Category Archives: Lifestyle

Healthy Marital Communication: Some Strategies for Parents

By Dr Saunia Ahmed

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Couples in my office will sometimes turn to me and ask me how I manage to stay so calm and objective when I work with partners who fight so much. They may be surprised to learn that I find myself humbled to witness how hard they work to make their marriage work and how touching it is to see them work their way through such a challenge.

Marriages are hard work.

Going from being single to being married is a major adjustment and new couples are often surprised to learn just how hard this transition can be. Love is not enough, but you certainly need love to stay dedicated to the process.

I would say most couples struggle with communication at some point in their marriage, often in the early years of their marriage, and definitely when they have children. In fact, studies suggest that marital satisfaction deteriorate substantially after couples have children.

But it does not have to be this way. The challenges couples face after having children is an opportunity to really look at where they need to improve in order to strengthen their relationship.

Couples with children need to communicate in order to effectively manage their roles as parents. Some couples try to manage the emotions they experience around disagreements by not talking because they fear it will make things worse. Couples I work with often tell me they fight a lot, but never in front of their children. While it is a good idea not to expose your children to explosive conflicts, children pick up on tension between parents. Good communication not only improves your ability to be more coordinated in your parenting but to also model for your children an affectionate and supportive relationship.

Here are some suggestions for healthy communication:

1) Express your feelings and needs:

Express what is bothering you by talking about how you feel about what your partner is saying or doing instead of criticizing. One way to do this is to take what you were going to say and replace the ‘you’s with ‘I’s: For instance, instead of saying “You never come home on time” tell him/her how their behavior makes you feel by saying something like “When you come home late, I feel unimportant”

2) Listen and empathize with your partner:

Many couples tell me they don’t understand how communication is supposed to help when they talk and talk and talk but get nowhere. The problem is that both partners are talking but neither are really listening and genuinely considering what their partner is saying to them. And sometimes they think they are, but they are often listening to their interpretation of what their partner is saying rather than what their partner actually means.

3) Make time to talk:

Make time to communicate when there are no distractions. Today’s couples are very busy even before they have children, but when children come into the picture, they have even less time. You will need to make time to communicate, even if it means skipping out on your favourite tv shows after you put the kids to bed. Make a point of having regular check-ins with your partner. You need time to share how you feel and any concerns you have, and to spend quality time with each other. This nurtures your relationship and makes your co-parenting roles run more smoothly.

4) Apply the 10-minute rule when you are very angry:

The adage “Don’t go to bed angry” makes a lot of sense. You certainly don’t want to allow resentment to brew. Otherwise, minor events will start to trigger bigger arguments. However, sometimes when people try to talk about an issue when they are very upset and angry, they are more likely to react in ways that further exacerbates the issue. They may say or do something that can be hurtful, such as yelling or swearing or being critical of their partner, and later regret it when they have calmed down. I sometimes suggest to people who tend to react quickly with unconstructive remarks to ask their partner for a 10-minute time off to collect their thoughts. This needs to be a strategy you and your partner agree upon in advance so that the other person does not feel rejected when you say you need a time-off. Instead, your partner understands you are doing this so that you two can have a constructive conversation. The key is to make sure you come back to the table to talk and not go to bed angry. You have allowed your body and mind to calm down, and you are more likely to listen to your partner and express yourself as well.

About the Author

Dr. Saunia Ahmad is a registered Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Toronto Psychology Clinic. She provides individual psychotherapy and marriage counseling/couple therapy to adults. Dr. Ahmad has extensive experience in assessing and treating emotional and behavioural concerns that range from general issues (e.g., work place stress, relationship conflict, poor self-esteem, procrastination) to serious mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.).

Dr. Ahmad has been providing marriage counseling for over a decade. She also initiated a project to develop a more culturally sensitive approach to couple therapy during her doctoral training at York University and has published papers on her work. She has provided workshops and presentations on the topic of marriage counseling and provided training and supervision to other marital therapists. Dr. Ahmad has been invited to talk about her work in the media.

To learn more about her work visit www.DrSauniaAhmad.com

The Distance Between: Tips for Those Who Work Afar

By Mona Ismaeil

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The Canadian economy has taken a great hit this past year. There isn’t a single Canadian home that hasn’t felt the pain. Many people have lost their jobs,  stay-at-home moms have been forced back to work and for some homes like my own it means one parent travels for work.

