When parents go for Hajj

A parent’s guide to Hajj without children

 

Salaam!

First of all congratulations!!! May Allah SWT accept your Hajj and make you spiritually productive every moment you are there. Ameen.

In case you haven’t checked out my other posts on Hajj please check out the links here:



 

Hajj Without Children

If you’re nervous or even on the brink of panic attacks when you think of how you’re going to leave your child. Just relax, it’s perfectly normal. You’re going to be okay. Your child will be okay. Millions of parents perform Hajj without children and they don’t ever regret going. This is going to be an amazing experience Insha’Allah. Hopefully this post will help your time away from your child a little easier.

Our Story

Though going for Hajj was a dream come true, my husband and I tried to book the 1 week express Hajj package. Like most parents going for Hajj, we wanted to leave our only child (four years old then) for the least amount of time possible. To our disappointment, the  ‘One week Express’ package was sold out (fun fact: it costs the same as the 3-week package!). Our Hajj agent strongly recommended going for at least three weeks if one  hasn’t gone for Hajj/Umrah before. At the time we didn’t believe him. But he was so right. Three weeks didn’t feel like enough time.

Practice

Alhamdulillah we had tons of family to look after him, yet we were still super apprehensive about leaving him for 3 weeks. Since I’m a stay at home mom, he was used to always having a parent around and had never been away from me for longer than twelve hours . So first off, we practiced by having sleepovers at his cousins and grandparents homes. This could backfire if your child has a horrible sleepover experience. He will obviously assume that while you’re away ,it will be just as bad. Try to make these trial runs as fun and trauma free as possible. Our son spent the weekdays at my parents’ home (it was closest to his  school) and the weekends at home with my husband’s parents.

Books about Hajj for children

Books about Hajj for children (Image from http://www.rhymeandstories.co.uk)

We tried to mentally prepare him for our trip by showing him pictures of Hajj and reading books. We explained how excited we were for this trip. We let him know that once he was older he would get to go too. It was hard for him to digest that we would be apart for almost and entire month but he eventually came around. We made him feel like he was allowing us to complete this super important pillar of Islam and he would be rewarded immensely.  Eventually, it was as if he allowed us to go because he wanted us to go to Jannah! When he felt like he made the decision, the separation was less traumatic. He was involved in our Hajj experience this way.

Happy and Distracted

We believed that as long as our son was happy and distracted he wouldn’t have time or reason to miss us.

Since night-time is the hardest, we planned activities to keep him so busy and tired that he would fall asleep from exhaustion. It took a lot of help from our family and friends to make this possible. I pray that Allah  SWT grants them the absolute best in this life and even better in the Hereafter. Ameen. I prayed for each and every single one of them whole heartedly and still do. I pray that they know how much we appreciate every moment of their help. Since he was in Junior Kindergarten, we didn’t have to worry about homework after school. Every weeknight there was an activity planned. Example:On Day 4  Mamu will take him to Playdium from 5pm-7pm. On Day 5 Chachu will take him swimming from 5pm-7pm.

Make sure you set up a calendar of events to remind them even after you’re gone. I hung printed copies of the schedule on both grandparents’ fridges and gave everyone involved a physical copy.

Chai Tip: set up electronic Calendar alerts so that you don’t have to worry about reminding anyone while you’re on the journey of a life time.

A Present A Day

Hajj without children

A present a day while parents are away at Hajj

Every kid likes presents!

I bought and wrapped twenty-one gifts for him so he could open one per day. I mainly shopped at Dollarama- hey,I’m not made of money! I distributed the gifts to both sets of grandparents for them to give him one every day.

He loved it! However he didn’t understand that the gifts were from me. When we got back from Hajj, he showed me all the gifts that so and so got him. Umm no honey. Mama bought them for you! Whatever. As long as they served their purpose which was to make him happy.

Chai tip: let your child see the wrapped gifts, it will get him excited and give him something to look forward to.

