Ramadan 2020 and Quarantine Blues: Remember to Relax

23 April, 2020
Q I am really struggling lately the COVID-19 has messed up my life. My husband and kids are home 24/7 and I feel so overwhelmed having to work around the clock. I am getting less sleep than usual. Before I would at least get a chance to wind down when they went to school and work but now it is crazy. My biggest concern though is that Ramadan is around the corner and I already feel burned out. How will Ramadan then be amidst this mess:(?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • During these unusual times, it is more important than ever for us all to care for each other. It is unrealistic for us to attempt to live our lives as usual. The truth is that there is nothing usual about life these days.
  • This will and should extend to expectations surrounding Ramadan. Already we know that congregational tarawih prayers are not going to happen. Homelife will be different too. 
  • Ramadan should not be all about food. Cook (or take turns cooking) simple, satisfying meals for your family, rather than a big feast. You are already feeling overwhelmed. Don’t put anything unnecessary on your plate. 
  • For your husband, you need to discuss with him what he needs to take over. Give your children age-appropriate tasks each day.

………….
Salaam Alaykum sister. Thank you for your question. 

Ramadan Quarantine

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, life is different for all of us. Even those who are going to work are doing their jobs in a different way, be it from home or at their place of business but with extra precautions in mind. It’s no surprise that those of us who are at home are experiencing a lot of change as well, as our children and partners are around a lot more and demand more of our attention. 

You are not in this alone. 

It is true that all over the world stay-at-home parents are experiencing this change. However, I do not only mean to tell you that you are in good company with this change, true though it may be. What I mean is: quite literally, you are not alone. 

You mentioned that your husband is home as well. However, based upon your question, it seems that his presence is a burden. As he is a grown man, he must contribute to the household, even during the normal times when he works, but especially now that he is home. Caring for everyone should not fall only to you. 

What Would the Prophet (saw) Do?

It is a strong Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) to pull his weight around the house.

There are Hadiths that mention him sewing his own clothes and cooking his own food, though he had many wives who could easily have done these tasks for him. 

It was narrated in Bukhari that Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), was asked, “What did the Prophet (saw) used to do in his house?” She replied, “He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was the time for prayer he would go for it.”

It is not, nor has it ever Islamically been a woman’s place to tend to the house alone. These are cultural notions, not rooted in the deen. 

You did not mention whether your husband is working from home. If he is not, then the above is self-evident. There is no excuse for him to not pull his weight.

But even if he is working from home — ask him: when he is in the office, is he at his desk absolutely non-stop? Does he never get up and walk away from his computer or his phone? 

I often work from home, even in normal times. During the day I am often able to get up and walk away for several minutes at a time. I can put a load of laundry in or run the dishwasher. I can fix a quick meal.

Even during a conference call, unless I am presenting, I am able to multitask. I can listen to and participate in the meeting while, for example, sweeping the floor. Are there times when I cannot walk away? Absolutely. But when I can, I make sure to get stuff done around the house. 

Nothing is Normal, so Don’t Strive for Normalcy!

During these unusual times, it is more important than ever for us all to care for each other. It is unrealistic for us to attempt to live our lives as usual. The truth is that there is nothing usual about life these days. This will and should extend to expectations surrounding Ramadan. Already we know that congregational tarawih prayers are not going to happen. Homelife will be different too. 

With the kids out of school and your husband at home, it may be a good opportunity to make things a bit easier on yourself by shifting the kids’ sleeping schedules so that they go to sleep later and wake up later. This might provide you a much-needed chance to sleep in. 

During Ramadan and even continuing afterward if the quarantine is ongoing, I suggest looking at redistributing some responsibility in the home. 

Give your children age-appropriate tasks each day. My two oldest kids are 10 and almost six. Most days I assign them one or two chores to complete. This could be cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping the floors, sorting the laundry, or just tidying their rooms. 

For your husband, you need to discuss with him what he needs to take over. If he cooks, then perhaps you should take turns with meals. Or if you cook, he can clean up afterwards. Whatever works for your family. 

This is applicable every year, but should especially be observed this year — Ramadan should not be all about food. Cook (or take turns cooking) simple, satisfying meals for your family, rather than a big feast. You are already feeling overwhelmed. Don’t put anything unnecessary on your plate. 

Remember to Relax

In order to not become overwhelmed, I suggest you bend some rules to allow yourself time and space to take it easy. Allow your kids more screen time than you usually might. Or maybe watch a movie while you eat dinner. Take walks if you are allowed to. 

Things aren’t normal, but that doesn’t mean you should be absorbing all the extra work that comes with your family being home constantly. Above all, this is a time for each member of the family to remember the rights that others have over them and for us all — as members of families and of communities — to do our best to take care of one another. 

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

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