Ramadan is upon us and I can already feel that exciting buzz in the air as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming month of fasts and spiritual rejuvenation. For Muslims, it is a blessed and sacred time of year in which we devote our days by fasting and putting in extra efforts to pray, do good deeds, give charity, help others, and spend as much time as possible in the remembrance of our Creator. It is a beautifully spiritual time of year where there is a special feeling of love, unity, and faith as we refrain from eating during the day and all gather around our tables with loved ones to open our fast at sunset.

As mothers, whether working or not, Ramadan is an especially busy time of year. Managing the house, the kids (let’s not forget that we aren’t free from the kitchen during the day while we fast – these kids still need to be fed!), outside chores, special meal preparations for breaking the fast, and trying to squeeze in as much time for prayers and Quran recitation – all while running on low fuel while fasting – can be incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes, it is hard to figure out how to manage our time and organize ourselves in a way through which we can reap the maximum benefits of Ramadan without feeling burnt out. As a mother of two little ones myself, I found a few tips helpful to make my Ramadan smoother and more productive:

1. Keep it Simple. Ideally, a table spread with all kinds of sumptuous foods at iftaar time is what we have in mind. But let’s be realistic- spending your entire day slaving away in the kitchen to prepare for a meal that will be chowed down in under 10 minutes doesn’t seem like the most practical or productive way to spend your time. Try and prepare some food items ahead of time which can be frozen and prepared on short notice. Cook regular, well-balanced, simple meals like any other time of the month and save the traditional, elaborate meals for the weekends when you have more help or are more relaxed.

2. Plan activities for your kids. Try to keep your kids busy during the day so that you have some time to yourself to rest or say your prayers. A kid’s “busy basket” with assorted activities, arts and crafts, and games can be fun and educational. Also, for times when the activities and games are no longer keeping them occupied and you have about 1563838 things to get done, don’t feel guilty about turning on something age-appropriate/educational for them on the TV or laptop and getting done what you need to do. Seriously, don’t feel guilty.

3. Take care of yourself. As we focus on managing our regular duties as well as the additional routine changes that come along with Ramadan, we sometimes tend to neglect our health. While the family sits down to iftaar, or especially when you have guests over for the occasion, many times we tend to gulp a sip of water and chew off a piece of date and then run around serving and making sure everyone is fed properly. Try and have everything prepared and ready on the table a few minutes before the fast is broken so that you can have a few minutes to relax, reconnect, and enjoy the meal peacefully with your family. Don’t worry about the dishes or the clean-up right after, take some time to unwind with a cup of tea.

4. Use this month to nourish your soul. No matter how little you are able to do so, make sure to take some time out every day to do something to feed your soul. Listen to the recitation of the Quran while you are driving or at home doing some chores. Choose an Islamic speaker who resonates with you and listen to a talk while you work in the kitchen. Devote a quiet corner in your house as a prayer corner where you can retreat during the day, even if it is for a few minutes. Refresh and revive your spirituality and faith.

5. Do what works best for YOU. If going out for iftaar with the kids is stressful for you, then just simply decline invitations. If having guests over to break their fast is too much for you to handle, just don’t do it. Have open and honest conversations with your spouse about diffusing some responsibilities and sharing the load this month. Talk about what works best for you as a family so that you can experience Ramadan as peacefully and as stress-free as possible. Good communication always pays off.

Mothers, even when we feel like we are failing or not doing enough, we are still amazing. We put our children ahead of everything else and we always, always have our family’s best interests at heart. This Ramadan, go easy on yourself and remember that taking care of your family is also a form of worship. We can’t do everything and nor are we perfect. Nobody will call you out for not having 10 things on the table at iftaar time. Nobody will blame you for taking a power nap in the middle of the day instead of worrying about what to feed the kids for lunch. Nobody will chastise you for plopping your kids in front of the TV for an hour while you connect with God, and nobody will judge you for not hosting elaborate iftaar’s at your home. Keep it simple. Focus on the important things. Have a beautiful and blessed Ramadan!