Your Child 101

In order to make the experience as smooth as possible for your child and his caregivers, make sure you leave instructions and tips in WRITING. We created a 6 page document ‘Beta101’*. We included all sorts of information we thought would be useful for his caregivers to know, especially strange things that are important to him or can set him off. Example: he likes to eat cereal with a really big spoon. Please don’t try to make him use one that’s more size appropriate.

Obviously leave all the important health and general care information such as allergies, bed time/morning routines but also information that you might think they already know. Include information about favourite foods, favourite shows, things he/she finds frightening etc.

Caregivers

May Allah SWT immensely reward whoever is looking after your child while you’re away. It’s not easy looking after a child that misses his/her parents. It’s easy to overlook the sacrifices and hardships they’re going through when all you can think of is how you’re going to leave your baby for a few weeks. Make it as easy on them by providing them with as much information –not instructions– as possible.

Examples of information to include:

  •  his likes/dislikes
  • discipline methods he responds to
  • favourite topic of conversation
  • comfort food
  • leave a list of your child’s neighbours or friends and their numbers so the caregivers can arrange for playdates.

If your child goes to school, let his/her teachers know that you will be leaving him/her for a few weeks and that they may have to deal with unusual behaviours. The fact that I cried while speaking to his Junior kindergarten teacher, probably set the stage for what she could expect from him!

Staying in Touch

My son's journal while we were away at Hajj

My son’s journal while we were away at Hajj

As much as you want to know every detail of how your child is without you, resist the urge to call him often. Call your child’s caregivers for updates. I found directly speaking to my son always led to a sob fest on both ends. If I had to do it again, I would barely call him.

We left  behind a journal and asked his caregivers to write in it as often as they could (preferably everyday) so we wouldn’t completely miss out on three weeks of his life. It was asking a lot from them as they already had their hands full but it made a world of a difference for us! Subhan Allah it was so helpful and precious to read about how he spent his time without us. Sometimes he would ask them to leave us little messages or he would draw in it. It’s definitely a keepsake item!

Saying goodbye

Don’t bring the kids to the airport. Just don’t. Say your goodbyes at home or at the caregivers home but not minutes before you board your flight at an airport where hundreds of people are sobbing , hugging, begging for forgiveness and saying goodbyes as if it may be forever. Yes, a truly intense and emotional atmosphere. The kids are better off playing at a friend’s house or at the park while you make your dramatic Hajji exit.

Remember they will feed off of your emotions, so take deep breaths, smile, casually say Salam and calmly make an exit while they’re having fun. Feel free to sob the whole way to the airport, but don’t let them see you cry.

Chai tip: I highly recommend mentally rehearsing how you’re going to say bye. What will you say? What activity will you quickly distract them in case they get upset? What’s your game plan in case you get all teary?

 

Trust Al-Muhaymin

Parents make dua for children while at Hajj

Make dua for your child everytime you miss them.
(Image from http://www.qariziyaadpatel.com)

Leaving our son taught me that we are not his sole care takers. We are tools or vessels from which his True Guardian cares for him. As much as we may pride ourselves on our parenting skills, it is Allah who is watching over our children, providing for them, protecting them. Whether we are with them or not, it will always be Allah truly taking care of them.

Start making dua from now that Allah SWT keeps you and your child calm during your Hajj trip. I was so worried about how my son would handle our separation that I forgot to make dua for myself. I think I cried more than he did. Alhamdulillah, through Allah’s infinite mercy he fared a lot better than we could have hoped! People will tell you that you won’t even think about your child until Hajj is over. That’s not exactly true. You will miss your baby and probably shed a few tears.Every time that happens you will make so much dua for him that he will Insha’Allah be enveloped in blessings!  During the actual days of Hajj, what they say is true; you will be too distracted to miss your child.

Ready.Set.Go!

You are strong. Allah is the ultimate Guardian, Protector and Provider. You get to go on this incredible journey that millions are longing for. Make the most of it!  Every time you will miss your child, you will make beautiful duas for him in the holiest of places. Every hardship associated with your Hajj experience will be rewarded. You’re leaving your child behind to complete a pillar of Islam. How can you not know that everything is going to be all right?

You got this!

Chai later,

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*names have been changed because of a certain paranoid and over protective father.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Like a Ramadan Loser?

