In dark times, our instinct is always to ‘look for the helpers’ (Fred Rogers). An even stronger instinct, is to actually BE a helper. Personally, this is frustrating me right now as we have been told to do the opposite in many ways. We have been told to take our children and stay at home and do nothing, for our safety and that of others. And yet my heart yearns to the doctors, nurses, cleaners, supermarket stockers and sellers who are on the front line, so to speak. I have no such qualifications, and even if I did, what would I do with my kids?
So that got me thinking… what exactly CAN I do with my kids? I asked them too and together, we came up with quite a few ideas, so I thought I would share these, in case it is helpful to anyone else:
- DO stay at home:
Time and time again, we have been told to do this. While we may remain asymptomatic or suffer only mildly, we can still carry it to others who are more vulnerable and this may only have an effect weeks after. So cancel your play dates, don’t be tempted to ‘make the most’ of this time off, and Stay. At. Home.
We all know the power of dua, and dua done by innocent hearts will Inshallah be heard and answered quickly! Age dependent, you can ask your children to recite 5 salawats, pray and extra 2 rakat salaat for hajaat, recite a tasbeeh of Ammayujeebul, or the short dua no 7 in Saheefe Sajjadiya (When Misfortune Descended and at the Time of Distress). Find something that works for you and your family and do it daily, Inshallah.
- Give charity:
Many of us are supremely fortunate in where we live, the resources we have to stay occupied, and the healthcare system around us. There are millions of others – refugees, those in countries of povery, poor healthcare systems, war-torn countries – who do not have this soft landing to rely on. Many charities are now collecting to help support such people – discuss this with your children (age dependent), and encourage them to give from their own money that they may have. It does not have to be much, but every little helps.
Here are two reputable charities raising for this cause:
- Paint something heartwarming and place it on your window/outside:
Many reports from Italy have emerged of people painting these rainbows with the words “Everything will be all right” and then hanging these off balconies and windows. Such a wonderful way to lift the spirits of those who still have to be outside and out and about!
And how about painting inspirational messages on rocks and leaving them outside for people to find?
(Rocks painted by Sarah Rosser – FB)
Or draw fun, inspirational messages on the pavement?
- Reach out to your neighbours:
Many of us aren’t able to travel far to help people, but what about those in our locality? We may know our neighbours and have a WhatsApp group with them (and if we don’t, then what better time to make one?!), and so we can ask if any on there need any food/groceries, etc.
Becky Wass created this form to hand out to neighbours around her, offering help where needed. These cards can be a good way of getting some exercise in with the kids, and you can select what you can offer in terms of help to make it manageable. Here is the printable pdf: bit.ly/viralkindness
- Uplift and interact with people around you – from a distance:
Although we may have to stay within our own spaces, there are many ways to interact with others around us. There have been numerous uplifting examples of neighbours in Italy and Spain (who are in lockdown) singing and playing music together from their balconies, doing exercise together and even playing tennis from windows! Necessity is the mother of invention – plant the idea in your children and see what emerges?!
- Send care packages to hospitals:
A nurse friend suggested this, saying how overwhelmed, overworked and underappreciated they often felt, and how they would love to receive some support. So get baking with your kids (healthy yummy treats would be very appreciated I’m sure!), and drop them off to a hospital with some home-made cards (maybe with some poems that the children have written?) and let’s try and send them love and support in this way!
- Donate to food banks:
With most religious organisations turning to live streaming, many of the popular sources of food donations to food banks have therefore been shut. One of our neighbours offered to collect food bank items from our street and go once a week to donate them to a food bank, and I thought it was such a lovely idea! So why not have a basket of donations that kids gather over the week, which you can then drop off?
- Send cards to elderly:
As we all know, the group most vulnerable are the elderly. This means that visits to them – whether in their homes or in nursing homes – have been cut dramatically, probably adding more loneliness to their lives. One of the things we could do to help them know they are not alone and they are being thought of, is to send them cards.
Children can make and decorate these cards, write messages inside,, and then these can either be posted or popped into their letter boxes. Imagine their surprise at receiving these hand-made messages!
- Facetime family and friends:
With the elderly that you know amongst family and friends, a great way to cheer spirits is to call regularly. I loved this idea of playing games with them online too – although there are plenty of online games to play together (like Psych), who’s to say you can’t play the traditional games like Scrabble?!
