Archive of ‘Family’ category

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…)

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…)

How my child’s self esteem gave me mine back

Salaam!

Happy 2016!

As many people make resolutions today about how to be better, goals to achieve, mistakes not to repeat, I just keep thinking it’s the last weekday off before my son goes back to school.

And I feel so guilty.

His winter breaks began while I was in the midst of launching my products. As I mentioned a few days ago, everything took the back seat to my crazy crafting day and night.

We were supposed to take a road trip to New Jersey to visit my cousin, have sleepovers and unlimited play dates. Instead he constantly heard “This is Mama’s time, please watch your brother”. I pretty much told him that I do everything for him, his brother and father all the time, just for once I need everyone to focus on me. It was the truth, I delivered that statement as dramatically as I could. I really did need all the help and shirking of responsibility I could get. It was impossible for me to be prepared for R.I.S otherwise.But I can’t stop feeling so guilty. (more…)

Fabulous Friday

Salaamz!
I’m still huffing and puffing from sending the hubby and my eldest out the door. Why are all mornings so hectic?
I hate sending my son off to school by yelling at him or scolding him.. but he just won’t wake up! Asking him nicely 46 times is not nearly as effective as ‘That’s it! GET UUUUPPPP!!’ Then everything goes according to schedule and I hate myself all day long for being so mean first thing in the morning and last thing before he sets off to spend the day without me. This happens almost twice a week.
But every Saturday and Sunday he’s bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 7am – without exception!
Sigh.
It’s not just mornings that have become hectic, as I mentioned last month I am taking the Ladypreneur 101 Course from The Business Boutique. It’s intense! I love how it’s forcing me to make sense of my bazillion ‘amazing’ ideas. I’m behind in my homework, my room is covered in sticky notes, days feel like hours and ‘real-life’ is just getting in the way of me actualizing my ideas! The experience of taking this course is unlike any other schooling or class I’v ever taken because I’m planning on applying 100% of the course material. It’s not about getting the right answer, it’s about truly learning so you don’t waste a bunch of money! It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Make duah for me please! (more…)

Part 5: 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage

Salaamz!

How’s everyone enjoying the cold weather? Can you believe it, the years almost over.

This is the last post in the 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage series. I hope my 10 years of experience through trial ad error and a whole lot of research has been beneficial for you guys.
I’d like to point out that these are things I learned, not necessarily something I implement everyday; I have my good days and my bad days..
The plan was to share my knowledge while creating accountability for myself. I cant explain to you the number of times my husband has used these recent posts against me!
I knew it was a possibility when I set out to write this series. As annoying as it is I appreciate that it helps me achieve a better marriage Insha’Allah. (more…)

Resilience and Fabulous Friday

Salaamz

Yaaay  it’s Friday! Anyone have any Black Friday shopping plans? I’m in the market for a printer. My last printer was pretty basic but got the job done. The best part was that it only cost $30.Unfortunately it is now just another name to add to the list of things my little one broke. No joke, this kid has some sort of ‘talent’ for destruction.

Hopefully I’ll get a decent one soon. I’ll have to keep it on top of my book shelf. There’s so much to consider when buying a printer- especially the cost of ink overtime. To read a pretty helpful article on ‘inkonomics’ click here.

Women only event at ISNA Nov. 29, 2015 resilience-real-women-extraordinary-struggles-unwavering-perseverance

Women only event at ISNA Nov. 29, 2015 resilience-real-women-extraordinary-struggles-unwavering-perseverance

Who’s going to the Resilience event this Sunday at ISNA? I’ve been looking forward to it since my friends told me about it. I’ve always had a soft spot for the rags to riches or the from zero to hero story.The underlying theme being that life can do a complete 180 turn for the better Insha’Allah. I love hearing real-life stories of how people overcame obstacles or tragedies. Just listening to their journey of resilience  from calamity to survivor is incredibly inspiring. (more…)

Part 4: 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage.

Salaamz!

As I publish post after post on the topic of love and marriage during my 10 things I learned in 10 years of marriage series, I thought it would make sense if I gave a little more context to where my advice was coming from.

I was 22 years old when I was married. I was naive and very idealistic. I’m embarrassed to admit that Hollywood was my primary teacher when it came to relationship expectations.

Though my parents are the perfect example of a successful marriage Alhumdullillah, I didn’t recognize it as such back then. For some reason I felt like Monica and Chandler were more similar to the type of relationship I was going to have. I assumed the rules by which my parents abide wouldn’t apply to me because they had an arranged marriage that barely factored in their personalities – it was more of a merger of families. I was going to marry someone who shared my  vision and was compatible with me. Someone who made me laugh and ‘got me’ (and scored within the appropriate range in the ever accurate SEVENTEEN Magazine personality quizzes).

Monica and Chandler from FRIENDS

Monica and Chandler from FRIENDS

So, you can imagine the enormous amount  I learned in these past 10 years of marriage! The learning curve was pretty steep!

 

I must admit I was pretty short sighted when it came to married life.I thought that as long as you had two compatible spouses dedicated to the relationship , it was pretty much all you needed- it should  be smooth sailing from then on. I used to think that love is something that naturally happens and that if you had to ‘make it happen’ then it really wasn’t love.

How wrong I was! (more…)

Part 3: 10 things I learned after 10 years of marriage

Salaamz guys,

So we celebrated our Anniversary this Wednesday.. Allhumdullillah it was great! Technically there’s more celebrating left to do- we were planning a mini vacation, going away for a couple of nights somewhere local. We haven’t settled on where because we have yet to make a decision on whether or not the kids will be joining us. We’ve never spent the night apart from our youngest; he’s not two yet. I’m not sure if I would be able to enjoy our vacation because I would be too worried about how he’s doing. Sigh. So it’ll have to be a place that has activities for the kids.

