Every year, as the holy month of Ramadan ends, I sulk in the fact that I could have done more. I tell myself that next year I'll prepare myself and family, so that we're not wasting the time that we could've spent on Ibaadah, on other things that I could have done prior to Ramadan. With that in mind, I've compiled a list of 10+ ways to prepare for Ramadan.
If you have anything to add, be sure to share in the comments below so that we may all benefit insha'Allah.
- Some of the basic advice is to do more voluntary things before Ramadan. More Sunnah prayers, more sunnah fasting, more charity. Get yourself used to doing more so that when you're tired and hungry, your body is already used to the "extras."
- Push dinner time back 1 hour every week. Also eat breakfast earlier. This will start getting your body ready for the longer days of fasting.
- Reduce snacking between meals.
- Start to reduce your caffeine and sugar intake from now. Both are very addicting and you certainly don't want to go through withdrawal when you could be spending that energy on Ibaadah.
- Start regulating your sleep so that your body is a bit more accustomed to waking up earlier. Instead of praying Fajr right before sunrise, try praying Tahajjud and then pray Fajr as soon as it comes it.
- Recognize faults in your behaviors and start changing them from now.
- Prepare a list of meals that are appropriate for the long days of fasting. Ideally, meals should be high in fiber and low in sugars, including processed sugars. A simple google search will provide TONS of ideas, but in general, high fiber foods would include beans, oats, quinoa, barley, and veggies.
- Prepare some meals and freeze it for when you're just too tired or overworked to cook iftar, or just so that you can spend those moments before iftar on Ibaadah, rather than cooking. This is also helpful for during the last 10 days/nights of Ramadan.
- Make a list of approximately 10 dua'a and keep them in a notebook, journal, or just a small peice of paper. Use the time prior to breaking fast to make these dua'a. This time if often forgotten because we're so busy preparing for iftar. But Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "There are three whose du’aa’ will not be rejected: a just ruler, the fasting person when he breaks his fast, and the prayer of one who has been wronged." -At Tirmidhi
- Prepare everything for the charity/cause you'll be focusing on for Ramadan. Most of us will donate our time, money, or both to a cause during Ramadan. It is, of course, the BEST time of year to do Ibaadah. It's helpful to have thought about this ahead of time. If you wanted to volunteer somewhere, set it up from now so that you're not spending precious Ramadan-time on this part.
- If you have children, especially young children, it's helpful to have activities prepped ahead of time so that you're not spending too much time on that. You'll still have to clean up after, but the time saved on prep will make the idea of crafting easier. There are tons of Ramadan (and non-Ramadan) crafting ideas out there. I love A Crafty Arab and With A Spin's ideas, so that's a great starting point.
- Another tip for younger children is to have a playlist created ahead of time filled with Islamic songs, videos, or Qur'aan on youtube or wherever you watch/listen. Let's not joke ourselves, when fasting for 16+ hours we definitely need a rest at some point. Don't feel bad about the inability to be 100% present if you're exhausted from fasting and praying late at night.
- One last tip for those of you with younger children is to start gathering materials, such as noise and image-free toys and activity books, to carry to the masjid. This could include cars, blocks, activity books, printables, or books. If you have toys for young kids that your family no longer uses, and your masjid allows it, consider donating it for those parents who've forgotten to bring...or for those little ones who are bored of what they've brought.
- For older children, prepare an advent calendar where, instead of getting a treat every day of Ramadan, there's a "Fun Fact" or "Good Deed of the Day" or both!
- Don't forget about activities for the older children. Start preparing activities such as lap books on the 5 Pillars, Ramadan specifically, Charity, Salaah, Laylatul-Qadr, the revelation of the Qur'aan, or any other Islamic topic.
- Another idea is to set up Islamic group activities for the older children, especially if they're old enough that you don't have to actually be present the entire time. Ideas for this are volunteer-time, group projects, or even having a group of older children in charge of an activity for the younger ones...that's a win-win. Prepare them for this ahead of time. Pick a few dates, let the older children start developing their own plan and let them take ownership and control of it.