As mothers, we all know that at a certain point our children will leave our homes to start a life of their own. Usually, the time comes too quickly. Have you stood in the centre of your all too quiet house bewildered and clueless about how to progress now that your children are gone? Don’t despair, you aren’t alone. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you thrive in the next chapter of your life.
Reconnect with your spouse
Find some common activities you can do together, such as bowling, riding bikes, walking or fishing. Take a cooking class or a mini vacation to a nearby city to attend a lecture or conference. Appoint a certain night of the week for Islamic studies and set up date nights to rekindle the flames of romance.
Increase your good deeds
Take advantage of your new-found time by volunteering at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, daycares, etc. Now that the kids are gone, you may find yourself with more money. Increase your charitable donations. Be creative in your giving, not limiting yourself to organised charities. If you know of a neighbour, friend or relative in need, help them out. It doesn’t have to be monetary charity either; offer to take an elderly person out once a week to run errands or eat out or to babysit for a young couple while they go out.
READ MORE: Purifying Character Through Charity
Khurshid Khatib looks at how incorporating regular acts of charity in our lives can become a means of spiritual self-purification.
Ever have a hobby you were passionate about but didn’t have the time to do? Always wanted to learn something new? Well, now’s your chance! Paint, write, read, hike, bike or sew. The mind’s the limit. You may, however, have to be flexible – you may find that something you used to do isn’t as enjoyable anymore, or what you thought would be fun is really a flop. Keep searching until you find that special something that makes you happy. Be daring and try new things that are out of your comfort zone.
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If you were blessed and didn’t have to do paid work while your kids were at home, you may consider with your spouse the possibility of taking a part-time job. This could help boost your confidence and give you some extra charity/spending money.
Become a mentor
There are many young women who are in need of some guidance and positive muslimah role models, especially in the revert communities. Consider utilising your experience and knowledge of being a mother, wife and homemaker to help others. Perhaps you excel in a certain area, such as baking, organisation of either household items or of scheduling, etc. There are also organisations such as big brothers/big sisters through which you can bring socialisation and companionship to children.
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Focus on your deen
Now’s the perfect opportunity to increase your knowledge of Islam. Read more Qur’an, take a class, watch more lectures, read more Islamic books and attend more lectures and conferences. If you really have initiative, start a weekly halaqa. Not only will you be benefiting yourself, but the sisters in your community. If you haven’t had the chance to learn Arabic, do it now. There are a plethora of classes offered both in person and online.
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Nurture your mothering tendencies
We all have those mothering instincts in us that sometimes feel abandoned or neglected when our children leave home. Adopting a pet may fill part of that void. Volunteer at an orphanage, children’s hospital, nursery or daycare. Offer to help a working mum by babysitting for her occasionally. Reach out to your children – just because they don’t live with you, it doesn’t mean they cease to exist. Occasionally take them out to lunch or choose a night of the week that is available to them and host a weekly dinner. Drop a card in the mail or even a little care package that lets them know you are thinking of them.
Remodel/reorganise your home
We’ve all seen those scenes on TV or in the movies where the kids move out and mum promptly turns her child’s bedroom into an exercise/craft/sewing room. This is a good idea as it can help you to be more successful in the hobbies you begin to do. A prayer room, guest room, entertaining room or library are a few other ideas for remodelling.
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No matter what you choose to do with your time, remember this new chapter in your life is what you make of it. Yes, we can look back with a bit of nostalgia and even sadness of the time when our house was filled with the noise of kids running around playing. However, we shouldn’t dwell on the past. Instead, focus on the future. Take advantage of this part of your life by increasing and strengthening your relationships with your family, friends, neighbours, community and, most importantly, with Allah (SWT). Besides, with Allah’s will, your house may soon be filled again with the noise of your grandchildren running around playing.
Zahirah Elsayed loves anything bright and colourful. Her goal in this life is to open a candy store and a woman’s shelter for Muslimahs in need, insha Allah.