Feeling like a Ramadan Loser?

While stuffing my face at an Iftaar party yesterday, I came to the realization that the last 10 nights of Ramadan started that very night!

Ramadan Loser

Ramadan Loser

Yes, this Ramadan has not been one of the best ones unfortunately BUT it doesn’t mean I am destined be in the Ramadan loser category either! It ain’t over ’til it’s over. This is the final stretch and I can still finish off with tons of good deeds and have my sins forgiven.

A Ramadan Loser is someone who after this Holy month is over, is just as sinful as he/she was before it began and has not improved for the better at all.

Ramadan is supposed to be like a Professional Development or refresher course on how to ‘Muslim’. Allah locks up the devils and incites us to do more good deeds by multiplying the rewards 70 times.  ‘No shaytaan’ equals minimal sinning and multiplication of good deeds is supposed to help you rack up the rewards easily. Most importantly, this is the time when you’re supposed to re-learn the Qur’an and teach it to the rest of humanity (Not just Muslims).

Considering AllahSWT has set up the game in your favour, are you still going to end up losing?

Absolutely not!

This professional procrastinator has THE ultimate Ibadah hack list for anyone who has 10 minutes, $20 and a desire to earn good deeds.

(more…)

IF YOU KNEW ALLAH

If you knew Allah

Salaam!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan ready e-book- available on Amazon for $2.99

Ramadan ready e-book- available on Amazon for $2.99

How’s Ramadan so far? I hope you’re managing your mind, body and soul in such a way that your Ramadan is full of blessings and energy. If you’re lacking energy it’s probably because of what you’re eating. Check out my e-book Ramadan Ready for recipes and  tips on how to eat for the optimal Ramadan experience!

As for your mind and soul, I’m hoping this post will help you discover an entirely new way of understanding life; through knowing  Allah .

Instagram post via Inspired and Fabulous

Instagram post via Inspired and Fabulous

When I came across this post on Instagram by Inspired and Fabulous I couldn’t help but wonder how amazing life would be if everything was ‘good’. Not good as in nothing bad ever happens (that’s what Jannah is for), but good as in you are always able to understand why ‘bad’ things happen and extract the lessons and benefits of it. Imagine being at that spiritual level where you see the best in every single situation? How do people achieve that? Have they trained their minds to focus only on positives and become blind to the negatives? What is it that causes some people to always be in the state of Alhamdulillah?

My mother is one of those genuinely content and grateful people. She always sees the good in every situation, regardless of how ‘terrible’ it is. No matter what problem I have, after speaking to her about it I am grateful and more in love with Allah. She helps me see that every situation in life is an opportunity to harvest for our real lives – the akhira.

What’s her secret?

(more…)

my week with Mortimer's

My week with Mortimer’s and Give Away for one lucky winner!

Salaam!

I’m the type of person that proudly shares that I got my shirt for $6 or that the gourmet tasting cookies are actually made from a box . I just have such a thrill finding bargains while shopping  or short cuts to recipes that I must share with anyone I encounter. I am the kooky lady talking to strangers about random tips and tricks.  Today’s post is about my latest ‘find’, trust me you’ll love it too. Especially when you find out the  give away associated with it!

The moment I heard about Halal meat pies that are ready to eat within minutes, I knew  we would be BF’s..but I had no idea we would be BFF’s ( yes, I’ve been hanging with my little cousins a tad too much).

Mortimer's Halal Kitchen

Mortimer’s Halal Kitchen

In the past a ready to go meal was always a compromise between eating something with meat and flavourful but stinking up the lunchroom or inconspicuously eating some bland macaroni without attracting extra attention. Mortimer’s Halal On The Go immediately piqued my interest.. HMA Certified Halal meat?, Convenient? Wholesome ingredients? No MSG and artificial flavours? But it must not be flavourful. I immediately agreed to test them out and have not looked back ever since. (more…)

WAKE UP AND SLEEP

Wake up and Sleep!

Salaamz!

