Search Results for: mariam mazhar

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.

Spring Break Do’s and Don’ts

By Mariam Mazhar 


March break panic has set in!  Not heading to a sunny beach? Neither am I but I have set up some do’s and don’ts for March break that will not break my bank and will keep the kids busy and happy. If you cannot take days off from work; do not fret. There are many different half and full day camps available depending on your child’s needs and interests. You can choose from sports, arts and crafts, robotics or academic-based camps. But if you are a stay at home mom or you are lucky enough to take some time off here are some good suggestions or you.

Do not wake up early

Your kids have been working hard for past ten weeks (yes it’s been a while since winter holidays ended). They have been occupied with homework assignments,  their music lessons, soccer practices and what not. Let them sleep in and let them rest their tired bodies. Remember a mommy’s body also needs rest so please hide your alarm clocks.

Do not hate the cold

Spring is just around the corner. And even if it doesn’t get warmer over the March break do not hate the last bit of snow, rather enjoy it. Go snow tubing, skiing or skate boarding and end your winter with some wonderful memories. If you find it pricey go tobogganing on the nearby hills.

Do not stay indoors

Your body needs daily dose of exercise. Bundle up your kids and go for a morning walk. Look for early signs of spring, listen to the birds chirping, spot some squirrels under the bush and keep your fingers crossed for some sunshine.

Do not plan something for everyday and every moment

A healthy amount of boredom is okay!  Don’t constantly rush in to alleviate boredom. This will help motivate your child to find new ways to entertain himself.

Do not spend too much

Even if you are not travelling, having kids at home means pizza nights, trips to mall  and march break camps. If you have the luxury of staying home with kids during March break than you can cut that extra amount of spending by cooking with your kids and attending these free fun activities:

Spring Break at Indigo

Indigo|Chapters is holding FREE in-store spring activities across Canada. Daily themes include: Dr. Seuss, Lego, Klutz crafts. (Check for further details)

Tip: Get there 15 min before start time to get a good spot.

Sugar bush and Maple Syrup Festivals

The trees will soon be tapped and now is the time to layer up and get out seeing how maple syrup is made. Generally a low budget outing.  For more details check out our previous article on the Maple Syrup Festival.

The Home Depot Kids workshops

I don’t know if these are across Canada, so please contact your local store. The kids’ workshops are a great opportunity to build something with your kids. The activities are FREE and usually can be made within an hour.

Toys “R” Us Spring Break events

Toys “R” Us has spring break events. Check online or call before heading the store and some events might not be free or might require to purchase the material or toys.

Public Library

Public libraries will be holding free Spring break events (in Toronto they offer both English and French events). Check your local libraries. Some events might require prior registration.

Public Swim & Skate:

Some community centers offer free swimming and skating (or for a toonie) during March break.

Tip: Go 15 minutes ahead of time to avoid disappointments

Visit your local mall

Another great spot to find free activities is your local mall. Check your local paper or mall websites for daily events including crafts, stage shows, science fun, concerts and more.

Tip: leave your credit cards at home to avoid extra spending

Plan your summer garden

Visit your local nursery or hardware store to buy seeds and required tools. Whether the garden is a large plot in the backyard or a few planting pots off the back deck, give each child an area of responsibility/opportunity. Allow them to plan what they will plant for the growing season.

Movies for cheap

Some cinemas show classics and old children’s movies for toonies. Check cinemas in your city and the screenings available.

Whatever you choose to plan for your kids, make it fun and memorable. After all that’s all that matters.

About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is a teacher by profession, with a passion for kids, cakes and creative writing.


Opinion: Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Teachers’ Perspective

By Mariam Mazhar

Opinion: Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Teachers’ Perspective

As a Muslim parent I feel frustrated by the entire buzz about the updates being made to the Health and Physical Health Education (Sex-Ed) Curriculum. I have been reading almost every new post and news coming in the media, and have been talking to fellow educators on this issue. I have reached a point that I am clueless about the future of my kids and I feel helpless.

For a moment I stop and imagine that it’s already September and this new Sex Ed curriculum is implemented throughout Ontario, including my kid’s school. So what’s next? Should I pull my children out of public school and home school them?  Or should I register them in an Islamic school?

