As the holy month of Ramadhan progresses, many of us contemplate the possibility of rekindling the flame of spirituality in our hearts. This article aims to bring to your purview 5 practical things you can do to make the most of the holy month.
5 Tips to Maximise the Holy Month Whilst Adjusting to Parenthood
Whether you’ve got a newborn or toddler on your hands, you’re probably well underway to mastering the art of spinning multiple plates whilst maintaining a smile on your face. Sometimes that smile reaches your eyes but truth be told – many times it’s simply plastered on.
Being a new parent brings up a (sometimes confusing) conglomeration of contradictory emotions within us: unconditional love vs frustration from sleep deprivation vs feeling misplaced and misunderstood vs being convinced that your little human is the best-looking person on earth and your life would be a barren desert without them.
Amidst all the internal and external mayhem, many of us feel like we’ve lost touch with our spirituality. Something that we once had the luxury to nurture, because time was on our side. Now, it’s a struggle to even keep up with the Wajibat let alone being able to make the time for the acts of worship that took long but also made us feel connected with our Creator.
As the holy month of Ramadhan progresses, many of us contemplate the possibility of rekindling the flame of spirituality in our hearts. As this idea warms our hearts, it’s often coupled with the fear of falling short and whether we genuinely have the capacity to add another plate to our already chaotic plate spinning routine.
This article aims to bring to your purview 5 practical things you can do to make the most of the holy month:
Show yourself empathy
Being a new parent is no easy feat. To many of us, more times than not, it feels like our lives have been warped out of shape. For those of us who relished routine, that’s gone out of the window and being replaced by grappling for some semblance of routine. Maybe some nights were dedicated to Qur’an and Du’a and Thursday nights were for contemplating the meaning of Du’a Kumayl in pursuit of elevating our spirituality. Now, the likelihood of merely finding the time to listen to Du’a in its entirety without interruption is close to zero.
The quiet, but incessant whispers of guilt nagging you about not being able to make the most of the holy month because you have failed to remain spiritually afloat recently, needs to be managed.
Allah (swt) has seen you worthy of the responsibility of nurturing a new life to strength and independence. This takes sacrifice, effort, unconditional love, mercy, sleepless nights, disorientation, and a whole lot more out of you. You need to cut yourself some slack – let that sink in. Take the time to pause, appreciate yourself and show yourself empathy.
I paraphrase the wise words of a scholar – to whom I once asked a question on Slido during a seminar, as I constantly battled the thoughts of spiritual inadequacy: “Allah (swt) has created four seasons – summer, autumn, winter and spring. Spirituality as a consequence of human milestones also follows a seasonal pattern. You may not be able to devote yourself to as much Ibadah as you used to, but be considerate to yourself because raising a child in itself is the embodiment of the highest levels of Ibadah – if done correctly.”
So again – cut yourself some slack and remember, raising a child mindfully is a lofty act in Allah’s eyes. Because this time, it’s not just words of sincerity to Allah, it is the manifestation of sincerity, gentleness, kindness and sacrifice – all the things we earnestly talk to Allah about in our Du’as.
Talk to Allah (swt)
Whilst talking to Allah (swt) in the words of the Infallibles is the best way, talking to Allah in our own words is more powerful than you think.
Have you ever thought about talking to Allah about how rough your day is going? This would simply be: “Oh Allah, I am having a really rough day today, baby won’t stop crying, I still need to sort the house out, think about making dinner, answer the avalanche of work emails, its 2pm and I have not even gotten out of my pyjamas – please help me.”
Talking to Allah as much as possible, in your own language, will definitely help you build an authentic connection – which, if I may argue, is more effective than sitting through a long Du’a and skim reading the meanings before the reciter swiftly moves onto the next verse.
The point of the holy month is to build proximity to Allah. Whilst you may not be able to do this fully in the way that you have done in the past, it’s time to be resourceful: talk to Allah as is. Allah is closer to us than our jugular veins – whether we talk to him through the revered words of the Infallibles or in plain and simple language, He will always listen.
Set realistic goals
We will all have been through an appraisal process – whether in a professional or academic setting. The crux of an effective appraisal lies in how ‘SMART’ our goals are – ‘SMART’ being specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
Given your circumstances as a new parent – it’s time to smell the coffee and be real with yourself. As a new parent, it is quite likely that you will not have uninterrupted nights of Ibadah – if, for example, your goal during the holy month is to have uninterrupted nights of Ibadah (as you may have done in the past) – you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Take some time to think about what your days are generally looking like – then set yourself narrow goals that you can reasonably accomplish in the time that you have in a day. A good example would be spending 10 minutes of the day contemplating the meaning of a verse of the holy Quran. Ideally, it would be great if you could sit down, open the Quran and journal your thoughts. However, you could still achieve a good result, contemplating the meaning of a verse of your choice whilst putting Iftar together, or doing the laundry.
Quality over quantity
This stands – whether you are a new parent or not. This one is about being brave enough to break free from any pre-existing confirmation biases about the ‘standard way of doing Ibadah’.
Systematically working through a prescribed to-do list of Du’as, for the sake of ticking them off, feels out of touch with the essence of devotion to Allah during the holy month. Looking at Ibadah from this lens may reward you with a sense of accomplishment, like one that you feel when you complete a chore, however, it will hardly win you the spiritual elevation that you set out to attain.
Therefore, new parent or not, focus on what you can give your 100% on, with your goal being putting your best self forward to Allah, in hope of connecting with him, seeking forgiveness and with his mercy – becoming a better version of yourself.
When you become a parent, parts of you transform to accommodate for the new life that you are now responsible for nurturing. You get in touch with your instinctive maternal or paternal side, that Allah has preordained in you.
As a mother you have a new appreciation of the overwhelming abundance of Allah’s kindness when thinking of his mercy. As a father, you understand better why Allah is the best of planners (and why you don’t always get what you want, when you want); because Allah wants what is best for you – just as you would want what is best for your child.
As a new parent, we must acknowledge our personal growth – and ask Allah during the holy month to help us solidify this growth and perfect it.
In Du’a e Makarimul Akhlaq, among other things, we ask Allah to help us restrain our rage, achieve mildness of temper, spread good behaviour and cultivate the gravity to bear. These are things we strive to do as parents. We may not be able to sit through the whole of Du’a e Makarimul Akhlaq in one go, but it is worth selecting a few areas that we would like to work on – and put them into practice in our parenting during the holy month. For surely, walking the walk is far more superior than talking the talk!
With these 5 thoughts, I hope your holy month is filled with mindfulness in parenting which alchemizes into mindful worshiping resulting in rejuvenated spirituality. Ramadhan Kareem!