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Back To School Back In The Day

By Muneezah Jawad

Back to school back in the day

It’s September! Parents everywhere are secretly rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of shipping their overactive kids back to school and reclaiming their mornings and late nights. Once the school year starts they barely have time to breathe.

I remember my school days were very different from what kids experience today. I grew up in Dubai. The cultural nuances as well as the arrival of a different era has made this next generation of kids look upon schooling with a very different attitude.

Back to school

In the 80’s there were two main staples that every household would buy. First we would buy our books and then was the book wrapping ceremony. I still remember sitting down with  my father and rolls of brown paper. Every text book and note book we got would be wrapped with crispy clean paper and tape. It was most therapeutic for some inexplicable reason. My job was to place a label ever so carefully in the right place. In my best writing I would write my full name.

Since we had uniforms there were few new clothes, but we did get shiny new shoes that we kept polished and made them last.

A rectangle pencil case with cartooned vinyl plastic lids and many compartments was filled very carefully with sharpened pencils and fountain pens. An oxford compass box, a metal lunch box, and a drinking thermos was place carefully into a back pack that was from the year before since we took great pains to keep it presentable. Then off we were for the first day of school. Our clothes neatly pressed, our hair tied back. We were terribly excited and filled with pride at our new treasures and revered them.

Today the routine in most households is to shop till you drop. Tops, bottoms, shoes, sweaters, stationary, files, folders you name it we have to have it. Stores like Wal-Mart and Staples are filled with confused parents holding an endless list in one hand and an excited child who is jumping like a jack rabbit ready to dart off in opposite direction. Trolleys are over flowing and so are the tears as children battle with parents for the newest fad item.

The first day of school is the same for everyone though, that excitement, seeing who’s in your class, the new teacher, where to sit etc. What is different is the respect and realization that one must take care of those new things. I myself have had to go out and buy new shoes and stationary within one month of school and see countless parents doing the same. Children don’t even receive their own textbooks. They share used books that are kept in class. I sometimes shudder at the condition of the books the odd time they are brought home.

Which brings me to a pet peeve? Where is the HOMEWORK? I mean I agree that we got too much of it, but here I see none. Until high school kids rarely bring home anything daily and whatever they do is at best 15 minutes long. I don’t know about you but I am a firm believer in homework. It disciplines you and involves the parent. The jump from primary school to high school is often as a result much harder as children simply have not been trained to handle a larger work load. However the pros and cons of homework is another article for another day.

Technology

My first computer was the Commodore 64 and it came with those giant floppy disks. The internet was that strange noisy dialup thing and face book was the actually title of a fiction novel. At present the trend is to do as much as possible online. From the use of smart boards to submitting assignments, it’s all on the net. In fact children are encouraged to bring their devices into class. The use of calculators in my case started in high school. We used to layout our work showing all methods and calculations. Each piece of work had to have our name, the date and an underlined title. We would be marked on these things. My daughter was taught to use the calculator for the simplest of things and I am continuously telling her to use her head to work things out. Handwriting, grammar, organization and neatness all have suffered simply because kids are being taught to rely of their devices. Cursive writing is a dying art, as is going to the library to do research. Information is available immediately thanks to the internet but this instant gratification leads to a lack of patience and the loss of  satisfaction of actually solving something for themselves.

After school

Life after school has also changed. I used to come home, do my homework, watch a few cartoons and then hang out playing whatever with my neighborhood friends outside. Here the majority are shipped from one afterschool activity to another, and then it’s off to get hooked onto the TV or the latest play station game. Even when friends meet, it’s usually over the latest TV show. Gone are the days of a good board game or hide and seek. The word ‘Bored’ is a frequently used one in their vocabulary and parents are being forced to play referee between the children and their devices.

While the new generation of children is no doubt smarter and brighter and faster, I do think they are missing out on the most important part of education which is being a child. Life is far too commercial and not personal enough. The ‘wonder years’ should be exactly that. A time to literally stop and smell the roses. To slow down and relish every moment that is their childhood. It’s a time for families to bond over dinner not squabble over the latest smart phone a teenager suddenly needs.

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the social media manager at MuslimMoms.ca.

How does your childhood compare with that of your offspring? Let us know how you feel. What you like and what you dislike about the system your child is in and why.

Back To School – A Survivor’s Guide

By Muneezah Jawad

Back To School - A Survivor’s Guide

With school starting in less than a week, we really hope most of us are done with their back to school shopping already. For those who still have to tackle this task, we put together a quick guide to make it a (relatively) stress-free process.

Shop for supplies

From Kindergarten to Grade 8, every class requires different supplies and the best way to know what you need is to look at the school website which usually publishes a supply list by grade. Sometimes more specific things are needed intermittently during the school year and the teacher usually sends out a note letting you know what that is.