Sad truth is, I cannot afford any of it. I do not have the time to home school my kids, do not have finances to send them to Islamic school and moving away is out of question. In such a situation I have to come in terms with the new curriculum. My child will have option to skip the class but that worries me even more. If he is not getting firsthand knowledge from his teacher, it will reach him through his peers and most likely in a twisted version.  In such a case I have to gear up and prepare myself to talk openly and confidently to my kids in the light of Islam and Sunnah and what is morally right for them.

As a teacher, I am still waiting for proper guidelines to teach this tricky subject and I am hesitant just like most of the Ontarian teachers but a decade old curriculum surely needed revision. I come from a visible Muslim community for whom talking about sex is almost a taboo and not everybody understands this. However, this sex education is not just for Muslims but for all other religious and ethnic communities. I talked to some of the teaching staff across different boards in Ontario and here’s what they had to say about the new sex education curriculum:

‘I am pretty sure that most of my fellow teachers will teach these topics in a way that is truthful but also age appropriate. Not to mention with their student’s well-being at heart. The language I would use relating to the same topic for younger grades in comparison to older grades is substantially different yet provides those students with the understanding they need. People hear the topics and automatically apply a scary/negative/dirty connotation to it and blow it out of proportion. Keeping our students informed and giving them the tools they need in life is the main goal here, not corruption of our youth. Have some faith in your educators! I am reassuring parents that they can have faith in our judgement as educators to deliver the program in a professional, age appropriate manner to their children. We always have to take the complicated curriculum expectations and decide the best way to teach them to each unique group of students we have. I just feel that we need to be careful to not be so defensive of people having a differing viewpoint that we judge them as ignorant or use sarcasm about where they got their information. Let’s also remember that parents aren’t teachers and so are coming to this with a different perspective. A few people have seemed rather defensive in their responses and I think it’s important to remember that not everyone has to agree with your viewpoint and if they don’t there is no need to be judgemental about it.’

 ‘Schools have a role to play in educating kids about sexuality, but the real issue is who should be doing the teaching and when. Programs need to be taught by competent educators. Understanding the student’s readiness to learn is also paramount, as children develop differently. It needs to be taught by well-prepared, highly skilled teachers who are comfortable delivering the program. Otherwise, it will do more harm than good.’

‘If parents were teaching their kids, that would be great. But especially those parents who are opposed to the curriculum, you know they’re not talking about sexting over dinner. They’re just not. And so it does fall to the schools. I want [parents] to understand that they should be their kids’ number one source of information, and anything else that they get – from schools, or other reliable adults – is just icing.’

‘For some families, their religious beliefs don’t allow the act of masturbation, and when their child’s teacher tells them that this act is ok, parents aren’t ok with this. Now, because we as teachers are diverse and have our own unique values and beliefs on the subject, parents worry those teachers’ opinions, beliefs, and practices may come across in the lesson. Since our roles as teachers are so impactful, parents fear that their kids will be influenced by their teachers on the subject because an in-direct message was passed down with the lesson. They fear that their children will become curious now of things they’ve learned, which can be problematic. That’s why I feel that there is a need for open dialogue between admin, parents and teachers on how the subject is going to be taught. Teachers need to be sensitive, that’s all. If teachers are going to be inclusive in the ways that we teach to help students be successful, like we’ve been taught through differentiated instruction, etc., then we also need to be inclusive in the way that we teach sex education to our students, being sensitive to their individual beliefs, and being careful not to pass down our own beliefs on the subject.’

‘So, how will new teachers be trained, and what kinds of workshops and in-house training will be offered to current? Further, how will administrators deal with the students whose parents have decided that such instruction is not appropriate? Jamming this program through with a September 2015 start date is asking for failure. More time is needed to train, discuss and to familiarize teachers with the material.’

Personally, I believe that parents should be the ones teaching children about sex, especially since it is such a controversial subject among families of different social, religious and cultural backgrounds. The schools should encourage parents to talk to their children at different stages of their development and perhaps offer helpful material, but further than that, it is not their job. I conclude that teachers have too many responsibilities. And I would rather find interesting ways to teach math than sex. Are you in favor of transferring more responsibilities to teachers, from families? My answer to that is this: It is not a good idea.

