by Eaman Elhadri
“Enough is enough”, I said to myself one day while avoiding a shower, yet again, just for the sake of “doing something else for the kids”. It was that day that I finally realized that a shower is not a luxury for moms.
Showering is a basic need. Society has pushed “rip and run” on us to the point that mothers accept skipping showers and finishing meals.
Enough is enough!
What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘peace’ in your homeschool?
Is your answer similar to this? – “kids that listen and kids who don’t bicker”.
Do those kids even exist? 😉
But seriously, instead of focusing on how we can get the kids to quiet up (ha!), let’s focus on the most important person in your home – you, dear mama.
Today I’m going to share practical tips to help Muslim homeschooling mothers (that’s you!) find peace, calm, and slow in the everyday.
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Now, I already know that you understand the importance of finding peace in your days. This is just a gentle reminder, because we could all use those.
And I’m far from being perfect and nailing this down. I have the same struggles as you, but I’ve also lived a long life of homeschooling, so I’d like to help. Bi-ithnilahi Tala.
These are small and simple ideas so please don’t think of them as a “to-do list”. If something isn’t serving you – scrap it.
Think of this post as a small gentle nudge; a soft and simple suggestion.
Watch the Accompanying YouTube Video Series!
I’ll be adding one video daily this week so BOOKMARK this blog post to remember to check back tomorrow!
Tip #1 – Remembrance of The Creator
Remembering The Creator (dhikr) brings great benefits, such as spiritual well-being, tranquility, and softening of the heart. Allah AWJ says (interpretation of the meaning):
“…Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”[ar-Ra‘d 13:28]
Tip #2 – Breathe
To begin, let’s start with the simple, small act of breathing. It’s easy to forget this vital part of slowing.
To get yourself in the practice, sit comfortably, where no one will disturb you for 5 minutes. You can close your eyes (softly) if it helps.
Simply begin to breathe. Listen to your breath. Observe.
Next, try to deepen your breath. Through your nose gently allow your breath to move deeper in your stomach.
Continue practicing this gently or consider seeing a licensed practitioner who can help you with this. This simple act is like a reset button that allows us to view situations with clarity as our body slows down.
Tip #3 – Say “No”
Say it in your language if you may, but don’t skip this one! Nay. La. No.
I’d like you to start saying no to the things you’ve been doing out of obligation, or a sense of guilt. Yes, I’m looking at YOU!
If you’re the very rare person who easily and happily just says no, Mubarak! But for pretty much everyone else, saying no is hard.
I want you to practice saying no to the kids when they ask and ask, and ask again. Say no to going to the grocery store (or online purchase) for a seventh time this week.
If you are a mother that works part time, I want you to practice saying no to the extra work your boss just tried to load upon you (if you aren’t going to get fired for it!). And hey, if you are your own boss, say no to yourself!
Say no to the things that don’t bring you joy… OK – of course, within reason. Many things must still go on, but just begin.
If you have an understanding of what saying no gives you, then it makes it easier to speak those words.
And the real power of saying no? Saying no gives you space to say yes!
When you decline something that everyone thinks you should have taken, but you didn’t feel right about, this leaves space in your life to pursue the perfect opportunity instead.
Saying no to the kids means helping them change their habits and expectations. Instead of spreading all my energy reserves thinly across a giant garden, I’m focusing on growing just a smaller patch of beautiful blooms.
Less is more. Less things and stuff equates to more time and space.
And, more slow.
I’d love to hear your individual stories, and to help in any way possible – please simply comment below and lets chat.
Tip #4 – Embrace Mono-Tasking
This is not how we should look, mama.
I’ve since learned, and personally realized, that multi-tasking is nothing but messing with my brain!
I know that many mother’s proudly declare our Multi-Tasking Superpowers. And well, it is a skill.
Without being able to multi-task I’m absolutely aware of the fact that too many things simply wouldn’t get done. BUT I do think there are times when multi-tasking should be pushed aside for mono-tasking.
Research suggests that when we multi-task, we actually divide our brain between the two jobs. This means we’re giving half our focus on each task.
So, while we’re achieving ‘more’ we’re compromising on the quality of the outcome and the job. Quantity over quality seems to be what our society is ever-demanding and pushing on us.
The Joy of Mono-Tasking
Do two or more things simultaneously, and you’ll do none at full capacity. Here are a few reasons you should try to stop doing everything all at once:
- It can affect your relationships: stop talking to your child behind your phone screen. Put the phone down and then speak.
- Being on high-alert all the time can be extremely stressful: How are you expected to focus when your brain is being pulled in different directions constantly?
- It can be bad for our health: Be honest – are you reading this on your phone all while eating at the table? Eating while consuming with other things (particularly technical media) can result in overeating or eating too fast.
- It can affect your creative thinking: When your brain is full of being focused on too many tasks, there’s literally no space for creative problem solving tasks.
