Being a Muslim, Ramadan has always been the special month of the year for us . I have lived my whole childhood in Saudi Arabia as my father was employed there. Every year Ramadan would come, and when we were little we would see our parents fasting, praying extra prayers and the special preparations for suhoor and iftar. We would try to copy our parents and I remember my mother telling us that children can fast two times a day. So you can start your fast after your breakfast till lunch and start your second fast after having lunch then we can open our fast at iftar time together… lol .. and we believed them (now the same thing I am doing with my children 😀 )
My oldest daughter (who is 10 now Ma sha ALLAH) has started fasting from this year’s Ramadan, so I thought it’s the best time to teach my children the true meaning of Ramadan, why do we fast in this Holy month and why it is so important to Muslims. That’s why this year I decided to do something extra special in Ramadan. We do the Ramadan decorations every year but this year I wanted to do something to make it more exciting for them.
When I googled and searched on pinterest, I liked the idea of advent calendar. So I decided to make a Ramadan advent calendar. But we were in a lockdown, so couldn’t go out to buy the crafts. Luckily I got everything from home. A black cardboard, a gift wrapping paper, a string, and a sliver glitter foam paper and I made the simplest Ramadan Advent Calender (when you have 3 kids pretty much you always have these crafty kind of things at home all year long 😉 )
Most fun part was to fill the advent calendar. Instead of putting small things in it, I filled it with Ramadan good deeds(like help mama in the kitchen or clean your room), daily Dikr (like say Alhamdulilah 70 times or recite Surah Nas), and some small information (like which is the longest and shortest surah of Quran.) and I told them to open one envelope daily 15 min before the iftar time because that’s the time we should make duas while waiting for the adhan. So I thought it would be the best time to talk about the religion and tell them short historic Islamic stories.
The whole point was to make them excited about Ramadan not only for decorations and food but to know the true meaning of Ramadan. And it kind of worked… every day when I was preparing for iftar, my daughters would take out one envelope by themselves and waited for mama and baba to gather around the table and do the deed of the day.
I really enjoyed making this Ramadan Advent Calender and I will definitely make one for the next year’s Ramadan too (In sha ALLAH) with whole new theme, new information and new set of good deeds. May ALLAH give us hundreds of more Ramadan to spend it with our children with true Holy spirit and accept our prayers and duas. Ameen.
Planning a birthday party for your children is an exciting endeavour. Children always love to celebrate their special day with their friends and family but that doesn’t mean it has to cost you a fortune.
You can have a perfectly fun and successful DIY birthday celebration at your home.
Here are a few tips that can help you plan your next celebration.
Fix The Budget
Planning your budget will help you get organized and avoid any surprise expenses at a later stage. Keep in mind the cost of a cake, decorations, party favors and food.
Decide your total budget and stick to it. If your budget is low, don’t worry there are many fun and less expensive ways to make your party amazing.
You can bake a homemade cake that suits your budget, design simple but colourful party decorations with crepe paper and balloons, and plan simple games for kids as well as for adults as entertainment.
Guest List and Invitations
Make a guest list and send out invitations in time so no one misses out on the party.
You don’t need to spend money on printed invitations. Take advantage of making free but fun invitation online. I used free downloadable invitation templates from greetingsisland.com and evite.me.
You can send these invitations through emails or text messages. In some cases, you can create and maintain a group chat through whatsapp or Facebook and get the group discussing the upcoming party.
Consider the Food
The best time for a birthday party is between main meals, either in between breakfast and lunch or in between lunch and dinner. That way, you can avoid having to prepare a full meal.
You can easily get away with snacks like mini pizzas, nuggets, sandwiches, a variety of fruits and vegetable sticks. For drinks you can serve homemade lemonade and juices.
Decide on A Theme
Deciding the theme of the party is always exciting. If your child is not able to express or tell you what theme is his or her favourite, you can plan a theme around a character he or she likes the most.
My son loves Blippi and the construction site machines. So, that was his 3rd birthday theme.
