Some ways of making your kids vacation more fun & rewarding…
By Umm Ammarah
Dad what can I do next???...Mum I’m BORED!!! For parents vacations can be really demanding keeping our children occupied. Vacations pose a great challenge for many parents. However holidays can be great fun if parents are positive, creative and interactive. Also during the vacation there is a good opportunity to recharge our kid’s spiritual batteries and start afresh in daily activities. It is a joyous period and a unique break from our busy schedules. We should welcome vacations for its fun.
The excitement surrounding vacations and family trips usually kicks off with strong excitement. However, after only a short time away from the daily routines of school, one phrase parents dread hearing begins to creep into the language of children almost instinctively: “I’M BORED”!
There are so many things to do and so many activities that only require a small amount of creative thinking and even less effort to organize. Children are highly impressionably and intelligent individuals. Their energy and creativity needs to be nurtured and stimulated during all waking hours (Whoosh! And that is a long time, as any parent can testify to!)
It is good to have fun but this must always be done by not compromising our Islamic way of life!!!
By the same token, it is not a bad idea to take time out during these pressure-free holidays to reflect and possibly change our positions and life for the better.
There is an area that is largely ignored by parents when they go on holidays and that is how to guide their children to a pleasurable, fun and sin-free vacation. Very often, the newer generations of Muslims growing up in the West have little guidance and sometimes even less knowledge of the Islamic rules that govern our Islamic way of life and they often end up imitating the free unislamic western lifestyle that surrounds them. Sometimes, due to parent’s commitments, kids find themselves in vacation camps and Day-Care Centres which are deprived of an Islamic environment and culture.
No doubt, if we don’t take a proactive approach to maintaining our iman (faith), we might really lose it. The vacation represents an ideal opportunity to boost one’s deen (religion). However if it’s spent inappropriately, it can lead to disastrous consequences. If we truly value our faith, it is imperative that we use this opportunity to its fullest extent.
Parents have a great responsibility to guide their children to an Islamic lifestyle and to provide a vice-free environment. They should use all available strategies to carry out this responsibility effectively and successfully. This can be achieved by attempting to implement useful activities.
Here are some simple and inexpensive suggestions of how to keep the holidays lively,Islamic and exciting for the whole family. After all, bored people are boring people!
PRAYER – Parents should ensure that prayers are performed punctually and children are motivated and keen to pray on time, especially when their children are with them. This will help the children learn the importance of prayer and the value of time. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) as said, “Refresh yourselves with Prayer…” (Hadith Al-Bukhari).Men should perform prayer at the Masjid. However if on vacation a Masjid is not close by then pray together as a family. Prayer in Jamaat(congregation) is better than praying alone. Let the teenage boys call out the adhaan. Make the youngest one the salaat manager, taking care of prayer rugs, timing, and inviting everyone to salaat. Salaah is an integral part of a Muslims life and should NOT be missed.
ENVIRONMENT– Always remain within an environment that is Islamic and free from sin. Psychologist emphasize that environment has a great effect on the upbringing of kids. Plan visits to places that do not in any way encroach on our Islamic way of life. Parents should try to keep their children away from the immoral scenes that people usually see in holiday resorts during vacations. The free intermingling of sexes is totally prohibited in Islam. Children are vulnerable and very easily succumb to peer pressure. Parents need to be diplomatically assertive and consistent in emphasizing Islamic values.
INTERACT- Regular interaction with your children is vital. Teach them with wisdom and “cool” behaviour. Trying to appear “cool” in front of their peers during adolescence brings tremendous pressure on children. Children often don’t feel that their parents know what’s“cool” and what’s happening, so they turn to their peer group for the answers by trying to imitate them. By starting regular interaction while your children are young, parents can ensure that their kids will use them as their role models and not their peer groups. Time spent with children enhances the parent-child relationship, so that in their later life children will emulate their parents’ values and attitudes and that makes the gift of time the greatest gift of all.
TEACH- Vacations are an excellent opportunity to teach our kids in an interactive way. Plan tasks, projects, games which have an Islamic flavour to it. Parents should take the vacations as an opportunity to indirectly set good examples to their children for cooperation, kindness, and truthfulness. Learn and teach the rules of Islam in an interactive and practical way. Encourage the reading of Qurán and Hadith. Encourage the kids to have Taalim.(Islamic education).Let them compete in memorizing the Qur’an and learning the Hadith. This will encourage them to inculcate real commitment to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
READ- Kids have loads of time and will become easily bored if not kept occupied. Introduce them to good Islamic books. Reading material should be carefully selected as you don’t want your kids to be adversely affected by unislamic literature. Parents should seize the opportunity of their free time in the holidays to tell their children stories from the Qur’an that impart good morals, enhance spirituality and help build an upright character. Tell or read to your children stories on some nights before bed. There are lots of excellent Islamic stories and books available that you can use or you can make up your own. At the same time, you will be helping your children develop Islamic character.
