Happy New Year 1439! Here are a few thoughts on marking lunar birthdays with children

The New Year is often a time to look forward, and also look back at how time was spent. We often find ourselves thinking about what goals we may want to plan forward too. Although some families may have traditions around the New Year, some families may not have a sense of what those are or if they are valued and important for your family system to participate in.  This may be true for you whether you participate in the solar or lunar New Year, or both. Having a sense of why the calendar is important and why you may want to mark this occasion is useful to take more control over your own family routines, traditions and cultures. If you are curious about the lunar calendar and what it means for those in the Muslim faith take a look at some of the following links :




[This article is part of a blog hop with Multicultural Motherhood and other bloggers. For more relevant links please read to the end. Links will be added through the ‘blog hop week’].

Planning lunar birthdays:

In this article I will write about the idea of lunar birthdays. A lunar birthday is a family tradition that you can choose to introduce to your family. The idea relates to encouraging the sense of cultural identity development in children and a sense of understanding of themselves in relation to the lunar calendar. It is a fun, practical and relatable way in which children can become interested in the lunar calendar and therefore open up opportunities for them to learn about history. If your family already comfortably celebrates birthdays it will not be too different. However if you have a family tradition of not celebrating birthdays this may not feel like it is something for you.

Some reasons to consider celebrating a lunar birthday – children naturally will be interested in the lunar calendar because they will want to know which month their lunar birthday falls. For older children you can set a task that they need to track the lunar months in a diary and calculate their birthday in order to remind everyone about it. Small scale it so that it does not become burdensome. Keeping it to a small family event will help to keep it boundaried. You can usually work out your child’s lunar birthday using an app like Muslim Pro which calculates the lunar months according to the Hijri calendar. Alternatively for each age year of your child move their birthday 10 days back.  For example if you have a four year old born on the 10th of December, move the date approx 40 days earlier than the 10th December. This will give you an approximation of their lunar birthday.

Things to try on a lunar birthday:

Connecting with your child:

A letter to your child with key messages you may choose to write to represent the year before and the year ahead. Read the letter and keep it positive – include the new responsibilities that you feel your child is now able to take on. Also acknowledge the special role of siblings. This small ceremonial process allows the family to connect in ways that may not be possible in a busy family life. What you write in the message may reflect family transitions or age transitions for older children. For younger children it may be more focussed on the things you noticed about them in encouraging their character development and how they are valued as a special part of the family.

Showing appreciation:

The gifting process. Create a rule that for the lunar birthday you will all offer something either handmade or from within the home (or arguably from your imagination like gifting an idea or dream). Baking a lunar birthday cake at home and decorating it with the lunar date can help reinforce their learning about the calendar. The birthday is a qualitative family experience different from traditional western style birthdays. If that is not practical and you do want to give a monetary gift, I would suggest setting a tight limit for that and keeping it very boundaried. You may choose to gift all the children the same thing rather than giving only one child something. It depends on how you usually manage gifts and the siblings’ level of understanding. In this scenario the first child to receive the gift would be the child who has the lunar birthday – followed by the others being told on this lovely day all siblings receive a gift too. In which case you may ask how is the child defined – well the letter is what keeps the focus on the ‘lunar birthday child’ and the games or activity could also be chosen by that child as explained in the next section.

Family bonding and making memories:

The fun – decide with the child from a list of three options of ways they can enjoy the lunar birthday.  Examples could include  – A New experience, a movie night or a games night. A new experience may be a family trip to the woods you have not explored yet, or something you were planning as a family anyway such as a visit to a clay modelling workshop. I think a movie night does not need much explanation but do try to make it feel different – rearrange furniture – put up fairy lights and bake some yummy snacks together. The movie of course is what is acceptable in your family. If you enjoy watching nature or history documentaries go for that rather than the usual array of Disney movies aimed at kids. A games night – let the child choose 2 games and the parents choose 2. Again allow them to rearrange the house within reason for this. Spend the day making any special props for the games.

Keep focussed on the objective:

Lunar birthdays can help prime children ready for the events in the lunar calendar, for example, they will work out whether their birthday is before or after Ramadan and Hajj. They will naturally become curious about why the moon needs to be sighted and what the difference is between the solar calendar and the lunar calendar.