- You don’t notice the beauty around you: when you’re taking a walk and scrolling on social media, you won’t notice your direct environment around you. We’re missing out on SO MUCH around us by being constantly stimulated and connected to needing to always do something.
Simple ways to get started with mono-tasking:
Start with these mono-tasks and see how much enjoyment you feel from just doing one thing at a time. You’ll find life moves a little slower when you’re focusing on what’s in front of you, rather than constantly task-shifting in an erratic manner.
- Sit down and relax when you’re drinking your hot cup.
- Leave your phone in another room.
- Do things in batches. Teach children of multiple age levels all at once. Check and reply to emails/messages in one sitting, rather than spread throughout the day. Give yourself a set 5 minutes to check social media and reply to messages.
- Sit with your family and simply be with them. Put everything aside while you connect with them. Give them the love of your focus.
Tip #5 – Slow down
Now let’s chat about doing things slowly, or doing slow work. Not rushing through to get to the end.
Softening and focusing, perhaps. Being right here in this exact moment.
It’s not easy when we’re caught up in homeschooling, with busy children, and an always-on-the-go household.
Creating slow in your days doesn’t have to mean pushing aside all the tasks, chores, or clearing your calendar.
All it means is noticing, appreciating, and truly being in the moments when they happen. Normally we move past every simple small moment, because we’re worrying or wondering, or planning, the next moment.
I’m not saying I’m perfect at this, or any of these tips! I, as much as anyone, am caught up in formal lessons. In shopping and cooking. In all the things we all do.
I know what you’re thinking, “But Eaman! How do I do slow work, when there’s so much stuff to do?”
If you’ve been practicing saying no, then there actually will become less stuff to do. But, some of this slow work is about focusing on each moment and honoring it while you’re in it.
Next time you’re at the grocery store (if you can’t purchase online during the pandemic) – I encourage you to stop a moment. Close your eyes, breathe, and exhale.
You probably don’t want to be here. But you’re here. Let’s not rush it.
Do one thing at a time. Stand in front of the fruit and choose the one you want, not the one you always grab in a rush.
Don’t check that notification that popped up. Lists on paper help with this. Be here, in the place you’re in right now.
Slowing down at the grocery store, or while doing the laundry or while doing math 😉 – these are the hard places. The more you practice, the more you get to understand yourself.
The easier it is to slip into your state of flow when you have actual creative or slow quiet time.
Tip #6 – Noticing
Notice your child’s small hands and feet. Notice how a flower petal falls to the ground.
Notice it in the noise.
When taking a walk with your children, keep your phone in your pocket and pay attention to the way the sunlight hits the trees, hits the ground.
We must learn to pay attention to the small things in a way that rushing doesn’t allow.
Share with me, down below in the comment section, one sentence about what you have noticed today. I want to hear the poetry of your slow life!
Here is my ‘noticing’ poem for today –
I found a bluebird on our porch, this morning. Stillness, then a small soft movement of her wings So honored to be part -or observe- this soft gentle life.
Tip #7 – The Mundane
Life isn’t about parties and giant cookies every day, is it?
We’re living in an era that wants us to be distracted by all of the shiny things, all the time. Let’s switch away from that.
How? By actively seeking, noticing, and appreciating the small mundane moments.
No amount of shopping, no amount of LIKES on your social media, no amounts of extra money in the bank will bring you a sense of pure joy the way that noticing things will.
Noticing the mundane is appreciating your life, afterall. Try it out.
I’ll do it with you –
- There is a pleasing shadow of a box left in a corner.
- The curls of basil sitting in a jar on my kitchen windowsill
- Toys left behind – always a mess, but always amazing too
- The laundry piled high to the ceiling 😉 – but grateful for clothing
Tell me, in the comment section below, what’s mundane and tedious in your days? And, tell me, what is beautiful and glowing about these things?
Don’t be shy. Sharing the mundane has a way of making it shine a little more.
Tip #8 – Create Small Rituals for Yourself
And no, I don’t mean religious rituals as we have Salaat and Ath-kar, Alhemdulilah. How about something as simple as setting aside fifteen minutes a day to drink your chai or coffee alone?
Our family and friends don’t always see how important it can be. And, I don’t think we always see the importance either.
I know it’s hard to justify these moments, because we’ve lived a life dedicated to doing things for everyone else. When we create a ritual for ourselves, and follow through with it, we’re reminding ourselves of the importance of respecting the quietness inside.
For me, the simple ritual of a hot cup and slow stitching is the perfect combo to create calm and slow in the everyday. Would you like to join me?
I can’t invite you to my home, but we can gather virtually! Bring your current handicraft and a hot cup to a quiet part of your home and let’s enjoy the quiet together!
If you’re interested in this, email me at email@example.com . It will be very limited (perhaps just a handful of people) so it’ll be on a first come first served basis, after registration.
And while you’re at it, please also email me a picture of your favorite hot beverage in your favorite cup (or tag me on social).