One of the scariest phenomenons is mob mentality or group think. Many atrocious crimes and genocides have happened because people gave up their thought and morality to the herd. ‘Because everyone else is doing it’ somehow makes evil or counter intuitive things OK.
Sleep deprivation is one of them

I know you must be thinking my flare for the dramatics is in overdrive, sleep deprivation isn’t that serious..sigh.. they got to you didn’t they?. TRUST NO ONE! Lol..ok now I’m being dramatic.
But the point is that just because something is common doesn’t make it any less serious. Since everyone is sleep deprived, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s a part of our culture, topic of conversation and sometimes even a bragging right. Everyone is sicker than they ever were before too.

1 in 4 people have a mental illness. If you and your spouse have 2 kids, one of you will or already has a mental illness. Instead of reaching for prescription drugs you could implement better sleeping habits and naps within your family. It’s really that simple.
Sleep deprivation is so closely linked to mental illness that I can’t believe we barely hear about it! Maybe because taking a pill pumps more money into the economy.
Sleep deprivation isn’t a side effect of being successful or hardworking. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem that is making us sick, less productive and even killing us. (more…)

My TOP 7 Tips

My top 7 tips for increasing focus.

Salaamz

Energy to do everything (Pinterest)

Energy to do everything (Pinterest)

I know things have been real quiet around here..but I have a really good explanation. I am focusing on focusing. It’s a blessing to be motivated and have 987 ideas but it’s mentally exhausting. I want to do it all! The most ironic side effect to wanting to do it all is that you end up doing nothing. I’m pretty busy with my Islamic Home Decor business but I still feel like I’m doing nothing for my actual long-term goals.Whether it’s your career, education, relationships or spiritual goals, you must focus on the most important ones in order to be successful.

How I manage adhd (pinterest)

How I manage ADHD (Pinterest)

I could tell my frazzled over thinking state wasn’t healthy so  naturally I started a Ted talk marathon and began Youtubing videos of self-help gurus. I typed ‘how to beat procrastination’ and ‘how to focus’ in the search box; I ended up delving into the world of Vision Boards and Purpose and the Laws of Attraction. But the ultimate issue was FOCUS. Let’s focus on focus. I’m seriously considering having myself tested for some sort of attention deficit disorder…is it possible to develop later on in life? I have found so much valuable information for all of you! Get ready to change your lives and be the You, you always dreamed of becoming. But you must focus first. (more…)

do women hate each other

Do women hate each other?

Salaam dear readers!

Hope you are having an awesome Friday! I wanted to thank each and every one of you for commenting on my last blog post about The Solution to Being Overwhelmed via my Facebook Page, Instagram and private message . Not only does it make me super happy to read what you have to say but I really felt the bond of sisterhood.It was a pretty personal post exposing my current state and faults. Reading how it helped you guys and how I wasn’t the only one making those mistakes, truly comforted me. Thank you!

I’ve been blessed with very gracious and supportive readers; I am so grateful for this digital sisterhood. Times like these remind me how lucky I am to be a girl and to be surrounded by many females.It’s so much more fun being a girl! SO glad I’m not a boring boy.

Why do girls or groups of girlfriends have such a bad rep?

Movies like Mean Girls, Snow White  and every Indian drama out there  always illustrate women as being adversaries or in constant competition with each other. Cat fights over bags, boys and beauty seem to be the exaggerated norm. If women are not busy plotting against each other, their relationships revolve around a male somehow. To make matters worse, sisterhood and positive female relationships are generally ignored.  Men on the other hand are portrayed as supporting each other or working as team members .

Mother in law and daughter in law portrayed in Bollywod (Image from india-forums.com)

Mother in law and daughter in law portrayed in Bollywod (Image from india-forums.com)

In real life, most marriage advice given to brides-to- be revolves around maneuvering through the tumultuous mother in-law, daughter in-law relationship because it is expected that you will butt heads and have issues. Girls are taught to be wary of jealous friends and to hide their achievements lest they get evil eyed. Almost every girl I know can list a female or two that tried to sabotage them or hated them for their success (more…)

The solution to being overwhelmed

The solution to being overwhelmed

Salam dear readers,

How’s it going?

