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Tips for Getting Winter Ready

By Iman Khan

frozen-branch_385-19323961

With the arrival of Fall, can winter be far behind? As we are headed for another season of sub-zero temperatures and heaps of snow, here is a list of do’s and don’ts for Canadian immigrants who are new to the experience of living in a snow country:

Preparing your house:

1. Make sure you have a well-functioning heating unit ready to be put to a fair bit of use as winter commences. Keep a list of maintenance and emergency after-hours contact numbers ready for if and when you may need it, while in the midst of the colder months.

2. Snowstorms and resulting power outages are common during winters. Make sure to have an emergency light source, portable mobile charges and extra sets of batteries within an arm’s reach.

3. If your home is equipped with a fireplace, keep stock of dry firewood or logs. Have the chimney or flue inspected by a professional.

4. Always have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors serviced before winter kicks in.  This is especially important due to rising levels of dangerous gases when space heaters and other heat-inducing sources are being used indoors.

5. Be wary of tree branches that may fall or freeze on electrical wires during a snow storm or severe weather.

6. Purchase bags of Rocksalt to de-ice your driveways for when the snow hits. It aids in melting the snow and makes it easier to shovel and clean.

7. Stock up on warm comforters, quilts or an electric blanket for use while at home.

 

Getting your vehicle winter-ready:

  1. During the peak winter season, avoid long-distance travel or minimize to when it is absolutely necessary.

  2. Check the coolant system on your car for the antifreeze level. Add more if needed.

  3. Your automobile should be outfitted to drive in snow as roads tend to get slippery and consequently risky for safe commute. Investing in a set of studded winter tires will prevent the vehicle from skidding or sliding on icy roads.

  4. Carry an ice scraper and a shovel in your vehicle throughout the winter months.

  5. An extra pair of gloves, hat and scarf, torchlight and emergency flares should be kept handy in the car.

 

Kids’ winter-shopping:

  1. Dress up the children in several layers so that their body warmth is completely trapped in. Make sure you have the following prepped for your little ones:

    1. 2 sets of inner thermals to wear under their clothing.

    2. Set of snow pants and jacket.

    3. Warm muffler/scarf.

    4. 2- 3 pairs of woolen gloves/mittens (extras as these tend to get misplaced quite often).

    5. Pair of well-insulated (-30C) snow boots is a must-have to keep toes warm and beat the wind chills during the winter months.

    6. Wool hat or headgear to avoid heat loss through their heads.

Important! Always keep yourself updated with climate reports and severe weather advisory warnings so that you can plan ahead and stay on top of your schedule. Watch out for black ice on walkways. Being oblivious to them can cause devastating falls and injuries.
Finally, winters need not be all doom-and gloom! It is also the time to engage in fun sports for kids and adults alike. Tubing, skiing, tobogganing are just some of the activities that you can indulge in as a family to beat the winter blues and burn off some of the extra holiday pounds while you are at it!

About the Author:

Iman Khan is a new immigrant to Canada, and lives with her family in Mississauga, ON. She is the creative founder of hijabistas.net, and manages the online operations for luxury Muslim boutique –kaamilahonline.com

How Motherhood Changed Me

How motherhood changed me

Having my son, also my first-born, was my ultimate wake up call, literally and emotionally. The very next day son and I came from the hospital and I was an absolute post-partum hormonal mess, I cried and begged Ma for forgiveness. We were all bawling, three generations of us! Son was crying because he was a newborn, I was crying because I was overwhelmed by motherhood day 2 into the experience and Ma was crying because I was. I’ve never been the crying sort; maudlin sentimentality annoys me, having children changed that.

I’ve realised that I can be the strongest person around and be an emotional mess at the first sign of a troubled child. And I’ve learned that I have super-powers…everyone knows them as a mother`s intuition. I can find everything, I can do everything, I can see and feel everything that relates to my brats. Motherhood -  helping women become superheroes.

~ Aaisha Zafar Islam

Motherhood has changed me and my lifestyle in a profound way. My children have taught me selflessness, compassion, patience and how to grow in love. Over the years, I have also learned to become quite the counselor, story-teller and referee! Alhamdullilah, I feel blessed and privileged to be a mother and hope I can do justice to the most important role that I have been bestowed with.’

