Ramadan is just a few short weeks away, for those who don’t know, Ramadan is the 9th Islamic month which Muslims spend fasting from dawn – dusk each day, its a time to cleanse ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. Learn more about Ramadan here. We spend the days fasting and the nights in prayer with extra prayers being held every night at the mosques. We look forward to Ramadan in the same way Christians count down to Christmas, and we morn the end of it. Obviously there are practical difficulties to fasting for long hours everyday, the main one is difficulty concentrating, hunger is easy to ignore however thirst is a constant nag. So successful planning is vital.
As the parent of teens who will be fasting the whole month and a pre teen who will be doing every other day or every third day inshaallah, I am very concerned about making sure they get the most out of the month while eating nutritious foods and getting enough water. This year well be fasting from 3 am – after 9pm thats an 18 hour fast here in London.
Heres my list of top tips.
- In the weeks before Ramadan fast every Monday and Thursday( these are the sunnah days to fast, sunnah means the Prophet saws did this and we try as much as possible to follow his example).
- Detox your life, cut out coffee and chocolate and other addictions as much as possible in the fortnight before to minimise withdrawal, the first few days of the fast we sometimes suffer headaches even migraines as our bodies adjust to life without the morning coffee !
- Don’t eat empty calories, the traditional Ramadan food is greasy and stodgy with little nutritional content and puts a strain on your digestive system so eat cleanly with a few treats, frozen yoghurt, frozen water melon, stuffed dates make good substitute for the usual baklava and parathas and dare i say, avoid white rice and samosas, they lead to hunger and constipation.
- *Plan, Plan plan, make a weekly or even monthly plan of tasks to be completed everyday, its very easy to fall into a doze waiting for the end of the day which is not what Ramadan is about. I write out the plan on a white board in the kitchen, everyone spends some time reading Quran and doing chores.
- Get up early, we begin the fast at 3 am which means we have the most energy in the hours afterwards, so sleeping until midday or 1pm isn’t a very good idea, instead have a short nap between sunrise and 8 am and then nap again after midday. For children fasting, be reasonable and don’t expect them to keep up with the adults.
- Cook early in the day or stick food in the slow cooker, theres nothing worse than being stuck in a hot kitchen for the last hour of the fast.
- DONT go shopping in the hours before the end of the fast (Iftar) we made this mistake a few years ago and spent £70 on various delicious juices and smoothies which didn’t last more than a few days !!!!
- Give food as gifts to neighbours, friends and family, this year the fast ends so late that we wont be planning many iftar gatherings, as we want to get the mosque for night prayers as often as possible.
- Get outside in the fresh air, we go for moonlit walks and star gaze a lot during Ramadan, its a great adventure for the kids.
- Up your game, whatever you did last Ramadan, up it, so last year you read Quran everyday, this year read it and teach it, learn a new surah or hadith every week, set realistic targets.
keeping the little ones busy, one of the hardest jobs in Ramadan is looking after young children who will not understand that mummy and daddy haven’t had coffee today, are sleep deprived and don’t want to chase you round the park in the hot sun all morning ! Help each other out, give your sister a break for a few hours and babysit , maybe she’ll return the favour.
Prepare lots of ramadan themed crafts and games, stock up on islamic cartoons and arrange lots of play dates, invest in a paddling pool and sunscreen, they ‘ll keep each other busy while you can cool off in the shade.
These children understand Ramadan though they don’t have to fast yet they often want to so let them fast a few days, but keep an eye of them, fasting is taxing to a growing body be sure to give them plenty of fruit and vegetables also a good multi vitamin to keep their strength up. Distract them during the day with games and water games, a few cheap new toys are always a good idea. A few hours of TV or Xbox can help them get through the day.
When it becomes fard for a child to fast i.e: when they hit puberty, they MUST fast everyday, so be sure that they get a nap in after school, feed them well at suhur (morning meal) and make sure they drink enough water, my teenagers will often not feel hungry at 3am, so I prepare fruit smoothies and keep them in the fridge (no one wants to hear you using the blender at 2.30 am!) add protein powders like Maca and Spirulina to boost the nutritional content. This year Ramadan is mostly during school holiday, we home educate so its not an issue though some children will have to sit exams next year while fasting.