You may choose to only mark lunar birthdays up until a certain age or you may decide to swop traditional birthdays for the lunar birthdays. My advice is to be very clear about it so that you don’t end up having 2 birthday ‘burdens’ as the children grow up. In essence the process is not about being materialistic or accumulating expense.  Lunar birthdays move throughout the seasons and so children will get a sense of how the two Eids will also move throughout the year too. Of course you can teach all this without using lunar birthdays no doubt. What a lunar birthday offers is the lunar age of the child which may be useful to calculate as it will be older than the legal age of the child. This may be useful for them to know especially in matters of understanding religious jurisprudence relating to age. Curiosity about the lunar calendar will also hopefully teach them that the night precedes the day and, therefore, seeking Laylatul Qadr requires it to be calculated accordingly to avoid disappointment!


Ali-Huda online TV REVIEW by Dr Mumly and Sons!

We were invited to review Ali Huda (www.alihuda.com) and were happy to take this up in exchange for preview access. Ali Huda is an online pre-recorded TV site with an array of educational shows aimed at Muslim families with children. We did not get around to watching everything in the time we had but the kids were satisfied that they watched the shows that got their attention. I asked the kids to watch, make notes and rate eye-catching shows over a week under my supervision, and this is what they came up with.

Top shows

The two shows that came out on top were –

Once upon a time and Activ8! These shows scored 5/5 and my children were glued to the screen! Once upon a time is a story telling show where an adult reads an engaging story.  It is aimed at a younger audience. My children love to be read to and really liked the choice of stories and the manner in which the stories were read. Alternately, Activ8 is a series aimed at older children and follows a group of teen boys on bush craft adventures. The show highlights team work and problem solving skills that the teens navigate in the challenges set for them to complete. My 9 year old described the show as ‘excellent and amazing’.

Other shows that my children really enjoyed were:

Scrap book Island – rated at 5/5. ‘You get to see kids learning and the show is set over different parts of an ‘island’ set up which is interesting and fun’.  This was something my kids felt they could watch every day for fun and learning. Episode one was downgraded, however, to a 4.5/5 when my kids felt some of the props could have been better formed. For example, an animated waterfall with more realistic sound effects was suggested for the ‘Sunnah’ waterfall.  The voices for the bird and the character ‘croco’ were loved and my children also found the narrator/presenter fun and engaging.

Baba Ali – This was rated 4.5/5! My children are familiar with Baba Ali from Youtube and were really excited to see how Baba Ali had been developed with the addition of a new character called Mu Mu. At the moment there is only one Baba Ali show about friendship. They found it ‘funny and cute’ – they watched it repeatedly! My children always enjoy a good laugh!

Talkies – This was rated 4/5. This show is about an animated robotic cat and penguin discussing Islam. My kids found the characters funny and also liked the way that the Arabic alphabet and Quranic verses are read at the end.

Brainy Bunch – My children rated this show 3/5. This show is an animation series which looks at a child’s understanding of different developmental themes, including emotional, intellectual, spiritual physical and creative. This series was described as ‘good for learning’.

General points for parents

Some shows aimed at younger children are short and as Ali Huda is relatively new there is new content added at intervals. Therefore, some series are sparse but I assume will build up shows in the future. Ali Huda is a nice addition to family learning resources or religious studies curriculum whether you are a home educator or not, especially if your children are visual learners. Generally I found that my children found most enjoyable the content that was less focussed on direct learning, and had elements of fun or adventure. In a home education environment some of the shows would make great topic based learning, however I have not been able to explore the shows as fully as I would like to in order to specify in more detail. In general, the shows called Muslims around the world, activ8 and brainy bunch caught my eye to explore further and use in topic based learning projects. The biggest bonus for Muslim families is the aspect of normalisation of seeing familiar cultural and religious vocabulary used in the shows. There is a good range of diversity within the shows and for my children it was nice to see a story time show hosted by a Muslim bearded man with a traditional long garment on. This is not something they see every day on TV and positive depictions such as this are arguably an important part of healthy identity development. It is positive to see someone who looks and dresses like people in their family doing ‘normal childish stuff’ on TV.  I do recommend taking up the trial to see how Ali Huda will suit your family so you can decide for yourself how it could enhance your family’s screen time!

Recommendations for Ali Huda from my kids

My children are boys aged 5 and 9.  They are crazy about Lego and they really wanted to use this review as an opportunity to express how they feel that a show based on LEGO (construction/building block projects) could enhance Ali-Huda further to all the boys and girls who have a passion for the brick and STEM activities. They would really like to see Lego projects based on festivals around the lunar calendar or the use of Lego in learning the Arabic alphabet is another idea for Ali-Huda!

