This guest blog was written by Hira Rizvi from Zair Zabr Play.
Ramadan is about reflection and prayer, but for me it is also about community. It is the time of the year where I feel the most connected with my Muslim community because we are doing the same thing together! Unfortunately, the last couple of Ramadans I have missed out on it because I was pregnant, breast feeding, iftaar was too late for my daughter or I didn’t live close to a mosque.
I want my daughter to have the same excitement for Ramadan, regardless of where we are. So I made an effort last year to make Ramadan special, WITHOUT fasting. Regardless if they were fasting or not, I wanted EVERYONE to feel the spirit of Ramadan.
Here are my five tips on how to create the Ramadan atmosphere
We tend to do spend a lot of time decorating for Eid, but Ramadan often gets forgotten. Choose a corner of your house to decorate for Ramadan. Put up a banner above the fireplace and even some candles to light at iftaar. Make your house LOOK different in Ramadan and it will feeldifferent!
Check out Pintrest for more ideas and tons of free printables!
Iftar and Sehri
One of the hallmarks of Ramadan is Iftari and Sehri right? But our little one’s often are asleep during both of those times. So how can they experience them? It begins by first re-thinking the purpose of them. Sehri is to set an intention, and iftari is to celeberate the accomplishment.
In our home, when my daughter wakes up, we experience sehri by visiting our advent calendar and setting the intention to do a good deed. For 30 easy good deeds for your kids, check out my free printable. Similarly, before bed time, we re-visit the calendar and celebrate or reflect our efforts. Structuring the day this way starts to make Ramadan about more than just giving up food!
There aren’t many weekends in Ramadan, so why not make them worth looking forward to! Keeping Ramadan exciting for 30 days is hard work, but by focusing on little celebrations on the weekends can help sustain the excitement. My advice would be to plan out the dinner parties and outtings for the weekends, before Ramadan begins.
Though Ramadan is a time to do good, you don’t have to spend you whole time in charity! Mix in some valuable family fun to help your family build strong family ties:
- Volunteer in a local charity
- Spend the day at the park playing board games
- Go spend time with an elderly relative (or even in a nursing home)
- Eid shopping trips
- Bake goodies and make packages for your friends and neighbors
- Make a Ramadan scrap book
- Chalkboard art on your driveway
- Start a tradition
This ties together most of the points mentioned already. An advent calendar is a symbol for Ramadan that other activities revolve around. It’s a great way to decorate for Ramadan. It works great to establish sehri and iftaar routine. You can visit the advent calendar in the morning to pick out your deed for the day and in the evening to claim your ‘reward’.
There are some great calendars out there buy my favorite by far is the cloth calendar made my handmade beginnings. What I like about this calendar is that it’s reusable year after year. Having staple décor pieces each year help build traditions around the holiday. After all, it’s the traditions we look forward to! If you want to see more calendars, and some DIY options too, check out my review.
Fasting has become defined as refraining from food and drink, but fasting is about so much more! In my eyes, it is about being more aware of our habits. It is about giving up the habits that aren’t beneficial to us. So why don’t we use that as a way to teach our kids about fasting. Growing up, before we could fast by not eating, we would chose a habit at the start of Ramadan to give up or improve on; almost like lent. It varied from giving up TV shows, building a habit of taking out sadaqa, or working on not using a bad word.
Before Ramadan, chose a habit that is achievable for each family member. Each day of Ramadan, on your advent calendar mark your progress. You will notice that by the end of the month things will get easier!
I grew up around a Muslim community so it wasn’t hard to feel the spirit of Ramadan. As I raise my daughter, I have to put in an effort to build that spirit. As I build it, I am also establishing new traditions that I hope she will look forward to year after year.
What are some of your traditions around Ramadan? What are some new traditions you want to start?
Hira Rizvi is the proud mama of a 3 year old girl. She lives in Napa, California and is a stem cell scientist that decided to study public health when her daughter was born. She is the owner of Zair Zabr Play, a business geared towards creating muslim activities that are cute and functional. The motto is to Learn while you Play, Play while you learn! Currently she has the My First Quran Activity Book: A hands on way to teach the stories of the Quran to young kids. You can find her on facebook and instagram.