40Days to transform my life!

Feel like you are letting yourself down? Know you can do better but aren't sure how? Make great resolutions but don't follow through? Sounds just like me. Which is why I am resolving to commit 40Days to making a lasting difference to my life, insha Allah. This blog is the online home of my personal 40Day Challenge - you can join me or simply follow my progress (or lack of it!).

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Advice for Muslim mums - from Sister Rose!


Many of you wanted to improve your relationships with your children over these 40 days. One of the areas I find particularly difficult is that of discipline - children these days just don't listen like they used to!

So I asked a wonderful sister for some advice on how to get my children to listen without turning into the Wicked Witch of the West. Her name is Rose Ali, otherwise known as Grandma Jeddah and this is what she had to say. Feel free to respond or comment below.

Assalamu Alaikum Sister Na’ima,

Disciplining without hitting is a skill that is developed. It also involves certain techniques. You certainly haven’t failed in training your children. You may simply need to learn a few effective techniques that will help you to better control your children’s behavior. Also, keep in mind that children have different temperaments. Some may need a different approach than others.

The first thing you want to do with your children is offer them incentives for desired behavior. Most people resent exerting themselves in activities they don’t enjoy. They need a good reason to do it. Mothers clean their homes because it would be difficult to live in a messy house. Fathers work because if they didn’t they wouldn’t have a home for their family to live in. Kids need incentives, too.

One of the most successful incentive programs--it’s worked wonders in my home--is the star chart system. Without my going into detail, you will find this discipline method in my book on pages 83 – 90 insha’Allah. Believe me, it really works. Accompanied with the star chart system, you’ll find information on the penalty system . . . which leads to my second point—consistency.

Make certain you follow through on your penalties when your children fail to perform their chores. If they see that sometimes rules are enforced and other times they are not, they will learn that if they stall long enough, they won’t have to get the job done.

Another important point about penalties (such as removing stars, putting up checks or removing privileges) is not to show negative emotions when implementing your penalties. Do not show your child you are angry with his behavior. Some children starting around about 7-years-old may intentionally wish to make you angry. This often occurs when the child feels he has been treated unfairly. The benefit and resolve he feels in getting you angry may far outweigh any penalty you can dish out—this includes hitting. The way to combat this behavior is to remain calm during the discipline process. This leads to my next point. Sometimes we parents need help controlling our own emotions.

Many times parents hit their children because they’re angry at the child’s behavior not because they want to correct the behavior. It’s very important to make sure you are in control of your emotions when disciplining. This may sound like a cliché, but counting to 10 or retreating to your room to calm down when angry can indeed help you release steam. Also, according to hadith, The Prophet (saw) suggested sitting if you’re standing and reclining if you’re sitting when angry. Once you’re in control of yourself, you can consider ways to correct your child’s behavior without hitting or shouting. Secret 4, pages 73 – 104 in my book lists over a dozen ways to help control children's behavior without hitting or shouting.

I strongly suggest complimenting your children when you see them picking up their clothes off the floor, not eating in their room or putting the jam away. Give them a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss. Tell them how much you appreciate it when they do these things. This might correct 90 % of your problem.

Remember, too, your children are just that--children. They get distracted, they have dislikes, and they are not of mature minds. With your love and consistency, they will remember what you taught them during their childhood, and grow to be responsible adults, insha’allah.

Finally, make du’a for them frequently, and ask Allah to help you guide them in the best way.

Let’s put all of what I said in a nut shell.

1. Remember, disciplining children is something that involves certain skills and techniques. These skills must be practiced.

2. Give your children incentives for completing chores and responsibilities.

3. Be consistent with penalties.

4. Avoid showing your anger when disciplining.

5. Remember that for some parents, hitting is a habit and is often done out of anger not for correcting behavior.

6. Praise your children when you see them fulfilling their duties.

7. Explore, on your own, ways of disciplining without hitting.

8. Try to emulate the Prophet’s (SAW) character in raising children, with gentleness.

9. Remember-- they are just children.

10. Make dua often for Allah’s guidance.

May Allah bless all your children to be a comfort for you and your family and to grow up as Muslims who will please Allah.

Your Sister in Islam

Sister Rose

If you'd like to get a copy of the e-book Sister Rose is referring to, simply click on this link: http://grandmajeddah.books.officelive.com

Don't forget to tell us about your reactions to this post and how your 40 days are going!


Na'ima B.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The first of 40 days!


Too many things have occurred to me in these two days alone, subhanAllah! What with all the wonderful messages from sisters ready to make positive changes in their lives, learning about their 10 habits and how their first day went, I have been overwhelmed by the love and support sisters have displayed.

Alhamdulillah, my first 2 days went well. I drank my hot water with lemon in the morning, both days and worked out: 30 minuted on Day 1, 1.5 hours at the gym on Day 2. I can't tell you how much enjoyment and satisfaction I am getting out of working out and SWEATING these days! For the longest time, I kept putting it off, thinking that I don't have time, telling myself that I'm not that overweight anyway, so who cares? And of course the fact that only those in my private sphere will see me without my overgarment!

However, when I started taking my diet seriously (and by 'diet' I mean my food lifestyle), I realised that I was eating more than I needed to, eating too many of the things that I knew weren't good for me, and eating too often. And the results showed!

So I cut down on the amount of food I was eating and decided to eat mindfully - being aware of and careful about what I was putting into my body. And I started working out.

