It’s Ramadan, and like many other Muslims around the world, I’m trying my best not to totally flip out whilst fasting for nineteen hours a day and tending to my angelic/monster kids. It’s meant to be a month of spiritual and physical cleansing, a time when you strive to be a better person. But having young kids means I’m normally on course to having some kind of meltdown by 5pm. Trust me, being sleep deprived, hungry, thirsty and all round exhausted is not going to win me mother of the year any time soon, and any mum that tells me she is the epitome of patience and spiritual virtue during Ramadan can do one.
Being “hangry” (hungry and angry) during Ramadan is not ideal. It obviously defeats the purpose of Ramadan if I spend half my day being snappy with my kids (and the Old Git – although he often deserves it, to be fair) and verging on the cusp of hysteria. Whereas I’d normally give the kids multiple chances to comply with my requests/instructions, these days I’m flipping out after request number one. Big sigh. So, in an effort to save my soul and my sanity, I’ve been trying different things to stop me from descending into total crazy mum mode.
Firstly, I stay as far away as possible for as long as possible from my kids. It really helps. I disappear into the bedroom, utility room or toilet and spend as much of my time as possible in there contemplating life, making lists, doing what I normally do. Of course I emerge at intervals to feed the kids, wash them, help them with their homework etc, but overall I find that staying out of their way reduces the chances of an epic meltdown.
Secondly, I let the kids use electronic devices. During Ramadan anything goes. All my rules about limited screen time go out of the window and my kids turn into screen zombies. TV, iPad, phone, computer – all are fair game during this holy month. In order for me to attain peace of mind, the kids must attain the iPad. End of.
Thirdly, I have to nap. I’m like a baby and have to sleep between the hours of 12-2pm in order to feel refreshed and recharged for the day. Even if I have the kids at home with me I still manage to do it albeit with a lot of background noise. The kids basically run riot in the house and I’m ok with that, as long as I get my two hours kip.
Fourthly, I stock up in the freezer. Not only is it full of samosas, kebabs, pasties and spring rolls, it’s also full of fish fingers, nuggets, pizzas and chips. Admittedly it’s not made with my own fair hands, but keeping things low maintenance during Ramadan makes things so much easier for me, plus the kids love it. You won’t find me slaving over a hot stove during Ramadan unless absolutely necessary. I also have my prized secret stash of chocolate which gives me focus and something to look forward to during the long days of fasting. Nobody is allowed to touch that…ever.
And finally, bribery works. I’ve bought this brilliant chocolate Ramadan calendar which the kids salivate over. In the event of bad behaviour, the threat of forfeiting their chocolate treat immediately rectifies the said bad behaviour and there is peace, calm and harmony in the house again.
Of course this advice is not from any great spiritual authority. It’s not the path to religious enlightenment. No. But if, like me, you struggle with feelings of “hanger” during Ramadan these tips could help save you from yourself. There’s no shame in admitting it’s hard to fast when you have young kids. It’s totally different to fasting pre-kids when you have the space to reflect, read and contemplate. At least if we are honest and non-judgemental about the challenges we face, we can find solace in sharing our experiences and find ways of helping purge these ghastly, guilt-inducing feelings of “hanger.”