Motherhood

5 Tips for Mamas Living Far Away from Family

April 24, 2017

Last week I told my son to help me clean up quickly so we could eat and head to Aunty Iman’s house. He excitedly said “Yesss Mama then I can see Yusuf at Iman’s House!!” and did a little happy dance.  This broke my heart. Why you may ask… Well, he has 2 Aunty Imans. One is my sister who lives in London, the UK about 5500 miles away, and one is my sister-in-law who is walking distance away.  Does the broken heart make more sense now? To make it even more sad,  a few days later Yusuf said something similar about seeing my daughter and asking his mom to bring him to our house so he could play!

Being a mother who lives on another continent between 11-24 hour flights away from immediately family is extremely hard. Some days are easier than others, but most times it’s very tough.  I didn’t really understand how hard it could be until I had one child, and then another child. There is so much value in having your family around. Having them grow up getting to know their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins.

For some mamas, this might not seem to be a really big deal because they are either not too close to their family, or are much stronger emotionally and like their space. Being the eldest, I was always the one who helped out at home. I joined my mother on family occasions and loved to socialize with family. Also, I made it a point to be at every occasion whether graduation, wedding, engagements etc even if it meant an 8-hour flight. Alhamdullilah back then I was not too far away so it was much easier and feasible as a single person.

My recommendations for mothers or moms to be who are far from family are as follows:

Save Save Save

Every penny counts. Save something every month from before/after you get pregnant towards a traveling stash. This will allow you to plan ahead for trips you might want to make back home, or maybe meet your siblings/parents halfway for a holiday. Because it might not seem expensive before kids, but once your child hits 2 years, that a whole new ticket. For my family, for example, it could cost anywhere from $900-$1300 per person off peak on a good deal day! And we are now reaching 4 full priced tickets!

Family Visits

Plan ahead for your mother to visit you when you have the baby or after the baby whichever works best for you. Some mamas I know would rather travel to their family when their baby is a few months old and spend time there. Both work, but it is also nice to have your mother to be around when you have the baby. The hardest part though is saying goodbye, and then going back to a home without mama, which leads me to the next suggestion.

Support

Build a network of supportive friends, join motherhood groups in your area, play groups, make friends with people who have kids and those who will stick around even when you need to come along to the restaurant with 1/2/3 kids. I am blessed to have a group of very close friends who have kids older than mine. They also never complain when I bring my super active loud kids to an afternoon out. And many of us have families who live outside the US so we know each other’s struggles.

Keep busy with the children

The more occupied we are, the less time we have to miss family or think about how sad we are without them. This is easier said than done because even when busy I find myself yearning for family or wishing my little nephew and niece were here to share a fun moment with the kids.  I could even be shopping and I will be thinking of things they would love!

Use technology to keep in touch

We are blessed in this day and age where everyone has skype, facetime or whats app. My family has a group chat where we chat on a daily basis and send pictures and videos. We also make use of Facetime and WhatsApp video calls but because there’s an 8-12 hour difference for different members of my family based on what part of the world they live. It gets difficult but I am sure you can always come up with a time that works for everyone! This also helps the kids know who their mama’s family is. For the longest time, my son didn’t know who my family was but now knows them by name and my daughter learns from him so she is catching on fast too. It really melts my heart when they ask me to speak to their grandma.

 

It might be that you have tried all the suggestions above but still feel lonely and miss family at times. That’s totally normal.  I always have that feeling of emptiness and something missing a lot of the time. I think only until we are reunited with family can we really feel 100% complete. However like my mother always tells me, “Afra you chose this path and decided to live so far away, so be strong”. And she’s right for the most part. Whether it’s a job or marriage or new home that took us far away from family, it’s a decision we made at some point in our life. Of course, it’s also all in God’s hands, we have to pray for what’s best for us, and our family.

I will end with this story of a friend who moved to the US many years before I did. She lost many immediate family members along the way sadly, and rarely got to visit them. Whilst she is still adjusting to living far away from her family more than 15 years lateris still looking for peace. She is thankful for her friends who make it easier and lots of Dua (Prayer) and constant Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah).

Giveaways, Reviews

Learning Arabic through the Alif Baa App

April 2, 2017

If your child’s primary language is English and you are trying to teach them Arabic, you will love the Alif Baa App. This iPhone/iPad based app is a great way to get your child to learn Arabic in a fun way.