Should you not have a specific theme, you can’t get it wrong with a carnival, jungle or a pirate theme birthday party.
Once the theme is decided, shopping for party decoration would be easy. Nowadays, most table cover, paper plates and cups, napkins and balloons comes in themes and are easily available.
You can also stick to theme colours as plain coloured decorations are more cost effective than the ones with design. For example, if Frozen is your theme, stick to blue, white and silver while for a Mickey mouse themed party, red, black and white would do the trick.
If you are going to order the cake, take your time to scout for a baker who can offer you a cake at a reasonable price.
There more intricate the cake design, the more expensive it would be. If you prefer to be cost effective, then choose a cake within your theme colour and with simple or no design.
If time is not a constraint, baking your own cake can be fun endeavour, especially if you attempt it with your children. Let your children help you with the simple activities like with measurements, mixing and decorating.
Even if it didn’t turn out perfect, for children, baking their own birthday cake is something to be very proud of!
Plan Short Games
Plan games according to age groups. For younger children, musical chair, duck duck goose, dancing competition, pass the parcel would all be a hit. For older kids, tug-of-wars and creative indoor or outdoor obstacle courses will do the trick.
To make it exciting, introduce prizes where appropriate.
If you have space, create an arts and craft corner. Prepare safe and age related material such as colouring pencils and play doh, and let children feel free to entertain themselves whenever they want.
You can also schedule a short cartoon or movie time along with snacks to keep the kids busy so that the adults can have some time for food and socializing.
If you have the budget, hire bouncing castles, magicians or a balloonist.
Goodie bags are a great way to thank the guests for coming. It is easy to be creative with goodie bags. If you are on a budget, it can be as simple as a homemade cooking in a simple paper bag or it can be paper bags filled with various toys and snack.
To make it personal, include a “Thank You For Coming” note by the birthday kid.
Make it a Team Effort
Involve your children as much as you can even if it about making the smallest decision. Involve them in deciding the guest list, ask them about party snacks and games for the big day, party theme and let them help you decorate your home whenever possible.
Involving your kids will not only make them happy, but teach them a sense of responsibility and ownership for what they are doing.
However, be mindful that things may move slower than expected when kids are involved. So, remember to allocate enough time when planning each activity.
With proper organization and planning, you can have an unforgettable birthday party without sending yourself (or your bank account) into a meltdown.
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Potty training is a huge milestone in a child’s life and for many parents it can be a roller coaster ride.
When to start potty training?
Is my baby old enough?
How should I go about it?
Should I do the potty train them for the nights as well?
So many questions when you begin. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or the third time, every single time and every child is a different experience.
Here are some tips to help parents make this task a little less scary.
When to start?
At The Right Age
Potty training is possible when a child’s bottom muscles are strong enough and he is able to have some sense of control over his bladder. This usually happen anytime between the age of 18 to 36 months. Therefore, potty training is recommended around the age of 2 years old.
You’re Changing Fewer Diapers
Until they’re around 20 months old, toddlers still pee frequently. But once they can stay dry for longer, about longer than an hour or two, it’s a sign that they’re developing bladder control and are becoming physically ready for potty training.
Bowel Movements Become Regular
Her bowel movements are often around the same time daily.
Your Little One Will Be Able To “Announce” It To You
Your toddler will start using baby language like “pee pee” or “poo poo” to refer to needing to pee and poo.
Your Child Notices (and doesn’t like) When He Has A Dirty Diapers
Your little one may not like having a dirty diaper and request for an immediate change to a fresh diaper.
How to start
Choose The Right Equipment and space
Firstly, you’ll need the right toilet seat. Obviously, adult toilet seats are too big for your toddler. Many toddler toilet seats comes with handles on the sides or a build-in foot rest to give better support and stability to your toddler.
Why not take your child shopping with you and let her decide which potty seats she likes. Getting your child involved is an excellent way to encourage her to look forward to the new experience and help ease the stress of the transition.
