Sunday 25 May 2008

An Organised Muslim Home

One thing about being a working mother and a Muslim mother is that there is always plenty to do. First and foremost is the time that we have to devote to Allah, at the very least our Regular prayers. Then there is the duty to our children our partners and our community. On top of this there are the hours blocked out and dedicated to the work we have to or choose to do.
All of these things leave us in a position to be exhausted, confused, harassed or…exhilarated by the intensity of our lives? For me the difference between rushing and fruitfulness is having a routine and being organized.

We are helped in maintaining routine by the cycle of our prayers: dawn, afternoon, late afternoon, evening and night and part of our day is often blocked out by our working hours. The rest of our work and duties are then woven around these milestones of our day. So in my home the evening meal isn’t at 7pm, but after Maghrib in winter and before in summer. Our evening walk isn’t at 9pm, but after Maghrib in summer and after Esha in winter. It’s a simple, natural, more flexible cycle.

The trick for me is to slot in all the big things and stick to the timing for them. Internet and herbal tea before work. Cuddles with the kids and catch-up with the better half as soon as I get home from work. Arabic with Little Lady before prayer and mealtime. Playtime for the kids and internet-time for me. Followed by the all-important bed-time routine for the kids and prayer and walk time for the grown-ups. Key for me is the absence of exact timings. There is nothing that induces an adrenaline-rush in me quicker than trying to race against the clock. This is fine for work or an exam, but not where children are involved. Children need to go at their own pace, and the only way to get them to do things promptly and in good time is not to hurry them, but to incorporate things into the routine of the family so that they do it as habit.

The other part of staying calm in the face of all we have to do is by being organized. I am rubbish with housework (poor hubby often ends up doing more than his share of scrubbing) but I try to have different days for different tasks. Some are influenced externally; so if the bin men come on Friday morning, then all of the bins and recycling are put out Thursday night and the kitchen, fridge and garden are cleared out Thursday too. Other tasks are by routine; Saturday for chores and visiting, Sundays for gardening. In our home it’s important that we try and do as much as we can through the week, so we can enjoy the precious time we have together at the weekend and allow ourselves to be refreshed.

My mum has also had a weekly menu for years, so for any given day of the week you know what will be cooked in that house (Monday is lentil night, so all the kids know to get take-away, Fridays is chickpea curry and kebabs so that’s my fave day to visit, Saturday is rice and chicken so it feels like there is a celebration going on). All of this means, she can shop according to what she needs for the week (or even the month) and never has to think about what she will cook.
I also try to make sure that there is a place for everything. When Little Lady came along, we child-proofed our home (no candles, ornaments, cleaning products, make-up or bitty things below four feet), it’s still that way and will remain so until our youngest is much bigger. This in itself makes for less work (i.e. less picking up, less breakages and less worry about what the kids will get their hands on), but what helps the most is just having a fixed place for everything. This makes it harder to lose stuff and easier to tidy up. So at the end of the day all of the kid’s toys get thrown in two boxes, their books onto two shelves. Their coats go into the pram.

Finally, the thing that helps me the most is being prepared. My work clothes and bag and Little Lady’s uniform, bag, lunch money and water bottle are ready the night before. The nappy bag stays packed and sits by the pram and car seats and the baby bottles get washed at night.


  1. I like your mums menu night mashaAllah sometimes better that way, saves all the stress of what to cook! You seem to have your work cut out sister may Allah make it easy for you ameen,when your little ladies get older inshaAllah they will help out and take the load off!
    We always plan our routine around prayers, we did that in the UK and more so in Algeria, peep's don't say i will come after 1pm or 5pm , its usaually after zhur salat or after asr or defo before magrib. Alhamduilah time is rare more so as each day passes snacth it while you can, we have been TV free for 2months now and masha Allah the time we have freed up is amazing and what we do instead is even more , much more creative kids mashaAllah. I do fancyy a movie now and then but i am trying to tame my craving as its the kids who cant control themselves and we have been doing much more quran mashaAllah so i wont loose that to a movie not for a mo!