Our Ethnic BackGround

Having our children grow up learning Arabic is very important to my husband since it is not our primary spoken language. My ethnicity is Yemeni Kenyan so my native language is Arabic and Swahili. My husband’s ethnicity is Eritrean and his native language is Tigrinya. For both of us, however, we grew up with English as our primary language (growing up in Dubai & America) and caught a little of our native languages but not enough to say we are proficient.

Being Muslims, the language of our Holy Book (the Quran) is Arabic so it was our natural choice to want to do our best to learn this language and also make sure it was the main language our children could speak (aside from our other native languages).

The Alif Baa App

Being introduced to a resource for learning Arabic is always great when you have children. Especially because this particular app consists of a series captivating games to teach English speaking children the Arabic alphabet. Children can journey through the games, completing exercises that incorporate a variety of learning techniques including flashcards, identification, sequencing, and handwriting.

Alif Baa App Features

My 3 and half year old son loves the features of the app so it’s a huge plus that it’s a fun activity for him. When you open the app, you have a choice between the 4 activities.

FlashCards

The first feature is the flashcards. Each Arabic letter is shown on a flash card and pronounced. When you tap the letter, the flashcard turns over and shows an image of something that starts with the letter with the word written in Arabic and English with the pronunciation. There’s an arrow you can press to go over each of the 26 letters

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Identifying the Letters 

The second feature is identification. There are 4 letters shown on the screen and you have to identify a letter. I assumed this would be difficult for my son, however, due the letter being visible and pronounced it made it easier for him to understand. We underestimate how much our kids absorb MashAllah (God Has Willed).

 

Arranging the Letters 

The third feature is sequencing. All the Arabic letters are shown on small flash cards and have to be arranged in the quickest time. Every time you sequence it correctly the card turns green. As you go along if another letter is in the spot it should be it turns green as well. This is probably the only feature that I think will take a while for my son to understand due to his young age.

 

Tracing The Letters 

The fourth and last feature is the tracing/handwriting app. This is my sons favorite because we are currently practicing tracing for his English numbers, letters, shapes etc so he really enjoys it. Each letter has a dotted line indicating to trace over. It is a little tricky because you have to trace from where the line starts to where it ends. If you manage to do that correctly you hear.

 

The Alif Baa team has been kind enough to offer 2 of my follower’s FREE full access to the app. For a chance to win, comment below by answering the 2 questions below:

– What resources do you currently use to teach your children Arabic?

The last day to enter will be Saturday, April 8th 11 pm PST. Two Winners will be chosen at random and announced on Monday 10th April.

Happy Learning!

Reviews

Amazing Britax Car Seat Sale 40% Off!

February 28, 2017

It’s Christmas all over again! Britax has a 40% off Sale today only for Britax Car Seats. If you own a Britax you will know that they are one of the safest car seats on the market. This why the first car seat we purchased was a Britax Pavillion Convertible Car Seat.

We used this from the newborn phase, so from the moment my son was discharged from the hospital 3 and half years ago. We love it, and now my 18 month old uses it. It has worked great for us and I especially loved that I didn’t need to purchase 2-3 car seats for the infant, toddler stages.

So go ahead and take advantage of this great offer!

 

Motherhood

Surviving Teething with Infants & Toddlers

February 28, 2017

Teething is the 2-3 year journey. It involves, drooling, biting, crying, fussing, no sleep, pain, crankiness, crazy behavior, fevers, flus, ear aches, diarrhea to name a few symptoms! A few? You call that a few? Seriously, it’s not a joke. For some moms, teething  just flies by and within 6-12 months their babies have all their teeth. One mom told me she never had any issues with teething, the teeth just popped in and no pain! If I were her I would go into hiding…

On the plus side, you get the cutest little pictures, transitioning from gummy smiles to rabbit smiles, to 8 teeth smiles (where we are at now), to a full set of beautiful teeth and you wonder where the time has gone. My 3 and half year old has a full set of teeth, and completed his teething journey about 8 months ago. My daughter who is 20 months now has 8 full teeth and her upper molars and upper canines are almost cutting through. We still have a long way to go but I am sure God willing we will get through it!

Every mom with a new infant needs a survival guide for teething. Many moms don’t really know what to expect, how to cope, and how to help their babies. I was one of those mama’s who didn’t even know the teething order! I didn’t realize that despite my baby’s drooling/biting at 3 months, his first tooth wouldn’t cut through until months later. We literally sat there for 9 months saying he’s teething, anyday now for that first tooth!

