I'm Fasting For Ramadan With A 1.5 Year-Old And A Job. Here's How I'm Managing

Fasting with a high-energy toddler can be challenging.
Grandmother teaches her granddaughter to read the Quran
tolgart via Getty Images
Grandmother teaches her granddaughter to read the Quran

Ramadan has begun and Muslims like myself are hoping to use this month to focus on spirituality, our connection with Allah and giving even more to charity.

Of course abstaining from food and drink means we feel slightly lower on energy in the day, but it really puts things into perspective when we think about what’s happening around the world in Palestine and Sudan, where there is limited to no access to food.

Struggles may be different for everyone, for some it might be the food and for others it might be patience. For parents of high energy toddlers it can be difficult to control your temper when your child seems to be doing everything and anything to test your patience.

So how do you cope? Well, for Muslims there are a few things that can help us.

Tips to survive fasting with a toddler

1. Pre-plan your day

For me this works really well, when I know I’ll be having solo parenting days during Ramadan I will try to plan as many activities as possible.

For example, before my toddlers nap in the morning time might feel like it’s going slow because you can’t even have a shot of caffeine to hype you up. But, a trip to the library would be perfect!

Then, in the afternoon maybe invite a friend or family member over OR go to their house. That way you have a helping hand and your toddler is seeing a new face when they might be fed up of yours.

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps (sort of)

Okay so this has actually worked well for me and I started this habit last Ramadan.

Though it’s impossible to nap when the baby is napping as you might have lots to do e.g. cooking Iftar, cleaning etc, you NEED to get that early night.

Getting up at around 4am for Suhoor seems even more daunting as a parent, especially when your kid is waking up at 5/6am for the day.

So, though it may seem simple, after Iftar, dinner and night prayers just go to sleep! It’s much easier to do that this year as Iftar is at 6pm so you can get a lot done before it hits even 9:00pm.

I’ve been getting into bed at 9:30pm and waking up at 4:15am which means even if I don’t go back to sleep after Suhoor, I’m still well rested. I can even have time to do Dhikr (remembrance) and read the Quran.

3. Don’t be afraid to break some “parenting rules”

It’s crazy how much our days revolve around food and as Muslims, we only realise that in Ramadan. The day seems to feel longer when you’re not focusing on food.

For me it’s because usually when I get bored or need a break I go for a snack or a walk around the kitchen! So, for those days that won’t seem to end and your patience is wearing thin, don’t be afraid to break some parenting rules.

For example, when it comes to screen time, I used to be a zero-screen time parent until I actually became a parent. Though now we limit it completely, if a day is feeling extra difficult I’m not afraid to use some educational TV.

During Ramadan if you really do need a break or want to focus on the Quran, don’t be afraid to stick on an episode of Omar and Hana. It’s teaches your kid about Islam and it means you get some time to regain yourself.

4. Get your toddler involved

Every time we pray, my toddler seems to be on her best behaviour (Alhumdullilah). She’ll literally wait for us to finish instead of disturbing us. But I’m not sure how she started to understand that praying means mum and dad can’t be disturbed?

My point is, kids will surprise you. Why not involve them during your Ramadan activities? Praying together is such a great bonding time, even if your toddler is too young to understand.

Alongside this, you can even sit with them while you’re reading the Quran and give them a book to sit next to you. Who knows, if they’re really intrigued by what you’re reading you could even read it out to them line by line.

Often toddlers will be interested in what you’re doing, especially if they can get involved too!

5. Use this time to teach them about food waste

As toddler parents we are used to eating the nicely touched up cold leftovers that our little humans so lovingly throw on the floor for us.

Why not use this time to encourage healthier and better eating habits? For example, often my toddler will ask for a snack and refuse what I offer until I offer ten more things. Or she’ll do this fun thing of taking a bite of everything then saying no.

Now, during Ramadan this is for sure to test my patience even more. I’m tired, hungry and have a hundred things to do.

But Paediatric Dietitian and Feeding Therapist Lucy Upton actually suggests to avoid offering multiple alternatives where possible.

She said: “Falling into a cycle of offering alternatives or ‘rescue meals’ can reduce the range of foods a child accepts and continue to cause power struggles at the table (especially with toddlers who are striving for independence).”

Ramadan is a GREAT time to nip this in the bud and stop yourself, as a parent, to offer alternatives which could end up being wasted and thrown into the bin.

It’ll make the days a bit easier when you’re not running around thinking of snacks to offer your toddler.

6. Remember the bigger picture

At the end of the day, Ramadan is all about excelling in patience. You need to remember the reason behind this month and why you’re participating in it.

It’s about learning to control your anger, vices and to be a better person in general.

Sometimes, remembering why you’re fasting in the first place and what it means can really help to bring you back to a calm, when you’re feeling stressed out by your child.

If you’re feeling really triggered, take a deep breath and think of the bigger picture — which is that Allah does not burden a soul more than they can carry AND that you will be rewarded for every second of stress that you go through.

As a parent, that’s a whole lot of reward.