Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Start a Masjid Toddlers Club!

I started a series on Instagram (you can follow me on Simply in Control) about starting a Masjid Toddlers Club. A couple of friends and I started one in Roswell Community Masjid in Atlanta, and I wanted to share the process so that other masjids can get an idea of how to start a toddlers club too! 

Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 1

Understand the Importance and Find your Team

As parents of toddlers, we are always on the lookout for activities that will interest them. We might find fun events at the library, mall, or at a fair, but something that's really lacking in our Muslim communities is having events at the masjid just for toddlers! We usually only cater to children 5+.

Time and time again toddlers are shushed at the masjid and mothers are told to keep their toddlers at home. We tend to forget that although these children are young, they still have feelings, and being stern with them will create an aversion to the masjid in their hearts. It's so important to create Love for Allah and the masjid from the very beginning, and taking them there will teach them etiquette from a young age.

Once you realize the significance of having events for toddlers, you need to realize that you can make a difference! Finding a couple of friends who will join your team will help you get a club started. When we started #rcmtoddlersclub back in January, the Executive Director of @roswellmasjid asked us if we were committed to this club for AT LEAST six consecutive months. If you find a hardworking and passionate team who will not back out easily you are good to go! We have 3 people in our core team and we handle all of the organizing for 40-50 toddlers a month. 

Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 2

Raising Funds

After you've found your team to work with and gotten permission from the Masjid to start this club, it's time to start collecting items for the toddlers! Keep in mind that this kind of club will be more in demand than you expect. We were expecting 15 or so toddlers and we have 40-50 sign up every session. Side note: 50 became too much for us to handle because of the noise level, so we cap at 40 every session now. We are blessed to have a large multipurpose hall at our local masjid because it works really well for these events.

Our masjid gave us $150 to start with almost a year ago, and we used that money to revamp our children's library and toy room, and also bought craft supplies for the first few sessions. The room is used during prayer times such as Jummuah or Taraweeh where children play under a babysitter's supervision.

A lot of the large toys we use during each club session are our own. You'll need to be ready to share items because funds can be tight if you don't charge parents for each session. I bring my own slide, parachute for nasheed time, and masjid blocks every session, and my friend brings a tunnel and beach balls. We don't want to charge parents for every session so that everyone can attend equally. The masjid should be welcoming to all backgrounds. So, we run entirely on donations.

Make it easy for people to donate. We have an online link in our registration forms so that they can donate while registering, and we also have a box at our events where they can drop in cash. This money is used solely for craft supplies. 

Our most effective donation method was creating an Amazon Wish List of books and toys for the club. Almost everyone has Amazon Prime these days, and they can donate an entire item at whatever cost price they can afford easily and the items arrive at the masjid. We got almost all of our Islamic books from the Amazon Wish List, and quite quickly! Just make sure a lot of people share it so it spreads widely. 

Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 3

Staying Organized

When you're hosting an event like a Toddlers Club, it's essential to plan everything out properly. Here are a few things that helps our team stay organized:

1) Make A Schedule: Before every session, I write up a detailed schedule of what we will be doing for each 10 minute segment for the hour. I write mine up in the notes section for every month in my @erincondren planner (message me for a discount!), but any notebook would work for this as well. This way, our event transitions smoothly and my team and I are not standing around wondering what we should do next. Swipe to see examples of a few of the sessions we've done so far. I also include my intro to the topic of the month and a list of items for my team and I to bring to the event. .

2) Delegate Tasks in Advance: Each team member should know what is expected of them in advance and should focus on that, otherwise if everyone does a little bit of everything, it can get messy. For example, I am in charge of writing up schedules, introducing the theme to the toddlers, buying craft supplies and explaining it to the parents with my display, communicating with volunteers, and also editing pictures for social media. My group members are in charge of emails, story books, the speaker system and projector screen at the masjid, library books being checked out, play time nasheeds and all of the registration information and table. Delegating tasks helps make things less overwhelming for one person and helps the club to run in a more organized manner.


3) Create a WhatsApp Group for Volunteers: Volunteers play an essential role in any event, and Toddlers Club is no exception! Make it easy for them to understand the different roles available by creating a form on WhatsApp as shown in the last picture in this post. It's the fastest way for them to sign up and help out, thereby making the event more successful and less burdensome for the core team. .

Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 4

Keep them Interested!

The attention span of toddlers is very short, and they aren't able to sit and listen to the same topic for a long time. At #rcmtoddlersclub, we make sure to change up our activities every 7 minutes. Here's a look at how we spend the hour:

I introduce an Islamic topic for around 7 minutes, making sure that I'm speaking at the level of toddlers. My intros always have some kind of activity so that the kids are not only sitting and listening. For example, for Diversity, we compared how we all look different. For Ramadan, the kids sampled dates. For Eid, they hugged their moms while saying "Eid Mubarak". For Hajj, they listened to their dads recite "Labaik" after which the kids drank Zamzam. For SubhanAllah, they sampled colorful fruits. Bottom line: keep it interesting! Always make the parents involved in the activities as well since this is a great time for them to bond with their children.