Set up the potty in a comfortable and easy to access spot. If the bathroom or toilet is too small, would it be possible to set it up just outside the toilet? Should the the toilet is too far way from her playroom or living room, maybe find a quiet corner not too far to set up her “special corner”.
Having a fixed spot will help her know which direction to head to should she need to use the potty.
Communication is Essential
Talk to your toddler. Explain and talk her through the process in simple terms. Explain to her when you are with her buying her a toilet seats and again when you are setting it up for her to use.
Though she may not be able to grasp the concept completely by simply listening to you, she will be aware that a change is coming. And having a trusted care taker to explain and reassure her will give her a sense of comfort.
Lead By Examples
At around the age of 2, my toddler tagged along when I needed to go. I also used toys and books to help explain and incorporate the new change into her daily routine.
Look for signals
Squirming, squatting, making specific faces, being still or holding the genitals could all be possible signs that your baby needs to use the toilet. Keep a lookout for these signals and help them reach their potty in time.
He may not be able to hold it long enough to reach their potty in the beginning. Make him walk up to the potty and sit nevertheless, to help him familiarize with the complete action. Eventually he will get there on time.
Note the time
If your toddler has begun to consistently have his bowel movements at about the same time daily, be proactive by taking him to the toilet regularly at those critical times.
Otherwise, taking him regularly to the potty in the interval of 1.5hours to 2 hours is a good way to go about tackling potty training at the beginning.
When your baby is ready for his potty training, you may start using pull up diapers. They can be easily pulled down when needed. Also ensure you dress you toddler in easy to remove cloths to eliminate additional effort that may result to being frustrated and anxious.
Don’t avoid drinks
Never avoid giving fluids to your child in the hope to reduce accidents. In fact, the better tactic is to increase fluid intake and offer more her more opportunities to succeed.
I have establish a comfortable potty routine. What’s next?
Congratulate him on every success. Offer simple but fulfilling rewards such as stickers in his favourite shape. These rewards keep things interesting for your toddler. Once he masters the potty, you can phase out the rewards system and let his inner motivation take over.
Appreciate Them For Not Wetting Their Clothes
Make a point to praise and give attention to the fact that she is dry and did not wet her clothes. Make it a hug!
No Negative Comments
Don’t scold, punish or shame your baby. If you overreact, you might discourage your toddler’s future attempts.
Keep it casual when reminding your toddler about using the potty. Nagging will only provoke resistance. Similarly, don’t force him to sit or stay on the potty when he is not ready.
Switch From Diaper To Underwear
When your child is ready, switch from using diapers to underwear. Make sure you buy appropriate and comfortable underwear. In fact, bring your child shopping with you.
Children underwear nowadays comes in all sorts of colors and designs. Let her choose what appeals to her.
Accidents Will Happen
Remember, accidents will happen. Stay calm and be prepared with several sets of change of cloths. Don’t penalize your child for accidents when they happen, instead offer word of encouragements and always keep a positive outlook.
Potty Training While Travelling
When travelling, always make time to take regular toilet breaks. A good rule of thumb is to take a toilet break every 2 hours. Take him to the toilet before leaving home and before getting into a car/train/plane.
Even if your child says she doesn’t need to use the toilet, encourage her to try. Most stores sell travel potty that comes in different sizes and function. Having a travel potty eliminates the hassle of looking for a toilet the very last minute.
Potty Training At Night
Most potty trained children will gradually stop wetting their diaper at night too. There will come a point where they wake up to ask to go to the toilet. This can happen soon after they are potty trained in the day or much later.
So, continue using diapers during night time and when you see progress, gradually stop using diapers at nights. This is my personal experience with 2 children.
If you are no longer using diapers for bedtime, ensure you take your child to pee right before going to bed. If necessary, you may need to take him to the toilet once in the middle of the night too.
Protect your child’s mattress with the mattress covers. And remember, accidents happen and that it is ok.
