How to Make the Most of Family Vacations During School Breaks

Whether you work outside your house or you’re a stay-at-home parent, you need ideas to keep your kids busy during school breaks. This will prevent them from getting too much screen time, which might not be good for their mental and physical health. Being creative about the things your kids can do during school breaks can fight off boredom and could help them develop important skills. You can join in on the fun to make things more engaging.

Check out these fun ideas for kids that you can do every week during school breaks, presented below by Anya Willis of Fit Kids.

Enjoy Nature

Take advantage of the school break to explore the natural world. First, you can go bird watching, which offers you the opportunity to take great photos and keep track of sightings. You can use a guidebook or an app to identify your feathered friends. The kids will love this. The beautiful photos can be a conversation starter later in the day.

You could also explore growing fresh herbs in containers. For this, you need milk jugs, old coffee cans, plastic cups, mason jars, or anything you have in your house that you can use to plant. Keep the herb garden on a windowsill or a patio.

Another idea for outdoor fun includes picking your own plants. Find a farm with strawberries, blueberries, veggies, raspberries, and flowers, and then get picking. If you have birds, you can make a bird feeder, or offer one for birds that visit your yard, which adds to your list of bird sightings.

For play, you can make fairy houses using moss, leaves, and bark, which help you create a dwelling ideal for Thumbelina. Alternatively, you can introduce the kids to wildlife conservation by creating a hummingbird or butterfly garden, which offers a good habitat.

Make the Most of Rainy Days

Sometimes, the weather will prevent you from enjoying outdoor activities. You need to be creative and find indoor activities you can enjoy with your kids. When it’s raining, the moment is perfect for games. You can build a fort with pillows in the living room, or you can use cardboard boxes in your yard for the game. Also, the kids will love creating a Lego castle. Just clear off your table and make this a family project, which you can work on all summer.

Another way to keep the kids engaged indoors is through a marble race. For this, you can use an old pool noodle as your track. You can cut it in half to make two tracks. Race the marbles down to see who gets the first spot. Paper airplanes are also an idea that could keep the kids busy for some time.

Explore Local Sites

School breaks also offer opportunities for staycation experiences. If you have friends nearby, you can bring them along to explore local sites. Some ideas to consider include finding a free concert near you, where you can kick back and enjoy great tunes. Also, visit a flea market to see if your kids are good negotiators. You could also take your kids to watch a dramatic performance, which could be a puppet show or a Broadway show.

While away from home, you need to ensure everything is secured. One way to secure the home is having a sturdy fence around it, which you can hire a local contractor to construct. Check reviews to make sure they’re reliable. The cost often depends on the size of the fence, materials, and where you want to install it. Only work with licensed professionals. Oh, and good news: certain upgrades can also dramatically improve your home’s appraisal value!

You have many ways to keep your kids busy during school breaks. These include indoor and outdoor ideas you can explore together. Find ways to integrate play into tasks to make everything fun and interesting. Explore things your kids can keep for the future as memories for the good moments. 

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For Better or For Worse: Understanding Your Normal Period

Monthly cycles are a woman’s companion, for 3-4 decades of her life, for better or for worse. Hormonal and mood changes associated with it have been the subject of many anecdotes and tales.

Many of us think of our cycles as unproductive times, both work-related as well as spiritually.

It doesn’t have to be so. Planning and prioritizing tasks can take the burden off from days that you don’t feel 100%.

Spiritually, it does not have to be a complete break, even though we don’t pray during our cycle. We can increase in remembrance of our Creator (dhikr) and other good deeds like charity.

What is a normal period?

A complaint I hear frequently is: “My periods are all over the place. I don’t have any pattern.”

Many of us have a preconception that there is a “date“ on which the cycle must start. If that’s not so there is a problem, and our cycle is irregular.

This is not true. 

Cycles can vary greatly and still be considered normal.

The monthly cycle starts on the first day of your last period and ends on the first day of your next period.

This can range from anything between 21-40 days. Periods normally last between 3-5 days, but again 2-7 days is a normal duration.

Then comes the actual flow. What some women consider normal, others may call heavy. 

If you see clots in the flow bigger than a penny, or you soak through and stain your clothes, your periods are heavy, and you may want to see your doctor.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on

When do periods start and when do they stop?

For most girls, menstrual cycles begin at the age of around 12. But girls are starting periods earlier and it is common to see girls as young as 9 or 10 having periods. Read here to learn more about when to seek medical help if your daughter or sister starts experiencing their periods early.
Menopause, or the time that periods pack up, is around the age of 51 but may vary from 45-55 years. If periods stop before the age of 40, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Some women would need either hormone supplements or medication to strengthen their bones.

Feeling moody before periods?

You are not the only one!

As many as 3 in 4 women can be moody for a week or sometimes two weeks before their period. You may also have headaches and bloating. 

Many women will miss work at some point in time because of severe PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).

However, this does not, entitle women to use this as an excuse to be disrespectful or uncompromising with others. A healthier approach is to find excuses for somebody who is moody when it is not in their nature to be so.

