We can feel immense guilt as parents when we don’t manage to worship the way we used to, pre-children. In the lead up to the nights of Qadr, here are a few things I tried to do to prepare as best as I could, whilst also being realistic.
Reflections and Tips on Layalil Qadr as a Parent
This year, I went into Layalil Qadr with fairly low expectations. Every year new mums (and dads!) are reminded not to be too hard on themselves, that the seemingly mundane tasks of everyday and night parenthood are themselves acts of Ibadah, and that we shouldn’t feel guilt if we don’t manage to get through all the rituals of these holy nights. I went into these nights with this very mindset, and it was as if my daughter knew I’d briefed myself because on the 19th night of Ramadhan, my once sleeper-through-er woke constantly! In the end I barely managed any of the Du’as or rituals and mostly just had a conversation with Allah. Despite knowing that this was a (rare) possibility, I felt immense guilt, which then became a point of reflection for me.
If I was feeling so guilty for missing out on the specific worship prescribed for Layalil Qadr, surely I hadn’t understood the concept of Ibadah properly? And surely all the Tweets and lovely reminders that new parents get, hadn’t really sunk in for me? I really had to remind myself that there was a reason Allah had caused my night to turn out the way that it did, even if I didn’t understand it, and it could only be for my own benefit.
Anyway, in the lead up to the night and subsequent nights of Qadr, here are a few things I tried to do to prepare as best as I could, whilst also being realistic:
Plan ahead for housework and other tasks
You definitely don’t want to be faffing around thinking of what to cook for Iftar just hours before the blessed night begins, so try to plan well in advance. Cook in advance or have something ready in the freezer so there’s minimal fuss and stress in the lead up. We all want to be in the right frame of mind as we enter such a holy period of time after all. If your children are a little older and will be staying up with you, plan their activities in advance; whether it be joining you in the A’mal, or keeping themselves occupied with other activities.
Coordinate with your partner where possible
My husband and I had really missed going to the mosque for A’mal and our little one is an early sleeper. We therefore decided to take turns to go to the mosque on a couple of the nights while the other stayed home. It was great getting out and being in a familiar but very missed crowd, Alhamdulillah. We have also planned which night we will be staying in and completing the A’mal as a family insha’Allah. If there are any other tasks or plans, it really helps to communicate with your partner or support network so that these nights run smoothly- whether it be meal prep, childcare or any other last minute things that need to get sorted in the house.
Get the kids involved!
I remember as a child, these nights of Qadr were nights of adventure where bedtime went out of the window. We took all sorts of snacks and other bits and bobs to the mosque to keep busy while our parents worshipped. We also got involved from time to time, of course! If your kids are old enough, get them involved! Brief them in advance about the exciting nights that are coming up, let them choose snacks and activities to take to the mosque or to work through at home. Maybe even buy them a small Qur’an of their own which they can use during the A’mal. These feelings of anticipation and excitement last forever, and will build the basis of their love for these nights in upcoming years insha’Allah.
Do the mental preparation
I believe this one is the second hardest of these tips to implement. How can we possibly fit in even more thinking time if we are already so busy as parents? But we must! Even if it means discussing things out loud as a family, such as what your goals for these nights and the coming year are, or making a physical list of people to pray for and what to ask for ourselves. Just as we wouldn’t turn up to an exam without any prep, we wouldn’t want to miss out on the blessings of these nights without a goal in mind. Let’s not forget to get our kids to do the same- a simple starting point might be to get them to think of who around them could really use their Du’as in these nights.
And despite all this planning…be realistic
This is probably the hardest. As parents we need to accept that our worship will now be different. It will be interrupted, less peaceful, maybe a little more rushed and streamlined, but remember- Allah sees it all. He sees our intentions and our struggle. He knows what lies in the depths of our hearts and accepts whatever is sincere. He is Merciful and wants to see us show that same mercy to our children, even on these special nights when we want to focus on Him. There is no off switch for parenthood, it’s a new state of being that many of us are transitioning to.
A couple of Shahr Ramadhans as a parent have taught me that spirituality is not about making time for Allah, but rather finding Allah and his Dhikr in everything we do- even in the mundane tasks of resettling our children to bed, feeding them in the dead of night, tending to them when they are sick or teething, cooking for them and cleaning up after them. All of these become priceless acts of worship with the right intentions- but the hard part is getting into that mindset!
May these nights of Qadr bring blessings and tranquility for all of us and our families, insha’Allah.