Posted in Motherhood

Little tips, Big impact.

As a first time mum, there were a variety of practices and behaviours that were used on a trial and error basis for the upbringing of my first child. I have been able to reflect on decisions that were made and determine the things that I plan to do differently when I have another child and those that I intend to repeat. So, here are a few things that have had a positive impact on my daughter Hanaan which I will definitely be repeating with my future children:

  • Read, Read, Read – We all know the importance of reading to children; research has proved it time and time again. So, I won’t talk about that. Instead, I will talk about some of the impact reading has had on Hanaan. I started reading out loud to Hanaan during pregnancy and have continued ever since. We read during the day but it is also a part of our bedtime routine. Hanaan loves to read and now at almost 3 years old, she willingly picks up books to read (she can’t read yet but she knows the stories and uses the pictures to ascertain what is happening in the story). She uses words that she has picked up from books when speaking, words that I’d never use when speaking to her. Reading books has encouraged her sense of curiosity whilst also allowing me to develop her comprehension skills implicitly. Whilst we read, Hanaan asks different questions about the characters in the books. Sometimes, I answer the questions and sometimes I refer the questions back to her and allow her to answer them. Aswell as this, reading has expanded her understanding of the world beyond our little family. She is exposed to different context and themes such as friendship, culture, religion through the different texts that we read.
  • Speak in full sentences – If you want your children to talk in the best way possible, ditch baby talk from the beginning and speak to them in grammatically accurate sentences. Children are like sponges and will pick up on the things that you say. This will also make a massive difference when they start to write too! Children tend to write the way they speak and it can be difficult to reteach proper English when they are already accustomed to speaking in certain ways. Hanaan generally speaks in full sentences because I have always made a conscious effort to speak to her in full sentences. Recently, I noticed she has been saying things like ‘cos’ rather than ‘because’. Of course, this is because I began to say ‘cos’ so I am trying to reteach her to say ‘because’ by saying the full word every time I speak to her.
Hanaan casually reading in the bath!
  • Model the culture you want to create in your home – As I said earlier, children pick up everything around them. So, it is quite important that you model the behaviour that you want to see in them. Rather than telling them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or ‘Bismillah’ before they eat, model saying these phrases in the right contexts from an early age. This not only teaches them to say the phrases but it also teaches them how to use them in the right context and it becomes a part of them. These are some of the phrases that Hanaan and I use regularly; Alhamdulillah when she sneezes, Bismillah before eating, Alhamdulillah after eating, Saying ‘sorry’ when we do something wrong or something that hurts another person, please and thank you e.t.c
  • Speak positively – It is so important to speak positively to your children. Your voice becomes their inner voice and they will begin to repeat the words that you say to them thus increasing their self worth and self confidence. It also teaches them how to speak to you and others in a way that is kind and respectful. Personally, I also found that Hanaan responds to positive language. She listens a lot more when I tell her how amazing she is rather than telling her about the negative behaviour she may be displaying in that moment.

P.S This post is quite different to my usual content. Would you like to see more of these posts? Let me know in the comment section.

Till next time,

-A

Posted in Motherhood, Religion

Worries

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” (Holy Qur’an 24:31)

Eight years ago when I made the decision to wear my hijab, there was a certain worry that came with the decision; I lived in a society where very few Muslims existed and out of those Muslims, none of them wore the hijab full time. I already stood out as a black girl in a predominantly white community. So, as you can imagine, wearing my hijab was not the easiest decision. As anyone would, I worried about how people would see me and relate with me. However, it was a decision and a way of life that I had thought long and hard about and I was ready to commit to, regardless of society’s views.

Fast forward to a couple of months after having my daughter… My mum returned from Nigeria with various gifts for us including the smallest hijabs for my daughter. I thought they were the cutest things, especially as they made her chubby baby face look even chubbier. I also saw it as an opportunity to introduce the hijab to her at an early age hoping that when she came to make the commitment at a later age, it would be much easier for her than it was for me. Just like every mother, I wanted to set her up to succeed in every aspect of life and it felt good to think this was another step towards achieving that. As far as I was concerned, it wasn’t any different from emphasising the use of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at a young age so that she hopefully grew up to be courteous.