This unnatural living situation is not ideal and it can take a toll on the whole family. It takes a great deal of sacrifice from everyone but there are many ways to make this hopefully temporary set-up a little  easier. Remember the time spent apart, the time differences, or the distances between, the same rules apply.

The Couple:

Remember you are still a couple. You still need to connect anyway you can. A simple “Good Morning” or a check-in mid-day can make the world of a difference for both people. For the one travelling, it lets them know they are not forgotten and for the parent at home, it lets them know they are still supported and appreciated.  Also, be sure to talk as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, just a quick check in is all you need. Remember to say “I love you” as much as possible! Be sure to still keep the travelling parent in the know about day to day happenings. This could include things like telling them about a lunch date you had with a friend, or how you found a good deal for cable. Also, give them time to tell you about work, or an experience they’ve had while away. My husband and I know pretty much everything about each other’s day. We share almost every detail and for some that may be a little much but for us, it’s what keeps us connected. It’s like we’re never apart.

The Kids:

It is vital for the family dynamics to keep the travelling parent as much a part of the home life as possible. This means sharing with them everything big and small, good and bad that takes place at home. It is important to give the travelling parent an opportunity to give your children praise for the positive things and to discipline at the same time. For example, when my daughter is exceptionally well-behaved or she learns something new, I make a point of telling my husband so that he can praise her and tell her how proud he is of her. At the same time, if she has had poor behaviour, I also tell him and he talks to her about it. That way she knows Daddy is still as much a part of the family as Mommy. I take tons of pictures of the kids doing different things and share them with my husband. Playing, eating, bathing, laughing, crying, everything! My daughter even asks me to take pictures to send to Daddy so he can see her painting or so he can see her outfit that day.  I find this helps when our daughter talks to him and tells him about something she did he can respond in a way where he knows what she is talking about. She loves this! They can have a conversation and he doesn’t feel lost and she feels like he’s a part of it all.

The Routine:

It’s important for any well-oiled machine to run smoothly, that there be a system in place. For a family, routine is that system. As one parent leaves, the other parent is left to hold down the fort and naturally must find their own way to make it work on their own. That means that they adapt by finding their own routine. This may include meals, bed time routines, and routines for weekends vs. weekdays. When the travelling parent comes home, it can disrupt the routine you have put in place and that is ok… to an extent. Although it’s exciting when Mommy or Daddy come home and children are hesitant to sleep early because they want to tell stories and play games it is important to keep with the previously established routines as much as possible. If you allow it lax too much, you will undoubtedly suffer to get it back in order later on. Starting over again is just not fun!

The Communication:

Open, honest communication is very important in any marriage but it is even more important when there are factors which can make that difficult. No matter the time difference, the distance between you or how long you are apart (a day or a month), it is essential to keep communication strong. Ensure you have the tools to be in touch. We are living in a very technologically advanced world and this should be taken advantage of! A call to check in, a text message with a picture or an hour long video chat, these will all help the communication and connection strong.  Some tools we have used are:

  • WhatsApp
  • WeChat
  • Skype
  • Facebook Chat
  • Facebook Voice Call
  • Viber

If your spouse travels, what do you do to make it a little easier?

About the Author:

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

Gardening On A Budget

By Sana Athar

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Spring has nearly sprung and with it brings the question: to plant or not to plant. Oftentimes people think of gardening as an expensive hobby but I have found it to be a relaxing activity that makes me feel good. It’s exciting to watch your plants grow and when it starts to fruit, it’s almost the same joy as holding a newborn in your arms.

We follow up on our gardening series with tips and tricks for gardening on a budget to help save money while keeping plants in perfect condition.

Recycle

There are many ways to use recycled containers in garden; as watering can, for growing seed or as planter. Here are some things you can use in gardening.

Milk jugs: as a planter or watering can

Plastic food container with lid: as green house or for seed starting

Paper or plastic cups: really good to start seed in. Just make sure to make some holes through a pin or pencil for drainage.

Egg Cartons: A personal favourite. I tear up both sides then line one side with plastic wrap and put the other one on it and fill it with my compost and seed starter. It can be planted directly in garden because of being compost friendly.

Egg shells: I haven’t used this as of yet but people use egg shell as seed starter pot.

Shredded paper, toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes: all can be crushed up and its pulp can be used as seedling starter.

Yogurt cups: as seed pot

Seed trays: sold at dollar stores

Plastic watering bottle: cut in half and use as pot

Aluminum containers: use as planters

Aluminum tray: I use it as seed pot tray. Cases of soda and canned products can also be used as tray to hold all seed pots

Mulch

Instead of overspending on mulch, we can use recycled paper, cardboard boards, and newspaper as mulch. Grass clipping are excellent mulch as well. You can also save on mulch and potting soil by getting discount bags that have tears in them. Don’t miss any sale.