Iman Khan

I used to get freaked out by little hopping spiders. After becoming a mother I once single handedly wrestled a one foot centipede. I kid you not. Just the thought of that thing in the same house as my baby made me see red. I am now the crocodile hunter of the family.

I am also immune to every gross thing possible, I have cleaned so much vomit and poop nothing deters me. I have eaten saliva covered banana that my child lovingly fed me after gumming it to a pulp in her toothless mouth. I can catch vomit in a plastic bag with perfect precision.

Life hacks: 5 minute meals to 500 uses for baby powder to how to ignore a pack of howling, brawling, whining kids in public and keep a smile on your face.

Being grateful. Appreciating that the little things are actually the biggest things. Heartbreak and unconditional love.

Khaula Mazhar

I remember being a short tempered and ambitious person with no patience for kids. Motherhood has taught me patience as the most important virtue. It has taken my wings and has slowed me down to appreciate small blessings of life. It has proved that happiness is not in high-paying jobs and in globe-trotting but in simple moments spent with my kids, in sharing a joke, co-sleeping in the cozy bed, baking treats and in evening walks to the park. More than anything it has made me empathize with my mom and appreciate the hard work she put in in raising me and for instilling in me the life skills to bear challenges of life. She taught me how to stay positive in the bleak hours and how to keep believing in Allah. Inshallah I want to instill same positivity and admiration in my kids.

Mariam Mazhar

I could say that the same things everyone else says about how mother hood has changed them. However I want to tell you how it’s kept me the same. It allowed me to still see the world through the eyes of a child. It keeps me in awe of all that surrounds me because I see the same glimmer in my children’s eyes.  They look at everything with excitement and a new perspective.  As a person ages they naturally become more cynical but motherhood keeps you tied to your own childhood and you hope the world is as amazing for your children as it was for you. In a nutshell it keeps you young and optimistic.

As children grow up we teach them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and as adults we tend to forget those words frequently. Well, being a mom has reminded me to make sure I thank Allah (SWT) for his countless blessings.  The children he gave me are the most precious gifts in the universe for which no thank you is going to be enough. Like a child who jumps with glee at the prospect of a new toy I am filled with joy when I get those precious kisses from my daughter, so motherhood has kept me grateful and thanking Allah and also pleading with him for their well being constantly in my duas.

I’ve been through many changes due to becoming a mom, but my core being is still the same if not stronger. I’m thankful to Allah and in awe of the miracle of life that surround me.

Muneezah Jawad

Physically:  I can NOT sneeze, laugh or run anymore without crossing my legs. My body will always be flabby and I love it as it reminds me of all that stretching I went through with each of my four kids.

Mentally: Even though I feel like I have nothing left up in my head, with each additional child I have gained more patience, while dealing with all the stresses of motherhood.

Spiritually:  As my kids are growing older, now more than ever I have a deep desire to grow closer to Allah.

Rahila Ovais

I had my 3rd child a few days back and as ecstatic I was to hold him, I was equally ambitious and made several promises to myself on giving him the best of everything as a mother.

Motherhood has taught me patience and values of morals, religion and above all a proper educated upbringing. I learned what greater responsibility it is to bring them up with knowledge and education so they make their own wisdom and lead strong successful lives Insha’Allah. Humility and humbleness is the most important attribute in one’s personality no matter what one may become in life, I want them to be grateful to Almighty and be kind. With them I learn, grow and mature every day. Because of them I’ve become closer to my Lord. Alhamdulilah!

~ Rumina Rizvi

 I do not live in a clean room anymore. I am not allowed to get sick. I yell at my kids .I fight with them over the remote control but not for anything in this Universe I want to change my status. Because sometimes when I plop on the couch, exhausted, I ask myself where is “me”. A voice tells me, they are” you”. I nod and get back to my job of being a mom.

Shazia Afzal

 It’s incredible, I have learned so much more about myself than I could have ever imagined. They teach me something new every day. When I had my daughters, I thought I was going to be the one teaching them and giving them so much knowledge, but they have been teaching me so much wisdom.

Being a mom is the most rewarding thing in the world.

Sukaina Imran

How has motherhood changed you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Do share below.