The list does get longer as the grades get higher. Kindergarten requires very little, just some tissue boxes, glue and perhaps crayons. Grade 8′s usually require calculators, folders, dictionaries and more.

It’s always a good idea to have an English and French dictionary at home as well as some encyclopedias and if you are like me and like the kids to do a little bit extra at home, you can get a grade specific activity/curriculum book. They have great deals at Costco.

Bag some bags

It’s a good idea to recycle whatever can be used from last year especially backpacks and lunch bags unless the condition is really run down. I usually get new backpacks every 2 years so that the children’s desire to have the latest design is fulfilled and it does not break the bank.

Lunchboxes are trickier and if they are the soft ones they can smell a bit funky after a while and so I replace them every year.  Get something that suits your child’s style of eating. Small children need something with many compartments so that they can have tiny portions of their favourite things. A bento style box or little Tupperware containers work great. I don’t spend too much on these things as they do frequently get lost. Make sure all containers are BPA free.

Lunch Ideas

As there are usually 2 nutrition breaks you need to make sure you separate the food. I usually pack a main meal such as a sandwich or nuggets, some fruit, a granola bar, cheese and crackers and sometimes a treat altogether and the kids pick what to eat when. Please remember that most schools have a peanut free policy. I also have a thermos style box into which I sometimes pack a hot meal. A water bottle that is easy to open and closes firmly is very important otherwise often you will find a flood in your lunchbox.

What’ll they wear?

Unless your children go to a school where uniforms are required you are going to need plenty of clothes. The first step is to go through closets and see what can be reused or passed on to siblings and then make your wardrobe checklist.  September is not a terribly hot month and by October it’s getting chilly in the mornings so it’s a good idea to buy some track pants and fleece for the in-between weather. Layering clothing is the best option as kids can add or remove layers as they need.

If you find a great sale stock up on shoes as kids need a pair of indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. I know that my kids go through several pairs through-out the school year. Velcro shoes are great for the little ones.

I don’t do much back to school shopping. I pretty much avail the sales throughout out the whole year especially at Christmas time.  They are always losing something on the other. Make sure you have plenty of winter gear especially gloves, hats, socks, thermals as kids frequently lose them and then they are sold out of the stores by February but it stays cold sometimes well into April. Going to the States to shop used to be a great idea but with the current downward trend of the Canadian dollar against the US it’s not worth it anymore.

Ease into routine

Slowly returning to a regular routine will also make life easier. We have been sleeping past midnight and waking up late, eating at odd times and generally just chilling. Try pulling back bedtime by an hour every few days until school starts. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that toddlers 1-3 years need 12-14 hours of sleep, children 3-5 years of age should average about 11-13 hours, School-aged children need 10-11 hours and teenagers need at least 9 hours.

Time their time

Studies also show that students lose 2-3 months’ worth of learning over the summer. That means that even though your child went to school from September to June it would be like they went to school September to March.  So it’s time to curb their device usage. Start limiting their screen time. There are many great apps such as ‘Screen Time’ which can actually lock a child out after a certain set period of time of usage. I use this with my daughter and it works really well. It’s set for an hour a day then it locks her out for everything except phone calls.

Make sure they study 20 minutes daily. More if they are older. This will get them ready to concentrate on their work and in ‘school mode’. A good idea would be to have them write about their summer holidays. It will get them thinking and spelling. Go over their multiplication tables by holding skittle contests. A skittle for whoever gets the answer right.  This would be a great time to go over those activity books that we discussed above. You could do the ones from last year. I never let my kids write in the books but they worked on paper as I have 2 kids close in age and wanted them to be able to reuse the book. You can also find worksheets online. It doesn’t have to be much and the holiday is not over but a little will go a long way. This is actually something they should do all year round.

Put meal times and the socialising on a time table too.  Start talking to them about expectations about the coming year. If it’s an EQAO year, or new high school it’s good to talk those things out. I am constantly telling my daughter to brace herself from an onslaught of work and other temptations as she enters high school. Talk to them about school and morning routines. Laying clothes out the night before, how they will be getting to and from school and who with. If you car pool or use the bus make sure you have the scheduling all planned out well ahead of time. If you have been helping little ones in the toilet over the summer now would be the time to have them start going independently again.

Don’t stress yourself. The first day of school is always a fun and exciting one. If you didn’t get everything done or didn’t have a change to buy something it’s alright. There is nothing that the kids can’t do without initially. Slowly you can fill in the gaps of what you need to do.

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the social media manager at MuslimMoms.ca and a veteran back to school survivor for the past many years.

Tell us how you have gotten your family ready for September. Do you have any tips for us? Do let us know how your first day went. Most importantly don’t forget to breathe a sigh or relief and lay back with a cup of coffee and enjoy your first day of school morning.

