After three full weeks of fasting, napping, eating, praying, and eating some more, as well as being up all night, so much of the Ramadan schedule has either become routine and habitual or a second wind came along to help us get through it all. Either way, many of us have gained newfound energies to elevate the game during this countdown to Eid. I think it’s been quite the marathon, personally.
That said, for parents out there who really need a few more ideas for productive kid-friendly activities, I say we focus on encouraging those things that highlight the spirit of generosity and charity in Ramadan. Choose one, a few, or all of the activities for the remaining days of Ramadan and into Eid, and I think the whole family and even the community will benefit, insha’Allah.
- Prep and Deliver Food for people in ‘Itikahf. God bless the people who do not want to spend a single night of the last ten nights except in the place of worship. What if our precious youth can help them in their dedication by providing support in the way of sustenance- i.e. good food! It would be one less thing for worshippers to worry about, and one more good deed for the kids to count. A kid-friendly recipe that they can help you make and take is with the Zabiha Halal Smokies and Broccoli Carbonara, which can be found here.
- Post-meal cleanup.Let one good deed follow another by keeping the masjid (mosque) clean and tidy. Closing the cycle of food delivery and clean-up really shows them responsibility from start to finish and they will most likely see a lot of appreciation and encouragement from the adults who are amazed at what the kids have done. Besides, another crucial lesson here is that ‘cleanliness is half our deen’.
- Nap in the afternoon.
At first thought, a nap might not seem productive, but how many parents have nostalgia for those precious times of the day where the kitchen is closed, everyone goes down for a snooze, and wakes up feeling refreshed and renewed- and ready to help around the house, too! It’s just the recharge essential before night prayers and activities commence, too.
- Ask the neighbors how the kids can help them. A very sweet way to meet the neighbors is to offer to lend a hand, whether it be cleaning up their yard, taking out the garbage, doing simple cleaning tasks around the home or something light and easy for the kids’ age. Limit the time to an hour so it doesn’t sap their energy but keeps it short and sweet. Let the focus shine on the importance of time well-spent in service as a representation of faith, kindness, mercy and just simple good neighborly behavior.
- Decorate the house. Nothing signals great significance of the moment like changing the ambience in the home. In preparation for Eid, hang party lights indoors and out, banners and add pops of color in textiles and flowers as a way to indicate a unique time is coming. So we do not become desensitized to the occasion, or dilute it with other celebrations throughout the year, keep it special by clearly communicating these decorations are temporary and will only last until soon after ‘Eid.
- Maintain the garden. The steamy, sometimes stifling, summer air just might keep us looking at the garden overgrowth from behind our windows. It’s actually a perfect time, however, to show the kids that staying up after fajr has it’s benefits in that it’s usually quite cool out in the morning, which is perfect for working in the garden. If everyone pitches in, then nurturing, weeding, watering and harvesting are a snap. Rotating the responsibility for certain areas keeps things from getting boring. Inspiration to expand with new plants and layouts shows the activity has taken root. Recording stages of growth in a journal with colored pencils and learning the scientific names of plants expands the vocabulary, too. It’s a great educational opportunity.
- Try one new recipe that is also a cross-cultural learning opportunity. In the last days of Ramadan we are pressed for time, but we do have to eat. Why not make one of the Iftar meals a window into a different culture? We can all make the world a friendlier place by transforming our lack of knowledge about a people into a delicious, bite-size opportunity to learn something new about them. In my experience, kids absolutely love the excitement of learning something new- and are more apt to try new foods when they’ve been involved in the creation of it. Try the Grilled Tex-Mex Chicken Smokies Pizza with the Zabiha Halal Smokies here.
- Collect and Donate Unwanted Items.
In an effort to clean up the house and their rooms, have your kids select some toys and clothes they don’t need or use anymore and donate them to charity.
- Qur’an and Dhikr. Read, recite, make du’a and repeat. No better time than in the last days of Ramadan to teach the children small suras, simple du’as and even some short stories about the Prophets (peace be upon them) and the Sahaba.
- Delivery service to the elderly in your community.The generations who selflessly supported the youth when they helpless deserve a huge amount of respect, attention and appreciation. Communicate and work with the local community and businesses to set up a delivery service of some sort (i.e. food, therapy animals, reading material, games) to the elderly. Whether living alone or in nursing homes or assisted living, this will make such a huge impact on everyone. A package or a visit with a smile from our youngest to our oldest quickly softens the hearts and strengthens our relationships, and I can think of no better time than now to begin this beautiful good deed, which can insha’Allah, turn into a habit.
There you have it! Ten ways to keep your children (and in many cases adults, too) productive in Ramadan. Which ones do you think you can do? How might this work in your home? What is possible to continue well-past the end of the month, and maybe as a continual effort? Please share your thoughts in the comments section with what works, what doesn’t, what you did about it, and the outcome of such.
Until next time…keep up the good deeds!!