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
I love, love, love this idea! We always struggle with what to do when we see someone on the streets – we don’t always want to give money because we don’t know what they will do with it, and food is also tricky…but this is perfect!
“This is what me and my daughter have started doing….We are keeping a “Blessing bag” in our car in case we find someone in need. You can make these up with items from the Dollar Tree such as gloves, thermal socks, beef sticks, crackers, candy bars, toothpaste, toothbrush, wipes, deodorant, snacks and other items that may help someone who is homeless or in a bad way. It is just a thoughtful, inspiring thing to do. This is something we are going to start doing from now on. Thank you to the ones that did this long before us, for being such a giving, loving, caring person! Random acts of kindness take very little to change the life of just one person.”
Photo Courtesy of Amy verder
Check out this awesome idea to make the reality of doing good deeds come alive for children from Islam From The Start!
“Lets imagine that good deeds are like magnetic objects and Allah is like the strongest magnet ever!
Take a few 1p/2p coins and for each coin, have the child say a good deed and place it into a box of non-magnetic items/rice.
‘Let’s see what happens when Allah sees you doing a good deed…He pulls you close to Him!’
Use a magnet and show how the good deed coins are pulled up by the magnet!
-Point out how there is no such thing as a ‘small’ good deed, all the coins were magnetic!
– It doesn’t matter if no-one saw you do the good deed. Even coins hidden at the bottom of the pile were pulled up by the magnet. Every good deed is seen by Allah and pulled towards Him!
Use the next 10 days to become familiar with the Quranic phrase, “Wa ahsin, do good”.
Fill out the magnet worksheet by writing one good deed done each day. Remember, every good deed brings you closer to Allah!”
Many mums talk about having a dedicated space or wall area for Ramadan themed books, props and learning ideas. Here are a few ideas:
- Your advent calendar can have prize position 🙂
- A Ramadan banner can liven up the house. There are many free downloadable ones on the internet these days. Simply print on card, cut and hang!
- How about a bucket list for what they are going to do during the month? Eg. memorise a sura, give food to the neighbours, etc. Here is a great example!
- Why not have your Ramadan books/activity books out for easy access?
- A charity box is a good idea to have out, to encourage daily giving.
- A good deed jar may also help encourage them to give in another ways!
- Why not have a theme? Here is what one mum said: “This year our theme was the Quran. The hadith about the homes in which the Quran is recited shining bright for the angels to see if the main focus, and around it there are stars which Inshallah we all will fill with ayahs from the Quran that we come across, like and want to focus on. Quran City (Q-City) has been a focus of study for us for the last few months and so a poster of the city is up there are a reminder – thank you MUCH, QFatima! Our countdown of 10 clear plastic glasses strung together with numbers written on them have Quran quiz questions from Islam From the Start and some money for them to give sadqa. In the jar next to it are the Quran word cards from the 30 Day Ramadan Activity. I am not going to have the children stick it on a chart after they look the word up in the Quran, but stick it in their Ramadhan scrapbook instead along with their thoughts/notes.Lastly, the Juz Umma sticker charts will help us on the memorisation side of things – this year we will just be focussing on refreshing and retaining the suras we have learnt thus far – and this sticker chart is a great way to make it visual and fun.
- Here is another idea for a Quran wall. This idea was sent in by a mum, and once again allows the children to focus on the deeper understanding of the Quran. She said: “During recitation, they are to retain a word they want to know more about and make a note of it. They then write down which sura it was in and what the verse is referring to.”
- One mum had the theme of gratitude for Ramadan. Check out her wall here.
- On the theme of gratitude, here is what another mum did:
Ramadan is the month of good deeds! Below are some ideas to encourage getting your children involved in the doing of good too!
- How about this Ramadhan banner one mum made with lots of ideas of good deeds children can do to help fill that tree!
P.S. You don’t need a tree to create a similar banner – they can just do the good deeds, or fill a good deed jar, etc…
- And how about this good deed tree? The children write their good deeds onto leaves and stick them on – Inshallah by the end of Ramadhan the tree will be full of leaves!
- Here is another good deed tree example: Pick a good deed from the jar, implement it and get to decorate a heart ornament to put on the tree. Just like a tree grows beautiful hearts good deeds will make our hearts grow and make us shine. The tree will light up every time they were able to do the good deed.
- If you’re stuck, here are some ideas for good deeds to do:
- Here is LOTS of inspiration:
They are ads, but show the spirit of this month so well!
And check out this interview and what it highlights:
- And here one for us mums to do!:
A few years ago, a friend started something that is both a lot of fun, encourages acts of kindness, and recently, finishes off with a healthy dose of charity!