 Image: 123RF

The Dark Side To Happily Ever After

By Mariam Mazhar

The Dark Side To Happily Ever After

Most of us are social media fanatics these days, posting at least one picture of the food we eat, tweet about a tempting latte or post pictures with our better halves in the fanciest attire and with happiest smiles every other day. It’s a common thing. The ‘Facebook photo’ couples look so perfect, made for each other, posing perfect smiles and taking perfect vacations. Some of us envy and wonder how they make their relationship and marriage work when for some people it’s a futile task Sometimes even smiling and saying kind words to your spouse sounds strenuous.

What we all fail to understand is all those beautiful posers in the pictures are either blessed; they work hard on their relationship or have come to terms with their past and present. In some cases they all are fighting their battles and they have made peace with each other or with themselves or for an external force (children or aging parents). And in some other cases they just want to look happy together for social status.

An Unhappy Marriage

Here are some reasons why some women may stay in their unhappy and miserable marriages.

ChildrenMany couples just stay in their unhappy marriages as they love their kids and would not want to cause any harm to them. But they fail to realize that quarreling and unhappy parents can do more damage to kids than good.

Money and Perks: Some women stay in their marriages because of the comforts and perks they get at the husband’s house or living together. For some women separating is out of question since they never worked and don’t know how to earn a living in case of separating.

Low Self Esteem: Some women have low self-esteem. They are not aware of their own worth and do not realize that they can do better. Many even lose hope of ever being happy in life.

History does not repeat itself: Several people try to make their unhappy marriage work because they do not want to be like their parents who have a history of divorce. Since they have suffered the consequences of their parent’s actions, they try to not to make their children suffer by a divorce.

Societal Pressure: People getting divorced are looked down by the society. So women pretend that they have a happy marriage even when they are unhappy in a marraige.

Guilt: Those who have opted for love marriages normally do not have the support of their parents when things turn sour. They go on a guilt trip, blaming themselves and ‘bad’ choice of partner. So many of them try to make their relationship work or stay in their unhappy relationships to prove to themselves and their parents that they made the right choice.

Loneliness: Many women stay in their unhappy marriages as they are lonely and have no parents or friends to turn to. They find security in their marriage even when they are not happy.

Property Matters: Some couples stay together because they have accumulated wealth together (like a house or business) and would not want to give them up for any reason. Or in some cases women own nothing and have no shelter or person to go to.

Religion: Although Islam allows divorce, which is a sign of the lenience and practical nature of the Islamic legal system, keeping the unity of the family is considered a priority for the sake of the children. For this reason, divorce is always a last choice and that’s why couples try to stay in unhappy marriage rather than opting for divorce.

Forced Bonds: Sometimes couples are forced to stay together because of pressures from their parents. It is often seen that the parents and or relatives who are more worried about their own reputation than about the unhappy couple.

What to do?

What happens in such situations? The best course of action would be to reflect on whether you can learn to find contentment and joy while in the midst of an unhappy marriage? And if so, how?’

Take responsibility

Take full responsibility for your marriage being in trouble. Marriages take two people and sometimes people (knowingly or unknowingly) actively or passively dismantle their marriage. Do some soul-searching; find out where you fail, and what you could have done differently. Make a list if you need to of all the ways you have failed to live up to your marriage vows. This is you being accountable. Now come up with an action plan of how you plan to keep this from happening again.

Communicate again

Yes you have tried twice, thrice and several times but do it again. Start to build trust. Your spouse needs to know they can trust you again. This will be the first step in restoring your relationship. Talk about your responsibility for the problems in the relationship and let you spouse know that you are trying.

Stay Optimistic

We all know that first few years of marriage matter the most and some couples give up within those years. But those who are meant to be together try all their means to stay together. Try to keep the spark alive. If your spouse has given up, you keep trying and do not lose hope.

Ask for help

The first step is often the hardest. Asking for help when you feel isolated, alone, and scared may feel impossible – but it will change your life. If you feel helpless at the thought of learning how to survive an unhappy marriage, you need to start talking about your life. You can’t leave a person you have loved for years unless you get support. Look for support system in your society, your friends, your family, and the people at the other end of the helplines.

