Parenting in Ramadan

By Jeddah Mom

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One of the things that new expats moving to Saudi Arabia find shocking is the timings during Ramadan. During the day, the shops don’t open until noon or  afternoon and then they are open all night. People go out shopping after midnight. It’s like we turn into owls. Parenting in Ramadan is challenging.

To some of us adults though, we love the atmosphere that is created. It really feels like Ramadan for those celebrating; but you know, there are many who find it challenging. Yes, even Muslims.

If you’re a parent who has celebrated Ramadan here, I’m sure you know that Ramadan time can be a bit chaotic for children’s schedules … here is what to expect.
1. Routines will change. The kids may be tired, cranky and confused if we aren’t prepared to handle the timings!

2. Muslim parents find it very hard to concentrate on their worship while keeping the kids happy. Personally, when I had babies and toddlers, I didn’t know how to keep the kids entertained, fed and well rested and still be able to fast myself. Now I understand how toy rotation is a smart idea. Hide everything before Ramadan and slowly pull out one at a time making sure the rest are well hidden again. 😀

3. Shopping was so difficult. My kids would be happy and busy through the day but at night… it is so hard to go out. The least we could do was Iftaar picnics. Now I understand that shopping should always be done before Ramadan starts. From your staple groceries to Eid gifts, buy everything before Ramadan!

4. Sleep deprived. Being a parent meant I would have to get up when they got up. 7am after pulling an all nighter (almost!). Keeping them entertained and fed and then running around while they napped in the afternoon to finish my prayers or cook for the evening meal would totally drain me. And then… right when my babies went to bed, the Taraweeh would start. To Taraweeh or not to with kids. I am still not sure.

5. Some days it was difficult to get the children to sleep  while the prayers are going on. I could not go to Prayer but even at home, the sound from the speakers would keep them up. So after years, I learnt that I should tweak their bedtime from a few weeks before Ramadan started.

6. But you know… it isn’t really that simple. The first 20 days of Ramadan the kids sleep at around 10 pm. But then, the night prayers would start and the kids would wake up at 1am hearing the sound of prayer. Do you know the struggle?

My youngest is in preschool now. Soon I’ll start tweaking her bedtime to adjust her to sleep by 10pm. But … I have no idea what to do for the last 10 nights. To keep her up with me or to lie in her bed till she falls asleep. Any guesses who will sleep first?

But… that Ramadan feeling! There is something so magical about Ramadan that even the kids see it. They love the traditions and culture; the sharing; the caring; the lights. The sound of prayer so soothing. It is that time of the year when even the little toddlers know it is time to grab their scarves and run for prayer. As a Muslim, the best blessed place to be is to spend Ramadan in Saudi Arabia, no doubt.

I’d love to know what your experience has been. Are you prepared to parent in Ramadan?

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