Kaamilah.ca: A Positive Approach to Business

By Iman Khan

Kaamilah Online

Entrepreneurship is synonymous to relentless hard work, enduring commitment, and immense dedication. It advertently comes with a series of spiraling highs as well as staggering lows. Our ability to handle these oscillations is directly proportional to our efficiency and productivity as a capable businessperson.

A little over seven months ago, I too bit the proverbial bullet to delve into the business world by becoming a part of Toronto-based, Kaamilah Boutique.

Kaamilah, translating to complete in Arabic, is the original luxury boutique for Muslim families in Canada. The concept opened its doors to the GTA community in the Fall of 2013. Farheen Khan, the vision extraordinaire and powerhouse behind this endeavour initiated the space to support and grow small businesses owned by enterprising Muslimahs.

Kaamilah has worked to provide a sociable platform to house brands and their craft under one roof. It is a collective effort that fosters sisterhood and positivity, and strives to function as a cooperative to assist with the growth of each individual business. With brands like The Craft Souk, The Olive Tree Soap Company, Kashkha, Dara Boutique, Smore Treats, Hafsa Creates, among others, Kaamilah hosts a dynamic team that lends creativity and resourcefulness to our community.

I have learned much from my association with Kaamilah and I hope that some of these lessons can also help aspiring Mompreneurs in our midst.

At Kaamilah, here are some ground rules and useful reminders we stand by to maintain a balanced approach:

Visualize positive scenarios

The power of the mind is immense. And you can leverage this attribute by occupying it with happy thoughts! Think up a vision of everything you hope to achieve, and your dream will unravel before you! For this reason, most successful entrepreneurs have vision boards that help them keep their eye on the ball and consequently, steer them to reach their set goals successfully.

Give of yourself to others

Always do well by your peers, guests and customers. Honesty is indeed the best policy. Be fair in all of your business dealings, and never hesitate to give useful advice, collaborate or offer a helping hand to someone in need, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone to accommodate another.  A state of mind that is positive improves decision-making skills, and helps in better judgment.

Optimism is the attitude of the Believer

Meditate, perform Salah, immerse yourself in Dhikr and ask Allah SWT for His Help and Guidance, always. In good times, show gratitude and when in a fix, ask of Allah, fully knowing only He is capable of guiding us on the Right Path, setting right our wrongs, and the caretaker of our Rizq.

 Say Alhumdullilah – now, and always!

Be perpetual in your gratitude towards Allah SWT and everything that you have been bestowed with, and in the process watch your life transform for the better. Stay grounded in the face of success, and disappointments. A positive, grateful temperament is your mainstay to success in this life and the Hereafter. Always seek the smaller blessings that have been sent your way to rid yourself of self-pity and hopelessness. Remember, the Mercies of Allah are infinite!

Be a people magnet

The attitude of an optimist who focuses on solutions rather than problems, and seeks valuable opportunities in every situation – is contagious.  Surround yourself with those who make you happy and bring out the best version of you.

Exercise and spend meaningful, quality time with family and friends. There is no substitute for happy living than good health and a great support system.

With a little effort towards inculcating a vigorous and positive psyche towards your work, and life in general, you will find yourself lucky more often than not. Here’s to shining optimism!

About the author: 

Iman Khan is a new immigrant to Canada, and lives with her family in Mississauga, ON. She is the creative founder of hijabistas.net, and manages the online operations for luxury Muslim boutique – kaamilahonline.com

Easy Transition Into The New School Year

by Iman Khan

Image: 123RF

Image: 123RF

As a recent Canadian immigrant, I have found that there is a learning curve for parents, as well as their children, apropos newer environment, faces and schools. Settling into a new culture can be a daunting task for most but as parents, the onus remains on us to make the transition as smooth as possible for our child. Here is how.

Setting expectations

With a little homework in advance, you can make sure you set the right expectations for your child while they embark on a new academic journey. Organizing a school tour would be a step in the right direction. Converse and engage with school staff and teachers to break the ice early on. Show your child around his/her class, and give them a feel of what the new school year holds for them.

