The Ramadan planning Guide
So as we all know Ramadan is the Holiest month of the Muslim calendar. Muslims are basically expected to be on their best behavior, fast from dusk til dawn, give to charity and spend time in religious thought and reciting the Quran. These duties of course come with the Muslim territory.
As I write this article there is a predicted 112 days left until Ramadan 2013; InshAllah.
In today’s modern world we also have the following to contend with: work, charity commitments, sister circles, children’s school work, their after school schedule etc. Life is busy, it’s getting busier as our families get older. But to be honest, all of the above is a blessing. Go ask anyone who is unable to have a child and they will tell you they will give everything to have a piece of your hectic and sometimes scary life.
Okay so let’s get cracking.
HOLD A FAMILY meeting. Explain to members that during the Holy Month you need to all pull together and take on tasks that are usually done by just Mama. This can include older siblings reading stories to younger siblings at bedtime or checking up on Grandma on the way home from School. It’s about family communication-make sure your family are aware of what is expected of them.
Look at your family calendar and ensure your children do not have sleepovers booked during Ramadan-save the tears by rearranging them now.
Get all your family to check their diaries and see what everyone has scheduled during the month and organise transport/childcare as needed.
I’m a firm believer in organizing. The key to a stress free life is somewhat in the organisation of what you have to do and the time you have to do said tasks in.
Make a list of Duas you wish to make-NOWIt’s easy to forget a Dua and kick yourself afterwards. If it’s not too much work look up supplements and Duas, print them and laminate them ready for the Holy Month.
Let’s get straight to it. You need to make a list of what you wish to achieve during Ramadan.
An example of this could be:
- Recite the Quran completely twice during the Holy Month
- Spend an afternoon every week at a soup kitchen helping the needy
- Volunteering 2 hours a week at an elderly peoples home
- Donating as much money as you can to your chosen charity
- Organise a charity Iftari
- Learn three new Duas by heart
- Read the biography of the Prophet
- Spend time with family you don’t get to see regularly
Now you need to calculate how much time you need to complete your tasks and see if this is possible.
For example to read the Quran twice during the month you may need to spend two hours reading a day-can you fit that in? What tasks can you cut down on to fit in more reading? Look at your schedule now and get organising. Taking a look at your daily tasks and errands may mean you have to rewrite your tasks; but fret not! This is good that you know in advance your tasks may not be furfiled during the time you have so you can look at achievable goals which will leave you happy and content with what you have managed to achieve.
Take a look at your daily to do list/schedule/errands.
Do you really need to wash your car every week and clean the inside too? If your car gets really dirty maybe you can have it washed at the carwash to save two hours that could be spent doing something more productive during Ramadan.
What about things like food shopping. Apart from the perishables such as bread, milk, fruit etc all other items such as tinned goods can be bought in bulk. For this to work you will need to look at your meal planning and list what you need and the quantities. Do this shopping in advance. The same goes for Butchers orders. I place an order once in a while and freeze in managable portions.
Limit the activities and errands you can get away with not doing during Ramadan. Seriously you will be thankful for the planning come Ramadan.
Get your health in order-NOW
- Are you overdue a Medicine review? Are you a diabetic? Do you need to consult a Doctor about Fasting? Do this now.
- Advice for those who have no medical complaints:
- Vitamin C is a great supplement for protecting against cost viruses (google will provide you with more information)
- B vitamins are crucial for keeping up energy levels so start taking them now if you suffer from fatigue.
- If you live in Britain Holland and Barrett’s staff are generally friendly and open to giving suggestions if you give them a list of your problems.
- If you suffer from sleep issues speak to a Medical professional now.
- If you smoke or drink too much caffeine now is the time to CUT DOWN or STOP!
- If you have got into the habit of sleeping late and rising late now is the time to fix the habit.
If you ‘owe’ fasts from last year now is the time to consider repaying them now. Fasting on a Monday and Thursday is a great way of preparing your body for the upcoming 30 fasts.
Declutter and Spring clean-NOW!