Harvest seeds

Although seed are sold at dollar stores as well, you can try harvesting your own to save some more money.

For fleshy vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons, pick them when they are fully ripe. Scoop out the seeds, along with the gel surrounding them. Put the seeds and gel in a glass jar with some water. Stir or swirl the mixture twice a day. The mixture will ferment and the seeds should sink to the bottom within five days. Pour off the liquid, rinse the seeds and spread them out to dry on paper towels.

Saving pepper seeds is even easier. Allow some fruits to stay on the plants until they become fully ripe and start to wrinkle. Remove the seeds from the peppers and spread them out to dry.

Beans and peas need to be left on the vine until the pods are dry and crackly.

Corn should also be left to dry on the stalk until the kernels dent.

Potatoes (with eyes) can be half dipped in water held by tooth picks just above water. It grows its roots in a month.

Onion and garlic can be grown from their bulb. Some are grown in water until they grow new greens and some are harvested for their seed and re-grown again.

Not every avocado pit will produce roots, so your best bet is to try two or three pits at once. Leaves will appear in few weeks.

For cabbage, place leftover base and leaves in a bowl and add a small amount of water in the bottom. When roots and new leaves begin to appear, transplant the cabbage into a garden.

The next option is to trade plants and seeds or share with neighbours.

Buy Perennials

Buying perennials will save money in long run. Because it will grow by itself year after year.  Although they cost more in beginning but with proper care it will be ease of mind to see them grow every year. Examples of some of such plants are tulips, lilies, roses, daisy, hydrangea, cornflower and lavender among others.

DIY

Weed and Bug Killer

DIY weed or bug killer use safe ingredients and there are many ideas you can find online. Some people use sugar mixed with cinnamon and chili powder which feeds your soil and kills weeds.  This mix also keeps bugs at bay. People also use eggshells around the base of the plants and edge of the garden to keep snails and slugs away.

Vinegar can also kill weeds be careful though, it kills grass too.

Boiling water and bleach can also be used as an effective weed killer.

Fertilizer 

DY fertilizers are easy to make at home.

Banana peel is excellent fertilizers just chop into small pieces and voila! Put in your pot. It provides Potassium.

Coffee and tea grounds: Acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love them due to its high nitrogen content.

Dead leaves, glass clippings and weed are high in nitrogen and an excellent fertilizer.

Epsom salt are rich in magnesium .

Egg shells are great for providing calcium to plants. Wash them first, and then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers.

Remember, gardening is a labour of love, it takes time and patience but the results are truly worth the wait.

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.

A Three Course Meal For Diabetics

By Marzia Shamsi

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As we all are well aware an individual suffering from diabetes normally has to keep a very sharp and strict diet regime. But did you also know that their meals should vary as per 50% of total daily carbs, 20% calories from protein and 30% calories from fat  of which 7% should be from saturated fat?

A personalized diet plan has always been at the top of my priorities and caught my interests for the same, firstly as a daughter and then as a chef. Diabetes is a very common disease in my family; my grandmother first, then dad  and other elders in our family also suffer from  diabetes. Dad’s eating habits have always caused me concern and I researched for a long time on different ways to keep him under a strict special dietary plan without the food loosing its natural flavours. I have learned that it is never too late to learn and help a member of your family through this by introducing them to meals that are easy to make, delicious, very healthy, yet appetizing to your eyes.

Any individual suffering from diabetes should follow few of the point below while considering their routine meal plans:

  • Always include fibre contents,whole grain starch options and incorporating fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit the use of fat in general
  • Food options should vary, from grilling or sautéing using a fat free non-stick cooking spray. Or use a small amount of canola or olive oil.
  • Choose low fat dairy products, skim or a 1% milk, low fat yoghurt and low fat cheese.
  • Make sure you portion your meals properly.
  • Always include 15 to 30 grams of carbs in your evening snacks.

Here is my personalized special dietary 3 course meal for a diabetic patient keeping all the nutritional values in mind and trying to keep the flavours intact just like in any normal recipe.