Find solace in Islam

Connect with Allah. Pray! Pray! Pray! Even if it doesn’t bring you close to your spouse and solve your marital problems, it will bring peace in your life. Allah knows that you tried all the possible means. There is a limit to the hardship that you can bear and there is a limit to the ease you can handle. Allah knows both your limits better than you.

This is not end of the world

Find solace in your kids, in your career or in a hobby. Do not attach your happiness with your spouse. Throw the word unhappy out of your vocabulary. Unhappy marriage is a state of mind. You can decide to be happy or unhappy. Your spouse is NOT responsible for your personal happiness.

Stay hopeful

Don’t lose hope. Your marriage isn’t dead; it is just smothering under the unmet expectations, anger, and resentment. And remember marriages are not happy or unhappy — spouses are.

About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is a contributors at She is not an expert on marital relationship and spouse handling but has ten successful years of marriage under her belt.

Image: 123RF

We Shall Not Forget, Remembrance Day 2014

We have seen many Canadian proudly sport a poppy on their clothing in the past two weeks. These bright red flowers commemorate Remembrance Day, a day when many countries around the globe honour their fallen heroes, brave soldiers, men and women who have served or are still serving in the armed forces. It is a day to honour, and cherish the sacrifices these men and women make to maintain peace in their lands.

This Remembrance Day in Canada is especially significant in wake of the Ottawa shootings. If anything, the aftermath of that tragic day reinforced that Canadians are a strong nation, who love peace and will not let the actions of a disturbed man reflect poorly on an entire people.

On this Remembrance Day, we remember all the fallen soldiers, and each and every person in the forces who is working to secure a better, peaceful future for our children.

From the team at, We Shall Not Forget…

Every year on November 11, Canadians pause for a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace. We remember more than 1,500,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice. We wear poppies over our hearts on Remembrance Day lest we forget the need and importance of peace, harmony and reconciliation in the society. Remembering all those veterans and their sacrifices make me understand that it is my responsibility as a citizen to make all efforts to maintain feelings of love, friendship and mutual respect for my fellow citizens because united we stand, and divided we fall. ~ Somaira Arshad.

On Remembrance Day we remind ourselves of the brave soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. We wear poppies as a symbol of the battles that took place during World War I on Flanders Fields. In school we will be having a special assembly and a moment of silence as well. It is important to honor those people that fought for our freedom whether it is in Canada or worldwide. ~ Imaan Jawad 

To me Remembrance Day signifies the beginning of peace. On the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month, the First World War officially came to an end. Today, this day reminds me that there are still many brave souls out there fighting for peace and there are still countries that are torn by war and strife.

Remembrance Day is a day for reflection on our times and it is a day for honouring the sacrifices of all the brave people who fought for their countries and lost their lives. It is a day for thanking those who fought and those who are still fighting to bring about peace in their home land. ~ Muneezah Jawad Butt

To me Remembrance Day means a day to remember and repent on the lives that are lost in numerous wars. It is an opportunity to think as a nation, group and mankind as a whole as how to formulate a peaceful and promising future for our children and generations to come. ~ Mariam Mazhar

Pack A Better School Lunch This Year

By Mariam Mazhar

photo credit: via photopin cc

photo credit: via photopin cc

It’s back to school time already, summer flew by so fast! Thinking about the start of another academic year leaves some moms in a cold sweat and fills others with glee. These days my social media is chocking with lunch ideas, tips, planners, and charts, places to get the cutest lunch bags and fanciest containers and what not. Pinterest has some really neat and kids-approved lunch ideas as well. If you have the time and energy to be crafting animals and characters out of produce at 6 a.m. before your coffee instills power in your body, then hats off to you!

I am not a cooking expert neither am I a nutritionist, but as a teacher I get to see a variety of packed lunches every day. Some are cherished and gobbled down in a jiffy and some lunches are stared at dejectedly and put away in the cubby for ‘later’. I have seen some of the fanciest lunch boxes and nicely-crafted snacks and have opened the tightest thermoses. However, what matters most is how much is consumed by the child and how healthy it is.

