My Ramadan Routine: 'Teach children the spirit of Ramadan'
Shazi Arif with husband Imran and son Mohammed
Dubai - Ramadan in the UAE allows people to spend more time with their families and for self-reflection.
For Shazi Arif, being a stay-at-home mother in Ramadan certainly has it's perks, especially in the UAE.
The 37-year-old Indian expat said having her five-year-old son Mohammed spend shorter hours in school and more time at home with her, has given them the opportunity to teach him the true spirit of Ramadan, even though he's not yet of fasting age.
"It is so important for me to teach my son about Ramadan, about why his mum and dad are not eating or drinking, to tell him small stories about Islam, so he feels encouraged to learn more," said Shazi, who worked as a PMO coordinator at Dubai Municipality before she had her child.
Shazi said Ramadan in the UAE allows the people who are fasting to spend more time with their families and themselves, in order to self-reflect.
"Ramadan is a blessed month, and it is especially a blessing to spend it in the UAE. We look forward to it every year, to achieve a lot of good things, but we have to also take care of our home and our children."
Shazi pointed out that since school hours have been cut down for Ramadan, she has ensured to schedule a daily routine of story-telling for her son.
"It is only the third day of Ramadan and it is going really well. I was able to spend more quality time with him. I have started sharing with him what the month of Ramadan is all about." She noted that her husband Imran also plays an imp-ortant role in educating their son about the holy month. "My son would usually join my husband for prayers at the mosque, and that's how we slowly try to share the month with him."
For the first Iftar, Shazi and her family gathered at her husband's uncle's home, where they broke their fast together, prayed as a group, and spent time with cousins and relatives. This has been the family's yearly Iftar tradition since 2007.
"It's a very good feeling, having a family get-together on the first day - the quality family time we share is important, and we are able to eat, talk and pray together."
She said that on normal, routine days, she will try to focus on preparing healthy Iftar meals for her family. "I want to focus on fresh fruits, fruit drinks and salads, to help quench the thirst and help the body refresh. Indian food usually tends to have many fried items, which is why I want to try something different and healthier this Ramadan. But I will still incorporate some of our popular Indian foods, such as pakodas and aloo chaat."
Arif's top tip for stay-at-home mothers this Ramadan is to use their time wisely with the kids.
"Being a stay-at-home mother means we have a lot of endless dut-ies, but it is a fulfilling experience." She said sitting down with her son before Iftar is one of her favourite moments. "I tell him stories about my childhood in India and what it was like having Ramadan there with my family."
"Try to share stories, make the most of your time with your children and teach them duas and about the holy month," she said.