If you would like to try ALI HUDA…

If your curiosity is tickled and you would like to try Ali Huda, you can actually get a free trial before you pay the subscription fee. You can also get the first month half price if you use the code DRMUMLY.  The Ali Huda website also states that they donate 10% of subscription fees to a UK based charity for orphans. Finally, my children really enjoyed the content and loved the challenge of doing a review. Thank you Ali-Huda!

You can reach Ali Huda at www.alihuda.com and https://m.facebook.com/alihudatv/










Sweet dreams all you hard working mamas out there who make festivities a delight for their children. The things you do, no matter how small, will form their warm memories in future. The small things count …But dear Mama do not forget to wear your perfume and lipstick or whatever it is you normally do on special days to show you are loving yourself. Kids remember the small things and you are part of their self identity. So remember, you deserve the best and do not overlook your own self. Enjoy x

Extra note – I know some of you do not wear lipstick or do not think it is a sign of loving yourself and that’s fine – that was not my point 😉




#Festivals #MamaSelfCare #Eid #IdentityDevelopment #EmotionalWellbeing #JugglingHomeEd #MuslimHomeSchooling

Getting ready for the day of Arafah!


I am up waiting for suhoor and busy getting it all ready for the day of Arafah today! So the children will walk into a room with plenty of fun and learning all set up! Why? Because building positive associations with family festivals is important for helping to build self esteem and identity. The main feature for them is the crafts table all set up including the following:

– Eid card and banner activity,

– ‘Dua list’ card activity to use as a reminder when making special prayers between Asr and Magrib.

– Craft supplies to make our own decorations!

– We also have various cake decorating goals including decorating cupcakes for iftar tonight and toasting marshmallows and sandwiching them in chocolate biscuits for another yummy Iftar/Eid treat!


We have made a wall display with various childrens’ books about Allah. This includes an activity prompt list which the children can read and choose an activity from. The learning Wall display is shown in the photo above. (The prompt list also includes a practical  reminder for the children to help prepare their Eid clothes and their bath before attending Eid salah tomorrow!).


And we have made a great start on our wall display of Makkah and Medina! Full of angels, sparkles and delight! No doubt the children will make more wonderful things to add to this during the day of Arafah!


#hajj #Arafah #homeschooling #HajjCrafts #EidAlAdha #festivals #Eid

The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah could be your second shot at doing the last 10 days of Ramadan again with your kids!

Blog hopping !!! Check out all the links at the end of my article to visit other blogs who have written on similar themes to help you plan your days of Dhul Hijjah!

Dr Mumly

This is what i am trying to remember as we have approached the month of Dhul Hijjah (the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar). Social media users are catching on to this concept and more and more videos, blog articles and downloads have been circulated this year all aimed at encouraging the season of ‘another go at the last ten days’ – except they are the first 10 days this time round! That’s all good! I do actually welcome that! Why not be prepared and upbeat! The second Eid of the year always does seem to fly by too quickly and so the buzz of articles and videos on social media can certainly help for parents to get into the mood and help set the scene they actually want in their homes for this beautiful new season in the Islamic lunar calendar.

So what’s the plan this time round?…

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The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah could be your second shot at doing the last 10 days of Ramadan again with your kids!

This is what i am trying to remember as we have approached the month of Dhul Hijjah (the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar). Social media users are catching on to this concept and more and more videos, blog articles and downloads have been circulated this year all aimed at encouraging the season of ‘another go at the last ten days’ – except they are the first 10 days this time round! That’s all good! I do actually welcome that! Why not be prepared and upbeat! The second Eid of the year always does seem to fly by too quickly and so the buzz of articles and videos on social media can certainly help for parents to get into the mood and help set the scene they actually want in their homes for this beautiful new season in the Islamic lunar calendar.

So what’s the plan this time round? Well, remember the empty feeling at the end of last Ramadan? Here is a chance to ‘redo’ and prolong those 10 days all over again! So you can do many things together to bond, get spiritual, get learning or sharing just as you tried to in Ramadan. Celebrating festivals, rituals, and seasons are all very important for emotional, spiritual and identity development. So don’t overlook the opportunity to involve your children. Here are some ‘short and sweet’ ideas – I know you are already inspired and i’m probably wasting my time with my super organised readers, but just incase there’s someone out there who is feeling a little stuck – here it is –  Enjoy!