What Ramadan Means to Me

By Muneezah Jawad

crescent-moon-ramadan_23-2147511095

Growing up in the Middle East, when times were different, Ramadan to me was the revered month. All the restaurants shut down during the day and people were not allowed to eat outsides till Iftar time and then it was a gastronomic delight for all.

It was a time when neighbours sent over trays laden with yummy treats and when I saw my parents make tremendous efforts to go for Taraweeh, read the Qu’ran and in general became extra devout.  Then there were the Eid preparations, but if I travel down that memory lane, I could fill up a little book easily so I’ll just stick to Ramadan.

Children in Canada I feel have a totally different experience and it’s up to us as parents and also as a community to make sure that they appreciate and understand the importance of this blessed month. You can read more about this in my article Ramadan for Children in Canada.

So I thought the best thing to do it to ask children of all ages and walks of life ‘What does Ramadan mean to you?’

Here are the very sweet, unedited responses:

1. ‘I can’t wait to have that red drink you always make Mama! And I am going to fast like you every day!’

Mariam Age 4

2. ‘This year I am going to fast every day and you can’t stop me. I love it when we all have iftar together and you make us those potato chips and spring rolls’

Azam Age 11

3. ‘Ramadan is when the gates of hell are closed and when our Holy Quran was sent to us. People try to give as much charity and do as many good deeds as they can. We go for Taraweeh and lots of iftaars too. In the last 10 nights we also sometimes spend the night at the mosque praying special prayers.

Imaan Age 13

4. ‘It means you cannot wear shorts and you have to wake up early for fasting and prayers at suhoor. You cannot eat the whole day, if you are thirsty in school you can’t eat or drink. You eat at the end of the day at Iftar time’

Daliyah Age 9

5. ‘Ramadan means being thankful to Allah for all his blessings. We fast in Ramadan to show Him our thankfulness’

Haiqa Age 9

6. ‘Ramadan is when people fast. People are poor so we have to be like them, to be like equal’

Afrah Age 9

7.‘Ramadan means we don’t eat and when Adhan goes off then we eat ‘

Ibrahim Age 5

8.‘We fast and pray because it’s nice. We can pray in the masjid and we can’t eat. We go to Eid parties and we can play for a long time in the house.

Rahmeen Age 6

9.‘Ramadan means to fast and remember what Allah has blessed us with that others don’t have. We read more Quran, pray and go to Taraveh. We give charity and try not to do or say bad things.

AbdulNafea Age 14

10. ‘We must complete Quran at least once. We must fast, pray and go for Taraveh’

Noufel Age 11

11. ‘We fast, pray salat, read the Quran and make sure we talk to others properly.’

Rahman Age 8

12.‘Ramadan is when we get lots of samosas, fruit chaat and meet with family at iftar time. I love going to going the masjid for iftar and taraweh so she I can make new friends.’

 Aaliya Age 4

13.‘Ramadan means fun for me. It’s fun because you get to fast. I get to stay up all night and eat Sehri in the morning and then sleep late. Ramadan is also exciting because I buy toys for my baby brother and cousins and the poor people. I also help my mom in Ramadan to give treats to our neighbors and friends’

Ruqayyah Age 7

14.‘Ramadan is when you don’t eat food to learn how poor people live. We keep fast, do suhoor, have iftar feast. We should be thankful to Allah for all He has given to us because he gave us good parents and we should behave well towards others, obey our parents. We should pray and try not to miss any prayers.’

Nabiha Age 6

Judging by the responses, it’s easy to see that Ramadan is not lost to our children. Infact we deserve a round of applause for instilling in them wonderful virtues.  There is always room for improvement. I think that while the food, family and prayers are apparent perhaps what is missing is the history of Ramadan. What actually happened and why. It’s in the  details. Tell them why we eat dates, and the significance of the last 10 nights. Ask your child what Ramadan means to them. It would be interesting and cute to hear! Don’t forget to let us know what they said.

 

 About the Author

Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures of the Travelling Muslim Moms; Part II

By Muslimmoms.ca Team sunset-landscape--colors_19-135709

Here we are again with more “funny” stories from the travels of our Muslimmoms.ca Team. If missed our first segment, be sure to check it out on our website! Enjoy Adventures of the Travelling Muslim Moms; Part I.

Enough is Enough!