However, if you are feeling snappy and short-tempered, and you know it may be because of your hormones, explain to your near and dear ones how you are feeling to prevent misunderstandings.

An exaggerated form of PMS is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Women experience the symptoms of PMS, but on more intense levels. Some may feel depressed, anxious and even suicidal. 

Do not ignore these symptoms in either yourself or a family member. Sometimes the one suffering from PMDD may not have insight into the severity of the problem and a close friend or family member may pick it up.

You need to refer yourself to emergency services, which may vary depending on the country where you reside. Most countries have emergency mental health services.

Changes in the pattern of your periods

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Each one of us recognizes what is normal for our cycle.

It is not unusual to have early or delayed periods, heavy or light periods for a couple of cycles. Stress may cause hormonal imbalances and it usually settles back into a normal pattern.

However, if your periods start getting heavier and you are above the age of 40, do see your doctor.

Spotting in between cycles is a common complaint. If there is any possibility of pregnancy at all, do a pregnancy test to read more about the causes of spotting in different age groups, read this article.

If periods start spacing out and becoming lighter near the age of 45, you are probably going through the menopausal phases. No need to worry!

Should menstrual leave be universal in workplaces?

Japan is one of the few countries where women are allowed a menstrual leave. This law has been in place for nearly 70 years. South Korea also allows women to take leave during their periods if they suffer severe pain or heavy periods. Despite being entitled to menstrual leave, a 2017 survey in Japan showed that only 9 in 1000 women claimed menstrual leave. The reason being, there is a stigma attached to the menstrual cycle and women do not like telling their male employers that they are off sick because they are menstruating.

India is one of the countries where there is a lot of shame associated with periods. In some rural areas, girls are not allowed to cook or touch people when they are menstruating!

“Girls in India typically miss 20% of the school year because of their period, and 70% of mothers consider menstruation ‘dirty,” according to a 2014 report by philanthropic organization Dasra. as quoted in an article in CNN in 2021.

No wonder Indian food delivery company, Zomato, made recent headlines when CEO Deepinder announced period leave for their female employees. Read the note here.

Shockingly, the biggest opponents of period leave is women!

Westernized countries are yet to offer period leave, although it has been debated.

Feminists have widely debated the matter and are divided if menstrual leave helps or hinders women in the workplace.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Befriend your monthly cycles and embrace your womanhood!

Understanding your cycle and accepting the changes that your body goes through will make you happier and productive. 

Focus on what you can do rather than the limitations.

For sporty sisters, don’t let your cycle dampen your spirits. Think of alternatives – treatment to control symptoms and be open with your trainers so that you can discuss options.

Working women need to adjust their commitments around their cycles if their periods hinder everyday life. There is still a lot of shame attached to admitting that you are unable to perform certain tasks effectively. It will take the collective effort of men and women to overcome this long-standing negative perception of periods and it’s connection to productivity.

Stay-at-home mums – tell your husband, children, and other family members if you are struggling and ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence. They don’t know till you tell them.

Be positive, be kind to yourself and spread positivity and kindness.


Umm Aasiya is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. She gave up clinical practice due to health and family issues in 2020. She uses her years of experience to share authentic medical knowledge. Her aim is to empower sisters through credible information, enabling them to make informed choices about their health. Her main focus is to connect with her Creator, learn and reflect upon the Quran as much as she can.
The rest of her time is spent looking after her husband, 3 lovely children and their cat, Lulu.
For more from Umm Aasiya, click here

Chilling Quotes from Deadly Female Killers

“Like nicknames, archetypes can be useful organizational tools, but they, too, often end up suppressing more nuanced ideas of evil and darkness in femininity” – Tori Telfer, Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History. Disturbing quotes from some of the world’s most notorious female killers. Travel throughout history and discover the motives, the stories and the mystery behind these deadly women. (TW: this post deals with topics that are not suitable for sensitive readers. Reader discretion is advised)

🕸️“I like hurting people.” – Mary Flora Bell

🕸️“I killed them all, men, women and babies, and I hugged the babies to my breast. But I am not guilty of murder.” – Clementine Bernabet

🕸️“They didn’t even look like people… I didn’t relate to Sharon Tate as being anything but a store mannequin… [Tate] sounded just like an IBM machine… She kept begging and pleading and pleading and begging [for the life of her unborn child], and I got sick of listening to her, so I stabbed her.” – Susan Atkins

🕸️“I do not feel bad after killing anyone because I see it as a job I paid to do.” – Mariam Abiola

Abiola was an assigned hitman for the Eiye cult group in Nigeria. During her arrest in 2018, she confessed to the killings of at least 4 people. In an interview Abiola said: “I do not feel bad after killing anyone because I see it as a job I (am) paid to do.”