1). Make a Count down Kaba poster. Easy – just cut 10 black squares and add a gold strip and rectangle for the kaba features – Kaba voila! Now add a number on each Kaba door. If you want to get really adventurous, the last door could open with a clue behind it for something fun planned on Eid day. My advice is to not put the clue behind the Kaba door till the actual day of Eid to prevent it being torn out beforehand 🙂

2). Watch Hajj live or prerecorded as a family. Make a special viewing area in the house  -for example – place the screen/ laptop on a low table and then the colourful prayer mats arranged to form a carpeted area to sit on.  Use a special bowl for prayer beads. Go further and  drape white, black and gold scarves around the area. this depends on the space you have and if you have a wall stapler 😉 Hang sparkly battery lights that you may have used last Eid. When the family is not watching Hajj live you can play the Quran or set up everyones Qurans to sit in a circle to read together in the mornings and evenings. Whereas the build up was to laylatul Qadr in Ramadan, in the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah the build up is towards the day of Arafat (day 9) and Eid (day 10). The day of Arafat is the day pilgrims stand on mount Arafat all day making dua. It is strongly recommended to fast for those not at Hajj and of age/physical ability. Therefore, day 9 may include extra special activities such as suhoor and iftar, and elongated dua between Asr and Magrib.  Remember to read up on all the sunnahs for the day of Arafat and day of Eid so you are not caught out.

3). Create a playlist of historical educational programs about the Kaba. Use this as an opportunity to understand more about the Holy mosque and what changes have been made over the centuries in Makkah and Medina. Do post a link in the comments if you find some good ones to recommend to others.

4). Revisit stories of how and when the Kaba was built and by which prophets. Use childrens’ stories of the prophets books available in audio or book format.

5). Set up another table for crafts. You can colour a Dhul Hijjah journal together as a family, doing a couple of pages each, or an entire journal each! There are plenty of journal  ideas found on the ilmaeducates blog.

6) If you have been on Umrah in the past,  look at the pics/ videos and talk about what prayers you made and make a new dua list to use in these ten days. (If you are planning to go on Umrah after the Hajj season with your kids – you may want to also read our short article featured in the Muslim Travel Girl blog .

7) Let the kids try on Ihram! Either borrow one from someone you know or use scarves.

8) Don’t forget the usual list of good deeds –  fast, read your personalised dua lists, perform night prayers, and giving to charity are all important. Allow the children to participate according to their age/ability. Sometimes families may also encourage their children to participate in a sponsored fast to raise money for a big charity.

9) Qurbani – the story behind this will have been told via the prophets stories mentioned above. If you are doing qurbani locally, try to distribute it as a family. Kids will remember actions better than explanations, therefore, involving them wherever possible in good deeds and ‘giving to the needy’ is important.

10) Eid plans – be sure to make  gifts and visit or invite family and friends that you may not have been able to see last Eid. Making gifts is more fun than buying them! How about air-dried clay tiles with hand designed geometric patterns (with the name of the person you are gifting to in the centre).  Don’t forget to make two holes at the top of the clay tile to thread ribbon through so the tile can be hung. You will need to get making now so they are dried and decorated in time for Eid!!!

Did i miss anything? Let me know in the comments 😉

This post is part of the Eid al Adha and Hajj Blog hop by Multicultural Motherhood. Join us as we share Eid and Hajj related posts. Hop over to see related posts from other Muslimah Bloggers.


Eid Party Crafts For Kids by Multicultural Motherhood

Ever Wonder why Hajj is Once in a Life Time by Jeddah Mom
Hajj/ Umrah Products by Ayeina.Com
Dhul Hijjah Best 10 Days by Christal Joan
Eid Ul Adha crafts/activities and celebrations in a homeschool by The Fire Fly
The activities of the big day of Eid al Adha we need to know by Ummu Kulthum
Get organised for Eid ul Adha – printables, activities and more! by And Then She Said
Free Download: My Dhull Hijjah Journal by Ilma Education
The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah could be your second shot at doing the last 10 days of Ramadan again with your kids by Dr Mumly