Language barrier

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2009, each year about a quarter million immigrants arrive in Canada, 1/3rd of which consist of youth between 15 and 25 years of age. With such a diverse and multicultural influx, language fluency remains a contingent issue. Not feeling comfortable in the English language can make children feel isolated and like a complete stranger at school, in turn giving way to feelings of alienation and exclusion. Inform your child’s teacher of their language difficulties and work with staff to help overcome the hurdle. Enable your child to overcome their diffidence, and work with proper training and exercises to ensure that they master their communication skills successfully.

Mental and physical health

With long and relaxing summer months, it is easy for your child’s routine to completely disarray. A week before school starts would be a good time to  start re-establishing their school schedule. Endorse an early end to the day to maximize healthy sleep, and help your child take on their following day with enthusiasm.

Establish a community

A great way to ease those frayed nerves and anxieties is to help your child socialize with similar-aged children in the neighbourhood or surrounding vicinity. Healthy interactions and play time with one another can alleviate the stress of being in a completely new environment, and has the potential to boost your child’s attitude and confidence.

Review school correspondence

Stay well informed and up to date with all correspondence material that is available to you by way of the school website, automated phone messages or school pamphlets. Keep an eye out for back-to-school nights to discuss your concerns and apprehensions with your child’s teacher. Mark your calendars for important dates and events to stay on top of your child’s timetable. Acquaint yourself with national holidays, occasions and customs to get prepared well ahead of time.

Healthy snacks and lunches

If you are planning on homemade school lunches for your child, pre-plan and involve them in the process. Get their feedback and include their favorite food items on the menu.

All said and done, children are resilient to new cultures and changes. With the right amount of support and guidance they will flourish in their new school. If you are a new immigrant with school-going children, reach out to the nearest settlement worker designated for your school board. These appointed workers conduct assessments tests and educate new families on the school education system and curriculum as well as other pertinent issues that arise.The Peel District School Board has 3 conveniently located We Welcome the World offices and are a great asset for newer families looking to ease into life in Canada.

Summing up with some encouraging statistics cited in this article by the Globe and Mail:

“Aayushmaan is one of nearly five million elementary and secondary students who will start school on Tuesday, one of 500,000 who are foreign-born, and one of thousands who will be in a Canadian classroom for the first time. It’s a testament to the resiliency of children that, despite the challenges they face – cultural, linguistic and financial – immigrant students in this country outperform their native-born peers.

They post stronger scores on standardized math and science tests and are more likely to go on to post-secondary education. The same does not hold true for immigrants to other countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.”

About the author:

Iman Khan is a new immigrant to Canada and mother of three. She is an editor at MuslimMoms.ca and a  modest fashion evangelist at hijabistas.net

 

Social Insurance Number – What And How’s

By Iman Khan

SIN Card Canada

Applying for a Social Insurance Number in Canada is a fairly straight-forward and free of charge process. It is one of the first things you should be taking care of upon your permanent move into Canada as an immigrant.

Why do I need a SIN?

Social Insurance Number is a unique 9-digit identifier that is essential for purposes of employment, including setting up a sole proprietorship business or incorporation. It is also required to gain access to benefits and programs endowed by the Canadian government to its residents and citizens. It enables employers to pay their workers, file for income taxes, and make contributions towards pension plans.

Where do I go to obtain a SIN?

The Social Insurance Number is issued to an individual through any Service Canada office. Search for one of their 184 offices in the province of Ontario here. Identify the agency closest to your location and visit them in person with clearly marked and labeled personal documents.

As of early 2014, the SIN is no longer printed on a plastic card, but is being issued in a paper format.

How do I apply for a Social Insurance Number?

Barring a few exceptional circumstances, it is required by the Government of Canada that all individuals apply for their SIN in-person at a Service Canada registered office. A parent or guardian is eligible to apply for a Social Insurance Number on behalf of a child below 12 years of age.

Walk into any location with your SIN application and primary documents at hand. Proof of residence, landing papers or citizenship documents are required to process a Social Insurance Number.

Make sure all credentials are original and in the English or French language. Paperwork in languages other than these two is to be accompanied by “an official translation attested to by the translator before a notary public, or prepared by an officer of a foreign government or an official of the British or Canadian Consulate.”

There is no fee that is applicable towards the issuance of a Social Insurance Number.