I am not going to tell you how to make butterfly out of your sandwich or a rocket out of your fruits. I am just listing some ideas for moms about what kids would enjoy in a school setting and what snack is easy to hold and open in their mom’s absence.

School lunch time is limited 

In most of the schools, kids get two nutrition breaks (15 minutes each) and 20 minutes for lunch. Make sure what you pack can be eaten within this time. Keep portions small, but offer several items.

Pack easy-to-eat and easy-to-open items that do not require special tools, especially for younger kids. Give them small yogurt container rather than yogurt tube that is hard to tear and tends to splatter all over. Yogurt drinks are good option too but do not forget to pack a straw with it.

Separate food

Muffin liners work great to keep foods separated, you can use either paper ones or silicon ones. Remember, the tighter you pack their lunch box, the less likely things are to spill about and get messed up.

Keep it cold

For safety’s sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack. Better yet, freeze a small water bottle or box of 100% juice and pack that in the lunch bag instead of an ice pack. Your child will have a slushy drink to enjoy at lunch and won’t have to worry about bringing the ice pack home.

photo credit: elana's pantry via photopin cc

photo credit: elana’s pantry via photopin cc

Eating healthy

I know for a fact that the more veggies you pack in a lunch bag, the more there’d be thrown away! Vegetables are part of a healthy diet but they do not always appeal to little ones. Instead of school-time, do vegetable tasting at dinner time, when you are around. You will be able to monitor how much of a veggie your child likes and if it can be packed for lunch.

Include more whole foods and less processed foods. Choose lunch items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients children need (like calcium, protein, and vitamins). Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips, and snack cakes, which have higher sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat.

Keep it fun

Include items that kids can stack or mix up to their taste when they eat. Remember that kids like to dunk, and include healthy dips with vegetables or other items. Cut foods into fun shapes with cookie cutters.

Love notes and treats

Kids love to know their parents support and appreciate them.  Don’t forget to slip in a note every now and then. Just make a smiley on the napkin in your morning frenzy and toss it in.

A small nut-free candy or a piece of chocolate as a special treat is fine, but advise your child to finish lunch before diving into sweets. Lollipops and big chocolate bars are a big no-no.

Be aware of the nut-free policy in your school or any other allergens in the classroom and pack lunches accordingly.

Dairy products

Dairy and milk products are a vital component of growing bodies and minds. However keep in mind that dairy is not just milk. It is not advisable to send milk to school just because it might go bad if not taken within an hour. Instead send them with some other milk alternatives. Yogurt and cheese sticks are good and more fun options. If you still want your child to have some milk in school, ask your school if they have a milk program. Most schools do have a program where they provide your child with a small pack of milk every day at lunch time, for a small fee.

Drink it up!

Send them with more water, preferably in reusable bottles or flasks to keep them hydrated throughout the day. Avoid sugary juices and beverages at all costs.

Love leftovers

Your child enjoyed last night’s dinner? Here’s a quick lunch idea for next day: wrap up leftovers with some salad and dip on side and put them between buns or bread slices.

Get a head-start

Get things ready the day before. Morning times are always a rush, it helps to prepare a night before and cuts down on morning lunch making time. Slice up vegetables or fruit at night, prepare any Jell-O etc.

Have a designated area in your kitchen where you keep all your lunch making supplies. Store all your plastic containers, disposable utensils, Ziplocs and insulated lunch bag in one cupboard for easy access.

Food advertising and your kids’ friends’ food choices will influence them. Remember that not all children go to school with lunch boxes filled with chips and lollies, despite what your children think and say. It is important to keep offering healthy lunch box choices in a variety of ways, as children learn to eat what is familiar to them. It may take time to change your child’s food preferences to healthier choices.

Have a fun and healthy school year mommies!


About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is a teacher by profession, with a passion for kids, cakes and creative writing.

Do you have any tried, tested and well-loved school lunch ideas to share with us? Let’s talk on our forums!