An Islamic version of Secret Santa, in Mystery Mauliani, at the beginning of Ramadan we are given a person’s name and contact information. Thus begins the fun! Throughout the month, we then try and do little acts of kindness for this person, showering them with love :). Ideas include helium balloons on their doorstep, Survival Kits for Laylatul Qadr, baked goods passed on through messengers and much more. At the same time, someone is doing all that to us!
At the end of the month is the famous MM reveal, where we get to find out who our MM was and vice versa. Previously we would give our MM a gift, but now we donate to charity on their behalf. Today is our reveal which is why I thought I’d mention it! These opportunities to give really do get us buzzing – the receiving feels nice of course too ;).
Alhamdulillah there are many other versions of it now, such as Secret Sister (between the volunteers), Nudba Angels (between a group that meets for Nudba regularly), etc. There is also a version of MM for the younger crowd!
Charity is highly emphasized in this month especially – why not make it a project to do with your kiddos?
If you’re stuck on what to do, check out the fundraising series we have covered which gives many ideas on how to get stuck in!
- (To the tune of ‘Castle in the Cloud’):
These little feet are for Allah
They are to stand up for salah
They are to walk to Karbala
These little feet are for Allah
These little feet can skip and run
Kick a ball
And have some fun
They’re not to stamp
They’re not to kick
When we are mad,
Not one little bit
These little feet are for Allah… (repeat first stanza)
These little hands are for Allah
They are to raise up for dua
They are to help mom and baba
These little hands are for Allah
These little hands can hug and clap,
Color a picture
Wave and snap
They’re not to scratch,
They’re not to hit
They’re not to snatch
They don’t like it one bit!
These little feet are for Allah… (repeat first stanza)
This little mouth is for Allah
It is to whisper our duas
It is to say Subhanallah!
This little mouth is for Allah
This little mouth can say thank you
Smile, speak truth,
Ask how do you do?
It doesn’t shout
It doesn’t scream
It doesn’t say
Things which are mean
This little mouth is for Allah… (repeat first stanza)
*Credit: Sakeena Kalyan
- Following on from the rhymes, children can pick out a shape/body part and think of what kind of good deed it can be used to do.
- They can also play ‘Yusuf says’ (like Simon Says) with a puppet doll, and ask the children to act out doing good deeds with their different body parts.
- Children could decorate a cutout of ‘me’ and then use little dot stickers next to each body part every time they did a good deed.
- Another activity to go with the same concept is to trace out body outlines of the children on butcher paper and then brainstorm and write in the right way to use each body part and the wrong way. This can be connected with showing gratitude to Allah swt by honoring the blessings He gives. One mum said: “They gave some funny answers like bottoms are not for sitting on people!”
- This can also be done with chalk on concrete, etc.
In Islam, we are constantly told to give. It is our DUTY. To the extent that when the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina to escape being persecuted, those living in Medina (the Ansaar – the Helpers), even offered to share their homes and belongings. Indeed, if we all gave the way we should, there wouldn’t be any poverty in this world.
Sadaqa is to give from what we have – whether it be money, our time, or even a smile.
- This video touched me as it not only shows the extreme hunger these children face – how how thoughtful they still are. He wanted some for his sister too.
2. And this video shows us that we can do good in all sorts of way – this man is a millionaire but isn’t happy just giving of his money, but wants to do good in this way too. Truly inspiring!
Try as I may, I cannot think of a suitable activity to go with this concept. This one really boils down to us parents role-modelling the correct way to do good and then not spoil the good that we have done.
Spoil it how? Allah says:
“Kind speech and forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury” (2: 263) and “Do not make your charity worthless by reproach and injury” (2:264)
If our children see us helping someone when they have asked for a favour, but then complaining about it to others…
Or slipping it into conversation with them about how it doesn’t matter but it took ages to do something for them…
Or helping someone but then indignantly telling our spouses how they didn’t even thank us…
Or sighing and only reluctantly helping someone…
All these things will show them that helping others and doing good deeds (forms of charity) are a burden, and not the positive opportunity that it is.
When an opportunity for them to do something good comes up and they don’t seem so keen (even for something as small as getting something from another room for their sibling), remind them that this is a gift from Allah and a chance to score some happy points! How unlucky is the person who does not even get chances to do good!
If they do it but then complain, or don’t do it happily (e.g. throw what they’ve gotten to their sibling in a huff), remind them of the above ayahs and tell them not to spoil what they have done…
Perhaps the analogy of an apple might work here. A lovely ripe apple is like a lovely good deed that you have done. When we do it reluctantly, or complain about it, it is as if we are throwing the apple down hard on the floor and bruising it.
What is better? A fresh smooth apple or a bruised rotten apple? Food for thought…