Starter

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Clear Chicken & Vegetable Soup

  • 500 g skinless chicken breast
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 leeks, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 -4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 8 cups water
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. In the meantime, cut up all the vegetables into small cubes.
  3. Cut the chicken into 1cm cubes.
  4. Add in vegetables and garlic and stock and boil on high heat for 5 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add chicken and bring to boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or longer.
  6. Soup is ready when all ingredients have sunk to the bottom!

Main Course

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Fish en papillote with brown rice

Papillote means paper in Italian,  ’en papillote’ is a method of cooking in which  food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be also be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food while the pocket is created by overlapping circles of aluminum foil and parchment paper and then folding them tightly around the food to create a seal. A papillote should be opened at the table to allow people to partake in the aroma when it opens. It is by far one of the finest tasting baked fish recipe I have made.

  • Fish fillet of your choice, 1 to 1 1/2 lb. in four equal portions
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. minced lemon zest
  • 4 scallions (both white and green parts)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 tbs. softened butter (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat  oven to 450°F.
  2. To make the gremolata, mince the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest together. Set aside.
  3. Cut the scallions into 2-in. lengths and slice them lengthwise. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and spread the top with butter, if desired.
  4. Divide the scallions among four sheets of parchment, top each with a portion of fish, and top the fish with a portion of gremolata. Seal the packages and bake on a sheet pan until puffy and browned, about 8 min

 Desserts

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Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like cantaloupe decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion and hair growth, increased energy and overall lower weight. This  recipe is perfect in all aspects and not just for diabetics but for everyone. It is a healthy yet delicious way to finish of this three course meal.

Creamcheese filled cantaloupe bowls with strawberry sauce

  • Light tub-style cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon toasted and coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe, seeded
  • 1/3 cup strawberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender or dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. For filling: In a small bowl, stir together cream cheese, honey and nutmeg until smooth. Stir in nuts, set aside.
  2. Using an ice cream scoop (around 1/4 cup measure), scoop two large balls out of the cantaloupe (one side of each ball will be indented). Save remaining cantaloupe for another use. Set each cantaloupe ball in a small bowl or custard cup, indented side up. (If necessary, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each ball so it sits flat.)
  3. Spoon or pipe cream cheese mixture into the indentation of each melon ball.
  4. In a blender or small food processor, combine strawberries, honey, and dried lavender. Blend or process until smooth. Press through a sieve to remove raspberry seeds. Spoon strawberry coulis mixture around cheese-filled cantaloupe cups. If desired, garnish with the 1/4 cup raspberries and mint leaves. Makes 2 (1 portion cantaloupe, 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture, and 2 tablespoons strawberry coulis) servings

Some day, I hope to convey this message to everyone suffering from diabetes, and their families, that you don’t have to give up on flavourful food to maintain your health. We need to educate everyone, not just those who are diabetic, but also those who are around them that Diabetes is not the end of the world, every problem always has a solution. We can bring back joy in their lives by little gestures and food is definitely one of them.

About the author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, she is a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

Dealing with “Toxic People” in Our Lives

By Sameera Ali

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When you read the words “Toxic People” the first thing that comes to mind are people that are forced into our lives, like in-laws. While that might be the case for many people, sometimes it’s the people you chose yourself to be in your lives that turn out to be toxic. Yes you guessed it right, these can be your “friends.”

We have all seen them; there is always one in a group. You know the one who will be the first person to publicly point out that you have put on a couple pounds, or the one who takes a recipe from you and then shares it with others as her “original” recipe, or the one who never responds to your messages or the one who is always hit by one calamity after the other. While these might seem like harmless personality traits, if done repeatedly, can cause you hurt feelings, frustration and anxiety.

So the question is, how to deal with such people?

Whatever way you chose to deal with this problem, make sure that your goal is to eliminate the source of negativity from your life completely. That also means refusing to waste time thinking about that person. In more serious cases, it may mean cutting a toxic person out of your life. Life is short and full of uphill battles, the last thing you want is to surround yourself with people who bring unnecessary stress in your life by those who bring you down.

Now to figure out a way to deal with such people. Well, that mostly depends on what kind of person you are.

Passive People

If you are a non-confrontational/passive type, your best bet is to pull back, make fewer plans, be polite but not overly friendly. Don’t be dishonest. Make the other person aware that you don’t like the way she treats you if not in clear words, than at least through your reserved behaviour.

Assertive People

If you’re the assertive type than the solution is pretty straight forward. Let your friend know what’s bothering you. Come out right and say, “Your attitude is upsetting me right now.  Is this what you want?” Challenging this kind of behavior upfront will get to her to realize the negative impact of her behavior and even if she denies it, at least you’ve made her aware of the problem and also realized that it’s time to move along.