After submitting all your relevant documents, your Service Canada representative should be able to furnish your unique SIN in 15-20 minutes.

Do I apply for a Social Insurance Number for my newborn or minor child?

Turns out it is never too early to apply for a SIN! By having one handy for your newborn or underage child, you are in the best position to take advantage of various relevant government education schemes such as the RESPs, Canada Education Savings grant, etc.

What if I am not eligible for a Social Insurance Number?

If you are a temporary permit holder, or an international student and unable to apply for a SIN, you may be able to obtain an ITN (Individual Tax Number).

Can I open a bank account without a Social Insurance Number?

Typically, financial institutions do not require you to submit a SIN while opening an account with them.

Your Social Insurance Number is confidential data, and should not be shared with everyone. Be careful and use your discretion when handing out private information. For any direct queries or concerns, visit the Service Canada website here.

Do not miss our versatile 17-point checklist to make sure you are up to speed with your big move to Canada here!

17 Things To Do After Landing in Canada

By Iman Khan

photo credit: caribb via photopin cc

photo credit: caribb via photopin cc

Make sure you are on top of your game with this 17-point checklist  in your first few weeks as a new immigrant in Canada:

  1. Apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN).  This nine-digit number is a prerequisite to work legally in Canada, or to avail of any government programs and benefits.
  2. Apply for an Ontario Health Card to benefit from various provincial healthcare paybacks. Read more about OHIP here.
  3. If applicable, apply for The Canada Child Tax Benefit. According to Canada Revenue Agency, “The Canada Child Tax Benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under age 18.” More information here.

To Rent Or To Own?

By Iman Khan

Image source: freeimages

 

To buy or to rent? The mind boggles! After all, would it not be judicious to own a house if we intend to be here for the long haul instead of whiling away money in rent every month? And like every new immigrant, this ubiquitous question had been on our minds ever since we made Canada our home a year ago.

For most of us, our parents’ generation gravitated towards investing in land or property as hands-down ‘the’ winning choice for financial stability, since real estate always appreciates in value. But perhaps it is time to move away from ideas we grew up with and reassess our investment portfolio! In the current scenario, with banks handing out loans and credit even to the most financially vulnerable of us, the real estate market has now reached a whole new level of nonviable.

How To Potty Train Your Toddler

by Iman Khan

Image source: potty time

Training your toddler to use the toilet can be a daunting and intimidating chore for most inexperienced mothers. But with the right mindset and attitude, your anxiety and misgivings can be put to ease, and this duration can actually prove to be a valuable bonding time between you and your child.

What is the best time to start?

Like most child-related breakthroughs, the ideal time to start your son or daughter on the potty, varies greatly from one little one to the other. As a caregiver, the onus is on you to determine your child’s physiological readiness, bladder control, his/her comprehension skills and ability to follow instructions.

It is not advisable to force your child into the issue; instead let them guide you to when they are ready!

Team Members

 

Meet the dedicated team behind MuslimMoms.Ca whose untiring contribution has transformed this project from a dream to reality.

Erum Zehra

Erum ZehraOur Project Manager Erum Zehra brings years of experience as a website consultant to this endeavor. She is an MBA from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi and one of the early adopters of online social media. She currently resides in West GTA and channels her vision for empowering women through her many online projects.

She previously founded a women entrepreneurs group in Pakistan which is now a thriving group with more than 50,000 active members. She is currently working as the Marketing Manager for SHE Canada magazine. She also administers a lively Facebook group created to bring together Muslim mothers in the GTA and organizes regular get-togethers for its members.

MuslimMoms.Ca is the perfect segue to her many undertakings as it seeks to create an online portal/community of Muslim Moms from all walks of life, from all over Canada and beyond.

Aaisha Zafar Islam

Aaisha Wasi KhanOur Executive Editor Aaisha Zafar Islam is a trained communications specialist who has worked for publications, e-zines and TV channels in Pakistan as well as UAE. She is also responsible for launching Pakistan’s first Media Sciences degree program. These days she is struggling famously to get her two brats to listen to her.

She loves good reads, analyzing popular culture, arcane facts, acerbic wit and extremely dry humour. Her verbosity can be read at AWKwords and MascaraMom. Mediocrity, grammar mistakes, syntax errors and deliberate typos give her an aneurysm; she is not faring well in the age of social media. Her revenge is to share FT articles most would not have access to.

