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How to Survive Ramadan as a Single Parent

by in Ramadan on 31st March, 2024

As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, for many single parents like myself, this time can get overwhelming. Navigating this holy month with children is a blessing and a challenge at the same time. 

Six years ago, after becoming a single parent, I developed ‘Ramadan anxiety’. I had two under two high-energy boys. The thought of tending to their needs while fasting and running around after them while also devoting my time to Allah left me feeling nervous and anxious on whether I will be able to cope or not. With a lack of energy and endless responsibilities to tackle daily, getting into a spiritual mindset can present difficulties. I often found myself feeling frustrated for not doing enough as Ramadan guilt crept in and left me thinking, “I’ve not read enough Quran for the day” or “my du’as are not meaningful enough”.  

However, knowing that parenting is a part of our Ibadah and every action is rewarded, even more so in the month of Ramadan, gave me a great sense of comfort. This is reaffirmed when Abu Hurayrah reported Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: 

“Every good deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied manifold. A good deed will be multiplied ten times up to as many as seven hundred times, or as much as Allah wills. Allah says: ‘Except for fasting, which is for Me and I shall reward for it.” (Ibn Majah)

It wasn’t until my eldest turned three that I was finally able to master an effective plan that helped make the month less stressful and more enjoyable for myself and my kids. 

Here I share my personal experience and tips as a solo parent navigating Ramadan, in the hope that they can help you in managing the month productively.

1. Break your fast with family/friends or at the Mosque 

Fasting with young children can be daunting for many parents, but for single parents it can also be quite isolating. The thought of spending iftars on my own petrified me. Ramadan for me is all about spending the blessed month around community, surrounded with positive energy. Growing up, my mum always made sure the month was a special time for me and my siblings. Now as a single parent, I try to recreate those moments for my own kids.

As a single parent, it’s important for me to teach my kids about the significance of community. While food sharing plays a great role during iftar, many single parents often find themselves breaking their fast at home without their families or friends. 

If, like me, you prefer not to be alone for iftar during Ramadan, I would suggest planning trips to the local mosque, where you can find a great sense of community. Alternatively, consider visiting friends or family, where you can enjoy time out of the house and alleviate the pressure of being stuck at home with kids while fasting.

2. Minimal cooking

Managing a home and caring for children while fasting, is difficult to juggle, especially when done alone.

I try to take it easy during the Ramadan so I can focus more on spiritually reconnecting with the Qur’an and personal growth. Pre-planning simple yet quick recipes allows me to not put pressure on myself or be tied to the kitchen. So, if you have to rustle up some chicken nuggets and chips or throw in a pizza in the oven to save yourself hours of cooking – do it!

As a solo parent, I stopped putting unnecessary expectations on myself to make samosas at home with two toddlers running around wreaking havoc. Instead, I opted to buy ready made samosas to save time and preserve my energy for another task.

Alternatively, prepare your iftar meals earlier in the day. This could be after the school runs, or once the kids are down for their mid-morning naps. This allows for less running around in the kitchen just before Maghrib and more time to focus on ibadah. If you have work during the day, perhaps preparing your iftar the night before may be easier, rather than rushing to cook after work. I also find it helpful to make the kids breakfast the night before, ready to heat it up in the morning. 

Single mother, Afrah Ahmed from North London said: “I found it very challenging to keep up with time. For example, when it was iftar time, trying to prepare a meal while nursing a crying baby was not easy for me.” She says navigating Ramadan as a single mum for the first time is hard at first, but gets easier after establishing a routine that works for you.

3. Bending the rules

Solo parenting during Ramadan comes with a wave of ups and downs. For parents with babies and toddlers this may be sleepless nights, and for those with young or older children, it’s waking up for the school runs at 7 am, whilst functioning on just three or four hours of sleep. We are all sleep deprived, of course our patience will be tested. 

Our usual routines get disturbed during Ramadan, and that’s okay! It just means we need to make a few tweaks to work around our new schedule. If this means giving the kids extra screen time to dedicate 15-30 minutes for reading the Qur’an, then do it. 

What worked for me was allowing the kids extra screen time as long as they were watching Islamic programs. Prophet stories, educational shows or Qur’an stories offer an engaging way to introduce Islam to younger children who aren’t in school. 

You can find some options here: Alternative Content Channel For Kids

4. Order your groceries online

 For most single parents, responsibilities and duties fall on one person alone and that includes the weekly or monthly food shop. Solo parent Leena Ibrahim from London firmly believes in making Ramdan as convenient as possible. The mother of three said, “For the last four years, I make sure to stock up on all my Ramadan essentials online. Ramadan prep is generally stressful. But having to do it all on my own can be quite overwhelming. Knowing that I can have everything I need delivered to my doorstep without the hassle of dragging my children around from one supermarket to another, not only saves my sanity but also my time.”