10 Things I Miss About Ramadan In Canada

By Mariam Mazhar

Ramadan in Canada

Nothing in this world makes me miss my home country Pakistan more than the holy month of Ramadan. It makes me nostalgic and brings back wonderful memories of fasting and feasting for a whole month.

While I appreciate the fact that Canada has a big Muslim population – we have quite a number of mosques and Muslim cultural centers – but nothing makes it comparable to Ramadan in a Muslim country. The readers who have migrated to Canada from Middle East, KSA or South Asia will definitely agree with me.

Here are few things that I miss about Ramadan in Canada.

Muezzin’s  Call for Prayer

I miss it throughout the year and have finally come in terms with the Azaan App. However, it is not comparable to the ‘real’ call for prayer five times a day. In Ramadan I miss the’ signals’ announced from the mosque close to Suhoor and those joyous announcements to break the fast.

The Feast at Suhoor and Iftar

Growing up in a big family, Suhoor and Iftar times were not less than a feast. Suhoor menu included fresh parathas (flat fried breads) and varieties of eggs.  A lavish menu used to be set by my mom even before the start of Ramadan, for Iftar and dinner - Iftar time meant happy family time. In Canada, I know of some families who do not get to break their fast together due to late and night shifts so Ramadan is different for them.

Ramadan Transmission

We have all sort of satellite channels and many of them telecast Ramadan Transmission in North America as well, but I still recall and miss the special Ramadan transmission shown on television channels in our childhood. I sometimes recite those Naats and Nasheeds to myself and they take me down the memory lane.

Street Food

Street Food - Samosa

I really miss the fresh and greasy samosas, pakoras and kachoris that could be bought fresh, right out of the wok! No matter how much frozen and fresh varieties are available here, nothing compares to last minute shopping from crowded street vendors.

Deserted Streets at Iftar Time

Street in Pakistan at Iftaar time

I remember at Iftar time, the streets would get deserted as everybody would want to have Iftar with their family or at least would try to reach their desired destination before the Azaan. Life would come to a halt for few minutes with the call of prayers.  Here things keep running as usual.

Iftar for Neighbors

Growing up I remember my grandmother preparing extra snacks and sweets to be sent to neighbors for Iftar. And almost every evening, few minutes before the sun would set we would wait for somebody to ring the doorbell and drop off yummy treats from one of the neighboring houses. I particularly miss that here in Canada.

Shorter Working Hours

In almost all Muslims countries offices, businesses, schools and other institutions close early in observance of Ramadan. That means shorter working hours so people can have more time to pray and rest while fasting. Similarly working hours would be different on Fridays so people could attend Jumuah prayers during Ramadan. These are luxuries not to be found in Canada.

Salah in mosques


The mosques are usually busier and crowded in Ramadan as compared to other months as people try to pray Salah in the mosque. Even here in Canada, Muslims try and make an effort to pray Salah at mosques but it is not as convenient as in Muslim countries where mosques would be just around the corner. Most often we have to drive some distance to get to our nearest mosques.

Eid Shopping

eid shopping

In recent years I have noticed lots of Eid fairs and bazars happening in almost all major cities of Canada. These fairs have almost everything available for last minute Eid shopping. They start from the beginning of Ramadan and continue till after Eid, thus giving a chance for families to witness festivities and celebrations outside their homes. However, it still makes me miss the hustle and bustle on the streets in Pakistan during last few days of Ramadan. Last minute shopping trips, bargaining over the price of bangles, hunting for matching sandals and the traffic jams made Ramadan and Eid special back in Pakistan.

Eid Festivities

Last but not the least I miss Eid festivities at the end of the holy month. Eid is not the same for Canadian immigrants whose families are continents away and for them celebrating Eid means making special phone calls and Skype conversations. I miss celebrating Eid with my loved ones.

I miss Ramadan in Pakistan but now that Canada is my home I still look forward to it every year. There is much I miss but there are many other things that can make Ramadan in Canada special as well, for our kids as well as us.


About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is a teacher by profession, with a passion for kids, cakes and creative writing.


How is your Ramadan here in Canada? Are you an immigrant as well, pining for traditional festivities back home or have you adjusted well to the routine in your new country? We’d love to hear from you, on how you make this month special at your home.