(Jennifer Williams Barnes – FB)
On a similar vein, check out this program to link the elderly with children to create lifelong friendships? Love the initiative – they are looking for both child volunteers (over 7) as well as elderly people who would love some company. Sign up on www.umojaoutreach.org/care
Such a wonderful idea, Mashallah! One to implement in our Islamic schools/Madressas?
“Realizing that I hadn’t had a sip of water all day, I thirstily made my way to the kitchen with Zainab in my arm. As my mouth salivated at the sight of the ice-cold glass in my hand, Zainab began kicking her legs excitedly. I knew that she wanted some too. Before taking a sip myself, I put it to her mouth. As I was about to quench my own thirst, Ibrahim ran into the kitchen and said, “Mama, I want mayya (water) too!” So I gave him the rest of that glass.
Then a thought struck me. My children are my redemption. If, as the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) narrates, a prostitute can go to heaven for having mercy on a cat, then my children can—God willing—be my key to salvation.”
Read the full article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/growmama/spirituality/page-diary-children-redemption/
Below are two beautiful example of the resilience of children. Their attitude and actions in the face of adversity is inspiring, Mashallah.
Here’s another one to add to the fundraising with children list… as I’m sure you’ll agree, it is very much needed at the moment. The idea is: Sleep Without A Blanket – not only will this give children a tiny glimpse into what it is like to be a child sleeping without a blanket in the winter, but also raise awareness of the struggles that other children are facing at the moment.
Here is one example of someone doing this challenge, although I know there are many out there. Do donate if you can!
“My name is Sakinah Sumar and I am 5 years old. Me, mummy and pappa will be sleeping without a blanket for one night to remember the Syrian people who have to do this every night. They are facing a really cold winter and need blankets to keep them warm and alive. Please sponsor me so that the money can be used to buy them the blankets they desperately need.”
As we prepare to enter the months of Muharram and Safar, here are some INVALUABLE points for parents and teachers to keep in mind. Please read and share!
Take the first point for example – SO crucial:
“Images of Violence:
It never ceases to amaze me the extent of graphic details Islamic school curriculums, teachers, and speakers provide children when discussing Karbala. Yes, it was a battle and yes it was a tragedy beyond words. However, such violent and graphic details are socially and developmentally inappropriate. Many children struggle to understand topics such as death, loss, and grief. When Islamic school teachers decide to focus on the explicit details of how Ali al-Asghar or Imam Abbas (as) were killed, it can be difficult for children to overcome. You can definitely get the message across that Yazeed and Bani Ummayah were the lowest of the low and enemies of God without describing to a child in graphic details the murder of another child.”
For the whole article, click here: http://www.aimislam.com/sharing-the-message-of-karbala-with-children/
Love this! He doesn’t tell her to shush, or ignore her, or treat her as if she is a nuisance, and she is totally at peace 🙂 Many lessons in this for us on how to treat our children, especially at mosques.
“The biggest influence in the lives of babies and toddlers are their parents and immediate family; however, as pre-schoolers, they meet and interact with teachers and other kids in their class/playground and learn a lot more about the world they live in. In these interactions, they also encounter many thoughts and values that oppose those that that they have been taught so far. It is important that Muslim parents continue their efforts to bond their children with Allah and His deen (religion) at this age.
The 3 to 5 year old stage is a stage of exploration and creativity, hands-on learning, and experimentation. It is a great age to help your children connect further with Allah by helping them learn about their deen through fun and activity-based learning. Continue with the ideas you have been using since they were infants and toddlers such as listening regularly to the Qur’an, incorporating various Sunnah practices in daily life, and telling them that Allah loves them. Add the following activities to reinforce your teachings…”
Read the whole article here: http://blog.iiph.com/raising-allah-centric-preschoolers/
“Can my child see the beauty of Islam in me?”
I love this!
“At the risk of being misunderstood, I’ll say this: A beard and hijab won’t make your child Muslim. I don’t say this to dismiss the rituals of the religion, but to put the emphasis (first) on something greater. Just as early revelation focused on the beauty and mercy of Allah, we, too, should impart the good. Then, upon that foundation, we ladle the specifics of worship, the rules and regulations that guide us on this journey. But only in love, we must do it all in love. You’d think that would be a given, but how often do we see children turned away from Islam because of harsh, unbalanced parents?”
Read the whole artice here: http://muslimobserver.com/how-parents-push-their-children-away-from-islam/