After the introduction, both of my team members read 1 book each. They make sure to always keep each page interactive, as they ask questions and tell the kids to do actions shown in the pages. The kids love it and listen attentively! 

We then do some kind of action song to get the kids to stand up and start moving. Toddlers really enjoy repeating actions and it's a great way for them to learn to obey instructions. 

The children's favorite activity is Parachute play with nasheeds, and they love jumping up and down while the parents hold the parachute. I think this is a must need item if you're interested in starting a Toddlers Club! It's affordable on Amazon! I will link it below this post.

Finally, we end our sessions with a craft. I'll be going into more details on crafts in my next post iA, but for now I'll just mention that you should have a craft that the parents can get involved with since this IS a bonding activity, but it shouldn't be too hard that only the parents are doing it. Our toddlers spend around 15-20 minutes on crafts, followed by clean up time which we all try to do together. .

Masjid Toddlers Club Series Part 5

Have Age Appropriate Islamic Crafts

In the final part to this series, we're going to be discussing all things craft! It's really important to consider a few things while coming up with craft ideas for the Masjid. The themes should ideally be Islamic because it's hard to find such crafts in places like day-care or the library. This will require some creativity because there aren't a lot of Islamic craft ideas online for 1-5 year olds. The crafts should be time consuming so that it isn't complete in 2 minutes. Also, it shouldn't be too difficult that only the parent is able to do the craft because that defeats the purpose. Here are some crafts we have done at #rcmtoddlersclub, swipe to see all of them:

1) Bismillah door hangers to be used for the toddler's bedroom so they say Bismillah before they enter. The kids decorated these with markers, glitter glue and stickers.

2) Allah is our Creator craft (inspired by A Crafty Arab) required a hand print, foam sticker flowers and crayons for the pot.

3) Ramadan craft was all about making Sadaqah (donation) jars. We decorated them using washi tape, star stickers and ribbons

4) Eid craft was simple because we had a big party with lots of fun activities. It was about decorating a plate with the Eid moon.

5) The Hajj craft was making a sheep with cotton, crayons and googly eyes. We also did a Mini Hajj session in this event.

6) Diversity theme had two crafts. The first was sponge painting with man shaped foam and we used various skin shades for paint. The second was about making a new friend and presenting them with a small gift of decorated popsicle sticks.

7) For the SubhanAllah theme we made Fall trees using bubble wrap as a form of sponge painting and also used crayons to color the SubhanAllah calligraphy. Our next sessions will be Alhumdulillah and Allahu Akbar iA :)

A sweet follower on Instagram, @minimalmuslimama, offered to help me make a checklist so that it's easy for you to see how to make a Toddlers Club in a glance:

To start a Toddlers Club, here are a few items I would recommend. They are quite reasonably priced on Amazon, so perhaps one member of the community can buy one item each and bring it every session (click to go to link):


That concludes my post on how to start a Masjid Toddlers Club! I hope you found it helpful and that it inspires you to start one in your own community! It's so important to make our children feel welcome to the masjid from the very beginning. Please share this post so that we can get The Masjid Toddlers Club Movement started! :)

Thanks for reading and don't forget to Follow Me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram for future posts!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Bathroom Organization and Tips

I've entered a lot of bathrooms over the last 30 years (lol!) and I've noticed one thing at a lot of people's homes: it's a neglected space. Things just pile up around the counters over time, even if they are not being used regularly. The bathroom is a space which is entered multiple times a day for getting ready, brushing teeth, doing makeup and fixing hair. Why not make it a space that's more welcoming?

Here's a look at when you enter the master bedroom washroom. I like going for a calming vibe in this space, much like my actual bedroom.

I recently added preserved eucalyptus branches in the shower and love the aroma it gives off when the water turns on. Apart from the spa-like look and tranquil feel it gives, eucalyptus is also a great decongestant so it works perfectly with hot showers.

Moving on to the bathtub, I've seen a lot of people use their large tubs as storage areas. What! Clothes, comforters, large toys, all kinds of crazy stuff. I myself don't get a chance to use this tub because #motherhood, but just decorating this area gives such a serene feel every time I enter. I love how a single bath tray can change the entire atmosphere of the bathroom as it's the first thing you see when you enter.

This bathroom has his and her sinks. I use one side for everyone's toothbrushes. The kids use a bamboo stool for when they brush because I didn't want to bring in any bright colors to the master bathroom.

