Just as there is no one way to raise a child, there is no one way to spend a family weekend. There’s only one condition; don’t sleep after Fajr, because before you know it, half your weekend would have been gone. Below are some of the many ways you can spend your family weekend.
For competitive outdoor sports, you can team up with one child while your husband teams up with the other child and play double tennis. If you have younger children, the whole family can take turns minding them. Parks usually have playgrounds, sometimes tennis and basketball courts, and jogging trails. While a family member watches the younger children at the swings, the rest of the family can shoot hoops at the basketball court.
If your children are enrolled in youth sports programmes, the whole family can get involved and cheer on the child’s team if the games fall on the weekends.
For non competitive sports, your family can try hiking, cycling, or fishing. Even a family with young children can spend the morning cycling or hiking on a designated trail. The younger children can be placed in a child seat while cycling, or strapped on a child carrier while hiking. If your family wants more adventure, there are activities such as kayaking, river rafting and rock climbing.
If these are too much, but you still want to be outdoors, a day in the park flying kites or tossing a frisbee, capped with a homemade picnic is more than enough for a enjoyable family weekend. Whatever activities you choose, make sure everyone is having fun, and don’t forget to point out and reflect together on Allah’s creations as you enjoy the outdoors.
Scout Your Area
Depending on what’s available in your area, you may find businesses and organizations offering weekend workshops/programmes for children, and some of them may even be free.
Some home improvement businesses offer free carpentry-based workshops as part of their marketing. Even pre-schoolers can participate in building items such as pencil boxes, cars, or birdfeeders by assembling pre-measured parts.
Public libraries or organizations may host a variety of workshops for children of all ages. Don’t forget to check out the science museums, bookstores, arts and crafts businesses, organizations, and community recreation centers. Be sure to take an active role in whatever your child is delving into, be it writing, carpentry, sewing, baking, cake decorating, or arts and crafts. Make it a family affair even if you are not directly participating.
If you live in the same city as your parents and extended family, the weekends can be a means of enjoining what Allah has ordered to be joined. Spending the weekends visiting them is a great way to teach your children the importance of keeping relations and doing ihsan to relatives. It thereby becomes an act of worship for the whole family, and inshaallah cements a strong bond of family ties. If your parents live in a different city but within driving distance, some weekends can serve as a road trip. Just make sure not to overstay.
Particularly in the west, opportunities to attend Islamic classes and conferences are increasing. Spending your family weekend seeking Islamic knowledge together has multiple benefits in this world and the hereafter. By attending these classes, you are emphasizing the importance of seeking Islamic knowledge by modeling it, and you are teaching your children how to use the weekends in the way of Allah. However, seeking knowledge comes with its own difficulties, so on the outset, this may not seem to be an enjoyable way to spend the weekend. If you have small children, you may need to arrange for babysitting or take turns among family members, and you might spend the whole weekend attending classes. Either way, with the correct intention and execution, the difficulty is worth it.
If there is a need for volunteers in your community, make it a family affair by including your children when you volunteer. You and your children can volunteer at your local masajid and non profit organizations such as the soup kitchens, animal shelter, Red Cross, etc. You can do it as a family or support your children as volunteers. Let them help with set up, run little errands such as relaying messages to other volunteers, help make signs and posters, hand out leaflets, man booths, and make sure to commend them on their effort. Inshaallah this will serve as a continuous deed for you and your children and teach them to give back to the ummah.
Sometimes, weekends can be the only time to sit back and relax at home, though chores would probably still await you. No matter. Just turn it into a family affair! Many hands make work light and fun. In the end, the whole family gets to enjoy a cleaner home.
This would also be a great time to gather your husband and children in the kitchen and prepare lunch or dinner together. Or, if you have accomplishments to celebrate, however insignificant they may be, bake a cake and decorate it together. Who says you can’t spend a memorable weekend at home?
Plan, Save, and Enjoy!
Some of these events and programmes could be free or available at a minimum cost. They could be advertised in newspapers, TV, or radio. It might be a good idea to join different clubs, mailing lists, masajid, and e-social network such as Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds to get this information. Be on the lookout for coupons and deals. With proper planning, your family weekends can be truly enjoyable emotionally and financially. You might even get free or greatly discounted meals for the family and no dishes to do.
Whatever way you choose to spend your family weekend, make sure everyone’s enjoying it, so your children have those memories to look back to.
Written for publication in SISTERS January 2011 issue. Collaborated with a co-author to produce the final published article titled ‘Something for the Weekend’.