Finally, after all your attempts, if potty training is not working, do not worry. Give yourself and your child a pat for trying and take a break. Tray again in a few weeks.
Never compare one child to a sibling or a friend’s child. Each and every child is different. Some children are not ready till the age of 3 or more. There is no rush. Every child grows at different rate.
What’s important is that you are helping your child learn new skill and showing her that learning new skills can is fun.
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Whether it’s a hiking trips, a romantic holiday in a beach resort or going on a simple road trip, each holiday creates a wonderful memory.
Once you have kids, travelling can be a little challenging and overwhelming but it doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy it. You just need to be very organized to be able to enjoy your holiday and make unforgettable memories for them and yourselves.
Here are some tips to make your next trip more enjoyable and less stressful.
Plan and Organize Ahead of Time
Choose Your Travelling Time Wisely
Pick a suitable time in the day to begin your journey. A good rule of thumb is to travel when you think your kids would be most comfortable.
I prefer to fly in the morning. A good night sleep and having breakfast at home before leaving sets a good tone for my children. This way they remain active and are able to enjoy their trip better.
Alternatively, many parents prefer night flights so that their children can sleep in the plane.
If you are planning a road trip, again, choose according to your preferences. You have more flexibility in terms of planning your toilet breaks and can even time your road trips to coincide arriving for breakfast or lunch at a particular town or café that you would like to try.
Where to Sit?
If you are travelling in a plane and have a baby younger than 24 months, you can request for seats that offer baby bassinets. These seats are also often closer to the lavatory and aircraft galley.
Should one of your children need to go to the toilet, it is easily accessible while you can keep an eye on your other children. You can also easily catch a flight attendant’s attention if you need assistance.
Trains usually have seats in group of 4 where passengers can sit together facing each other. Some of these seats even come with the table in the middle. If you are travelling with more than one child, try to book these seats.
Make a List
Make a list of all the things you will be needing during your trip so that you don’t forget anything at the very last moment.
Based on this list, you know ahead the things you need to buy and prepare before packing day, including taking note on other things you need to do before your trip. When it is packing time, you will have everything ready and there is one less thing to worry about.
For example, if you will be travelling in a plane with a baby, you need to prepare a complete baby bag with extra diapers, feeding bottles or a breast feeding cover, rash cream, extra pair of clothes and baby wipes that you can take with you in your cabin bag.
If you are travelling with toddlers or older children, you need to pack according to their needs, for example, snacks, change of clothes and definitely something to keep them entertained.
You may not be needing a separate bag when you travel by road as you will have access to all your bags, but be mindful to pack them the last so you can easily pull out things you need.
Make an Itinerary
Plan each day of your trip.
Go all the way by making an excel sheet or simply plan each day that shows places that you will be visiting and activities that are planned. Take into account transportation, hours of openings, duration and cost.
This way you will know how to get to the next attraction, how long will it take you to get to the next location and how much it’s going to cost you in terms of transportation and entrance fees.
Give an outline of the trip to your children to keep them involved and excited.
Making an itinerary will save you the hassle of trying to make on the spot decisions and help you manage cost and time effectively especially when you have children who still require day naps and rigid meal times.
Wherever you can make bookings online in advance. Once you have your hotels bookings done, don’t stop there.
Book tickets for amusement parks, museums, sightseeing, tour buses and other attractions that you are planning to visit so that you can avoid waiting lines and have more time to relax and enjoy your holiday.
Baby Carrier or Stroller
Going on a trip with a baby or a toddler adds up to your luggage. Strollers and car seats are not only heavy; they are bulky and they take a lot of space.
Think of your destination. If you are planning a visit to an old historic town which has cobbled streets or planning a hiking trip, then it’s best to ditch the stroller and opt for a baby carrier.
Stroller will be a good option in a big city with pedestrian walkways.
A lightweight cabin size stroller would be the best. If you are flying, most airline allows you to bring a compact stroller into the cabin. This way you will have access to a stroller all the time.
If you are on a road trip, these strollers also take less space.