We went to India with a 5 year old and a 1 year old. On the way back, I packed about 15 diapers in my diaper bag. My daughter started to have terrible diarrhea one hour into the flight. I changed her diaper 45 times throughout the journey. Funny part was: there was another baby with diarrhea and air hostess said that their diaper supply is finished as well, so if either of us need more diapers, we would have to take it from other parents. Alhamdollilah we didn’t need any extra 45 was enough. This was NOT funny at the time! -         Bushra Aafaqi

The Mystery of the Great Suitcase Switch

My story is so sad it’s funny! When I accompanied my husband to travel to Canada two weeks after getting married, we stopped over in London UK for our “honeymoon” for a week. We had packed just one suitcase for our stay in London and the rest of the luggage was locked and stored at a family friend’s place. Trouble was discovered once we landed in Toronto, and I decided to finally unpack all my luggage! I opened one of our largest suitcase (which I knew had contained most of newly made bridal outfits) only to discover it was full of some old cotton western clothes! At some point in our journey from Khi, PK to London, UK to TO, we had lost our luggage, instead picking up someone else’s identical suitcase full of junk!!!! It’s been 22 years and to this day, I sigh when I think about this incident. The worst part?! That suitcase also contained my mom’s black and gold Kashmiri shawl which she was given at her wedding! Okay I am going to go cry myself to sleep now! -         Rahila Ovais

I am Woman, Hear Me Ignore You!

Mine would be before I got married. I was working for a TV channel in Dubai and when I boarded my flight, the head of the news department, and my boss was also on board (I’d fought with him to get my vacation). He was at the peak of his career and loved to brag. The entire cabin crew was fawning over him. I was seated next to him because he did not want a mother/child sitting next to him on our two hour flight. Anyways, once we settled down he proceeded to tell me that he had to go to Islamabad to interview the PM. That was my cue to start heaping praise on him, instead I told him he would probably need to rest and took out my book to read, ignoring him for the rest of the journey. Needless to say, I could not last long at the channel! I still find the whole episode funny… especially when I returned and my colleagues shook their head in dismay at my having wasted a golden opportunity to ingratiate myself into the inner circle and fast track to promotions! Absolutely no regrets! -         Aaisha Zafar Islam

Not Without Our Luggage!

We travel to Pakistan every year. We are a family of 5 so when taking international flights we are allowed a luggage allowance to 2 pieces per person. Of course being typical Desi’s we always travel loaded with gifts and every knick knack on the planet. Heaven forbid I won’t be able to find the exact shoe to match my outfit in the entire city of Karachi so I must travel with at least 10 pairs of shoes. Every year, it’s a joke(a rather painful one) that we all squeeze in to a minivan with 8-10 suitcases, get off at the airport where everyone stares at us, some with disdain some with sympathy and understanding. Since our kids were too small to help us move the trolley,s my husband and I would have to take turns to actually move 4 odd trolleys through the airport until we check in. Needless to say, our toughest ordeal is actually getting to check in, the 18 hour flight is a piece of cake in comparison! -     Muneezah Jawad

Hello? It’s Nature Calling!

I enjoy travelling with kids by air and by road. We usually take road trips to the US with a bunch of friends so we have a decent group with kids. 
The funny part of these road trips are when we get sms’s or calls for a pit stop when someone’s kids want to go to washroom in the middle of now where. Everyone starts searching for a nearest Rest Area or a fast food chain to stop at. Once we all had to stop on a road side to accommodate one such incident. The hilarious part was all 5 vehicles standing with hazard lights on and every other car would stop by to check if all was well. Poor family and kid were very embarrassed. Until now we recall that one incident of a sudden emergency… when nature calls you have to answer! -         Rumina Rizvi

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.

Love That Spans Generations

By Muneezah Jawad 

Love That Spans Generations

Grandparents are the epitome of love. If there was someone on this planet who came close to caring for my children as much as I did, it would be my parents.  There are obvious reasons why maintaining this relationship is important. We all need to know our roots so we are confident of who we are in the world today. Knowing where you came from means you will know where you are going.  That’s important because the world today is not easy. We need as many allies as we can get to help us raise our children according to our values and customs.

Grandparents are the second set of hands you can place your children in safely. If your children are blessed enough to have them in their lives then you need to seize the opportunity and make sure that near or far your kids glean the benefits of their infinite wisdom and affection.

Language and religion

There are many ways to grow and strengthen the bond if grandparents live nearby or with you. I’ve often heard complaints that kids don’t speak their mother tongue. Well Nana can teach his grandchildren to speak, read and even write it. Some of the funniest and most endearing moments I have seen is my father trying to understand my niece’s very strong British accent and her rolling her mouth trying to form sounds that just don’t come out right. It’s amusing but it is valuable education and we must not allow our children to lose their heritage.

It’s also becoming an increasing concern that kids are not receiving enough religious education. Your children can practice their Quran lessons with them,  learn Duas, Surah’s, Seerah and pray with them as well.

Our elders are a well of religious knowledge.  They make religious occasions such as Ramadan and Eid extra special.  Our daily lives are more enriched because they help us instill those small little Sunnahs that they know, into our daily routines.