The other side is for getting ready. I keep my makeup and perfume in this section. For those wondering, my husband uses another bathroom to get ready in because #beardhair (oh the horror lol).

I got this stationery organizer from Michaels and it works perfectly for makeup! It spins and has drawers, and you can get it for 40% off by using their coupons. Have been using this system for the past 7 years.

A simple mirrored tray works great for perfume, jewelry and watches.

I always need plastic bags upstairs for trash and found the perfect plastic bag organizer on Amazon. It just hangs on the cabinet door so there's no drilling involved!

It's important to corral like items together in cabinets. Over here I have all hair tools and sprays in a basket and travel organizers to the side. In the other cabinet I keep medicine, which you can read more about here.

That's all I have for bathroom organizing! Hope you found the tips useful. I'd love to hear any ideas you may have for keeping this area neat!

Thanks for reading and don't forget to Follow Me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram for future posts!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Our DIY Ramadan: Ramadan Basket for Kids

It's that time of year again! Alhumdulillah, the blessed month of Ramadan is near, and it's a time of spreading joy and kindness to those around us. I have collaborated with 5 amazing bloggers as we all share how we DIY Ramadan in our homes. If you're going through the blog hop and visiting from the talented Amna B Interiors' blog then welcome! I hope you enjoy the post :)

My focus will be on Ramadan for kids!

One thing about starting your own family after marriage is that you can start new traditions. These go on to become cherished memories in your own and your children's lives. When my eldest son turned 2, I starting introducing Islamic concepts to him during the month of Ramadan. It's never too early to start teaching! We focused on doing one good deed a day such as learning about Allah or walking together to hand out flowers and chocolates to neighbors. He was also given a treat everyday, and this created excitement for him for the duration of the entire month. For more ideas on good deeds and treats for 30 days, check out my blog post here

I continued this tradition for the next couple of years, and now that I have two children Alhumdulillah, I wanted to increase the number of activities for them that they could do together in Ramadan. This year I came up with a Ramadan Basket that they could share.

My plan is to present them with this basket as soon as the moon for Ramadan is sighted inshaAllah. They can then open the basket and help me decorate the house for Ramadan. I can't wait to see the excitement on their faces inshaAllah!

Here are a few details about what's in the basket. I absolutely love this gorgeous cake topper:

This is from Simply Impressions, and you can buy this specific cake topper from here. It looks great on wreaths, gift baskets, bouquets and other things apart from cakes and this is my second year of using it. The quality is great, and it makes such a great impression on my gift basket for the kids!

Here's a look inside the basket:

It consists of Islamic books that I display in our living room during all of Ramadan, along with the good deed a day calendar, and activities or a treat for each day of the month. 

These are the books that I  have for my 5 and 2 year old boys. Most of the books are available on Amazon. Click on these books below for affiliate links from Amazon if you're interested:

As for activities, I bought them over the last few months wherever I found a good deal. Here are a few of the things I have planned:

1) Finger puppets from IKEA. They will be given one each over 5 days throughout the month.
2) Chalk Spray from Target (Dollar Spot)
3) Crayon Art Set from Target (Dollar Spot)
4) Wooden Painting Kit from Jo Ann Fabrics (Clearance section)
5) Stickers from Jo Ann Fabrics (Clearance Section)
6) Bubbles ($1). We will do this a few days of Ramadan for the fun activity
7) Play Doh to make Islamic shapes
8) Finger Ink Pad to paint a mosque
9) Create Eid cards for family or friends
10) If we are not doing an activity in the day then they will get a small toy or chocolate instead.

Apart from this they will of course be focusing on one good deed a day inshaAllah!

It is so important for me to teach my kids the beauty of Ramadan through doing good deeds and remembering Allah, while at the same time creating an atmosphere of excitement and joy. I want them to know that THIS is the time we as Muslims celebrate along with the two Eids, and want to create a meaningful experience for them, year after year inshaAllah.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Make sure to check out Areeba's post at Mint Candy Designs next as she shares her DIY Living Room Ramadan Decor.

Also check out everyone else who worked on their DIY Ramadan in the following links:

Hira | Zair Zabr Play : Intro to Our DIY Ramadan
Summar | The Cozy Home Chronicles : DIY Ramadan Banner + Iftar Tablescape
Nida | NiMi Style : D.I.Y Doily Table Runner + Gratitude Wall
Amna B | Amna B Interiors : Modern Ramadan Frame
Seher | Simply in Control : Ramadan Basket for Kids
Areeba | Mint Candy Designs : Living Room Ramadan Decor

Hope this post was helpful and motivational for you. Thanks for reading and don't forget to Follow Me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram for future posts!

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