Some destination offers facilities that allow you to rent strollers and car seats. Perhaps explore if that option is possible on your trip. Please remember to rent car seats from reputable source to ensure you can trust that their car seat is accident free and meets all the safety regulations.
Entertainment to Keep Children Occupied
Children of all age groups need something to do on their trip to keep them from getting bored. Make sure to prepare enough material and toys to keep you children entertain if they get bored at any point of time.
My older daughter likes to watch cartoons. She also downloads some of her favorite cartoons and games on the tablet before every trip. This can become handy in case there are no movie screens offered in the plane or train.
My 6-year-old is not very fond of tablet, so she packs her small bag pack with toys, color pencils and blank white sheets. For my toddler, I download his favorite educational games and videos. I also pack a few of his favorite books.
Things to Remember Before Leaving the House
Children can get difficult when they are hungry.
You also run a risk that they may not like the meal offered in the plane or train. Or if you are on a road trip, you may not reach the nearest restaurant before hell breaks loose.
I always pack enough snacks like healthy chips, nuggets, vegetable sticks, cheese sticks, homemade pancakes or sandwiches. Don’t forget to bring their water bottles and enough water to keep everyone hydrated.
Pack important Medications
Pack all the basic medicines like pain killers (for adults and children), Panadol or paracetamol for fever, a cough syrup, baby rash cream, anti-allergy and a small travel first aid kit. Make sure they are easily accessible to you when needed.
Travelling can be tiring for kids specially if it involves standing at check points and immigration line. When tired or bored, they can easily be triggered by the smallest difficulty they face.
Should they need to take off their jackets, belts or untie shoe laces for security checks and these becomes difficult or uncomfortable, you can imagine the emotional outburst. Imagine the chaos if you have more than one child.
I prefer to dress young children with comfortable t-shirt along with a pair of track pants without zips or buttons and shoes without shoe laces. This also helps with toilet emergencies.
On the Day
Keep Track of Your Children
Kids love to run around, be it their backyard or the airport and the train station. It’s very difficult to watch the kids and your luggage at the same time.
Keeping track of your kids seems obvious but it’s worth mentioning. There are many gadgets that allow you to keep track of your children as long as they agree to continue wearing this gadget that usually tagged to their belt or worn as a lanyard around their neck.
You can also write your name and contact numbers on their arms so that you can be contacted immediately in case you lost them.
However, remember, it is always best to keep your children close and around you all the time. These gadget adds as an additional measure and can never replace an adult’s role to watch over them. Neither do these gadgets guarantee the safety of the children should they get lost.
Take Frequent Washroom Breaks
This may sound like a silly reminder. But most parents can imagine a scenario where we have found ourselves really needing to go to the bathroom, but simply cannot because our children’s need at the moment had to come first.
So whenever you can, take the chance to go to the washroom so you don’t have to deal with it standing at the immigration line or traffic jam.
Ask older children to go to the toilet before leaving the house. If you are flying, remind them to go to the washroom again right before the airplane starts taxing as you are not allowed to use the washrooms close to take off.
If you are travelling with a baby, change his diaper before leaving the house. Again, if you are travelling by airplane or train, change your baby’s diaper just before arriving so you don’t have to worry about it for the next few hours.
Take Your Time
Aim to leave home a little earlier so that there is no need to hurry. It is OK to be the last person to board the plane and the last person to get off the plane. Relax and take your time to gather all your belongings and don’t forget the kids!
During a car ride, use a car seat for your child’s safety and comfort. Aim to take a break every 2 hours at a rest stop that has a park and restaurants. Let the kids run around to burn off some their energies so that they can be contented and comfortable for the next few hours sitting in a car.
Even after all your planning and preparations, things may still go wrong. Be flexible. Be open to changes. It is all part of the journey.
Travelling does not need to be perfect. Everything you do will usher in new exposures and experiences to your children. So use these tips to make your journey a little less stressful , get out there and enjoy yourselves.
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