by Lotifa Begum
As Muslimahs, we are constantly juggling; we have the role of mother – looking after kids who may not have let you sleep an hour or two, being a housewife with so many tasks you feel you have no energy for, or being a daughter-in-law and working professional who just wants to come home to a ready-made iftar (!). It can be easy to burn out during Ramadan! Many sisters face the challenge of spending long hours in the kitchen (what I call the ‘kitchen dilemma’) when instead, we should be using Ramadan for focussing on our relationship with Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى, investing in ourselves and our families spiritually – not wasting unnecessary time preoccupied with hosting iftar parties for guests.
It’s difficult for sisters because there are so many expectations from the family and even ourselves, that we feel we just have to give in to the ‘social rituals’ of hosting iftar gatherings. In the end we lose much of the time we had hoped we would devote to actually achieving our Ramadan goals. By being smart with your time and effective in making decisions, you can have a more productive Ramadan which isn’t spent in the kitchen, or having had a long day feeling so drained of energy that you can’t muster up the energy to pray taraweeh!
Here are a few practical tips on how to regain the energy this Ramadan:
1. Take regular power naps
Firstly, many mothers and sisters who are working, are generally lacking energy due to their lack of sleep during Ramadan. It’s a challenge to shift your sleep pattern initially in Ramadan. Sleeping after Isha and waking up for tahajjud prayers before Ramadan is a good training exercise to help your body get use to the shift in sleeping patterns. One of the main practical tips I use to boost my energy levels in Ramadan is to have power naps to power me through the day! These power naps should last 20-30 minutes, enough to refresh your energy and boost you to get through the rest of the fasting hours! If you’re in the workplace and find it difficult to get a private space to nap, you can just go to a quiet empty room and close your eyes for 10-15 minutes to get the same energy boost. Try a short booster nap also when you come home from work before continuing your spiritual activities. One of the blessings of sleeping whilst fasting in Ramadan is that even in your sleep you are rewarded as a fasting person!
2. Plan a healthy diet
One of the reasons why I have been able to achieve my Ramadan spiritual goals every year is because I have a strictly planned healthy diet as part of my plan to avoid the burnout phase some sisters go through. This diet consists of the following:
- Reducing or completely cutting out caffeine
- Increasing my intake of water and antioxidant juices between iftar and suhoor (lemon water to keep hydrated)
- Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and dates to stay energised
- Cutting out oily foods for iftar or suhoor
- Increasing protein and starch based foods
- Stocking up on the super sunnah energy foods such as pomegranates, olives, watermelon, honey etc.
All the above diet tips have helped me to become more productive throughout Ramadan and this diet is supplemented by a short home work out which I do every night before going to sleep. This consists of stretches and joint movements to help me feel refreshed and physically prepared to take on another long fasting day!
3. Get the children to help
Many sisters who are at home and working during Ramadan find it challenging to do all the household tasks and take care of the children whilst fasting and host family gatherings. Some mothers may not be able to get much sleep after suhoor, so they can use this time to be productive by investing in spiritual actions such as recitation of the Qur’an and doing dhikr until after sunrise. After sunrise, you may be able to get longer sleep depending on your child’s routine. Ideally, getting 2-3 hours before the school run would be good! In some countries, fortunately the Ramadan period falls in the vacation time so parents can also encourage their children to help out by looking after siblings whilst they get a power nap during the time between Dhuhr and Asr prayers.
4. Avoid over indulging in iftar parties!
One of the main ways I have been able to focus my energy on achieving my Ramadan goals over the past couple of years has been due to avoiding attending all the iftar parties I get invited to. This usually impacts on our time to focus on worship especially if we are hosting the iftar parties ourselves, and some sisters are so burnt out after the long hours spent in the kitchen preparing and hosting guests, that they don’t have energy left to pray taraweeh! These iftar parties should be limited to a few that you are able to host, and plan to host them before the last 10 days, choosing quick and simple dishes so that you don’t end up spending too much unnecessary time in the kitchen. To make your iftar parties and gatherings even more productive, why not invite a small group of people over and raise funds and share a reminder before breaking your fast?
5. Choose quick easy iftar recipes
Another practical tip to avoid burnout from the kitchen dilemma many sisters face when attending iftar parties or hosting them is to select quick and easy recipes to make life easy in the kitchen this Ramadan! You can find a selection on MyHalalKitchen.com which will help you prepare iftar in a shorter space of time, leaving you with enough time to work towards your spiritual goals in Ramadan, such as reciting Qur’an. The quick and easy recipes will also help you to appreciate the virtues and lessons of fasting where we are taught to avoid over-eating and over-indulging. Instead, we can focus our energy as mothers, wives, sisters, daughters in other productive actions and spiritually rewarding activities during this blessed month.
There you have it ladies! 5 practical tips on how to avoid burnout this Ramadan and ensure you make the best out of this month. Using the tips above, plan your Ramadan in advance, avoid getting caught up in the social rituals of an unproductive Ramadan and instead boost yourself spiritually.