Hobbies

Several skills are slowly being lost as generations move on. Grandma can teach the kids how to knit that perfect scarf. If grandpa is a whiz a chess, hours of fun can be had. Watching the little seed they planted together sprout in to a tomato builds a sense of achievement.  It encourages bonding and is educational. It also keeps grandpa active, physically and mentally as the elderly often find themselves with a ton of spare time and no way to pass it. It also makes them feel useful and prevents depressions as often they can feel frustrated as age takes away many of their former abilities. My grandmother, brother and I spent hours playing card games and she would sew clothes for my Barbies.

Love That Spans Generations

If they are not well, then the best gift you can give your child is the gift of nurturing. What better way for them to earn sawab then to help their grandparents.  Simple things like getting them water and running small errands means the world to ailing grandparents.  This teaches them that we must learn to care for, respect and help the elderly and not let them become lonely.

Advances in technology such as viber, skype, FaceTime etc. enable us to be in touch with family on a daily basis if they live far away. You should set up a time when the child and grandparent each spend time online with each other doing much of the same things as above and sharing their daily lives. If they aren’t tech savvy, encourage letter writing and phone calls. Call on all special occasions, have the kids make handmade cards, pictures or crafts and send those. These things are more precious to grandparents than store bought things. The grandparent can be your child’s newest and best pen pal. You must also make it a priority to try to visit as often as is possible within your own constraints.

Share your loss

I lost my mother a few years ago.  My elder children had the pleasure of knowing her and remember her but my little one who was only two at the time has almost forgotten her.  It’s important to keep their memory alive. Talk about them frequently. Discuss their likes and dislikes; show them pictures, especially if it’s with the grandkids. 

Maybe your daughter has inherited her grandmother’s curly locks? Maybe your son has a fascination about planes like his Nana? Pass down that secret recipe for that very special Haleem only your mom could make. Share the little quirks they had, my mom loved to collect table cloths and comforters, it was a family joke. All these things connect the generations in the family and paint a memorable picture.

Don’t hide your tears from your kids. If you miss your parents and become mournful don’t hide it. Let your children know that someone very special and vital has left your life and that you cherished them. Of course don’t traumatize the kids but show them that you are human too and that family and heritage is of utmost value.

In these times, where technology is able to keep us more in touch with each other, I find that people are actually moving apart.  The relationship between grandparent and grandchild has stood the test of time. It’s unconditional and selfless love. We must make the effort to make sure our children reap the benefits as ultimately they have the most to gain. Whether it’s your parents or your in laws, regardless of how your own relationship is with them, the winner will always be your child and the prize will always be love.

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca

Let us know how you make sure your kids stay close to their grandparents. Share your thoughts and ideas.

Opinion: The Moral And Ethical Problems With The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

By Muneezah Jawad Butt

The Moral And Ethical Problems With The New Health And Physical Education Curriculum

The debate about the new and ‘updated’ Health and Physical Education Curriculum is not a religious one. It’s a moral and ethical one and more so it’s about parental and children’s rights.

The government is setting up something that they think will prevent children from catching STD’s, pregnancy, sexual abuse physically and mentally. However they are not addressing the main problem. Why are children being placed in such situations in the first place? This is what needs to be nipped in the bud.

Teaching little children how to read sexual cues is not the answer. Making sure they aren’t in a position to receive the cues is the solution.  If my child was given a lecture on Masturbation in any other environment other than a school setting by an adult it would be tantamount to sexual abuse. Where is our right to raise our children as we see fit?

Seeds of ideas are being planted in to the minds of children that don’t know how to process them. There is an age for everything. I’m not being naive, I know that my children do and will know more then they let on, however I make the effort to control what my children are exposed to at home; from electronic devices, to the company they keep, I do my best. So the presumption that my kids know as much as everyone else is wrong. Each child is unique and you cannot shove the information down their throats when they are not ready. You are overloading a mind that is unable to fully comprehend what they are learning. Just like you would not teach a grade one student Calculus, the same way you cannot skip a general and natural process of growing up at the relevant speed.

It’s a vicious cycle, you will teach them these concepts, and they will become more curious about them.  It’s ripping the concept of being a child from the child and it’s honestly a travesty. We will have the next few generations of children totally confused and stressed because their minds were polluted with all sorts of biased information. Even if we pull our kids out from such classes they will still have to mingle with those poor souls who did have to listen to it and will be influenced by it.

We are slowly but surely moving towards a society where morals are becoming looser, families no longer spend quality time together and the smart phone is our new best friend. This new curriculum is just the final nail on this coffin.

Image: 123RF

MuslimMoms.ca Meet & Greet Brunch

By Muneezah Jawad

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On September 22nd 2014, Muslimmoms.ca hosted their first ever Halwa Puri breakfast get together at the Touch of Spice restaurant. Naseema Huda, the owner was kind enough to book the place for us exclusively and cater the wonderful feast buffet style.