Our actual anniversary was one long gluttonous day. We pretty much did a couple of outfit changes and ate out all day. Guilt free -I will hit the gym everyday for the next month- order the most expensive item off the menu – kind of day. My only regret is not taking many pictures. We are horrible with selfies and the restaurant we had dinner at was very dimly lit. The candle light dinner was ,more of a tiny pen light dinner.

10 years! Allhumdullilah, can’t believe it! So much has changed since then.

 

'Regret that we had Siamese Attachment Surgery? Never!'

‘Regret that we had Siamese Attachment Surgery? Never!’

When we first got married we were that annoying couple that makes you wanna cringe and gag. Just for the record, I DON’T MEAN PDA.  We couldn’t bear spending time without each other and when were apart we would be texting each other constantly. I’m pretty sure we drove our family and friends up the wall!

Why the exceptionally long honeymoon stage?

I believe a lot has to do with the fact that the entire experience was so new for us. Neither of us ever dated or had a romantic relationship  prior to being married. Even our courtship was very dry and by the book. Our interactions were always purposeful and limited to what was necessary. There was nothing romantic about it! So  moments after our nikkah we truly began to freely talk and get to know each other.We made up for a lifetime deprived of romance. My sister and sister in law are probably rolling their eyes right now..lol.  It was beautiful. We were on cloud nine everyday. I had never been happier in my life.

We’re a lot ‘better’ now, Aside from making a conscious decision to not be so joined at the hip, time, children and life in general helped as well.

Today’s post was supposed to be two points of what I learned after 10 years of marriage. Instead I had to cut it down to one point because I kept writing  and writing subtopics. Sorry! I’m really working on my excessive post lengths! (more…)

Fabulous Friday: Date it forward!

Salaamz!

Happy Friday!

As promised this weeks Fabulous Friday is about fun date ideas for married couples since it’s my Anniversary month.

I love the idea of ‘dating your spouse’. I feel like it is to relationships what a vacation is for your life- it rejuvenates and refreshes .

(image from shalaedin.wordpress.com)

(image from shalaedin.wordpress.com)

Not all couples either have the time or believe that one should set aside separate time specific to spending quality romantic time with each other. Almost everyone I know struggles with over scheduled days and never ending ‘To Do’ lists. Suddenly marriage becomes more of a co-worker relationship than a romantic bond. Sometime it’s warped cultural values that prevent couples from nurturing their relationship.

Either way it’s a shame because they are really missing out. Allah SWT has placed such importance on marriage, that it’s mind boggling that we don’t focus on it as much as we should.

 

One of the worst things Shaytaan can do is break apart a marriage!

(image from nairaland.com)

(image from nairaland.com)

Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Iblees placed his throne over the water and then he sends out his troops. The nearest to him are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done this and this. Iblees says: You have done nothing. Another says: I did not leave this person until I caused discord between him and his wife. Iblees says: You have done well.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2813

Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim

From this hadith we can understand that marriage is very sacred in Islam. If shaytaan is most pleased with his minions that cause marital problems, imagine how pleased Allah SWT will be with those who do the opposite?

Date it Forward

 

So this weeks Fabulous Friday is dedicated to providing Date Nights for other couples in our lives. Have you ever witnessed another couple experience a rough patch? Sometimes it’s simply life tugging at them in opposite directions straining their marriage and most of the time it’s pure misunderstandings manifesting into ‘problems’.

Though it’s usually wise not to interfere in someone else’s marriage issues (unless asked), there’s no harm in playing the Love Doctor!

All marriages, those plagued with problems or those caught up  in the fast lane deserve a little boost now and then.

Here are some Date it Forward ideas for the couples in your lives.

1.Bait N’ Switch.

Invite the lucky couple over for dinner. Once they get to your home hand them directions, cash and restaurant reservation details. If they have kids, set up a fun night for the kids at your place or another fun activity. The couple will probably be all “ok, this is weird..etc”, don’t listen, usher them off to a romantic evening.

Chai tip: be willing to order in dinner ‘as planned’ just in case things don’t go as you wish.

2. Date Night Voucher.

IOU date night voucherAs part of a gift or just because, print out one of these vouchers for a couple with kids. (Click here to download and print voucher)

Sometimes the couples that need Date Night the most, are the ones least capable of making it happen.

 

 

 

3. Group Gift

(image from groupon.co.in)

(image from groupon.co.in)

Next time you’re invited to a house warming or large gathering where several other of your friends are attending, organize a couples get away for the host. Let others know that you will be bringing an envelope that they can put money in and sign a card for the group gift. At the end of the evening, calculate the total contributions and inform the host couple that they are being sent away to a local bed and breakfast etc. All they have to do is provide you with a date that they are free and you will arrange the rest.

 

For all three Date it Forward ideas, encourage the couple to do the same unto another couple. I believe that Date it Forward is exactly what the Muslim community needs.Healthy families contribute to a healthy society. We need our children to grow up with positive role models in a safe and loving environment. It’s a win win situation when the couples in your life thrive and have strong relationships. Sometimes they just need a little nudge and some help.

Have you ever done your own version of ‘Date it Forward’? Got any more ideas for sprucing up other couples love lives?

 

Chai later,

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p.s. Don’t worry, next week will be about more Halal Date ideas for you to go on.

 

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