I had the lovely opportunity to interview a friend and special Super Mama, Aasiya. I wanted to 'milk' her for all her experience but more than anything I want to break the stereotypes around parenting. There is no right way to do it, you just have to do what works for your family! Mothers are often each others toughest critics and I hope with time that eventually changes... for those of you willing to listen and learn from one another, here is what Aasiya had to say:
What does a typical day at your house look like?
We're a homeschooling family. We attend a playgroup once a week, Arabic/ Quran class twice a week, try to go to Jummuah every Friday, and library visits about every other week. Most people assume that because were homeschooling we have a very rigid schedule and do a lot of 'sit down work' but in reality we just kinda go with the flow :) I try to sit down with Yusuf (4 years) at least once a day to go over Surahs that he is memorizing, we also do some sit down work such as writing practice. Most of the learning that goes on around here is through daily experiences like talking about what we see when we go out, visiting people, looking up things that Yusuf is interested on the internet etc. We also do a lot of talking and practicing Quran when were in the car!
How do you keep cost down- with toys/books/educational items/day trips?
I really don't buy much for the kids! We have a lot of family around (we all know how much Grammas love to shop for their grandkids!) so what I try to do is let them know things the kids need. I prefer kids to have fewer good quality / educational toys then a lot of cheaper toys. As for day trips, there are SO many things to do in the community especially for kids under 6yrs. Libraries and Early Years Centers are great, fun, educational and free! We also try to go places as groups to get discounts (with our playgroup) and I invested in a Science center membership for the year which we are totally loving!
Something else I do with the kids toys is rotate! I love doing this! We have a storage room so I keep a bunch of their toys in there (where they cant access). And every few weeks I rotate their toys. When toys which have been put away for a while come back out, its very exciting for them!
If you could give someone thinking about having a baby or a new mom any advice, what would it be?
Just go with the flow! Do what you think is best and feels right. Everyone is going to give different advice about what worked for them, but you really just need to do what works best for you! You will never ever be able to make everyone happy / accepting of your decisions, so as long as you're doing what pleases Allah SWT and your family (husband / self / kids) happy, then just go on doing that!
Also, to make lots of dua and always renew your niyyah (intention). As a mother you're bound to face difficulties.... but being grateful for what we have really helps to get through those tough days (no matter how bad your day is going, it could always be worse so we must thank Allah SWT for whatever blessings we have).
I am a convert and one thing that I found so beautiful about the deen when I first became Muslim was that any thing we do can be transformed into an act of worship. So reminding myself that cleaning my baby's butt may not exactly be fun, if I renew my intention that I am taking care of my child for the pleasure of Allah, it gives me more patient, and inshaAllah I'll be rewarded.
On days when the housework just does not seem to end- what gets you thru the day?
What works best for me when housework doesn't seem to end is just leaving it! I'm still working on this though because it is tough for me! I have a thing where I want the house to be clean all the time... I'm slowly accepting the reality that with kids, its just not possible. I really need to lower my expectations on myself! Not to say that its okay for your home to be a complete pig-sty at all times...But don't expect it to be spotless!
I try to have a place for everything, and limit the amount of toys that are out (ie. my storage room rotating thing). In the morning I make the beds and make sure the kitchen is clean, throughout the day I try not to fuss too much about toys being out. Then at bed time I get Yusuf to help me put everything away and then I do the rest once he sleeps. I find that if our home is clean at night which means I wake up to no mess in the morning, I'm more relaxed. For bathroom cleaning and more serious stuff, I usually do it on a day when my husband is home.
What are some ways you reward/encourage good+positive behaviour from your boys?
Something that worked really well with Yusuf was a 'good deeds jar.' You can check it out in detail on my blog here... http://aasiyashomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/03/good-deeds-jar.html
What if anything do you do especially for yourself, how do you find "me" time?
Yusuf used to nap until a few months ago but then I decided to cut out his nap which meant he slept earlier. My husband and I take time for each other to sit and have chai at the end of the day and reconnect. I think this is super important... for myself, and for us as couple. Its so easy to fall into the routine of just taking car of kids/house/bills and loose that connection with your husband. When Im happy in my marriage, I have more energy as a mother.
Recently Yusuf has started going for play dates without me... having friends around with kids the same age is a huge help! We take turns taking each others kids for a couple hours so alhamdulilah we get a little break. As a homeschooling mom, this is a big deal!
Staying awake after fajr puts SO much barakah into the day! Its something I dont do every day but would like to implement more often.
Jazakallah Khair Aasiya for teaming up with me for this fun feature! May Allah reward you for your efforts and put barakah in your time, Ameen. You can check out Aasiya's blog for some great home schooling ideas http://aasiyashomeschool.blogspot.com/