O Canada – Muslim Moms’ Say…

being Canadian

Being a Canadian is a different feeling altogether. Our team at comes from around the world and has made this wonderful country their home.

Let’s hear what feelings Canada Day evokes in them.

Aruj Saleem – Community Manager

What a beautiful country and people! Having my Canadian citizenship means home to me. It means freedom, safety and security. A piece of my heart will always remain in Pakistan, but the day I took my oath and became a citizen in Canada – which happened just a month back – I felt lighter, happier, like I could make all my dreams come true.

Mariam Mazhar - Contributor

Being a Canadian means shoveling snow twice a day in the winter. The need to be the best driver on slippery roads and surviving to reach work in time. It means being housebound for almost 8 months and waking up to mow the grass and remove weeds in the backyard. It means wrapping your skin in so many layers in winters that you forget your actual skin colour.
And the best part is playing ‘guess their origin’ game whenever you are at the bus stop or in a restaurant. I love Canadian diversity!

I’ve seen ten Canadian winters and have always complained about them, but I take immense pride in celebrating my birthday with the land I call home, July 1st!

Muneezah Jawad - Social Media Manager

Being a Canadian to me means belonging to a country where the rights of all people come first. I am free to dress, speak and live exactly as I please. Mosques, churches and temples stand side by side peacefully which is rare in these volatile times. I can practice my religion and culture without fear. It’s the perfect mix of west meets east.

Its beauty knows no bounds. From glaciers to lakes, beaches, to rolling plains, Canada has it all. It has been my home for 15 years and every year has been a joy. Thank you Canada!

Nabeela Ahsan – Contributor

It’s ironic that my family and I took our oath on August 14th. I haven’t looked back since that day and that is a privilege – to be able to move forward unfettered. Being Canadian means I don’t get held up at airports. Being Canadian means I am in the driving seat of my life, not cultural pressure. Being Canadian means my children can go out and play in a safe environment. Being Canadian means my parents are far, far away and I miss them and that is a shared experience that binds me to my community. But when my husband is late from work, I do not assume the worst and that is also a gift of living in Canada and being Canadian. Happy Canada Day!

Sadaf Afshan – Editor, Parenting

As a Canadian Muslim of Indian origin, I feel privileged to be a part of Canada’s colourful cultural mosaic. I love the fact that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage.  Even though the diverse immigrant groups share common beliefs and values, they have maintained their identities in this mosaic instead of making Canada a cultural melting pot. Alhamdulillah (Thanks and Praise to God) , I have never felt discriminated in this country because of my religious beliefs, ethnicity or race.

Somia Khan - Assistant Community Manager
Canadian citizenship means freedom, peace, security and above all Canada is a land of opportunity. I love Canada because living here, it doesn’t matter what you look like, what language you speak and which religion you follow, everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. My husband studied engineering here for almost five years and it wouldn’t have been possible without government support for citizens. Canadian government loans and scholarship programs are excellent especially for those who have family and children but still want to pursue higher education. After having three children I also decided to go back to school. I studied two years towards my Medical Aesthetics and electrolysis degree. I love the Canadian education system and I’m blessed to be here. I am a proud Canadian !

What are your feelings on being Canadian, how do you celebrate Canada Day with your family? Any traditions and activities you would like to share with us? We love to hear from you all!


7 Ways To Keep Learning Through Vacations

By Mariam Mazhar

Summer is finally here, and so are the much awaited summer holidays. Parents usually have mixed feelings about summer vacations but kids certainly count days for the academic year to end and fun to begin!

This is a tricky time for nervous parents when they take on the challenge of keeping their children physically busy and mentally active during the lazy and hazy days of summer. It is not as hard as it sounds. It just requires some planning, one week of toughness and rest of the seven weeks will go on smooth. Parents just have to be mindful of the fact that it is not just about killing time but about utilizing summer holidays and preventing ‘brain drain’.

Keep Learning…

Your child doesn’t have to fall victim to summer brain drain. You can make an effort to keep his brain engaged during the summer and provide enriching experiences without even trying too hard. Here are a seven easy ways to do that:


Are you travelling this summer and anxious because you have young kids? Not to worry at all. You should be glad that you are providing your child with opportunities to study geography, religions and cultures. You can do a whole lesson on Social sciences around it!

