Finding ways to reconnect- back to school

This is a copy of my article published in the city pages magazine (Kuwait)

Hope you enjoy reading 🙂

It’s back to school, back to routine and perhaps back to spending less time with loved ones than we’d like to. The summer vacation is coming to a close, so this means a new year, new challenges for both parents and children, spouses and families.

Let’s explore how we can create routines that provide us with optimal value, optimal quality time and minimal stress so that this new school year is one that we can look forward to as we focus on work and academics, but continue to cement the bonds we might have ignited during the summer.

If we were to be quite honest with ourselves we would all agree that much of our “free” time gets spent on our screens, whether they are our television sets, computers, iPads or mobile phones. These sophisticated devices, while meant to assist in organising ourselves, have fallen short in terms of taking us further away from our real relationships, away from meaningful face to face communication and it has also sunken us further into procrastination, and time lost.

Our lives have also become over active and busy, since busying ourselves seems to be a trend and a must in order to fit into today’s societal norms. There is a growing need to ensure our kids are kept busying themselves in school, extra sports and other extra curricular activities so that they do not miss out on life. They are rushed from one activity to another while we simultaneously rush around doing doing doing, racing here and there, squeezing in a million errands that need to be done.

Thankfully many people have realised that this busy- ness and over activity is actually taking us away from those we love the most. Much has been written on how we can create a balance within this chaos. Here are some tips that we can consider introspecting and applying in the hope of finding peace, calm and quality time amidst the hustle and bustle of school, homework, extra curricular activities, social and business commitments.

Here are 3 ways we can enhance, deepen and value the time we make and spend with our kids and families.

  1. Ensure restful sleep for both adults and children

When we are overworked and over stimulated our sleep is one of the first needs that take a beating. When we are sleep deprived our physical stamina and moods are compromised and this leaves us feeling groggy, miserable and unable to be our optimal best for ourselves and our families.

A good sleep routine entails sleeping at around the same time each evening and waking up at an early hour, ideally many have promoted the best sleep time between 10pm and 6am, which gives you a reasonable 8 hours of rest, and allows for your body to heal, and recuperate.

2. Unplug your racing mind from all the clutter

Many therapists agree that an important factor in staying focussed on family relationships, especially after a hard and busy day at work and school, is that one needs to mentally leave work at work.

This means that we need to prioritise our times and concertedly make time each day to refocus, gather our energies and direct them away from our work days and towards the home. We can do this through visualisations, imagery and physically closing work doors, school books or bags or the like with the intention of leaving them where they are and not carrying them home with you.

In doing so, we will be able to better connect with our kids, sincerely, and fully show interest in their lives and wellbeing and they will be able to feel completely connected to you, heard and understood. Being fully present and in the moment for a few minutes may prove to be more beneficial than partially present for a longer period of time and the rewards of this will be long lasting and deeply felt.

3. Unplug your gadgets, and plug into your communications

A rule during mealtimes or another preferable time that would greatly enhance the bonding between parents and kids, and families in general is that all electronics be turned off and placed away for a specific duration of time.

This means no texting, no downloading, no answering of phones, no facebooking and tweeting or responding to “important” emails. This is another way to enhance family ties and to fully focus on each other. No distractions, no preoccupations and no drifting into various realms of cyberspace. Just pure, real, heart to heart conversations, fun times and good laughs.

Imagine having a hectic day at work, knowing that coming home means switching off, relaxing, taking time out and recuperating. Knowing that when a school day has been a tough one there’s something to look forward to after that, knowing that the days chaos needn’t be dragged along with us the entire day. There are always good times, family support and hearty meals awaiting you at the end of a crazy day.

Wishing you all a fun filled, laughter ridden, consistently calm new school year, muddled in with some soul food and family bonding that will keep the year exciting, challenging and still rewarding.

Ramadaan Affirmations to keep you motivated

Make this Ramadan your best ever (Article posted in Citypages Magazine)

Did you know that you have the choice and the ability to make this Ramadan as fantastic and positive as you wish for it to be? Let’s explore how. Now, for all of us Ramadan is coming, and we will experience it. Each one of us will find something new, unique and interesting in the way we experience it. We would be able to distinguish our varied experiences by telling them to each other, and in doing so we will find we have similar challenges or differing outlooks.

You needn’t be Muslim only to experience Ramadan. In fact if it is your first Ramadan as a non Muslim in an Islamic culture this will be a time that you will be able t explore, learn and seek to understand what goes on during this month, what drives people to fast in this heat and what keeps their spirits energised throughout this period. Being a Muslim, it may be your first time in Kuwait this Ramadan, or perhaps the first time you fast in a summer like this, and even if there is nothing new for you really, you will still have a new and unique experience- an experience you choose to have. Ramadan is inevitable, it’s going to arrive and you will experience it anyway. Why not allow yourself to make this your ultimate experience thus far, an experience that is positive, fulfilling and one that brings joy to your heart and comfort to your soul. So how can we create this?

Our minds have filter systems, just like an air filter, that filters out the unwanted dust and other muck in order to protect the environment around us, and in turn protect and look out for us. If we understand how our filter works we can use it to optimise our thoughts about certain things. We have the power to choose if we will filter out negative thoughts, and people from our minds, and to what extent we protect our minds from absorbing negative energy. Having positive thoughts, translate into us feeling great. And when we feel great our actions demonstrate and glow in this greatness. By turning on our filters, we can choose the thoughts we want to have about Ramadan, we can choose who influences them. Would we allow complaints and moans and groans from others through our filters? Or are we going to seek out those positive people who illuminate with joy and abundance this Ramadan? The choice is yours.

Ramadan is a great opportunity to seek out its blessings and mercies, as they are abundant. And once we know what they are for us, we can focus on enveloping ourselves in the feelings these blessings bring to us, visualising how they will assist us in our own self-development and growth. We can grab opportunities to serve others in our communities, and watch how we can create a ripple effect on the people around us.

These are some affirmations that you could choose to rewrite and read every so often, or you may choose to come up with your own specific ones as you find new meanings that this month holds for you.

Ramadan brings me energy and a new spirit of self-reflection

My heart is open to generosity and kindness

As Ramadan grows on me so does compassion and empathy

I become more conscious about my words and thoughts

Ramadan propels me to look for creative ways to help others, my environment and Allah’s creatures

My hunger pangs draw me towards reflecting on my eating habits, towards simplicity and whole foods

My hunger pangs remind me to reflect on the poor, those in war zones, and the vulnerable

I am more conscious about caring for and conserving the earth that Allah has blessed me with

As my fast begins I reflect on building and enhancing relationships with my loved ones I create avenues to strengthen my family ties, through prayer and mealtimes

As I fast, I gain inner strength and success

The more grateful I am to my Creator, the more gratitude I am able to find around me

I am fortunate to be blessed with another Ramadan, and accept it with joy I have a powerful inner strength in mind and body this Ramadan

I release any fears in me and allow Ramadan’s blessings to shower me I attract healthy eating and lifestyle habits

I believe in myself and my ability to fast with complete submission to my Creator

As Ramadan embarks, so does my level of spirituality and faith to please my Creator

I choose Imaan, I choose sisterhood/ brotherhood, I choose community and giving

I Approach this Ramadan with an enhanced energy and attitude this year.

It is the perfect opportunity for mental and spiritual rejuvenation.