The Goal

The goal is not to try to change anyone. That is not your job. Your job is to defend your boundaries. It is your right to make sure that you feel safe in a relationship. Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being.

A Healthy Relationship

Remember, a healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking. Toxic people are bullies which is why it’s even more important to stand up to them, not just for yourself, but for others around you.

Let us know below how you deal with toxic people and how eliminating them has helped you live a better life!

 

About the Author: 

Sameera Ali is a full-time freelance content writer /SEO expert and a mom of four wonderful kids who keep her busy and thankful always.

5 Lessons I Learned from My Husband

By Mona Ismaeil

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I often hear women talking about how they made their husbands better since marrying them. How “he’s changed” and they glow with pride over the transformation. How often do you hear a woman admitting that her husband made her better? That perhaps he taught her a thing or two about life, love and the meaning of a solid, long lasting relationship? I am one of those women. I have no problem admitting that my husband did just that for me. By loving me, showing me patience and compassion he helped me to see life, love and relationships in a whole other way.

1. It’s okay to let someone into your life fully

This was hard for me.  I had taken care of myself for more than 5 years before marrying and I did everything myself. For so long I wanted to keep myself separate from him in fear of giving him “control” over MY life. This is strange seeing he had fully let me into his life. He had opened all the doors and let me walk in but I was still so guarded. I guess I thought I was protecting myself but I was just doing myself a disservice.  Letting someone in fully is not just about living under one roof, or sharing finances but trusting them fully to make decisions – big decisions – on your behalf.

2. Love and affection can be expressed in different ways

If you are looking for flowers, chocolates and candle lit dinners as a sign of how much your husband loves you, then I would have thought my husband didn’t love me. Those gestures did exist in the start, I won’t deny that but not so much now. With time, I learned to look for other ways he was showing how much he loves me.  The more I looked, the more I realized he didn’t just love me. He appreciated me, cared for me more than he cared for himself and cherished our marriage.

I started to notice that how he showed love and affection was by how much he worked. Sounds strange but he works for OUR future. He works so I can focus on raising our children.  I noticed it’s by the way he looks at me. It’s the way he pinches my cheeks or smiles at me.  It’s the little gestures that take place all day, every day as opposed to a big gesture on an occasion.  Lucky for me, my husband likes surprises, so I get those too!

3. Being “like him” isn’t so bad

I’d be lying if I told you my husband and I were anything alike in personality. We’re not! But as they say “opposites attract”. My husband and I are (I should say were) polar opposites. I was serious, he was all about the jokes. I’m very emotional he’s very logical. I’m a more spontaneous, he’s very calculated.  Like I said we WERE polar opposites. I am not entirely sure what point we stopped being that way. At what point in the last 6 years of knowing each other did I become less sensitive to his teasing and he became more sensitive to my emotions? Sometimes, I hear things that come out of my mouth and think, that sure sounds like Mohamed but honestly I’m not sure where I end and he begins. I am grateful that I have been influenced by his many positive traits and I like to think that he has taken a great deal from me as well. Although we are our own people and we still disagree on many things, but the basis of who we are, our values, our goals and so much more have become exactly the same. That doesn’t mean we have lost ourselves to one another, it means we have grown alongside each other.

4. Spousal support is key to success

Your spouse can make or break your success. Success is defined in many ways. It can be your career, your parenting, your hobbies, your health goals, basically anything you work towards. Your spouse is the single most important person to have support you.

Think about what happens if a man is required to travel for work but his wife makes this difficult, or makes him feel bad about his decision because it will keep him away from the family. Does he move forward in his career? No. Does their relationship improve? No.

Let’s not make this just about the men and not just about careers. Think about if you enjoyed doing something, like being active, Islamic studies, book clubs, etc. but your husband is always getting in your way. He won’t watch the kids, or he asks you to do other things when you have a fitness class you want to get to. Perhaps he invites people for dinner on an evening you have a halaqa you want to attend.  Will you be able to enjoy your hobbies? No. Will your goals be met? No.

No matter the goal, your spouse’s support and willingness to sacrifice is the most important things you need to succeed.