It goes without saying that a clean and decluttered home provides a good foundation for the Holy month as you only have to ‘spot cleans’ during the Ramadan.
Now is the time to:
Declutter the living room, wash the window dressings, clean the carpet/rugs, wash the skirting boards, clean the suites and clear away magazines and other clutter.
Declutter the kitchen cabinets-remove all the items that are coming up to their best before using dates and use them up asap. Make a list of items you are running short of and buy them. Clean all the surfaces, and clean all the appliances. Clean your fridge and freezer. Create space in your freezer if you plan to bulk cook and utilize this space.
Clean and keep up the repairs to the front of your homeVarnish the front door or repair the trellises now rather than allowing the ugly sight to greet Ramadan!
Clear out your Bathroom cabinet and medicine Cabinet/draw. Bathrooms are renowned hotspots for clutter building. Check all your medicines use by dates and throw out the ones that are out of date. Technically you should be in the habit of doing this on a regular basis.
Children’s rooms are in my opinion a minefield especially if your child is around the stage that they don’t wish to part with anything. Children outgrow clothes quicker than adults and toys and books can accumulate quicker than you can shout Iftars ready.
My advice for tackling this room in particular is:
- Keep a basket/bin/box in your child’s room into which you can place outgrown clothes as you discover them. Then once you have enough go through them and decide which will be given to charity/stored for other siblings/thrown out
- If you are purchasing wardrobes/closets or fitting them consider sliding doors-these need less space in regards to opening them whereas standard doors need to be given plenty of space to open them.
- Ikea offer a range of furniture that can be adapted to suit a child’s room. Their light collection is fantastic as is there photo frame collection. We use a ‘safe’ as a art supply cabinet.
- Have designated boxes/baskets/bins for your child’s hobbies/activities/toys. This can be a problem is small rooms. If your child has a small room utilize the height of the room and fit shelving that can host clear boxes with toys and clothes too.
- Get your older children into the habit of going through their own toys and donating the ones they no longer play with or cherish to charity. This is a great way of encouraging charity in a child from a young age. Ask at your local Masjid to find out if they are hosting a table top sale where you can donate such items to.
- If you have wall space the following are great in a child’s room: chalk board, cork notice board (to display artwork) and book shelves to home books and other items on.
- A soft toy hammock can home a fairly large toy collection without taking up bed space.
- Utilize under bed space efficiently-do not allow it to become an obilivion where you don’t even know what is living anymore.
- The back of a door can host many items-from notice boards to back of door organisers to home art supplies.
- If you have attic/loft space store out of season or larger sized clothes there rather than in your child’s room.
- Check pinterest for inspiration.
- Treat your child’s room as a space that is constantly changing and access the needs of your child on a regular basis to maximise the usage of it.
If your home is anything like ours you will have plenty of incomplete D.I.Y projects. List them all NOW and complete them before the Holy month. Don’t start projects that you won’t be able to complete during the Holy month and the reminants will simply clutter up your home.
ORGANISE family wardrobes
Is getting ready in the morning a chore for you and all the family? If that’s the case I suggest you organise the wardrobes of your loved ones in such a fashion you don’t spend half an hour in the morning looking for matching items.
- An idea that works for young children is to put a complete outfit on a hanger. A weeks worth of outfits is a time saver for rushed parents.
- For men if maybe worth putting shirts with ties/sweaters/tops and hanging them together. Then all they need to do is grab a pair of trousers.
- If you have a busy wardrobe you could consider cutting back on the clothes and donating suits to the needy especially during Ramadan or just before.
- Store out of season clothes away to make space in the wardrobe so you can see what you have in your wardrobe.
- If you have a large family consider using an ironing service during Ramadan to cut down on the chore.
An extra note:
Ask the men and woman of the family to got through their wardrobes and donate the clothes they no longer wish to wear. One persons cast offs are a poor persons treasure.
Sort out Zikaat-NOW
How much do you owe? Which Charity will you donate to? Calculate it now, make notes and donate when you need to.