Remember me??

I’m very sheepish and embarrassed as I write because of my surprise hiatus. I didn’t mean to abandon my blog for this long .I was overwhelmed with life to the point I felt paralyzed. I’m sorry.

I’ve been doing so much apologizing lately.

Apologizing for skipping out on social events, text messages and emails that I respond to after weeks. Missed phone calls that slip my mind. I don’t know what’s going on with me. It’s as if my days have shrunk and the hours have been reduced to 8 instead of twenty four. I know that’s a sign that spiritually I must be lacking because my time has no barakah.

So true.

I did what most people do when they are overwhelmed and the To Do list grows exponentially- start scaling back and focusing on the bare minimum in order to be able to at least complete all of the tasks.

The problem with this coping strategy is that it cannot be applied to salah and worship.

I had been praying (the minimum) but skipping my sunnahs because they are not fard (compulsory). As I rushed off the prayer mat to complete the next task, I justified skipping sunnahs and lacking proper concentration because at least I did what I had to do.

Clearly something wasn’t working and I was only sinking further in the quick sand of being overwhelmed.

Drowning in our To Do lists (Image from leadershiptraq.com)

Drowning in our To Do lists (Image from leadershiptraq.com)

I felt like my life was spiraling out of control and  everywhere I turned I realized  there were a billion unfinished tasks festering into bigger issues by the second and just thinking about what to do next tightened my throat to the point that it was hard to breathe let alone do anything.

Overwhelmed is an understatement.

But alas every dark cloud has a silver lining and my silver lining was this eureka moment that changed my life.

Salah is the solution to being overwhelmed.

 

Salah is not just an obligation, it’s the answer to everything.

Some of you may snicker like ‘duhhh, haven’t you read the verse:

O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.

(2:153)

I have, I just figured it was referring to making heartfelt dua at times of extreme hardship and war. Only now am I realizing that Allah is referring to the salah we pray five times, every single day.

This got me thinking that the reason I was quick to minimize my salah was because I didn’t truly understand it’s purpose.

I was praying for all the wrong reasons.

 

They say the way you pray or the state of your salah is a mirror image of the state of your life.

If you hurriedly pray pecking like a chicken in sujood, you are probably running around like a headless chicken in life too. If you pray like this, you are likely praying for the wrong reasons.

People pray for many reasons. Now, more than ever, I’ve realized that not just how you pray but why you pray is the key to understanding the state of your life.

Some people pray because they have to, others because they want to.

I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum and in between.  To be perfectly honest I could bounce between all the reasons in the same week!

 

I prayed because I had to The fear of hell fire or my moms chappal/slippers used to be good enough reason to get up and pray. Later I prayed because Allah was watching me and only hypocrites didn’t pray.

 

happy to cross prayer off checklist (image from pinterest.com)

happy to cross prayer off checklist (image from pinterest.com)

I prayed because I should. It felt good to complete my obligations. I felt like I was being good. It  was a relief not to feel guilty. As a kid, Salah was like accumulating points in a video game. The number of times you read Subhana Rabiyy al Aallah translated into X number of good deeds etc. As an adult, I cherished the feeling of accomplishment for reading all 5 prayers on time especially while working retail, travelling, or being in high school.

 

I prayed because I needed to. These prayers are some of the most humbling and pivotal moments of my life. No matter how many times I think about it, the intense emotions come rushing back like it was yesterday.

I made duah the same way I read about how the Prophet PBUH would pray in times of distress. I raised my empty, trembling hands towards the  All Powerful and begged Allah while uncontrollably sobbing the entire time. Those have been the darkest times of my life but Alhamdulillah relief was around the corner.

 

If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)

If-you-knew-how-powerful-the-sujood-(image from thetrueknowledge.org)

I prayed because it is good for me. If you don’t know the translation of salah, you are only reaping 30% of the benefits of it.  Only then will you learn that Surah Fatiha is an actual dialogue between you and Allah. You will pray calmly and purposefully when you understand the significance of ruku and sujood. Trying to stop your mind from wandering will not be an issue when you ponder the specific words Allah chose for us to recite over and over again. That is when you will realize that Salaah is not a ‘prayer’, it is a spiritual programming, set at specific times throughout the 24 hours of your day. The meaning humbles, reminds, comforts, warns, promises and guides us. Please, learn the meanings; it will transform your life!