Author Interview – Ramadan without daddy

It is a great pleasure to interview the author of Ramadan without daddy! Welcome Misbah Akhtar!
1) Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and bred in London although I lived in Dubai for a while. I love chocolate and all things horror whether it be games, movies or novels! I’ve been writing from a young age and was inspired in particular by Christopher Pike who remains my favourite writer. I’m a busy mum of 4, founder of Single Muslim Mums; and editor-in-chief of Mumspiration – my blog documenting my journey to become a more positive, mindful me.
I felt there was a need for it within our ummah (Muslim community). A story about different types of families to promote awareness about single motherhood and the challenges these mums face. It was an extension of the work I do for Single Muslim Mums. I believe it will aid parents in explaining the concept of divorce to their children, and I hope it is also a wake up call to all the absentee parents out there who don’t see the sadness left behind when they abandon their children.
2) What has been the reaction to the book before and after it was out? 
It’s been good. A lot of mothers have been calling for a book like this for a long time. They like the straightforwardness of the book in an easy to understand way for children and appreciate the honesty of how parents may behave and feel when going through a divorce/newly divorced. The book hasn’t been out that long and I’m hoping in time we see more titles like this in Islamic book shops and mosque book shops also.
3) What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on my debut novel entitled: The Jinn Within. It’s a horror story (of course!) about jinn possession and the impact that it has on one family. It has a lot of real elements to it based upon a true story; again, the aim is to promote awareness, this time about the the spiritual realm. It isn’t just a story but also a form of creating awareness for others about the different kinds of spiritual beliefs people have, in this case the belief in Jinn.
4) What other challenges have you faced in the writing industry?
Promoting and marketing your work as a Muslim author is certainly hard because we are only now starting to see fiction books written by Muslims for Muslims. I haven’t come across a published Muslim fiction book that deals with the horror the jinn can inflict on humankind (yay, I can be the first 😉),  or many books written for children talking about sensitive Islamic issues either. It’s therefore hard to gauge what the  reaction will be to such books, but I remain hopeful. Writing is also a lot of hard work  which I only now fully appreciate!

Book review: Ramadan without daddy


It is a pleasure to review this book which has entered the shelves of child book stores for families. As the title suggests the book is about a family adjusting to changes after separation/ divorce.  The book is an important contribution to the many other therapeutic resources written to help children to understand and adjust to the changes they may be going through after parental separation. My review is brief and will focus on what i think the book can offer.

First of all, it is really encouraging to see that the book is not only colourful and vibrant, but also represents ethnic diversity in the illustrations. This allows it to immediately relate to families who often feel not represented enough in mainstream literature, illustration and animation. The title also acknowledges one of the most recognised festive seasons celebrated and practiced in the world – Ramadan! The very use of this word in the title helps to normalise Muslim culture which is an important aspect of encouraging identity development for Muslim children. Immediately these factors convey the impression that this is a book that my children could relate to easily, and so I was pleased to be able to review the book and see for myself!

The general message of the book is of how children notice change and sadness, and how they try to make sense of it in their transition to a new smaller family unit after parental separation. The story provides hope about the future as we see the mother offering messages of encouragement to her children and their bond strengthening in return. The story itself could be experienced as quite sensitive dependant on the experiences of the family reading it, and the momentum of the sensitive topic is quick paced. The reader is swiftly brought into the reality of the changes experienced for the characters living at home ‘without daddy’. The characters include the mother and two children who exchange conversations about why daddy is no longer living at home. The main character is the older sibling and she tries to find ways of explaining the change to her younger brother.  There are some sad moments in the story for example, when the children are reflecting on how contact with daddy is decreasing over time, and how their Ramadan experience has changed. Equally, there are some very important messages for children. Such as the important notion that the changes are not their fault and will not feel the same way forever. This book read with plenty of time for reflection and musings could help to encourage children talk about any sensitive conversations it may open up. These conversations could serve therapeutic if engaged with sensitively by a nurturing carer. Therefore the book, in my view, would work best therapeutically when read with/ to a child by a nurturing adult, rather than kept for independent reading time.


Over a year without school…

So i have not written on the main site for a while but there have been things going on behind the scenes! I now more regularly write on the facebook for Dr Mumly which i have tried to link to the website page (this is all still a new world). We did a travel review article and there is a book review article coming soon. In and amongst other things, home education has been cool! We are starting to turn a corner now and buckle down a bit more into our own home ed groove. I am still working on the emotional development resources, however i have generally allowed a more relaxed pace to allow our gazillion missions to gently evolve if that makes sense. Ok i am going to test if i can still work this button and press publish 🙂