5. There are still great men in the world

It sounds cliché right from the start I know but it is the truth. In our lives we come across so many men who are bad that at some point we start to believe that that’s all that is out there. We run into cheap men, liars, sell outs, impolite men, hypocritical men, unrighteous men, and others of their kind. How often do you actually meet a good man, let alone a great man? We often are so skeptical when we meet a genuinely nice guy that we doubt their intentions. We wonder how can he possibly be THAT nice?! Most of us look at our grandfathers and fathers as the exemplars for what a “real man” is supposed to look like. How many women can truly say their husband is at that level? Times have changed men AND women. Our generation is so different. The way we view the world, life, the future, and relationships has changed. Our lives are about having more but giving less. Taking it slow, but getting out fast.

My husband taught me that a fight doesn’t mean it’s over. He has this annoying habit of getting over arguments fast and I most definitely do not! The fact that he does, has likely saved our marriage on more than one occasion. We talk things through, no matter how hard they are to address. He works hard for US. He believes fair is fair no matter who you are dealing with. He treats people with kindness, respect until they do something to deserve otherwise. He has shown me that hanging on to your principals and beliefs is what is most important in defining who you are but will not hesitate to make exceptions for his family.

We can only grow as individuals if we are willing to learn from each other. Who better to learn from than someone who loves you, cares for you and wants the very best of this world and the hereafter for you?

About the Author: 

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

Advice to My Younger Self

By Khaula Mazhar

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Unlike the very “cool” advice Helen Mirren said she would give her younger self, that is, to “tell people off more frequently”, I suppose mine is quite boring and dull. You know just regular, ordinary, not-so-cool-people stuff. Maybe it’s because I am not 70 yet, maybe it is because I am Canadian and we are just too polite to tell people off all the time. Maybe because I am trying to cut down on potty mouthness.

So it’s a tough one, you don’t want to sound clichéd, and you do want to bestow all your worldly knowledge and experience on the unfortunate younger generation who seem to be doing everything wrong (exactly like you at that  age).

So what would I tell my younger self or a younger someone else?

  1. Don’t grow up too fast. Don’t be so busy wishing you are 18, 21 or 25. Once you get there you will realize it was all a lie. You don’t have more freedom, you’ll just have more stress because you aren’t where you were expecting to be. And you still won’t be sure of exactly where it is you want to be. Enjoy those young days of freedom and parents’ lectures, because once you are on your own you have to deal with all the (fill in the blank with your choice of bad word) yourself. No parents to deal with it for you, you will be on your own.

  2. Do not party too hard once you are 18,21 or 25. Focus on exactly what you want and think of how you can get there, take opportunities, network, volunteer. Don’t become a party pooper though either! Balance is the keyword.

  3. Do enjoy every second, no matter what. Learn from the failures, laugh at your embarrassments (they will make great chapters for your memoirs in later life), treasure even the tragedies. They are what make you stronger, more determined and grateful when you win life’s little battles. Never think “If I had another chance I would change this or that”. Think “I would do it exactly the same”, your future is what you can change. Not your past, embrace it!

  4. Forgive others. But don’t be gullible. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you give anyone a chance to hurt you again. That is stupidity.

  5. Forgive yourself! But don’t make the same mistakes. That is also stupidity.

  6. Always help others along the way. You do have time, there is no race unless you make it one, and it always pays to do good for good people. Surround yourself with good people.

  7. Don’t ever waste time on getting back at someone, that is not cool. Karma is a (insert bad word here) let her take care of it for you. She does an excellent job.

  8. Some of us are late bloomers. Just go with it. You may have to put everything on hold because of your kids. Put it in hold! They grow up too fast, their childhood will not come back, opportunities will.

  9. Stop to smell the roses. Always take time out to read a good book, watch a good movie, spend time with your best friends, go on a date with your husband, visit your elderly relatives.

  10. Never look back with regret. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t. Believe that God has something better planned for you and move on.

  11. Do NOT tell people off more often, smile and walk away. It is way more irritating to them that you didn’t react, that you don’t give them enough importance to take their (your choice of bad word) to heart.

Now go on and be awesome!

About the Author:

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

39 Things I Learned in My 30′s

By Rahila Ovais

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2015 marked the year when I celebrated the last of my birthdays in my 30’s.  Besides the fact that I still cringe and cry every time I discover a new grey hair; my 30’s were the years when I really embraced aging.  Being a young mom, I spent my 20’s in child rearing and career building. Now that I approach the big 4-0, I can honestly say that my 30’s were the learning years. Here is a list of things I have learned……

  1. Allah has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and it takes a lot of faith. But it’s worth the wait.

  1. Believe in the power of prayer with conviction.

  1. Before you judge other people’s actions, ask yourself “Have I been in this situation before?” If not, don’t judge!

  1. Learn to always mind your own business.

  1. Hurt me and I may forgive and forget, I may even turn another cheek, but if anyone hurts my family I will turn around and bite.