I prayed because I wanted to. This is called sweetness of faith. I can’t fully explain the feeling. It’s joy, it’s sheer comfort, it’s being so happy you could cry. Allah is like your BFF, and you look forward to the giddy and cathartic feeling you get every time you ‘meet’.

You feel light as a feather and your heart beats freely because it’s no longer cluttered with all sorts of problems, anxieties, guilt and confusion.

 

I’m sure many of you have felt overwhelmed at one time or another. The number one advice I can give you is do not rush your salah and skip your adkhar.

Don’t make the mistake I made. The busier I got, the less time I spent ‘talking’ to Allah.

Rushing through it or treating it like an obligation instead of a solution is like quickly scanning over the prescription the doctor gave you instead of starting the treatment plan.

In times of stress and never ending to do lists, increase your Salah. When you pray purposefully and with understanding you feel relieved because you handed your burdens over to He who is capable of fixing everything.It gives you perspective, reminds you of your purpose in life and gives you true peace.Talk to Allah more; with Him lies the solution to your problems. Not enough time? Guess what? He controls time too. He can make the impossible possible. Just ask.

 

Chai later

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fab fri2

Fabulous Friday #2

Salaamz!,

It’s still Friday in my part of the world..two more hours to be exact.

It’s been a crazy day, some good stuff some, bad stuff- just life I guess.

Insha’Allah I will unveil some exciting news soon! Stay tuned!

On to what’s Fabulous this week…

1)Dalia Mogahed on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah!

Umm.. how super cool is this woman???

I’ve been a Trevor Noah fan since my brother in-law introduced us to his stand up show ‘African- American’ on Netflix. Hilarious and brilliant!

Now that he’s had Dalia Mogahed on the Daily show,I think I’m a die-hard fan. To be honest, I was semi-worried if Dalia Mogahed was going to be able to handle the  Daily Show scene.Obviously I was projecting my own insecurities because she is a hijabi and ‘representing me’. I didn’t tune in to watch her that night, almost fearful that I would be  embarrassed or upset if she ‘crashed and burned’. Strange and irrational way of thinking, yes I know, but that was my state of mind at the time. Masha’Allah she  was so awesome! Intelligent, classy, funny, brilliant, eloquent  and just so down to earth and cool! I know she’s had bigger audiences full of prominent personalities but the late night show crowd can be tough. She owned it and I am so proud of her.

It’s kind of hard  getting a link to the episode, so I will try  to link it via Facebook.

I hope everyone is able to access it and appreciate an empowered Muslimah represent Islam. (more…)

does the perfect wife exist

Does the Perfect Wife exist?

Salaamz!

A little while back, my best friend and I were doing a little self-introspecting and goal setting over chai- made by me of course. Truth is, I don’t really like chai that anyone else makes. Whenever I’m at a friend’s dinner party I usually offer to make chai,  not because I’m a nice  person- I just like my chai the way I like my chai. I dedicated a whole post (here) to the recipe people! Why don’t you read it??

Goal setting over chai (image frommaisonboheme.blogspot,com.au)

Goal setting over chai (image frommaisonboheme.blogspot,com.au)

Okay..now that you’ve seen my crazy side, it’s a perfect segue back to my goal setting session on being a better person. Along with several career and active life style goals, we both wanted to work on our roles as wives. Each of us had called the other one too many times recently, complaining about marital problems that could have been prevented. Alhamdulillah our problems were essentially petty things that sometimes manifested into bigger issues. Regardless, they still affected us, our children and the overall well-being of the family. Though bickering had become a norm for us, we still had faith that it isn’t the status quo.. that there are couples out there that don’t  harp on each other’s every mistake and go weeks without fighting. This was not going to be a husband bashing session, we were going to take responsibility for our faults and constructively criticize each other for the sake of achieving our goals. (more…)

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