Ramadan is huge. For non-Muslims to appreciate the significance, think of it as Lent, Christmas and Easter wrapped into one. And here in Qatar the children’s festival Garangao, like a touch of Halloween, is thrown in as well.
Ramadan is about practicing generosity, goodwill and self-control. The most visible manifestation is not putting anything in your body (food, drink, cigarettes, gum) from dawn to sunset. Children, who have not yet reached puberty, and non-Muslims are exempt from fasting but are expected be respectful by keeping their food and drink incognito.
During this month everything gets changed up. Sundown becomes breakfast. Night becomes day. Day becomes very, extremely, most definitely boring.
Ramadan in summer deals a triple-whammy to parents. The kids are at home. It’s sweltering hot outside. And for a month indoor play areas close or drastically change their hours. What to do?
Many Ramadan activities are scheduled but often begin late in the evening, usually after 7 pm. This has changed a bit in past years but many parents still find this month challenging. Those who stay in Qatar recommend that you adjust to the schedule as much as possible. Stay up late. Sleep in. Take long daytime naps. Some parents report this impossible to do and choose to maintain their regular schedule.
Here are Doha Mums 5 tips for parents who choose to stay in Doha for Ramadan:
1. Arrange play dates. That may sound unimpressive but it really is one of the best options out there. Nothing keeps the crazies away better than going to someone else’s house. The Doha Mums board always has people organizing meet ups.
2. Learn something new. Whether at home or at a friend’s you can get into the spirit by doing things like cooking a new food every day or making crafts. Some families decorate their home with strings of lights, stars and moons. For a list of 101 Ramadan activity and craft ideas from a Muslim homeschooler check out Muslim Homeschool Blog.
3. Climb the walls. When the kids start climbing the walls, teach them how to do it properly by shimmying up door frames. It’s the little things.
4. Go outside. Yes, it’s hot morning and night but do get outside every day, if only for 15 minutes. Have an after-dinner splash in the compound pool. If you fancy a bigger outing, go to the Corniche before sundown to see the canon fire, signaling the breaking of the fast. Do drive carefully though. Ironically, more accidents happen during Ramadan than any other time of the year. Sundown is an especially vulnerable time as hungry people race to Iftar and a day’s worth of scrumptious food.
5. Join Iftar festivities. For current listings check online sources such as Time Out Doha, Qatar Happening or JustHere. Another useful website is Ramadan.qa, by I Love Qatar, posts a fairly comprehensive listing of local Ramadan events and Iftar offerings, as well as an Iftar calendar, Ramadan apps,
Written by Christine Gerber Rutt, a hyper-local travel writer, essayist and writing workshop instructor. Her writing has appeared in Doha News, Time Out Doha, JustHere and Good Housekeeping Middle East, as well as in the book “Qatar: Live, Work, Explore”, among others. American-born, Swiss-immigrated, Qatar-living, mother-of-two, wife-to-one. Just Kooki is her blog on life in Qatar.
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