Monday 22 February 2021


Almost a year into the epidemic and lockdown, I feel like both I and my family and the people around me have changed in so many ways. I have lost interest to shopping and new clothes, there is nothing I can order that would make me feel much different. Work and home-schooling fill my time, my main contact with family is over the phone and evenings spent journaling have got me unpicking all parts of my brain. So, we work, we wait, we hope for the best…and I find myself yearning.

I’ve been thinking about Pakistan these last few days – Lahore, my village near Jhelum, the stunningly beautiful northern areas - I wonder if I will ever see them.

Lake Saif-ul-Malook, Pakistan (image source)

I have a hankering to see the sea. I was mulling about our twentieth anniversary last year and how the two of us sat on a high grassy cliff full of flowers, picnicking and whiling away a day in the sunshine.

I would love to spend a day on a green hill or by a lake, with the sun on my face.

I pray to sit with my family again, all of us in one room, sharing food, laughing, joking and telling the kids to stop screaming and racing around the house. I miss the stories, the teasing and everyone complimenting my mum on her food. Insha’Allah those days will come soon.

I miss meeting my friends for coffee and cake, we used to skip dinner, feed the kids and then meet up to eat cake guilt free. Every time I meet them, we chat, laugh and unwind. I feel the stress falling away as we catch up, I always come away feeling sleepy and contented.

I miss my bestie and her loving words and big heart. She has been through so much this last year and I could not be properly there for her.

I yearn for a time when the wanderlust gets me and I can walk out the house and go where I want.

I look forward to spring blossom season, which will be here soon.  I am taking pleasure in the longer, warmer days. I am enjoying taking a few stolen moments here and there in the garden, clearing away weeds and dead plants, wondering what the garden will be like this year.

When I yearn, it means my spirit is still lively, a bit too much in love with this world still perhaps, but refreshed and joyful by Allah SWT’s beautiful creation of nature.

Monday 8 February 2021

Quarantine Stories: Schooling and Wellbeing.

We are now well into the third lockdown in London and the second stint of home-schooling. I remember how relieved I was when the children went back to school, thinking to myself: “I am never doing this again”, only to find myself there again less than six months later:

Home schooling five children

Navigating GCSE’s, A ‘levels, University application, a last minute sixth form application and GCSE options for next year.

Trying to support an eight your old that cried every morning during online lessons for weeks.

With one eye on a six-year-old little wildling that has no intention of sitting through a whole lesson.

Checking every hour between meetings on the boys to make sure they are not falling asleep mid class.

Trying to keep everyone talking to try and gauge how they are feeling.

Work with tasks piling up and meetings through the day (with various interruptions from various people, I have mastered the art of dirty looks and a viciously whispered “go away” now and again)

Trying to find a way to manage meals for five children and two adults, three times per day.

Studying for my Masters degree with online classes and research and reading for two assignments.

But something is different this time around.

At Christmas I took two weeks leave from work to coincide with the children winter holidays. I spent the time in rest, reflection, and to clear my head from work, study and home-school. It made a world of difference. It allowed me to get some perspective and set some boundaries:

No working long hours

Being clear on my priorities – worship and children

Weekly planning for things like meals, meetings and housework.

Protecting my “me time” for journaling, blogging.

Committing to learn to rest and not feeling guilty about it.

It takes me daily reflection and review of my day to try and stick to these principles, to stop myself working into the evening, stressing about home school and constantly overthink.

I have found doing less make me more peaceful and less stressed out, but also funnily, more productive.

I am still counting the days till they can go back to school. I am still very worried about my sons GCSEs and I still wonder how I am supposed to do everything I want at work and with my personal projects. But I am peace with the idea of imperfection, not finishing things, of a messy house and the art and practice of keeping my heart full of gratitude.