son was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had enough.'
3. Keep it sweet and simple
As tempting as it might be to set a goal to complete the entire recitation of the Quran in this month, or pray 20 rakaats of taraweeh every single night, it might not be a realistic target to set especially when you have a young one who’s fully dependent on you in this season of life.
Instead, try to set a goal of one small thing to do daily, whether it is to read just one ayah of the Quran after every salah, give one dollar in charity daily, memorize one new short surah or dua, or do one extra sunnah prayer. If you’re able to be consistent in building one good habit during this month, you can slowly set other achievable goals and build it up from there. Always remember that the 5 fardh solah are even more important to be consistent and on time with rather than burdening yourself by adding extra prayers and ibadah.
A beautiful hadith to keep in mind is –
Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little."
The key here is to pick something that you know you can try your best to be consistent with and easy enough to pick back up if you happen to falter. Choose something that is personal and meaningful for you, and that will give you a higher sense of connection with your ibadah rather than trying to do a lot but suffering from burnout by the end of the month. You can always make dua and dhikr while even washing dishes!
4. Plan ahead
If it’s possible, discuss the expectations you have entering and ending the month together as a family. A plus point to the current restricted movement order is that you can pray together as a family and take your time, rather than trying to rush to catch the congregation at the mosque ? Try to pray at least one prayer together if you can, or take turns if your baby is fussing. As most parents are working from home at this time, planning your own “me-time” to engage in acts of worship would be ideal.
Make simple meals for iftar and suhoor – now’s not the time to have elaborate meals daily, as your day is already mostly spent caring for your child, working, chores, etc. Meal plan so that you can make extras for suhoor. It’s not uncommon for your baby to wake up along with you during this time so having food already prepared and ready to be reheated during suhoor would make things so much easier. Eat things that are filing such as oats and fruits, and don’t forget your dates! These are also milk boosters for breastfeeding mothers.
Also, no shame in using delivery services to make it easier for you! Do your grocery shopping online if possible and when you’re tired and if you’re able to afford it, just order in! Your time this month is much better spent doing other things if you can minimize your hours spent in the kitchen.
Although we might not be certain of the situation when Eid rolls around, it’s still sunnah to look your best on Eid, so don’t forget to plan your outfits ahead of time so you don’t stress at the last minute trying to coordinate ?
5. Rest when you can
I know you might be thinking – “Rest? What rest? There’s no time to rest when you’re a new parent!”. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to not do all the things. Sometimes, it’s fine to nap when the baby naps and leave the folding for another day, especially when you’re sleep-deprived. Fasting and caring for a little one can get tiring very quick. A happy and rested parent makes for a happier baby too! Let go of what you can this month to focus on achieving your Ramadan goals if you have any. Did you know that the Prophet ﷺ used to take afternoon naps? Just keep it to 20-30 minutes so that you’ll wake up feeling refreshed to take on the rest of the day. If you can, take your time after iftar to do your prayers too, as there’s no rush to get to the mosque!
6. Don’t stress, and don’t compare
It’s so easy to get caught up looking at other people’s social media feeds and their pretty Ramadhan decorations, enormous food spreads or the likes. This is truly a new phenomenon – most of us grew up in times where Ramadhan was simple, and now more than ever is the time to return to that simplicity and togetherness. Find a rhythm that works for your own family and don’t get caught up in thinking that you need to do all the things in order to have a fulfilling Ramadan. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to look back on this time as a time where you spent in calm worship together rather than stressed out because you feel like you didn’t achieve something?
If you do want to involve your baby in getting into the spirit of Ramadan, reading books is a great place to start. Here are some of my favourite books for little ones because the stories are simple and the illustrations are lovely!
- My First Book About The Qur’an by Sara Khan
- My First Book About The Prophet Muhammad by Sara Khan
- It’s Ramadan Curious George by H. A. Rey and Hena Khan
- Ilyas & Duck – Ramadan Joy! by Omar S. Khawaja
Remember that you’re doing brilliantly if you’re talking, cuddling and reading to your baby!
7. Keep in touch with loved ones
As we might not be able to be with the rest of our family during Ramadan this year, now’s the time to embrace video calling, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Telegram, WhatsApp and the likes! Keep in touch with your family and friends who would understand the struggles of not only caring for children but also how it feels to be stuck at home during this month especially. Arrange for chat sessions to catch up, or even better yet gather a group of friends for an online Quran recitation session where each person can recite a small portion daily to keep each other motivated.
There are also a lot of free online classes, lectures and podcasts happening this month. Find your favourite teacher and invite a friend or family member to learn along with you! That way you’ll always have someone to help you catch up if you missed anything while tending to your child ?
8. Remove distractions
If you want to make the most of your already limited time, this isn’t the month to ‘Netflix and chill’ or scroll through endless social media feeds. You’ll be surprised with how much more you can get done when these distractions are removed. Think about what distracts you the most and how much time these distractions take. Even If it’s only for a month, you’ll find a lot of benefit in doing a digital detox and just focusing on doing things that please Allah <3
On a final note, Ramadan with kids here on out will be totally different from when you didn’t have any children, and it shouldn’t be expected to be the same. This is why your intentions always matters, first and foremost. We hope these tips help you have a wonderful Ramadan in the company of those you love!