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With Eid coming up, I’ve spoken to mothers who feel pressure to make Muslim events elaborate celebrations. And the intention behind this is great. I feel like this generation of parents is a lot more conscious of making Eid special and memorable for kids. Making it as exciting than Christmas if not more. However, is there an increasing pressure on mothers to keep up with exciting Eid displays? I spoke to Ikram, a mother of twin boys and a daughter about what Eid/Ramadan celebrations look like for her.
Zaynab: Is there such a thing as going overboard and can it feel draining and expensive? In some aspects do mothers feel pressure to keep up with these exciting decorative displays?
Ikram: I personally haven’t found it draining compared to what other kids have. Christmas, birthdays, Easter etc. Ramadan only comes once a year and we do make it special but we don’t do something huge. It’s not a big hoo ha, we don’t have a party vibe. We do make Eid a big deal. The kids decorate the house and we do a countdown.
I think I don’t find it draining because I reuse decorations and I also get my kids to make decorations themselves. Stars and chains etc. It is important to invest in craft materials and not let the fear of mess put you off getting your children involved. Kids will be kids for a short time.
Zaynab: There’s this phrase of Eid being a welcome back party for Shaytan in that sometimes it’s celebrated in a way that forgets the religious part of it. How do you incorporate the spiritual/religious aspect of these celebrations with your children?
Ikram: In some ways you can end up forgetting the purpose of eid and making it purely a celebration in the party sense. But Eid naturally has a deen aspect to it incorporated into it through Eid salah, bathing, doing dhikr and keeping up with the sunnah. In the run up to eid I go through stories with my children to incorporate the spiritual element and remember why we’re celebrating. We also don’t celebrate in a way that’s unislamic. We play anasheed, not haram music, we make sure our Eid clothing is in line with the teaching of Islam and we enjoy ourselves.
Zaynab: One part of Eid is family, outside of Eid, what advice would you give to mothers about building or cultivating relationships with their families and their in-laws to create that wider community for their children? (In the sense that some people have poor relations with extended family and so they don’t have that network).
Ikram: Have regular contact with your immediate and extended family and go to see them when you can. Make sure that they’re part of your kids’ lives. Create a family whatsapp group so kids can build a relationship with their extended family. One of the things that you want is that if one day, if kids can’t turn to their parents for something, they can turn to their extended family. In an ideal world I would want my kids to come to me but realistically, I was a child once and I know that there were certain things that I didn’t want to talk to my parents about. I don’t necessarily promote that as an option to my children; I make sure our channels of communication are open and my kids know that they can come to me about anything, but I also know that they have extended family who they can turn to for support.
If you have family who are bad influences or they’re not good for your wellbeing then keep your distance from them. Do your fardh and say salam but you don’t need to keep close bonds. If being around them will create situations that will irritate you then avoid that and see them less.
Zaynab: As an individual yourself, what makes Eid a celebration for you? Do mothers get caught up in making Eid about their children that they forget to celebrate it for themselves?
Ikram: I don’t treat myself all. I don’t celebrate anything to be fair. We do need to do something as mothers for Eid. Celebrating with the kids is fun for me. We’ve started doing a secret Eid gift thing in the family. Otherwise no, not particularly. As a mother you care more about Eid being fun for the kids, and I work with other mothers to organise that. We have a whatsapp group chat where we organise a Eid party and delegate who’s doing what.
What role do you think fathers play, or even just men when it comes to Eid celebrations with children?
Ikram: They’re good for taking family photos. My husband doesn’t participate in the decorating stuff, but if you’re raising sons, fathers should set an example. My husband always takes the day off work for Eid. Sometimes even the next day and go out and do something. For us, Eid is about seeing family, and having a party in the house. We hire a bouncy castle or we allow the children to choose what they want to do.
Zaynab: What do you say to people who may feel burnt out at having to keep up with what they see on social media?
Ikram: Don’t showcase your life on social media. You feel pressure to create a certain type of Ramadan/Eid display forgetting that children are easily pleased. You end up losing the purpose of what you’re doing. Instagram is a virtual tool to show off the good parts of your life. I’m not on social media to care what other people do, and I don’t have to share my Ramadan and Eid celebrations with the world.
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