It’s that time of the year again…Ramadan is here! Every year we get preoccupied preparing for the occasion, and while every family prepares differently there are definitely some cornerstones that are common in almost every family during the month; charity and family time. Ramadan in Egypt is full of both aspects. We’ve put together some ideas to get your children started on worthwhile Ramadan habits, and also starting some Ramadan traditions of your own for your family.
Ramadan is a month known for charity. It’s a great opportunity to get your little ones started off understanding the joys of giving for both parties. Suggest to your children that they collect the clothes and toys they’ve outgrown or don’t need to be given away. Don’t do this while they’re out but rather involve them in the processes. Show them how to prep and fold the clothes neatly so they reach their new owners in good shape. You can even have them combine items into outfits and wrap them as gifts. Talk about who this is going to and why. If your children are old enough you can take them with you to the charity center to drop off the items or help you distribute to help them understand where these gifts are going.
- Talk about Giving
Giving away unwanted items is one way to help other less privileged families, but it’s not the only way. Talk with your children about what it means to give and receive. How do they feel when they get a new toy? What about those who rarely have new toys, clothes etc.? Discuss this with your older child (5 and up) and ask how they think they would like to help. Make this a part of your pre-Ramadan prep so you have time to plan together. You can be pleasantly surprised at young children’s ideas.
- Ideas for giving young children can participate in
Don’t underestimate your little one. Children as young as 18 months can help you out during Ramadan. While they may not fully grasp the concept yet it’s still good to get them in the habit. Here are some ideas I’ve put together for you: help you sort items in food packages, sort through unwanted items in their own rooms, get together with friends and collect money for a cause they choose, help you distribute hot meals, make a good deeds goal list and complete it during Ramadan, give their time playing with or taking young under privileged children for a nice day out.
Creating Better Habits
Ramadan is also a time where we try to be better versions of ourselves. Children as well are still growing and learning more about themselves and giving them time to sit and reflect on this is a great gift they can use through their life. Talk with your children about how it can sometimes be difficult to control things you don’t really like about yourself, that as an adult you also have to practice and sometimes make mistakes. Discuss with your children if they sometimes feel the same. What can be done about it? You can suggest that each family member spend some time during the day together or alone to think about themselves and things around them; what do they like that they would like to do more? What do they think needs improvement and what do they feel needs to stop? These issues can extend beyond themselves and into the community. Make time to sit and discuss these ideas and support your children in reaching their goals. They will also support you.
Ramadan at Home
There are lots of fun ideas that you can make to help your children have fun during Ramadan. You can cut out paper lanterns and decorate them, read books about Ramadan and Eid, make a charity box where they can put their money, make Ramadan desserts together, create your own Ramadan story with your children in their own words and pictures, make a good deeds list where your child can proudly place their good deed, create a Ramadan scrapbook for each year, make a good deeds jar where your children can pick a random good deed a day, they can even suggest those good deeds to be placed in the jar and play Ramadan songs.
Quality Family Time
Ramadan is definitely a time where you may get a family overdose (in a good way!). It’s a wonderful time to get together with extended family and friends more often, but should also be a time to focus on the quality of the family time we’re spending together. For me, it was a great time to see my extended family. A fun activity for children is to make a family tree and go around asking each person where he/she fits when at big family gatherings. Additionally, for some it can feel like you’re rushing to one iftar after the other and don’t have that much time for your own family. Try to make some time by including your children in activities. You can sit and stuff katayef together in your Ramadan prep, for example. Try to give yourself some space between iftar invites where you can just spend time at home with your own family when needed.
The principles of Ramadan extend beyond the holy month. While we may make more of an effort during that short time, it’s important to include some of these charitable habits and sense of community in children throughout the year. Set realistic goals and try to choose at least one activity a month that you can do with your child. Let Ramadan be your inspiration for the rest of the year!