Does the local Masjid need a makeover? Does the front entrance need a good wash and polish? Perhaps the interior needs a lick of paint? All these tasks should be done beforehand and if you feel repairs of paintwork are overdue discuss it with other Masjid attendees and get a group together and split the costs and get the work done. Ramadan can often bring new faces to Allah’s house; make it presentable and a true representative of your beloved community.
Do you attend Ramadan talks/speeches/Iftars? Find out about them now and work out which ones you can attend. Discuss childcare arrangements with grandparents/your partner if necessary.
- If you plan to bulk cook and freeze now is the time to plan things. Items I’ve successfully frozen include:
- Chicken tikkas
- Aloo tikkis
- Tandoori chicken
- Egg rolls
- If you are limited on freezer space I suggest you freeze those items are are time consuming to make e.g. samosas.
- Ready made items are great substitutes too.
- If you have elderly relatives don’t forget about them. Bulk cook for them and fill up their freezers.
- Consider using disposable plates etc during Ramadan if you will be stuck with doing the washing. This is very important especially if you are considering holding Iftars and wish to cut your workload.
Plan your Iftar ‘party’ diary in advanceIf you plan to have guests over. Enquire a month before Ramadan commences (or two weeks beforehand) and ‘book’ the Iftar with your guests in advance. Avoid Iftar’s in the last 10 days. Ideally the first 10 days would be the perfect time to host an Iftar.
PLAN your menus in advance. Go to trusted recipes and keep menus as simple as possible. An example of a menu is:
Starters (before Salaat)
Fruit salad with vanilla cream or chaat masala-can be prepared on advance
Baked tandoori chicken -can be prepared in advance
Potato skins with sour cream dressing-can be baked in advance or if you are pushed for time you can replace with pre-made potato wedges.
Mutton meat curry (meat curry can be cooked in advance and reheats extremely well. It also keeps well in the fridge. Cooking it the day before allows the spices to develop further)
Plain pilau rice-you can make the onion masala in advance and keep sachets in the freezer. Or you can make the masala 48 hours beforehand as it’s an oil based recipe so will keep well in the fridge too. OR replace with store bought Naans-but this will mean you need to allocate the task to someone to purchase these at the last minute.
Raita-I go for a ‘pink’ jewelled one. The recipe is: red cabbage, red onion, pomegranate, squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Ideal for children too.
Pineapple upside down cake-made with premixed cake mix and canned pineapple rings. Served with ice-cream
Or serve ice-cream with jelly or fruits.
Ice-coffee (for adults)
Hot Tea/Coffee if requested
As you can see the above menu allows for advance prep and there’s no frying in the cooking which is a bonus. Utilising baked recipes is a great way of cutting down cooking time. Just don’t forget that you’ve placed something in the oven to cook (set alarms/reminders). You can even buy appliances for your phone these days so really there shouldn’t be a burnt meal in sight.
Plan as many menus you need plus a few extra ‘just in case’. Ramadan in my humblest opinion is not the time to show your Delia Smith skills. For this reason I say check out pre-made items in your local store and consider menus that are less time consuming. Here’s another one as an example of a Med-medley:
Hummous with pitta bread chips or tortilla chips
Feta cheese and watermelon salad (this is awesome-trust me!)
Garlic bread-at your own discretion
Lasagne rolls baked in tomato sauce sprinkled with cheese (you make the meat sauce as usual, pre-cook the lasagne sheets. Place the sauce in the sheets, roll up and place in a greased oven proof dish. Cover the lasagne with a jar of pasta sauce
or remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle on cheese and bake for half and hour-done!
French bread pizzas (use pre-made if you are pushed for time)
Green leafy salad
Store brought Baklava
Fruit juice based granita
Lemon flavoured ice-cream with store bought meringues (a love texture).
As you can see this is another menu you can prepare in advance is more suited to those who do not wish to submit their taste buds to spicy food due to complications such as heartburn which isn’t pleasant at anytime of the year.
Plan as much as you can-NOW.