At first, it was hard to get the enythusiasm to work up a sweat but I was determined: for the sake of my health and for the sake of my looks. I won't lie: I want to look in the mirror and say 'Alhamdulillah' AND 'Masha Allah' because I am truly pleased by what I see. And I think many of us do - it's not about being a size 0, or looking like some air-brushed celebrity; it's about knowing that you have put the effort into looking the way you want to look, being fit, strong and healthy.

So, on the working out front, I am happy with my progress.

I am frustrated with my Qur'an reading though. I have always struggled with reading the Qur'an fluently in Arabic, with getting that flow while reading. Alhamdulillah, I always make progress in Ramadhan - but slip back afterwards.

My frustration with Surah Qaf (which isn't one of the hardest ones there) made me realise that I need to put more time into my Qur'an reading if I ever hope to finish it in Ramadhan. So I will be concentrating on that more, as well as reading with the kids and reviving the star chart. We had a busy weekend! (Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!)

More insha Allah later today. I noticed that many of you mentioned that you wanted to change the way you interact with your kids. I'll have a special treat for you tomorrow insha Allah: some profound advice from an amazing sister on how to mother without turning into a monster - and how to discipline without disrespecting. Watch this space!

May Allah bless us all with a pure intention and the best fruits of our actions, ameen.



PS. If you'd like to follow my journey in 'real time', follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/naimabrobert)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

My 10 Habits

Asalaamu alaikum,

As part of my 40Days to transformation, I have picked 10 habits that are related to mind, body, soul and family.

With regards my soul, I pledge to:

1. Spend 10 minutes a day with the Qur'an (reading, reciting, memorising, reading tafseer)

2. Do one act of kindness from the Sunnah every day (smiling, salaam, gift, writing to or calling a relative or sister, giving charity etc.) with a purified intention

3. Pray with longer surahs, with more khushoo', on time

With regards my mind, I pledge to:

4. Write 500 words a day (work on my blog, journal, article, or books)

With regards my body, I pledge to:

5. Exercise for 15-30 minutes each day

6. Do a week-long detox

7. Dress 'properly', from head to toe, every day - no 'New Muslim Tramp' here!

With regards my family, I pledge to:

8. Revive our ailing star chart system

9. Share a book with my children for 15 minutes each day

10. Do an act of kindness for the Hubster every day

Pheew!! Is this going to be hard?? Not with a solid intention, much du'a and the support of my sisters!

What are your 10 habits, sisters? Please share them with us or write them down where you can SEE them!


Na'ima B.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dreaming of a different me


Asalaamu alaikum warahmatullah, my dear sisters and fellow travellers.

Our life coach at SISTERS Magazine, Sayeda Habib, advises us to visualise the life that we want, in great detail.
I won't bore you with the details of my dream here but I will share with you some of the central characteristics of the 'dream me'.

"I am a Muslimah who honours her relationship with her Lord, who honours her deen.
I am a woman who honours the body that her Lord gave her, nurturing it with the right food, keeping it healthy, building its strength and stamina for a life of vigour, passion and service to others.
I am a wife who honours her relationship with her man, who nurtures it, never taking it for granted.
I am a mother who honours her bond with her children, giving freely of herself, taking her role seriously.
I am a family member and friend who honours the code of family and sisterhood, who takes time to be there, to remember, to share and to listen.
I am a colleague who honours her responsibilities within the team, who respect her team mates and is true to her word.
I am a human being with honour and integrity.
I am a Muslim who is mindful of all of the above."

That is the 'dream me'.

Now it's your turn to dream of a different you. What is she like? Tell us here or tell it to yourself but make it real in your mind and write it down, read over it. Let the vision fill you with hope and excitement about the journey to come.

Of course, nothing is possible without the help of Allah ta'ala and we depend on Him for success - but it starts here, with a wish, with an intention, with a du'a.

Get to know the 'dream you', give her a hug - give her my salaam. Tell her 'marhaban'...

Na'ima B.

PS> To read the article on visualisation and achieving balance in your life, click here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

40Days to transform - can I do it? Can you?


Ok, so what began as a germ of an idea yesterday has sprouted already!

Here's the deal: I am tired of stress, I am tired of chaos, I am tired of letting myself go and letting myself down. Over the years, I have tried to make so many changes. I have made lists and schedules and programmes and, after a week, sometimes less, I am back to square one, shaking my head at yet another failed attempt at self-improvement.

Well, this time I am trying something different. I have decided to give myself 40 days to make 10 resolutions and stick to them - and, to ensure I do, I have decided to make it public. That's right, the resolutions, the motivations, the daily reports and insights - and the photo evidence!

I will be enlisting the help and support of qualified, experienced sisters to mentor me - sisters with strong iman, life coaches, health and fitness experts, experts on parenting, wise women - to guide me and keep me motivated. I will be reading and sharing wisdom from Islamic teachings and others, from the Internet and SISTERS Magazine. But I am also counting on the support of you, the readers.

But hey, how about we do this together? If you are anything like me, you know what you want to change but may sometimes lack the motivation or stick-with-itness to make your resolutions truly lasting.

So how about we do this: I'll show you mine and you show us yours. I'll share my 10 habits and you can choose 10 of your own. Then we'll meet here, every day for 40 days to encourage and to remind each other, to commiserate over our little failures and celebrate our successes.

I really want to do this and would appreciate your companionship on this journey of transformation, due to start on Friday the 1st of April bi'idhnillah. In my next post, I will share my 10 resolutions with you. Hopefully, you will have decided on 10 of your own and will be willing to share them :)

“Truly, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

I'm ready for a change, a real, lasting one this time. With the aid of Allah ta'ala and the support of our sisters, let's strive for 40Days to transform our lives, 10 habits at a time.
Who's in?


Na'ima B. Robert