Her sagacity stems from years of abject sleep deprivation. Her ultimate goal is to use the word ‘erudite’ in a life-defining sentence. Or get her kids clean up the mess they make.

Mona Ismaeil

MonaOur Associate Editor Mona Ismaeil is a graduate of Concordia University College of Alberta with a degree in Sociology and an after-degree in Elementary Education. She spent three years teaching grade five students before the birth of her daughter Manessa. She is now a stay-at-home mom and a business owner.

Modern Hejab, Mona’s business venture, is an online hijab store specializing in bringing together fashion and faith. Her goal is to show how beautiful and easy it is to be true to your faith, modest and still be fashionable. Writing and being a part of the MuslimMoms.ca team is right up Mona’s alley as she has written for Sisters Magazine, Annisaa Magazine and has her own blog. Mona loves to share her passion for fashion and education as well as her experiences as a new mom.

Aruj Sipra

Aruj SipraOur Community Manager Aruj Sipra ensures everything runs smoothly on our interactive discussion board. She is a Pakistani Canadian, born into a family of educators who instilled in her a love of learning. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Social Work and French from Punjab University. She has over eight years of teaching experience in preschool and kindergarten environments and also contributes in various community projects as a volunteer. She is married to a wonderful man who is also serving in the education sector.

Her goal is to make this world a better place by educating the young minds and make them a valuable asset of the community.

Sadaf Afshan

Our Editor Sadaf Afshan lends her blogging expertise to our Parenting section. She is a mother to two little angels and wife to an incredibly supportive husband.  With an MBA in Marketing and HR, she owns and operates an online boutique Chosen Path Abayas and manages a food blog at My Culinary Adventures.

A freelance writer on Islamic Parenting and student of the Quran, she  loves faith, food, fashion and family – not necessarily in that order!

Iman Khan

Hijabistas.netOur Editor Iman Khan shares pertinent articles for new immigrants to Canada. She is of Indian ethnicity and a recent immigrant to Canada herself. She lives in Mississauga, ON, with her family and  currently enjoys spending time exploring her new home country. Her profound appreciation for cultural diversity and integration is what prompts her to chronicle her newcomer experiences on Muslim Moms. She  hopes that her experiences may benefit others looking to make a similar journey.

Iman is also a modest fashion evangelist and the creative founder of hijabistas.net. She’s channeling her modest fashion blogging experience as an entrepreneur, bringing designer hijabs from Dubai and South Africa to Canada. Her e-store, Kaamilah Online, is a one-stop luxury boutique for Muslim families in North America.

Somia Khan

somiaOur Assistant Community Manager Somia Khan assists in managing our vibrant community and dons many hats. She has studied Economics, is a qualified Cost and Management Accountant from Pakistan and has worked in the forex market. She has also studied for an entrepreneurship diploma and is qualified to work as an electrologist and medical aesthetician, both from Montreal.

She has three kids and plans to open up her own medical clinic in Milton, Ontario in the near future.

Sadaf Ali

Sadaf Ali

Sadaf Ali is the Graphics wiz at MuslimMoms.ca who was born and brought up in Dubai, UAE. As a freelance graphic designer and photographer, Sadaf brings more than ten years of experience in media, marketing and design to MuslimMoms.ca. She also has a photography and design studio: A Thousand Words Creative Studio.

She’s a full time mom to her three year old son, who is also involved in community work, she takes time out of her at-home duties to volunteer for Community Halton Development.  She lives in Burlington, ON but loves to travel and explore new places.

Interested in joining our team? Get in touch with us.

 

 

How to Obtain Your Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)

Ontario Health Insurance Plan

By Iman Khan

Every fresh immigrant or newcomer to Ontario is entitled to state-funded health care benefits, or the OHIP. While most of your healthcare needs are covered under this plan, services deemed unnecessary from a medical standpoint (e.g. cosmetic surgery) are not paid for. OHIP also does not cover dental plans, unless you are a family with a gross annual income of less than CAD20,000 in which case you may be entitled to other options.

Follow these easy steps to apply for your OHIP photo health card today!