CO-OPERATION -Muslim parents should help disseminate the cooperative spirit among their sons and daughters during the holidays. This can be achieved by teaching the children the benefits of working together and learning to be patient in achieving their goals, in an attempt to make them realize the importance of teamwork. Reward them where necessary. The family unit is the basis of a good society.
SPORTS- Sports can be a great contributor to building the kids physically and spiritually. Choose such activities that support an Islamic spirit and identity. Ensure that these activities do not encroach on their deen. For example when the time of prayer approaches, let them pray first and then resume their sporting activities. Teach them to use Islamic words in their activities. Instead of saying WOW! Let them say ALLAHU AKBAR(Allah is the Greatest), let them start by saying Bismillah (I begin in the name of Allah) etc. In this way they will be making zikr (remembering Allah). To be physically fit is part of Islam. Swimming, Archery, Horse Riding, Athletics are strongly recommended. The Messenger of Allah(pbuh) even raced with his beloved wife Aisha(RA).
HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITIES– Parents can motivate their kids to bake, clean the garage, re-organize their rooms, help set the table for guests etc. If necessary a roster can be drawn up.
ZIKR(remembering Allah)– Let them spend time making Zikr, Reciting Quran, Making dua etc Let them practically do it so they get accustomed to making zikr. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) informed us that we will not regret about anything in this life accept the time spent without zikr. Verily, in the Zikr of Allah do hearts find peace.” (Surah Ra’d) … “Verily, the remembrance of Allah is the greatest.” (Surah Ahzaab-Qurán)
PLAN AN EVENT– Try organising one weekly treat that you all do together. Ask your kids where they want to go this weekend. It may be the zoo, it may be an outing or it may just be going shopping. But it is a great idea to go on an outing with them on a regular basis. These little treats will be exciting for your kids and will remind you that it can be fun to be a parent. Organise a family gathering, Go as a family out in the Path of Allah, a picnic, a sightseeing tour, a day to the zoo, stop off for ice cream or to feed the birds in the park, visit the local orphanage, a visit to the kiddies section in the local hospital etc. Be innovative within the rules of Islam.
GARDENING– Gardening is an excelling way to keep them occupied and bring them closer to Allah. Let them have their own vegetable patches, let them plant flowers etc. Explain to them about Beauty of Allah in His Creation.
PLAY- Play with your children. You could play ball, colour pictures, build toy houses from blocks, or do whatever they like. Let your children help you with simple tasks. There are loads of activities that are cheap , simple and can be done together. The Noble Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) was especially fond of children and used to get into the spirit of childish games in their company. He would have fun with the children who had come back from Abyssinia and tried to speak in Abyssinian with them. It was his practice to give lifts on his camel to children when he returned from journeys. (Hadith-Bukhari).
LOVE- Show your children in simple ways that you love them. Some parents try to appeal to their children by showering them with gifts rather than giving of themselves. This may cause more harm than good. The simple example of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh).When his daughter Fatima (May Allah be pleased with her) would come to him, the Noble Messenger (peace be upon him) used to stand up, kiss her, take her hand, and give her his seat. Later in life, this personal type of affection will be much more memorable to children than receiving a gift that anyone could have given them. Don’t buy their love- Win it!!!
SIN: Ensure a sin free vacation. Cinemas, Movies, Immoral PC games, Haraam Chat Rooms, Discos, etc will harm their Imaan. Instead of playing haraam music rather buy some good Islamic CD’s(nasheeds, lectures etc) for them.
FRIENDS-The most important element of a successful vacation from an Islamic perspective is the company that our kids keep. Friends will either make or break our deen (religion). If a kid finds himself hanging out with non-Muslim classmates who are doing haraam it will have a negative bearing on his Imaan. Company of deeni (pious) and knowledgeable people are a great boon. For boys going out with other youth in the Path of Allah is an excellent way to be in good company. The Family could also go out together. In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look at whom you befriend.” Tactfully persuade them to choose such friends who will positively and Islamically influence their character. The company our kids keep will have a profound effect on their imaan and personality!
So mums and dads be cheerful and positive for indeed vacations can be joyful and spiritually enriching for both you and your kids. It is an excellent opportunity to utilize our kid’s time productively and simultaneously develop their character and uplift their Imaan!