Monday 18 April 2022

Ramadan Sleepover

Growing up, I used to listen to my school friends tell me about how they spent their holidays in towns far from London (Leicester, Preston, Blackburn, Manchester) spending weeks with cousins, at family wedding, having sleepovers. I felt like I missed out because we had such little family here and none my age, being the oldest of my generation in the UK.


My oldest three were the first children grandchildren in my family, so also didn’t have peers, but had my sisters to treat them and take them places.


In contrast my youngest two (Darling 9 and Baby 7) find themselves with a squad of little cousins around the same age - all girls, all sassy attitude and all good friends (most of the time). I’ve treasured the fact that they are growing up with so many wonderful, shared memories like family trips, holidays and special occasions together and sleepovers.  


They have had a few sleepovers together and I have hosted once or twice, but not the whole squad of five girls. So when my sister Fashionista mentioned she was coming to stay at my (nearby) parents for Easter break, I thought it would be nice for her oldest girl to stay at mine. As Ramadan started at the beginning of the two week holidays, we hadn’t really had the chance to do much with the girls, so this was a chance for them to have some fun as the break drew to an end. I invited my brother’s daughter (aged 9) and my little cousin who is the same age too.  No one needed to be asked twice.


Various parents dropped their girls off through the day with growing chaos and excitement. Gorgeous (aged 15 and old enough to know better), decided that this was a good opportunity to cause mischief and teased the girls at every turn. By the time it was time to break our fasts, there had been various arguments and sulks and Darling had already thrown herself at me in the kitchen and declared she couldn’t cope with so many people in the house and that no one was listening to her. I explained she was the host and the girls were her guests so she had to look after them and listen to them too.


As soon as the dished were cleared, we got some of my husband’s sleeping bag collection out and started making up beds on the living room floor. It took me about two hours to get everyone to lie down and try and sleep. Ten minutes after I left them, they were all up again and complaining. Gorgeous had stuck his head in the corner and told them a story about a family that was apparently murdered in the house and that at night the ghosts would come out of the storage cupboard at one end of the living room and kill them all. What followed was half an hour of trying to find an acceptable order for everyone to lie down so that no one was nearest to the cupboard. In the end Little Lady had to come down and tell them off and make them lie down again.


Next morning, I woke them up early and got them all ready to leave the house. I figured, if I got them out, the rest of the household who were fasting could sleep a bit longer in peace. We headed to the park to meet with the gardening group I volunteer with on Saturday mornings. We gave them a tour of the spaces we had created, including a nature trail with bird feeders, a stag beetle and bug hotels the group had created. 

Then I equipped them with litter-pickers and I got them to pick rubbish across the park on their way to the playground. They seemed to really enjoy it. We filled a bag of rubbish, got lots of nice comments from park users and then had the park ranger come over to say thank you to the girls for helping to take care of the park. I was holding the rubbish bag open and I think I spent most of the time telling hem to point the pickers downwards and trying not to get hit in the face by one.

After a good play in the park and taking lots of pictures under the gorgeous blossom trees I took them home to rest, get cleaned up and get ready to go out again. We headed to one of my favourite places in my area – our local library.


They had a mini art exhibition that the girls enjoyed giving their opinions on – they thought the painting of the horse was particularly impressive.

I got them to pick books and let them read for a while, until one of the librarians invited them to join in a dinosaur hunt game which they loved. On completion they got stickers, activity sheets and a medal. So that just made everyone’s day.


After an hour in the library, I took them shopping and let them choose a jigsaw to so together and a toy each to take home. They were all fasting, so I let them choose some snacks for after iftar (fast breaking) as well. They were super excited by their toys and snacks and took lets of pictures posing with their toys.


By this point they were starting to tire, so we took the bus home and I encouraged them to rest. They decided to build a den to play their jigsaw in. How can I describe the number of arguments, sulks and tantrums that this led to – everyone was the expert in den making and wanted to do it their own way. After an hour of squabbling, I suggested they did some painting in the garden instead.

The painting and doing the jigsaw got us to almost the end of the day and iftar. With half an hour to go, I got them to help get the table spread ready and the sit down to make dua for their parents. They were flagging a little by this point as they were hungry and a little tired, so iftar time was very welcome. Of course, as soon as they had eaten and then attacked their snacks, they were full of energy again and ready for another sleepover. Maybe next holidays.

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