First Ramadan Single - what now?
August 28, 2008 11:33 PM   Subscribe

Single Muslim Father. First Ramadan without wife to help make food in the morning or with 'fun' ideas for the kidlets. Help!

After 13 years of marriage, I find myself in the position of being single and having sole custody of my three children, and facing my first Ramadan.

We always had some traditions - decorations, etc. that we'd do. Now, half a year after the separation, and Ramadan is upon us.

I have no idea what to do to make Ramadan fun - honestly, after 13 years alone, I'm not sure how I'm going to get through this. What traditions can I start? What can I make for breakfasts for my kids (all under 11) that will fill them up, but not grind the morning to a halt?

posted by burhan to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Homemade Müesli? What did your wife or your mother prepare? Tell the kids it's a new, experimental Ramadan and that until you lot get it right, it's ok for them to have a snack if they're starving.
posted by stereo at 1:40 AM on August 29, 2008

There are a good number of breakfast posts scattered around AskMe.

This one from today on "unusual" breakfast is great: here's one answer suggesting rice and daal!

I don't know your family's schedule, but could you all pre-prepare some breakfast items together the night before, and then prepare/eat/clean up from breakfast all together? That would be a cool way to start the day.

Additionally, perhaps use this special time of year for you to throw yourself into getting to know each of your kids better than you do now. Spend more time helping with homework, remind them of the hilarious hijinks you've gotten up to in the past ("remember that time when X accidentally microwaved the silverware?!"), head off to a zoo/aquarium/science museum/baseball game, just be around as much as you can. They may also have more arguments and tantrum-type behavior if they're new to fasting (though you don't say if they are fasting), so be patient with them as they adjust to the new schedule and diet. You may also want to remember, and let the kids know, that drinking water is a great way to feel like you've consumed something but not actually done so; many cases of "hunger" in my body have been eliminated with a glass from the tap.

I'm not Muslim but I lived in Indonesia a few years back; Ramadan was a truly amazing time for my neighbors and friends. I hope the spirit of the season fills your home!
posted by mdonley at 2:06 AM on August 29, 2008

Best answer: I'm not Muslim, but how do you mark dawn and dusk? Some Muslims I have known have used coloured ribbons outside (I live in a small enough town that you can have "naturally unlit" areas in your backyard, unlike the constant stream of streetlights in some parts of some cities) -- when you can distinguish the colours, it's "day," and when the colours are indistinguishable, it's "night". It could be fun for you and your kids to make special ribbons, change them out, draw on them (when you can't see the green Martian on the red background it's officially past dusk!), etc.

In terms of fun breakfasts, what about investing in a whole whack of oatmeal and then a vast array of dried fruits/nuts/other fun things to add? The kids can "build their own oatmeal" every morning.
posted by Shepherd at 2:13 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

tasty stuff for iftar, exactly what they want
personal charts for improvements they want to make i their lives during the month
big eid blowout with lots of presents, they don't call it the Muslim christmas for nothing
get involved in stuff at the mosque
go to ramadhan kids events all over town.. where are you?
this is a great opportunity for you to reconnect with the community after your divorce.
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:35 AM on August 29, 2008

nb: you're not s'posed to drink water during ramadhan either mdonley :)
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:36 AM on August 29, 2008

Rice and daal is indeed a brilliant breakfast for a long day without food. I just wanted to add that it's very easy to make in a large batch and it freezes beautifully. I pour the daal straight into small resealable freezer bags and stick the bags straight in the freezer. That way breakfast is as simple as unwrapping the daal-brick and thawing it in the microwave.

I'm not Muslim, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that children aren't usually expected to fast during Ramadan (along with the elderly, sick and those who are traveling). Is true for your branch of Islam? Even if the kids have fasted in the past, you might want to consider a more limited 'symbolic' fast for them this time, at least while you're getting used to life in a single-dad family. Maybe they could give up snacks and eat simply during the day, and you could still 'break the fast' together at night.