My Ultimate Guide to Teething

Please check out the following guest post I wrote for Swaddles N Bottles. I hope this post benefits you in your teething journey and I would love to hear your comments below!

Swaddles N Bottles Teething Guest Post

Swaddles N Bottles Teething Guest Post

 

Afra Guest Contributor

Afra Guest Contributor

Giveaways

Covered Goods Multi-Use Nursing Cover Giveaway!

December 16, 2016

It’s Giveaway time Mama’s! We have teamed up with Covered Goods to giveaway $34.99 towards a nursing cover of your choice. Enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below and make sure to read the terms and conditions. Good luck! Remember to comment below to let me know:

  • What would you use this cover for?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • This giveaway ends 26th December 2016 at 11:59 PM EST
  • The winner will get $34.99 credit towards any nursing cover at the Covered Goods online store. Shipping is not covered.
  • The winner will be chosen through random selection and will be notified by email.
  • The winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.
  • Facebook and Instagram are in no way associated with this giveaway.
  • If you are under 18, you must have parental permission to enter.
  • By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information for the sole purpose of contacting the winner.

 

Motherhood

Shopping with my Toddler at Trader Joes

December 10, 2016

Shopping with a toddler can be somewhat a challenge. The whining, the screaming, asking for everything that they don’t really need and wanting to run around the store like a crazy child.

I take care of shopping normally so I almost always have to take my toddlers with me. So I have to plan it strategically to make sure there are no major tantrums or episodes. They end up happening anyway most of the time no matter how hard you try to avoid them!

I discovered the little kiddy shopping cart at Trader Joes recently and I just had to share my experience. It ended up being a fun shopping trip with my toddler. I didn’t leave the store feeling like a bad mom for losing my cool or making them wait through long lines!

Continue Reading…

Motherhood, Reviews

How I Potty Trained My Toddler in 5 Days – Part 2

December 9, 2016

I hope you found the first post on potty training useful. Now let’s get into how days 2 to 5 went for us…

Potty Training Day 2:

We started the same way and took off the pull off first thing in the morning. Again I mentally prepared him to use the potty. This time I used the Daniel the Tiger card. A little bit of background in case you don’t know, Daniel the Tiger is one of the best kids cartoons ever and Ayyoub’s favorite at the moment. There is a famous potty episode with a song that seems to have helped many moms when training.

He resisted but eventually got better through the day as I rewarded him for every time he went potty. You will notice this resistance will constantly happen unless they are entirely willing. I used candy, snacks, stickers, and marked a chalkboard saying well done every time he went. One of the rewards on this day was allowing him to wear pants to see if he would be able to hold himself till the potty. Continue Reading…

Motherhood, Uncategorized

How I Potty Trained My Toddler in 5 Days – Part 1

December 8, 2016

The dreaded potty training phase that most parents dread facing when their toddler is ready (or maybe some of you can’t wait…)

My son was 2 months shy of turning 3 years when I decided to give myself a week to potty train him. He had just started some weekly pre-school prep classes at My Gym and I felt it was time. We used the “Oh Crap Potty Training” Method by Jamie Glowacki which I learned about through a Positive Parenting Solutions training I purchased this year. I didn’t really emotionally prepare for the ride and just threw myself into it and told my husband the kids & I would not be going out for 3 days at least.

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Motherhood, Reviews

Why I Love these Nursing Covers (Covered Goods Vs MilkMaid Goods)

November 23, 2016

I am sure you have been there; the long nursing sessions with an infant who barely moves but it kills your back. Then about a year later, you have a toddler nursing which kills your back in a completely different way. It’s almost like acrobat moves or like you have a little superhero who wants to feed how they want to feed whether it be sitting, standing, pulling, and the list goes on…..

When I discovered Fawn Design (which is my absolute favorite diaper bag, check out why here) I noticed different nursing ponchos that looked interesting. I shook my head in denial thinking how will this be comfortable? Especially for me as a Muslim woman who covers up. I found 2 companies called Covered Goods (the original multi-use nursing covers) and MilkMaid Goods which is similar but designed slightly differently.

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Motherhood

How the cracked screen “cracked” me….

November 9, 2016

I sigh and faintly smile about this now, but in the moment I was a complete utter mess. A friend of mine advised me just about a week ago, to take some time out before I delve deep into launching a few projects, one of them being this blog. I knew she was right but I also knew I had already taken a couple of months off from full-time work-from-home that I couldn’t be more ready for it! Boy was I wrong…..

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