The sad departure of Ramadan is followed by Eid-ul-Fitr which usually means (for many not all) new clothes, decorating the house with lights, a large Eid meal and presents. All of the above take time to put up/put together/buy. So let’s break down the list now:
Plan your families outfits-NOWLeaving it to the last 10 days is a disaster as those days should be used towards more productive activities. Plan outfits, order what you need to, look around the stores and get the best value for money too by not leaving it last minute. It’s a myth that the best clothes come into store during Ramadan.
Decorating the houseThis year we shall be thinking big but keeping it simple. We usually use fairy lights dotted around the house which add a touch of magic to the Holy month for our little girl. We shall do the same this year but we shall Inshallah be adding things such as confetti filled balloon garlands as well as tissue paper garlands, and balloons with Eid money in them for little one to ‘pop’ (which will release the confetti and glitter). I’ll also be purchasing wooden letters to spell Ramadan to put on the mantel place.
Eid MealPlan it beforehand. Order the meat beforehand. Prep as much as possible before Ramadan. This could include making the curry and rice base and freezing it. Or planning a meal that includes using a slow cooker to cook the meat in halving the time you need to spend at the stove (It do this). Or you may wish to try a completely different menu to previous years. Now is the time to plan and practice!
Perhaps you want to eat out on Eid-look into restaurants that offer Eid meals now and see if you need to pre-book. Places like Nawaab in Manchester are extremely busy on Eid so find out beforehand if you need to have a back up restaurant in mind.
Presents/gifts. This really is a minefield with little ones but it can be done with careful planning months in advance. Ask older children to make a list of items that would like to receive and explain the situation that they won’t get everything on the list (you may find you can purchase the whole list but in case it goes over your budget make children aware that you may not be buying everything on the list). Then once you have set your budget and know which presents need to be purchased buy them and wrap them up in advance. Label them and store them in a place you won’t forget. Or write down in a diary where you have stored the presents-I’ve placed presents in a ‘safe place’ before and forgot all about them.
Another idea that is worth looking into is homemade presents. I love the look of hot chocolate jars, homemade cookies and even things like home made quilts (if there is anyone who has the skills to do sewing work). You can find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest.
Kids/Playdates/the usual stuff with pre-Schoolers
Little ones don’t really understand the idea of Ramadan or how it means Mama has less energy. For this reason you need to carefully consider how you plan to keep toddlers and pre-schoolers busy during Ramadan. If you host Playdates in the morning maybe you can adjust the time so it’s later so you don’t have to rush and get things ready.
Children like to be outdoors and InshAllah Ramadan falls during the warmer time of year which means you can make use of the great outdoors. Repair outdoor toys now and prepare the garden as required. You may wish to invest in an outdoor toy e.g. a sandpit to keep little ones entertained whilst you recite the Quran outdoors.
You can organise activity bags’ in advance. The concept is you place all the items needed for a certain activity together in a bag and bring them out as and when needed.
Look into outdoor ‘recipes’ for older children. Pinterest is great for these (I shall try and remember to link my Pinterest profile links to this entry so you can find these with greater ease). These include giant bubbles, pavement (sidewalk) chalk and other items that make too much mess inside. These activities will keep children amused for hours (or at least they should).
How about making:
As crafts during Ramadan? It maybe worth making cards during the first week if you need to post them to foreign countries.
IF your children will be hosting an Eid party plan the venue, menu and guest list now. Considering when Eid will InshAllah be why now plan a ladies/children outdoor picnic to mark Eid?
Buy or loan ‘Ramadan Moon’-it’s a beautifully written Ramadan story.
Look through your Islamic literature books and CD’s and update as required. Lots of books are out of stock come Ramadan.
That’s about it for my Ramadan list for you all. The most important thing is to utilize your time and get the most of the precious month.
If there is something I have missed please let me know.
Until next time Mamas (and non-Mamas)
PS: If you need further advice and suggestions look at my 2012 Ramadan preparation guide which is in the older blog enteries.