I don't mean to diminish the religious importance of fasting, but given the timing of Ramadan this year the kids may have trouble getting through the school day if their breakfasts aren't quite up to scratch. If the kids don't have to fast, could your family focus instead on the spiritual and behavioural aspects of Ramadan this year?
posted by [ixia] at 4:25 AM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Gah, typo. 2nd par should read "is this true".
posted by [ixia] at 5:08 AM on August 29, 2008

Protein is what sustains you the longest. If you feed them anything carbohydrate, they are likely to crash after a short while. Meat, cheese, almonds and olives by candlelight sounds practically like a party to me right there. Do you have any cartoons on tape you can put on while you all sit and eat together? Something they'll enjoy? It might not be the most reverent way to observe... but are you going for reverent?
posted by scarabic at 8:19 AM on August 29, 2008

Response by poster: lots of great answers - I wish I could have marked them all as my favorites!

My daughter (now 9) has fasted for a few years, but never all 30 days (last year she missed 3).

With their mom gone, I think that all the kids want to ace this one. My youngest (7) is too young, so she'll do 'half days'. My eldest son is 11, so he'll be fine doing all of them.

We used to eat really carb rich protein rich foods for breakfast. ExWife would make food the night before, and warm it up in the morning while I woke up all the kids.

Now, it's all me, on my own.

I've been good for 6 months - pre-cooking meals, half-cooking, etc. Fresh breakfasts every morning. But now, for some reason, I'm freaking out, as if I'm just going to drop the ball.

I like the museli idea, the oatmeal idea. I thought about morrocan fool (beans), eggs/toast/etc... That should do, but I just don't want them to say "Dad - not such-and-such again!"

I also want this ramadan to kick butt because although I can't change the fact their mom is gone, I don't want them to remember their first ramadan without her as 'sucky'. I think part of it too, is that with no other adult in the house, it's so hard to keep things fresh and fun.

I'm thinking lots of crafts and such too - lanterns, posters, etc.

If you can, keep the ideas coming. Thank you guys so much!
posted by burhan at 3:26 PM on August 29, 2008

Can you keep up any of the traditions that you had before? A little continuity can be very comforting after a big change.
posted by Lady Li at 3:45 PM on August 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you haven't really been a big mosque-goer lately, contact the Muslim Student Association at your local college. As young, social, observant people, they'll know what events are going on at the different mosques and in the community. And at my old school, they also organized volunteer to making personal wake-up calls and deliver breakfast and dinner to older or economically struggling people -- maybe the kind of thing your kids would enjoy being a part of.

If you like Hindi movies, all the biggest blockbusters come out at Eid -- and seeing a Hindi movie in the theater at Eid is an experience everyone should have. Total exuberance and joy, dancing in the aisles, sharing food with strangers -- I was amazed to see how far people drop their reserve and how hearty they party in the theater at Eid... in Los Angeles.
posted by Methylviolet at 5:01 PM on August 29, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting, ideas.

We have traditions (well, I guess they're traditions) - it's just stuff we do every year.

I'm realizing now, that without their mother to keep stuff on track anymore, that I need to figure out what it is that is going to have meaning for them when they're older and have moved away.

Some ideas:

Decorating the house - this we do every year - lights, streamers, etc... If there was some center peice or competition or something - something that got them all jazzed up and was fun...

Food - we usually have fruit and chick peas to break our fast with, and then regular supper after prayer. I'm wondering if there isnt' some special dessert or something I could do every friday - or even some kind of food theme (ie. this year is chinese food every friday night) -> Supper cooking competitions with the kids (I would help)?

Prayer - going to the mosque is going to be hard - nobody to watch my daughters on the ladies side. I am not sure how I will handle that other than possibly stay home and try to lead prayers myself?

Islaimic movie nights? There are some staples -> The Message with Anthony Quinn (I think), and a few others -> perhaps on saturday nights...

The ex only sees them 4 times this month, so I can't count on her for much in the way of helping. Even traditional recipes are going to be difficult as I don't have them available.

Thank you so much guys!

posted by burhan at 3:33 PM on August 30, 2008

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