  2. Anonymous25 May, 2008

    Assalam Alaikum,

    Impressing! I get tired from just seeing and reading what you did so far. Take a look at this

    My goal this weekend is to tackle the ironing pile, InshaAllah. Didn't someone invent robotic irons yet?

    Do take time for yourself. A cup of coffee, a works wonders. As far as work goes, I work from home and sometimes I find it worse to get things done!

  3. Assalam-alaikam Sis Rainbow,

    Its not too bad alhamdulillah. Better half is very helpful and he doesn't mind when I let things slip.

    Interesting to hear how its going without the telly. The craving for movies will wear off soon insh'Allah, although I do catch Malcolm in the Middle and Dr Who at my mum's on Saturday. I am glad I have stopped wathcing Indian movies though as they are gettign more and more offensive (both with nudity and with some of the messages they put across).

    Assalam-alaikam Sister Umm Nassim,
    Thanks for the link. I had a look and I especialy like her definition of "What is an orderly household?".
    Ironing? I don't beleive in it. Everything comes out of the wash and into the cuboards. Hubby irons his shorts and I iron my abaya's (if I really have to).
    I am resting today as I managed to get lots done and feel very peaceful. Will have a go at making something from some green beads I have been looking at or just get the babes in bed with me and read my book.

  4. salaam

    I just wanted to tell you that I absolutely adore your blog. I am a 23 year old girl (don't see myself as a woman, hehe) thinking of converting to Islam. your blog is inspiring me so much that I often think how it would be to have a chance to meet you and ask you the zillion questions I come across in my exploration of Islam. you seem to be balancing so well living in the western society with modest principles of Islam, which is my biggest concern :)

    don't stop blogging any time soon because to me reading a new entry is like a little ritual every day to which I look forward the most:)

    thank you for giving me hope and making me smile every day :)

  5. "Ironing? I don't beleive in it."

    Me neither!!! I loathe ironing but I have been doing it more lately. I implemented a weekly menu a couple months ago and alhamdulillah it really simplifies things. Great post as usual.

    ma'a salaamah,


  6. Oops i meant hubby ironing shirts!!

  7. Assalam Alaikum/Hi Martina,
    thanks for visiting my blog. I feel honoured and humbled that you like it. I'm 28 and still see myself as a girl too (and I've got three kids), its good to stay young at heart right?

    I'm going to e-mail you at the e-mail on your blogger page when I get a mo if thats okay and then you can ask me what you want.

    I think the best values of the western world: fairness, justice, family, community, tolerance are very compatable with Muslim values. I don't see being Muslim, a modern independent woman and living in the west has to be at loggerheads, although I do beleive that Allah tests and challenges all who come to this faith.

    You can also have a look at the "learn more about Islam" links at the top left hand side of the blog.

    Thanks for your comment Martina.

    Assalam-alaikum Sister HA,
    hope you and hybrid are keeping well insh'Allah.

  8. mashallah, where do you slot in the time for all the arts and crafts?

  9. I am so glad I found your blog again, for a while I could not reach it. It is so impressive how much you get done in a day! Great inspiration!! Thanks a lot!

  10. assalam alaykum
    i really like your blog and regularly drop by. i am a government lawyer with 3 teenage children. incidentally I moved to a new office too. even though i love my old job but i welcome the new challenges ahead,
    I am really proud that a lot of muslimah are able to work outside the house and manage to juggle motherhood well. I am even more moved that muslimah in muslim minority country are able to keep their faith and identity despite the difficult situation.
    I also love visiting London. Easy to get halal food. Last visited 2006. Hopefully i can visit again with my family this year. (Umm Arnama)

  11. Salamu alaykum

    whats oder (LOL)

    I need it so badly!

  12. Salaam Alaikum,

    Very Useful post. I do need to get a bit more organised, I'm far too good at time wasting.

    Btw, I love your blog. I've just done a carnival called "Celebrating Muslim Motherhood" and I've included links to two of your posts.

  13. Just visiting first time , I hope it helps , I'm mainly concerned about my laziness n time wasting nature , mother of two n wife of a extremely cooperative , no fussy ,easy going person :)

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