Here is one of my favorite combos 😉
Tip #9 – Try Slow-Crafting
Tip #8 has led me to my next tip, of course – slow crafting. This is a perfect way to channel in calm and creativity.
I have written a blog post on tips and ideas for handicrafts with children, but this time I want you, lovely mama, to work on a handicraft alone.
I find slow stitching to be the most therapeutic handicraft. It’s my definition of creative meditation.
I highly suggest it as a great way to connect your breath with your creative work. Many women feel that it helps calm their body and mind.
Some mothers slow stitch in between homeschooling or other responsibilities so they are doing joyful things, rather than rushing things.
If you’re interested in learning more about slow stitching, I plan on sharing this in my Facebook group where we have fun chatting all things handicrafts. I would love to have you!
And, I’d love to handcraft along with you on Zoom! Email me if you’re interested.
Tip #11 – Real Rest
Don’t allow yourself to feel bad for resting. Stare at a blank wall or take a nap.
Tip #13 – Nature
Nature heals. Take a walk, but try to make time to do this by yourself.
If you can, have another adult or older (responsible) child watch the kids for 15 minutes.
Don’t forget to bring nature indoors as well. It can be as simple as flowers from your garden or wild flowers you found on your nature walk.
Tip #14 – Communicate
Communication is key, but don’t do it like the man above 😉 Communicate to everyone you live with.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, people can’t read our minds, even if we wished they could. 😉 Whether you’re delegating a chore to your kids or discussing responsibilities with your spouse, be very specific.
If you live with your in-laws, you will need to communicate to your spouse a lot more than usual. Plenty of people live with extended family and find it difficult to keep up with housework.
Which leads me to my next point…
Anyone living in your household needs to help out!
If a monkey can be trained, so can a human being. 😉 Everyone in your household needs a chore/job.
It is about time that humans stop connecting housework to mothers. Yes, we do housework, but we do it out of the kindness of our hearts, not because it’s what mothers have to do.
Your two year old can be taught to place blocks in a bin and your 80 year old mother-in-law can watch the kids for a bit while you do something important.
Tips for communicating with your family and in-laws
- Be nice. Do it without the yelling, complaining and fussing.
- Communicate with your spouse about responsibilities. Make a list of all responsibilities and communicate who will take care of each responsibility.
- Communicate with your spouse about extended family. If the extended family is your spouse’s immediate family, it is your spouse’s responsibility to communicate to them, not yours. Your spouse should let them know what will or won’t happen in your home and how they will be expected to be active members of your household.
- Communicate cultural norms that won’t happen – 3 fresh meals cooked daily? Uh. No. I couldn’t (and wouldn’t!) do it even before kids! I realize this is part of many cultures, and while that’s nice, it is absolutely unnecessary. Everyone can make their own lunch and get used to leftovers and freezer meals.
- Communicate with your family, if they live with you. This is not your spouse’s responsibility.
- Don’t make it an option, but be gentle. Ask without saying “perhaps” or “maybe”. Be firm and nice.
- Establish “school-time hours” and stick to it – This is very pertinent when living with extended family. Establish and communicate what your “school” hours are. If you don’t stick with it, you’ll give off the wrong message – that anyone can interrupt you during school hours because you’re scrolling Instagram instead of doing formal lessons with your kids.
Tip #15 – Teach Independent Skills
If they can do it themselves, let them!
Yes, I know that you can do it better. 🙂 Mama, you are the smartest and most capable person in your household.
You do everything much better than everyone else. 😉
But you know what? Who cares!
No more of this gif above, my friend. The kids won’t always do it right… but who cares!
Yes, you vacuum better than your kids, but done is much better. Yes, you cook better than your spouse, but it’s food that is done for you!
Yes, you can separate the clothes piles for your laundry better, but laundry that is done is an amazing thing!
It’ll be good for both you, your child, and everyone else!
Frequently asked Questions
“I’m struggling just to get by with daily life, so how can I possibly have hobbies or take time out for myself?”
Can I tell you a little secret? I struggle with daily life too. And most mothers I know struggle as well!
But! When we make space for ourselves, we are showing others (and ourselves!) that –
- moms matter
- moms have needs
- moms can and should have hobbies. We were people with hobbies before we became mothers.
- moms are allowed to do ‘nothing’!
The last thing you need to know about finding peace and calm in your everyday
We’ve lived a life dedicated to doing things for everyone else. When we create a ritual for ourselves, and follow through with it, we’re reminding ourselves of the importance of respecting the quietness inside.
Just being alone for fifteen minutes daily will go a long way.
This isn’t a to-do list. Do what works for you, scrap the rest.
Want to join me for slow, calm, and peace with your handicraft and a hot cup? Email me here – firstname.lastname@example.org about joining my virtual handicraft party!
If you’d like to share your handicrafts and ideas with like-minded mamas, join me at my private Fabebook group all about handicrafts!
New to homeschooling? Read The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling for Muslim Families.
Join me on my personal Instagram account in the near future for a Collab series on creative calm for homeschooling moms.