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you “you can’t”.

  1. I am not a morning person but oh the wonders you get to see when you wake up early.

  1. “Kill them with kindness; bury them with smile”.  Smile when taking a compliment; also when being criticised. Smile when you don’t have an answer.

  1. Worrying doesn’t improve anything.  Most problems get worse if we take them too seriously.

  1. Don’t undermine yourself by comparing with others. You are in no competition with anyone.

  1. Envy is a waste of time; you already have all you need.

  1. Do not change your own hopes and wishes to make others happy.

  1. A handwritten greeting card, a handpicked wildflower bouquet or a home-made cake; these are the things that matter.

  1. Take lots of pictures of your kids when they are young, they grow up too fast but do not forget to make memories in the process.

  1. It’s never too late to do anything you want.

  1. Life would be boring if everything was perfect.

  1. Patience is needed with everyone but most importantly with ourselves.

  1. Men are from earth, women are from earth; just deal with it!

  1. Before making a choice, always ask yourself the most basic question. “Can you sleep at night with the choice you made?”

  1. Spend as much time as you can with your grandparents. You will miss them a lot when they are gone.

  1. The best person who can help you out of your problems is the one you see in the mirror.

  1. There is nothing wrong in being the first to apologize. It is equally important to accept an apology wholeheartedly.

  1. Nothing should stop you from standing up for what is right; sometimes  being kind is more important than being right.

  1. “Honesty is the best policy”. Never cheat or lie.  My mom did a fine job of teaching me that, now I can not lie to even save my life.

  1. Express gratitude. Be the first one to say “thank you”; people will always remember that about you.

  1. Keep your sense of humour.

  1. Age is just a number and grey hair happens; this is your time to be creative with it.

  1. If time permits, volunteer you time for others.

  1. Holding on to grudges takes a lot of energy.  Forgive often and wholeheartedly.

  1. The key to being happy is to expect nothing from others. You are in-charge of your own happiness. Go buy those goddamn 4 inch heels if that’s what will make you happy!

  1. Teach your kids to enjoy the wonders of life. Spend time outdoors in nature and marvel at the sunsets and full moons together.

  1. When life gets crazy, do something normal. And if life gets too normal, do something crazy.

  1. You children will become who you are; so be what you want them to be.

  1. Write down all the funny things your kids say when they are young. They will be all grown up in the blink of an eye.

  1. Save that last piece of chocolate for yourself.  Sometimes there is nothing wrong with being selfish.

  1. You will eventually become your mother, be proud of it.

  1. Take all the learning opportunities that arise when you are trying to teach your kids.

  1. Keep your promises.

  1. Life is a circus; It’s a balancing act and a juggling routine. Have fun!

 

Share the lessons you have learned as part of growth?

About the Author: 

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

20 Confessions from a Mom of … FIVE!

By Khaula Mazhar

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Motherhood is not easy. It is not easy to be mom of one nor is it easy to be mom of five. There is however, a certain number of children where it becomes easier to let go and just roll with it, mainly because you have no choice and  learned that stressing isn’t going to get anything done. I put that number at three. With kid number three, you wonder why you ever worried about maintaining lego-less floors or taking a shower. Whoever is walking on the floor should watch out for himself and baby powder is essentially dry shampoo for moms who haven’t had the luxury of a shower for days on end.

I confess I am that mom, I feel  no shame admitting this. Shame went out the window with the birth of middle child, and with the birth of twin 1 and twin 2  last bits of sanity joined my sense of propriety.  Those are now long gone, and I don’t regret it one bit. If anything life becomes easier when you lose your mind, insanity does have a touch of genius to it. Besides that, for some mysterious reason crazy, shameless mom is way cooler than well organized, prim and proper, perfect mom.

My advice plus confessions to you as a “been there, done that and have survived so far mom” are as follows (BOGO in shopspeak):

1. Your first child will always be the lab rat. Stop feeling guilty about it, you are doing the best you can. What’s the worst that can happen? Never mind, don’t answer that.

2. Your second child was born to whine, it’s a default of being second. Do not be blackmailed by that whining, know that they are just as guilty as their elder sibling. Cotton dipped in olive oil make for good ear plugs if the howling gets too loud. Also keeps your ears clean, and well you know how long it’s been since you last showered, so yeah.

