Prepare for the day ahead
Try to get a head start on the day’s tasks by taking care of things the night before. Check children’s uniforms are clean, ironed and ready to be worn and make sure your husband’s shirt or thobe is pressed and hanging up. You might want to try choosing your own outfit and having it ready. Prepare for the next day’s dinner by taking frozen meat out of the freezer or leaving fresh meat or chicken to marinade overnight for a flavoursome (and hassle-free) dinner. Try making packed lunches the night before and storing them in the fridge.
Don’t skip breakfast!
Don’t skirt around the breakfast table. Sharing a healthy meal at breakfast not only provides you with the energy you need to get through the day but allows your family valuable time together. Keep breakfast simple with cereal, fruit and individual drink cartons if you have a busy schedule ahead. Try setting the breakfast table the night before to start the day ahead of schedule.
Have a realistic time-table
Before you start filling in your daily planner with more than you can handle, divide you day into different periods and settle for one major activity or two or three minor activities per period. Getting things done is far more satisfying than a list of chores that are left unattended. Try breaking up the day according to prayer times. This way you can ensure that you and your children pray on time as well as complete the given task before the next prayer.
Set up a notice board in the kitchen
Have a board that is within everyone’s reach so that family members can leave messages for each other. Also keep a calendar fastened to it with all upcoming family, children and school events – like extra lessons, parent-teacher meetings and doctor’s appointments. This should help you to avoid being late for or missing appointments or double-booking yourself. Save time, energy and money by planning your activities wisely.
Read with your children
Whether it is a story book or the Qur’an, spend time winding down with your children, with a good book in your lap. Reading soothes the nerves and encourages good learning habits in children, even as babies. It enhances their natural curiosity and ignites their imagination. Best of all, cuddling up to mum and listening to her voice provides a sense of comfort and security no matter how old your child is. Schools recommend that parents spend at least 15 minutes a day reading with their children in order to improve the children’s reading skills.
Keep bedtimes early
Children, right up to their teens, need at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to help them grow, keep healthy and concentrate during the day. Try to keep bedtimes early, especially for younger children, as it helps them sleep peacefully through the night and wake up the next day refreshed. It also gives time for you to relax, prioritize your needs, and re-gather yourself at the end of a hectic schedule. It is also crucial for you and your husband to have some much- needed ‘you time’. Don’t forget to take advantage of the children’s early bedtime by getting your beauty sleep too!
Here’s an idea…
Pack a punch
Give the children’s packed lunches a shake-up this term. Compile a list of items from the main food groups (carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables) and try to pick one item from each group for a delicious, healthy packed lunch. Have the children make their own suggestions and take into account their likes and dislikes too.
Carbohydrates: brown bread, pitta bread, tortillas, cornbread, banana bread, pancakes, scones, homemade biscuits, crackers
Protein: tuna, chicken, sardines, fishcakes, sausages, houmus, baked beans, lentils
Dairy: milk, cheese, yoghurt, yoghurt drink, cream cheese, crème fraiche, eggs
Fruit: oranges, apples, bananas, grapes, mango, melon, pineapple, pure fruit juice
Vegetables: carrot sticks, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, radishes, pepper strips, olives, salad
Oh, and another thing…
Mama, let’s talk!
Try to allocate at least half an hour a day to listening to your children. Have a chat! They will feel appreciated and respected by knowing that they have your undivided attention. By actively listening to them, you can help build their confidence by letting them voice their opinions and concerns. You may also pick up on new likes and dislikes and if they have developed any fears and anxieties. Especially take time to learn about their strengths as it is never too early to help them develop skills and interests. Even if you can’t manage individual time every day, make dinner time or the ride home from school a time for them to fill you in on what is going on in their lives.