Every time we went out, I’d dress my daughter up and made sure she had a matching hijab to her outfit. At the time, I didn’t really have a lot of places to go aside from the familiar places within the Nigerian Muslim community; mosque, visiting family and friends. These places were my safe haven; they were filled with people who knew the true meaning behind the hijab and understood my intentions for my daughter without me having to explain myself. And just like me, they all thought she looked cute in her hijab and liked the idea of getting her accustomed to it in the hopes that it’d make life easier for her.

Things changed when I ventured outside of my safe haven. That morning, we had a doctor’s appointment and as usual, I got my daughter ready making sure that her hijab matched her outfit. As I parked the car and struggled to get the car seat out of the car, I couldn’t help but feel like I did eight years ago when I first left my house wearing a hijab. I was worried. I worried about how my baby might suddenly be viewed because she was dressed differently. I almost wanted to take it off but this was an important step for me. This was a step I’d hope that my daughter would take one day. If I was too scared to take it myself, how could I expect her to do the same?

To my surprise, everyone that came in contact with her saw just how amazing she was (and still is). They saw what I saw; a beautiful and smiley baby girl. Those that commented on her hijab had nothing but positive things to say about it. Like me, they appreciated the fact that it matched her outfit and actually thought she looked ‘cute’ in it. They especially loved the little diamantes that were attached to it. I immediately felt at ease and all my worries were almost forgotten.

However, every so often, due to different reasons, these worries come crippling back and I cannot help but think about my daughter and her hijab. Now at almost 3 years old, the hijab has become a part of her. Although she doesn’t understand the meaning behind it, it is something she is comfortable wearing and chooses to wear most days. I hope that when she comes to the age of understanding that it is something that continues to be a part of her. But with that hope, comes the question; when does she stop being a baby, a person and instead, becomes a threat because of what she chooses to wear on her head?

Till next time

-A

Posted in 5 THINGS, Culture, Motherhood

5 things that grind my gears! Motherhood edition!

Sometimes, we say things to others without thinking about how they might feel about what we have said, the state they’re in, what they might be going through e.t.c. So, I decided to address some of those things in a new series I’m calling ‘5 things that grind my gears…..’

To start us off, here are 5 things that grind my gears…. Motherhood edition!

  1. Why is this child so skinny? Aren’t you feeding her? 

What I say : *Laugh* I’m feeding her ma

What I want to say: Excuse me ma, all babies don’t look the same! I feed her when she needs to be fed and I don’t need you questioning my abilities. Also, not that it is any of your business, but she doesn’t stop eating. She eats throughout the day and on some nights gets up for her nightly fix of Weetabix/Bananas. Please mind your business.

  1. Your daughter is how old? What are you waiting for? You should be pregnant already!

What I say: *LAUGH* soon ma, soon!

What I want to say: I love my child and I recognise that she is a blessing. However, I am still trying to get through the fatigue that comes with carrying a baby for 9 months, the pain of contracting for over 36 hours, pushing her out and now trying to take care of her whilst also keeping my mental health in check. So, I’m sorry that I’m not inviting you to a naming ceremony yet, but I’ll have another baby when I am ready. Until then, please leave me alone. 

  1. The stress of Motherhood has really made you lose weight oo  

What I say: *Laugh* No oo, I’ve been exercising ni.

What I want to say: I have been working really hard to be a “yummy mummy”. It’s very difficult to find time to workout whilst trying to balance everything that comes with motherhood. I’ve been sacrificing much-needed sleep and pounded yam to try to keep my body in the best shape possible. I understand that I may not look like your idea of what a mum should look like and I appreciate the fact that you recognise that I have lost weight, however, I do not appreciate you discarding my hard work and making assumptions. So, unless you have something positive to say, please mind your business. 

  1. She’s _______ old, she should be ______

What I say: *LAUGH* 

What I want to say: SHE WILL DO IT WHEN SHE’S READY! 