This event was geared towards members getting to know each other and to provide a platform for business owners to promote their businesses. We want to help Muslim women support each other and form a community network.

With over 60 people in attendance, the event lasted over three hours with plenty of fun and food. The delectable menu consisting of halwa, channa, keema and aloo was paired with the freshest of whole wheat puris piping right out of the kitchen and was  topped of with some steaming hot chai. After some socializing, we had some wonderful sponsors speaking  about themselves and  their ventures and finally giving away some fabulous prizes via raffle draw.

Our Sponsors

Muslimahs United:  Women’s Expo Organizers, Khadijah Ahdiya Reid and Atiyah Khan gave away 2 tickets to their conference that is going to be held next month. Our winner Sadaf Mithani is looking forward to attend this amazing conference on November 1st and 2nd 2014, at the Swagat Convention Center. This is a great conference that women of all ages can attend and benefit from. It was an amazing hit last year and is promising to be bigger and  better this year. They also gave away a $50 gift certificate from Arbonne to lucky winner Farhana Khan. Arbonne products are known worldwide for being free from all harmful ingredients.

Modah and Be-Licious gave away two $25 gift certificates. Winner Asra Basit will not have any trouble spending that and more at the new shop  that has opened up in  Mississauga. Modah is a first of its kind, a department store for Muslims. It has everything under one roof, from modest apparel to natural skincare products, an array of designer hijabs, Islamic toys and a Halal candy shop! Stay tuned for our upcoming feature on this new shopping destination.

The owners of Modah loved our event and had this to say about it:

Be-Licious and Modah were so pleased to have attended the Halwa Poori Breakfast at Touch of Spice. Thank you Muslim Moms for organizing this fabulous event. Looking forward to more events in the future.

The Fashionistas Farheen Haseem, Nazia Ahmed and Ifrah Shaid Khurram, partnered with American Diamonds to give away a stunning pair of earrings to one lucky winner, Ammara Asif. The Fashionistas organzied a very successful Eid and Diwali Extravaganza on the 3rd of October at the Vasco Da Gama Cultural Center in Brampton! It was a very busy event with lots of great shopping and entertainment for everyone. We look forward to their future ventures.

Toronto Eid Mela 2014  and Just4her Couture  gave away an a beautiful outfit. Humaira Shami was the lucky winner of a lovely outfit from organizer WR Khawaja who had the following to say about our event:

Loved the experience of being advertised by the best of the best, special thanks to Muslimmoms.ca for supporting their community.

Toronto Eid Mela was held on the 3rd of October at the Pearl Banquet and Convention Center. After the success of the first Eid Mela in July, this was no doubt a favourite with the crowds and we are sure it will be a regular feature every year.

Libas  sponsored a pair of stunning earrings. Winner Hanadee Noman was thrilled to receive the gorgeous jewelry from Qudsia Zahra. Libas Collection also was a part of an amazing Eid Extravanganza that took place on the 21st of September to a roaring success.

Sabz Haute Couture  also gave away an amazing Kurti picked by owner Sabeen Arv Al from her collection. Don’t forget to visit their store in Mississauga for an amazing shopping experience.

Cakes+Taste sponsored some delectable cupcakes, winner Muneezah Jawad was thrilled to receive such a scrumptious prize.

Nafeesa Anwar who runs a catering gave away her services to 2 lucky winners.

Zehras Flower’s owner Sabeen Alam-Zaib, gave away 2 beautiful pairs of the most beautiful gajras to Hana Masood.

We also had a Mary Kay representative give away a mini makeover.

A special mention should be made of Farhana Arshad who clicked away at this event and shared her wonderful ‘captures’ with us at MuslimMoms.ca

Indeed with such a great combination of food and fun, it was without doubt a super successful event enjoyed by all. Muslimmoms.ca looks forward to hosting many more such events so that we can continue to help to bond our community and reach out to Muslim women everywhere.

Take a look at our photo gallery and see what a fun and fabulous event it was!

(Click on images for hi-res pictures.)

Desi Mom Is, As Desi Mom Does!

By Muneezah Jawad

photo credit: leeno via photopin cc

photo credit: leeno via photopin cc

I am a typical desi mom and I am proud of it. Desi, for those of you unfamiliar with the term means ‘of South Asian descent’. There are a few *ahem* ‘charming’ traits that we all have, some of which I am proud of and others I won’t admit to. There are also those traits that make me wait for the day my children become parents themselves. Then I will sit back, grin like a Cheshire cat and purr out ‘I told you!!’

So sit back with your chai and cake rusk and enjoy my list of things typical desi moms do. Read this listing of ‘traits’ with a healthy dose of laughs, it’s all in good humour!

