As a non – Muslim family in the UAE we look forward to, and bemoan the start of Ramadan with equal fervor.
You see, unlike South Africa, everything comes to a grinding halt here. Stores stay closed until after suhoor, no entertainment venues are open for adults and children alike, and kids are home earlier than usual since schools close earlier.
Some people get the hell out and flee to less religious locales, but some of us have to work and slog it out.
On the other hand when things slow down we get to sleep a little more and eat a little more, albeit indoors. Most restaurants aren’t open before Iftar. With the exception of some places in Dubai, eating and drinking in public are verboten.
But we do get to spend more time with G, doing things she likes. The weather is also desperately uncompromising and it’s madness to suggest she plays outdoors. Her bike is parked for the summer I’m afraid.
We manage just fine in the beginning however, 10 days in and cabin fever strikes!
So I’ve come up with 5 things to do to ease the Ramadan season just a little for those of us with kids.
1. Get into the spirit of it.
We all take some time to learn more about what the religious time means to our friends and neighbour’s.
We make little gift bags of dates and water and hand it out to the workers in the area just before Iftar.
We accept invites to Iftar dinners and enjoy the meal with our friends.
We learn to take in the solemnity of the period by turning down electronic noise and having more quiet time.
2. Make things
I stock up on flour, cookie dough, sprinkles and all the other things that mean making and mixing and baking and decorating.
I also look up YouTube videos on making things like foam slime. G loves this and we all enjoy the messiness of it.
I also stock up on printer ink, paper, glue, glitter pens and so on.
This is an ideal time to have a play date. Loads of things to keep litttle girls busy!
3. Play things
Chess, backgammon, snakes and ladders, monopoly.
We have all the board games and hardly play them. However, during Ramadan we spend more time together while the rest of the world sleeps.
Computers and tabs and phones and things get a break. Eyes and fingers too!
4. Learn something new
I’ve always wanted to learn to speak French. G speaks French. So with the help of a few apps and her books, she gets a chance to school me!
Her dad teaches her some Tae Kwon Do or MMA or some self defense techniques. It scares the crap out of me, but they certainly seem to have fun!
Just before Ramadan all the stores have amazing sales, including the bookstores.
Each one gets 100 dirhams and can buy as many books as they like. Age appropriate books of course! Those books are for Ramadan. No cheating by reading them before the time!
Bonus points for writing a book report after! 😊
It’s not easy keeping G entertained the whole of Ramadan but with a little forethought and planning, each year gets a little easier to navigate.
Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping your kids entertained for extended periods? Please share in the comments section.
Until next I blog,