  1. Why is she shouting? She must be very naughty!

What I say: She’s not naughty

What I want to say: I find it quite annoying that after spending 5 minutes with my daughter, you feel fit to tell me, her mother, that my daughter is naughty. She’s a toddler and I don’t appreciate you labelling her negatively based on the 5 minutes of toddler-isms that you have seen. You don’t see her sweetness in the morning when she asks me how I slept (even though she kept me up all night). You don’t see her independence when she insists on helping me cook or when she says ‘I want to do it myself…’. You don’t see how caring she can be when she sees me upset and asks ‘what’s wrong mummy?’ You don’t notice how observant she is when she role-plays. You see a child that is ‘naughty’, but there are so many reasons why she may have been displaying ‘naughty’ behaviour at that time. So, if you do not have something positive to say about my daughter, please mind your business!

Moral of the post: If you don’t have anything positive to say, then say nothing. If you’re truly worried, find a way to pass the message on without making us feel inadequate.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Empowerment, Motherhood

Who am I?

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel” – Eleanor Brownn. 

I am a mother and likewise a wife. But that’s definitely not all I am.

Recently, I found that I had to remind myself who I was as a person before I became a wife and a mother. Motherhood and ‘wife duties’ started to define the person that I was. Since becoming a mother, I spend my days taking care of my daughter and husband. My husband leaves for work in the morning and would get back in the evening. Of course, as his partner, it meant that I had to do everything that he couldn’t do while he was at work e.g cleaning, cooking e.t.c Aswell as this, I was trying to get a grasp on my new role as a mother.

For the first couple of weeks after my baby was born, as you’d expect, life was busy and it still is. I was trying to figure out this thing called ‘motherhood’. I was constantly tired due to sleepless nights and loooong days. My baby kept me busy 24/7. Regular ‘simple’ tasks took much longer due to baby interruptions. I looked forward to her daytime naps so I could get a little snooze myself or get another house chore ticked off my list. She was the most important thing in my life. My days revolved around her.

These two new major roles kept me busy. I was waking up tired and going to bed wrecked. I was putting everything into taking care of my home and my baby. I even started to challenge myself. For example, yesterday I had my baby showered, dressed and fed by 11 a.m, today I am going to try to get her ready by 10 a.m. I was starting to feel proud of my little achievements. Things were going great, I was starting to get a hang of things. But, it all came at a cost, at least that’s what it seemed like.

self-care-squad-2

My health was deteriorating. I still hadn’t healed properly from labour. I was barely eating because I just didn’t have the time. But yet I was breastfeeding exclusively. I was dehydrated and constipated, I didn’t seem to have time to drink water either (my lips had never been so dry). Each day was the same; take care of the home and look forward to my husband’s arrival from work. My goals were limited, my conversations were limited; I was a wife, I was a mother… That was it. I was taking care of everybody else but myself. And so I had to think “WHO AM I?” “WHAT EXCITES ME?”, “WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?”, “WHAT DO I WANT FOR MYSELF?”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a wife to my husband and a mother to my daughter. It is a major part of the person that I am but it is not all that I am and it is not all that I have to be. I love taking care of my family, it brings me great joy and a sense of fulfilment… but I also love to write, exercising, helping out in the community, teaching. All these things make me who I am, all these things take care of me.

So, if you’re like me and you find yourself losing focus on the person that you are or the person that you want to be, then try these 3 tips. They worked great for me.

  • Prioritise – I used time as an excuse, “I can’t take care of myself because I don’t have time to”. Make time! There is never enough time but you have to prioritise; your baby won’t remember that you gave her a late shower because you needed to eat.
  • Talk to your partner or loved ones (someone who was always aware of your goals) – My husband was always aware of my goals. So, when he noticed my lack of self-focus, he called me up on it.
  • Pick one thing- No matter how busy you get, try to do one thing for yourself each day that brings you closer to your goal. For me, it can be as little as a 30min workout (gotta get my body back). Remember, you should never be too tired to work on yourself. You’ll thank yourself for it.
  • Ask for help- I am still working on this one myself. If you’re anything like me, you might find this difficult. I have this mentality of “she’s my responsibility and I want to be the perfect parent”. You don’t have to be superwoman, don’t try to do it all by yourself especially if you don’t have to.  Let grandma help. Let her spend time with daddy while you take care of yourself. Your health will thank you for it and so will your baby.

You can’t pour from an empty jug. Take care of yourself. It takes a little more work, but you’ll thank yourself for it. I’m still tired most days, but I am happy.

Till next time

-A