All desis are related

We have a universal adoption policy. We insist that our kids call anyone older than themselves, uncle, aunty, apa (sister) or bhaijan (brother). This is regardless of whether they are family, friends or the local shopkeeper as long as they are desi. If we could we would even assign the next door cat a title.

I am not going to apologize for this. We have been taught to respect our elders and that means not calling them by their first names. It’s as simple as that. Since non desi’s won’t understand and will think we are forcibly trying to adopt them I don’t push my kids to do this with others.

Future doctors, lawyers or engineers

If we had our way, we would dress our babies in white lab coats over their diapers and give them a stethoscope for a pacifier, then we would proudly parade said future doctor in front of the millions of uncles and aunties we adopted as explained above.

Food is love

Someone coming for dinner? Time to whip up 30 odd dishes. Not only is it about food, it’s about a lot of food. It cannot do to cook just enough. No! There must be leftovers for guests to take home.

This brings me to another key point. We hoard countless empty yoghurt tubs to send leftovers home with people. This means we can keep our precious Tupperware safely tucked in warm and cozy in its shelf at home. We fear we will never see it returned, so we just don’t hand it out.

Comparison is an art

Whenever convenient we never fail to use other children to our advantage. Recently my nephew got outstanding results in his exams. I used the moment to hammer into my kids about how intelligent he is, how hard he worked and how lucky his parents are. However the minute one of my kids comes home saying Charlie came to school with the latest of whatever popular items that’s going around, my standard answer is ‘We should not compare one family to another’. Out goes the comparison. Works like a charm every time. One of these days I will get caught I am sure.

Beta, when are YOU getting married? 

We all have been dreaming of our daughters getting married since the day they were old enough to steal our lipstick and play dress up. So it follows that we simply cannot resist asking any girl or even boy when they plan to tie the knot. It doesn’t matter that they are barely even ready to vote, we just need to know. If we don’t ask them the next target we corner is their mother.

photo credit: hamidijaz via photopin cc

photo credit: hamidijaz via photopin cc

The sun is not our friend

Yes, we avoid the sun like cats avoid baths.  We like to be fair and we will go to great lengths to achieve this. Our most common accessory is a giant umbrella ironically when there are no clouds in sight. We are seen ducking in and out of spots in outdoor malls trying to walk along the shaded sides. Since I am naturally tanned and no amount of shade can turn me into Snow White, I am least bothered with this one.  (When out and about in the sun, remember to put on sunscreen though!)

Hell hath no fury like a mother scorned

If our children even so much as hint at liking another mom’s brownies more than ours, that is it!  We get our feathers ruffled, we get all teary eyed and generally walk around with an injured look. It takes days for us to recover and it’s done with much sighing and sniffing.

We are nosy

We love to grill our children’s friends for information. What extracurricular activities they are doing, where they are planning to vacation, what their report cards said. Why you might ask? Remember we love to use the art of comparison! I usually extract the information by luring them with a piece of chocolate cake and a glass of milk when they are visiting. Once they are at the kitchen table munching away that’s when my inquisition takes place, slow and subtle.

Dress code: Shalwar Kameez 

We make sure our girls wear shalwar kameez for every occasion. I’ve had this done to me. I would be roped into wearing whatever garish outfit that was hanging around in my closet. Remember that fad that came in the 80’s when the shalwar(flared pants), kameez (long tunic)and dupatta(scarf) were all a different color that did not complement each other? Well I do. Need I say more?

I forgive my parents though, because those outfits really were the epitome of our culture, heritage and style. I just didn’t see it that way. If we don’t introduce our kids to them, they might never wear it. It will be looked upon as a costume.  It’s imperative that our children know their roots and our clothes play a big part. I advise that they should be given choices and never be forced.

Hospitable to a fault

Aside from feeding guests till they are ready to pop, anyone who ever comes for a visit will always be escorted out the door when they leave. It’s like we want to make sure they actually leave. We will stand outside and wait till they are safely in their car and have driven off.  It’s difficult to know when to stop waving. We wave, then they wave, which obligates us to wave back and on it goes. Sometimes we are standing on the driveway a good 10-15 minutes and our hands end up very tired.

 

I am so proud to be desi. We are the most loving, hospitable people and I would never wish to be anything else. I hope to instill a few of these traits in my future generations as well. It is what makes us unique and at the same times makes us stand out in society.

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca

 

Are there any you can add to this list? Tell us about the wonderful things that are typical in your family and home? Let us know how you make sure that your children understand why you do some of the things you do. We would love to hear from you.

Ramadan For Children In Canada

By Muneezah Jawad

Ramadan For Kids

Growing up in Dubai, one could simply not miss the arrival of Ramadan – it was evident in street decorations, in grocery store sales, in schools and just about everywhere else.