Travelling gives children an opportunity to explore different parts of the world or their own country and culture. What they had been reading in books and seeing on TV comes alive for them, so turn it into a productive learning opportunity. Plan trips together, look through maps and google places that you are visiting, estimate distances and mileage and don’t forget keeping a  travel journal.

Discovering nature

No budget for travelling this year? Not to worry. You have a whole world for your kids to explore right in your backyard. Grow fruits, vegetables and all sorts of plantations together. Get them involved in gardening – when they find it has got too tedious since gardening needs patience, get them to at least water the plants to instill responsibility in them.

Looking closely at flowers and drawing them develops the skills of accurately recording and transferring information. Ask them to keep a ‘growth chart’ for plants to track down their growth.

Do not forget all the creepy crawlies and frequent ‘visitors’ to the backyard in the summer! Investigate about the frightful bug found under the rock or the enchanting bird that you saw in the tree. You can do a whole lesson on Life Sciences right in your backyard!

And remember, when you are out and about in the sun, make sure you have proper sun protection on!

Keeping a daily diary

Get them to write at least one daily account of how their day has been. Keeping a record of all the fun activities done during the holidays is purposeful, relevant and a good keepsake too. For young kids it can be a colorful drawing on canvas or chalkboard. Just do not let them detach from the wonderful world of paper and pencil.

Pocket money and math lessons

Giving kids a weekly allowance during the holidays is a great way to teach them money management skills. If you have never done it before, try it this summer. Take your kids to spend their pocket money at the dollar store for new craft supplies or get a treat from the ice cream truck to teach some addition and subtraction on the spot. It gives them hands on experience and makes math a relevant and enjoyable experience.

Grocery shopping

Instead of keeping your kids at home with your spouse or going grocery shopping when kids are busy with their extra-curricular activities elsewhere, take them with you. You will most probably spend double the time and end up buying some not-so-needed items but it will be a good learning experience for them.

Before leaving the house, get them to prepare a grocery list. If they are little older they can make a budget for grocery shopping, estimate prices and help you buy accordingly. You can do a whole lesson on healthy eating right in the grocery store. How’s that?

Catch up with reading 

Reading is a life long passion, make it a part of your daily routine. Assign a special corner in your house for reading.  A special couch or perhaps a new lamp will fascinate them, pull them away from gadgets and closer to books. Keep reading material always available, be it magazines, newspapers or flyers. Take reading outdoors or read in the park. Visit your local library to borrow books. Check out second hand book stores or do a book exchange among your family and friends. Turn it into a fun activity and involve them as well.

Cooking and Science

How about a science lesson right in the kitchen? You can teach them about solids, liquids and gases while baking a cake or while boiling rice! How about adding a math component to it by making some predictions and doing some estimation? Math and science can be so much fun and authentic when done in the kitchen.

A little bit of brain work every day can help retain skills and make next academic year better from day one. It will save them from brain drain and will get them geared up for new educational challenges. Most of all, it will help you remain sane and more in control as a parent!

You can also read through more fun and frugal summer activities here.

About the author:

Mariam Mazhar is the Education contributor at She is a teacher by profession who contrives ways to stimulate her students’ learning during the school year and her own kids’ during the summer holidays

Enjoy your summer and don’t forget to share with us how you have been doing!

Parlez Vous Français?

By Mariam Mazhar

Image source: keepcalm-o-matic

Image source: keepcalm-o-matic


Petit poisson, petit poisson
Nager, nager, nager
Petit poisson, petit poisson

And so goes my daughter during our weekly Skype sessions with my mom. Needless to say my mother is impressed of her granddaughter’s fluency in French; she can’t help expressing her pride before friends and family.

I remember when I had enrolled her in French Immersion, I was anxious and worried for not being able to help her as I did not know French myself. My mom thought I was pressurizing my daughter as learning another language was not that important and insisted that I was expecting a lot from my kid. I had given myself and my daughter three months to test out French Immersion, but I am glad to say that we did not have to re-consider our decision at all.