Leena suggests pre-planning the meals you want to cook for Ramadan and shopping for them beforehand. “Having a meal plan is far more affordable than shopping for items you don’t intend on using. I find shopping online keeps me disciplined, I buy what I need and can compare prices, whereas if I am out with the kids, I tend to pick up unnecessary items in the hopes to keep the kids from throwing a tantrum,” she added. 

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to soar in the UK, budgeting as a single parent is crucial, especially this time of year. According to charity Citizens Advice, over two million people are now cutting back on meals and seeing friends or family to save money. 

Planning ahead for both Ramadan and Eid is an effective way to stay on budget. Don’t wait for a few days before to do your shopping. Buying Eid clothes in advance means I can relax and focus on my ibadah without spending hours online. Setting aside £10-£20 in the weeks leading up to Ramadan also takes the pressure off, knowing I don’t need to fork out a large lump sum of money. Another helpful tip is finding a local community centre or local parent groups that may offer clothing or toys swap. If your child is under five, many community centres host weekly free pre-used baby clothes events.

5. Get your kids involved

Involving the kids in simple preparations for Ramadan is a great way to help everyone at home develop a Ramadan mindset at the start of the month. If your kids are older, you can get some extra help too. Invite the children to decorate the house with you or help prepare some iftar dishes. 

Sharing light housework such as folding away washed clothes or asking them to tidy their room, helps ease the load of piling housework. Giving children daily tasks whenever you can, helps foster habits that can be carried on, even when Ramadan is over. For younger children, printing free chore trackers and maybe including a reward system is an enjoyable way to get them involved. This is not only a beneficial routine for the whole family, but also relieves your mental load.

Encouraging children to pray and read the Qur’an with you is also a great way to bond with them and introduce them to basic acts of worship. Kids are often eager to join in when they see their parents praying or reading the Qur’an.

6. Earlier bedtimes

Being able to do Qiyam-ul-Layl and devote my time to Allah (SWT) after the children have gone to bed has always been my priority during Ramadan.   

When my children were younger, there was nothing more stressful than having them wake up in the middle of the night while I was praying Tahajjud or having my suhoor. To tackle this problem, I decided to bring their bedtime forward which gave me more time to spend on prayer and dhikr. If your children’s bedtime is normally at 8pm, perhaps moving it to 7 pm will enable you to maximise your time. 

If the children are at school, consider utilising those six hours to focus on spiritually connecting with Allah (SWT). Mother of two Afrah said: “Do as much as you can while the kids are in school. Dedicate some time to read the Quran or get started on prepping for iftar.” 

For parents who have to go into work, dedicate your lunch break to reading some Qur’an and do dhkir. If that’s not possible, try utilising the early bedtime routine to prioritise any ibadah you want to do.

Ultimately, whether you’re a single mother or not, we are all striving towards pleasing Allah (SWT). Our spiritual level may not always be where it should be, but it’s important to consider that Allah (SWT) knows our intentions and struggles. Doing small but consistent acts of worship helps build sustainable habits that we can continue implementing in our daily routine during and after Ramadan. 

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small.” (Bukhari). 

Raising children with Ihsaan and with the intention to make the Ummah stronger is also a huge responsibility with great rewards. So set intentions and InshaAllah Allah (SWT) will reward us according to what we intended rather than what we couldn’t do.

“And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but [only for] what your hearts intended. And ever is Allāh Forgiving and Merciful.(Surah Al-Ahzab 33:5)

8. Ask for help

Being a single parent is not easy. The days are long, the nights even longer, we are tired and just about managing. There is no shame in asking for help as we all need a village to raise a child. If you can get some help from friends or family, whether that is babysitting while you rest or help with managing housework, it’s always worth asking. 

9. Give yourself grace

As a single mother, there are days when I am too hard on myself and wonder if there were any aspects of Ramadan I could have made better for my children. That is when I remind myself that Allah (SWT) knows and sees our struggles and doesn’t burden us more than our capacity. He (SWT) has placed us in this season of life which will eventually change. This time too shall pass and we will see Ramadans where we will have more time for ibadah inshaAllah. For now, allow yourself to recognise your efforts during the Holy month and give yourself grace for being able to continue fulfilling your obligations to Allah even during hardship.

Allah does not burden any soul with more than it can bear: each gains whatever good it has done, and suffers its bad.” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:286)

Ramadan is a time to renew our intentions and rejuvenate our spiritual journey. Being able to grow and implement small changes in our daily routine during the blessed month requires consistency and will power. For me, I find that reaching out to my family during this month is just as important as any other time. Our children are entrusted to us by Allah the Almighty and the rewards for raising them and enriching them with Islamic values throughout the year is a promise from Allah (SWT). Be patient with yourself and give yourself the space to learn new parenting habits that will help give you a mental break.

I hope these tips and advice can help ease your Ramadan and allow you to prioritise your time in an effective and beneficial way. Ameen.

Zuhur Jabir

Zuhur Jabir

I'm Zuhur, 32 and based in London. I am a freelance feature journalist with over five years of experience. I am interested in writing about the British Muslim culture as well as parenting content.