My parents didn’t have to make too much of an effort to make sure I understood its significance. For one whole month, the whole country got into the Ramadan spirit. Restaurants closed all day and were open all night. No one was allowed to been seen eating out doors during daylight hours or you would be fined. Offices had shorter working hours. My school had a special room for the non-fasting kids to go to during lunch hours and those fasting would be allowed out of gym and physically exhausting activities. All in all, the world revolved around us and Ramadan.

I love Canada and feel blessed to be in a country with such a large Muslim population. Mosques, Islamic schools and halal restaurants can be found at every corner! However I feel that my children are missing out on the nuances of Ramadan. It needs to be celebrated because here is a joyous month where our good deeds are multiplied and people strive to be the best version of themselves.

For a lot of us, what made Ramadan special was the atmosphere and our families. Since most of us have left family behind and our routines do not change here, how do we ensure our children eagerly await and participate in Ramadan as we did?

In the kitchen

All children love to cook. From chopping, dicing, mixing and laying the table, involving the children in preparation of the food achieves many things. It shows them that both women and men should work in the kitchen. There is no stigma in it. It also encourages team work amongst even the most squabbling of siblings. It teaches them to resist temptation and makes it more challenging by handling food and not being able to eat rather than just sleeping through the day. It makes them feel genuinely needed – honestly, with the long summer fasts we are having I am grateful for an extra set of hands to peel a few potatoes and they can see they were really being useful.

Ramadan menu for Iftaar and Suhoor is always different than other months, we make special food and snacks. In our house these include samosas, pakoras and rolls. These deep fried delicacies rarely show up during other months and children love them and look forward to it eagerly each year.

One thing that I particularly missed is neighbors sending us Iftaar. Almost every other evening a half hour before sunset the doorbell would ring and my dad would bring in a tray the neighbor had delivered filled with goodies.  For the past two years I have taken to sending Iftaar out to our Muslim friends who are nearby. Iftaar distribution day is an eventful one for us with the kids running around, helping package dates, filling up and labelling food containers and arranging them in trays. Then we pile into our car two hours before iftaar and kids deliver the meals. It teaches them the joy of sharing food in Ramadan and also about how to love and take care of others.

Charity

We all know that all our good deeds multiply during this blessed month. This is the perfect time to teach children how to give to the needy and appreciate what they have. My children are encouraged to donate their pocket money to the mosque. We go on weekly grocery shopping trips and load up on staples like rice, oil and flour, then we go fill up an empty food bin for one of the Muslim organizations.  Something about watching an empty food bin fill up makes their eyes light up. When I tell them how many families it will feed they are astonished and humbled.

Charity does not have to be about money. It could be about donating your time. We spent an entire afternoon at the ISNA mosque preparing 520 Ramadan food hampers for their food bank. Four hours of standing continuously doing physical work while fasting and my children didn’t complain once. They were so dedicated and determined. When the job was done and they saw the mass of food hampers they helped create, their pride in themselves could not be contained.

Ramadan For Kids

Spiritual development

Ramadan is the month where the Quran was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) for the first time. It is a time for us to strive to strengthen our faith. Those who are not diligent in prayers make sure to fulfill their religious obligations. People go to the mosque for taraweeh and tahajjud. They stay up nights praying and reading the Quran. They pray incessantly and ask for Allah to forgive them and bless them.

A pleasant difference I have found here from Dubai and even Pakistan is that women go to the mosque. I had never stepped into a masjid in Dubai for the purpose of praying. Here we try to go for Jumuah prayers every week. During Ramadan, there are  babysitting services for younger kids to facilitate mothers who want to go for taraweeh. There are numerous camps and courses for children of all ages at the mosques. Introduce your children to the mosque and make them familiar with it. Have them volunteer at the community iftaars or even take down some food during iftaar time and open your fast there and share your food with the others. Take them late during the last 10 nights. Explain to them their significance and show them the people standing all night in prayer. The mosque is alive and aglow those nights.

At home devote time to pray, sit and read the Koran together. Pick a Surah from the Koran and explain its meaning and relevance. Close or limit TV time and instead play games revolving around Ramadan. Make this month different from your regular routine and take advantage of the fact that the kids are off for the summer. A lot of nights my children have stayed up till suhoor just to play around and then slept in till 1 pm. It is all about making it fun, making it special so that every year they look forward to it.

We have to make the extra effort to make sure our children grow to love Ramadan and don’t see it as a hindrance to their activities. They have to feel pride at their participation and they have to understand why it is an important month. It is our job as parents to fill in the gap that living in Canada has created and to enhance the opportunities it has given us to fulfill our religious duties.

 

About the author:

Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca.

Tell us how you involve your children in Ramadan, are there any special traditions you follow. Do you have to struggle to get your children excited and interested in this blessed month? We look forward to hearing about your experiences.