3. We all forget middle child. They end up being the best of the lot, so don’t sweat it. However if you drop them off at their friend’s, it would be a good idea to pick them up, preferably on the same day. Or… eventually. But hey we all need a break sometimes right?

4. I have thrown belongings out the front door when not picked up after I asked several times.

5. I still have baby powder in the house, even though no kid is under the age of eight. Baby powder can be used for unwashed hair, sweaty kids who refuse to shower, inside of smelly joggers, to sprinkle over the liquidy gunk and hairballs the cat coughed up, freshen up a kid after they throw up etc etc. Baby powder is pure magic.

6. There were some clothing items that kid 1 through 5 wore. Yes I believe in hand me downs.

7. I have fallen asleep with three small kids in my lap/arms. You should condition yourself to sleep in any situation, no mercy for the fussy sleepers.

8. I turn leftovers into “fresh” dinners. You should too, and never let anyone know you used leftovers!

9. I let the kids have cake for breakfast once. I slept in. No guilt at all, we were all happy.

10. Should such a situation arise, I will let them have cake for breakfast again.

11. If you forget to wash gym clothes, just throw them in the dryer with fabric softener sheets and hope for the best. Also works with kids’ underwear. Just don’t tell them you forgot to wash the clothes.

12. I reuse my fabric softener sheets. Several times.

13. I always have a secret stash of chocolate just for me.

14. I guard that stash like a dragon.

15. My purse contains every child’s belongings and none of my own.

16. I can quote anything from “My Little Pony.”

17. Plastic bags are a good way to catch vomit in a moving car. Always have a good supply.

18. The bathroom is the first place they look for you, try hiding in the garage instead.  It’ll buy you at least seven minutes alone.

19. Don’t go on Pinterest, those are all LIES! No one can do all that! It is just another Big Pharma tactic to make you take anti-depressants!

20. Love those little buggers, smother them with kisses and hugs, enjoy every second of this time with them, it goes too fast! Don’t regret any thing!

What confessions do you have?

About the Author

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

10 Ways to Know You’re a Canadian in the Winter

 By Mona Ismaeil

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1. You know what a toque is: 

Ice cap, beanie or winter hat; none of that means anything! It’s all about the toque! Fur, fleece, knit, whatever it is, we all have them (multiple of them) and cannot live without them!

2. -15 degrees is a mild winter day

Winter hasn’t truly hit until it’s -30 degrees, your eyelashes freeze the moment you step foot out of your house, your car doesn’t start. Your car not starting doesn’t even matter because even if you get it started, you won’t be able to drive it out of your garage since you’re trapped by 5ft of snow!

3. You’ve tried maple syrup on snow

Anyone else may find this to be strange but really with the amount of snow we get, we would be foolish not to make the most of it!

4. Your kids have been dared to lick a metal post 

If you grew up in Canada, you know that it may be against your better judgement but you cannot turn down a dare to stick your warm wet tongue on that cold, frosty metal post. If you haven’t grown up here, then be ready for the day your son/daughter comes to tell you all about it!

5. It takes longer to get ready 

It takes longer to put on your protective gear before stepping out for your daily battle. Two pairs of socks, long john’s, boots, sweater, scarf, toque, gloves and jacket. That’s an extra 5-7 minutes you could have slept it in back in the Fall.

6. Errands and visits are decided upon by necessity

Nonessential= NO! If your family is not eating cereal for dinner, you can go another day without groceries.

7. Your home is filled with a plethora of hot beverages

Black tea? Herbal Tea? Green Tea? White Tea? Chai Tea? Hot Chocolate? You have them all! Too hot? No problem, just stick your mug in the giant freezer everyone calls “outside” for a moment.

8. Parking lots seem to shrink 

A parking lot that once held 200 cars, now accommodates no more than 50 cars. I’ve heard of Winter Magic but seriously, this is NOT a good trick! Holiday shopping lines, waist lines, snow piles, etc. can shrink, not parking lots!

9. Gestures become confusing 

A friendly wave or a not so friendly finger gesture, these two can be super confusing with mittens and gloves on. Just pretend everyone is happy, kind and being their friendly Canadian selves!

10. You’ve experience the DIY leg snow shovel 

Too cold (let’s be honest, you’re too lazy) to shovel? Need to create a pathway to your car? Need to clear the huge snow pile behind your car so you can get out the of the driveway? All you have to do is drag your boots through the snow to create an instant pathway! Easy, breezy!

How else do you know you’re a Canadian in the winter?

About the Author: 

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.