🔪“If you would gain a throne and hold it, fear not to make of human skulls thy stepping stones.” – Taitu Betul

🔪“I love the madness. Not when I was a little girl, but from the age of 15 I’ve loved seeing things fall down around me.” – La Diabla of Medillin

🔪“I just started shooting. That’s it. I just did it for the fun of it.” – Brenda Spencer

🔪“While my victim was drinking an elixir I had prepared, I got an axe, placed myself behind my victim and, summoning my strength, struck the back of her neck – a rattle, nothing else. … It was a master stroke that almost beheaded her.” – Leonarda Cianciulli

🔪“My husband Yury wouldn’t give me money for vodka.” – Irina Gaidamachuk

Given the nickanme of ‘Satan in a Skirt’, Gaidamachuk is considered one of Russia’s worst woman serial killers. She was charged with 17 counts of murder and 1 attempted murder. During her eight year reign of terror, she killed 17 elderly women in order to rob them. She would pretend to be a social worker so they would let her in to their flats. She would often kill the women with an axe or a hammer. Her motive for killing the women was to steal money for vodka. Gaidamachuk was an alcoholic, whose husband, Yury, refused to give her in fear that it would enable her addiction.

🧛‍♀️“I am a devil and I will burn them.” – Lillian B. Thornman

🧛‍♀️“I want my fun. I need you to get my fun.” – Joanna Dennehy

🧛‍♀️“I would sit on the balcony and talk to them in the flowerpots,” – Sabine Hilschenz

Hilschenz received a 15-year sentence for infanticide in 2006. She was found guilty for eight accounts of manslaughter, for routinely killing her children. She told investigators that she would not outright harm the newborns, but would leave them to die after giving birth to them alone. Investigators found remains of the infants wrapped in plastic, and stuffed in flowerpots, buckets and a garden fish tank. Hilschenz was an alcoholic, who admitted to not having her addiction under control. She would become incredibly drunk during labour, so as to not remember whether she birthed the babies alive or dead. Her husband, Oliver Hilschenz said in a police interrogation: “I thought that she had a weight problem,” and denied any knowledge of the pregnancies.

Reference: Unknown Gender History & All That’s Interesting

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25+ Simple Sayings That Are Simply Blissful

A few years back, I received a tiny book from a kind neighbour. The miniature piece of literature was no larger than my own child-like hand. Yet, it held some of the most impactful words that would help me through my Tumultuous Twenties. ‘A Simpler Life’ by Helen Exley aims to help the reader reach a more contented life by doing less overthinking and over-analysing, and simply finding peace with who you are and where you are in your journey.

Inspired by the work of Exley and her team, I will be sharing Over 25 Quotes That Are Simply Blissful. Comment below which quote you loved, and live by.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”


“May you live every day of your life” – Johnathan Swift

“Turn your wounds into wisdom” – Oprah Winfrey

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour” – Truman Capote

“My roses are my jewels, the sun and moon my clocks, fruit and water my food and drink” – Hester Lucy Stanhope

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” – Jimi Hendrix

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise” – Maya Angelou

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher” – Chinese Proverb

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” – Rumi,  Masnavi i Man’avi

red, orange cherries for good health, sweetness in life and love
Credit: Nick Fewings

“Angry people are not always wise” – Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny” – Stephen Hawking

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” – Aristotle

“Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy” – Rumi

“Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible” – Charles Dickens

“The quiet mind is richer than a crown. Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent” – Robert Greene

“Time that withers you will wither me. We will fall like ripe fruit and roll down the grass together. Dear friend, let me lie beside you watching the clouds until the earth covers us and we are gone” – Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

“When you forget that you need Allah (God), He puts you in a situation that causes you to call upon Him. And that’s for your own good” – Omar Suleiman

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails” – Henry David Thoreau

“Give love in secret by praying for one another” – Unknown

shiny red apples that keep the doctor away
Credit: Matheus Cenali

“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too” – Earnest Hemingway, Men Without Women

“True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning” – Nicholas Sparks

“We learn from failure, not from success!” – Bram Stoker, Dracula

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

“Joy exists only in self-acceptance. Seek perfect acceptance, not a perfect life” – Unknown

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Sharon Salzberg

“Sit loosely in the saddle of life” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does” – Epictetus

“The busiest, most creative soul must have at its heart a place of silence, of utter simplicity and peace” – Charlotte Gray

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#COLLAB: Growing Up Ain’t Like The Movies (it’s more like a bumpy bus ride)

The warmth from the sun’s rays pierce through the huge dust-covered windows. It penetrates my soul and shines a comforting glow onto my face. I was a little girl of 6 years old, heading home with my sister in the huge beige Golden Arrow bus. On our drive from Athlone to Hanover Park, I would rest my head against the window, the gentle vibration of the moving bus creating a soothing, buzzing sound. Something like a lullaby. The rhythmic pulses relax my energetic mind and I imagined that this is what a head massage must feel like – until my head abruptly jolted forward when the bus came to a halt.

As I soaked up the sun on my rosy cheeks, at the same time trying to avoid being blinded by the rays of sunlight, would imagine what my life would be like in the future.

I’d imagine myself as a grown woman, with high heels and lipstick – ever so fashionable – working in a field that I love, while concurrently running my household efficiently.


Regarding my imaginary children, three to be exact, two boys and a girl, I would be “Loving but disciplined”. While lost in this thought I glanced through the dust-covered window as we passed a huge two-storey house and I excitedly nudged my older sister and said, “Titi, when I grow-up I am going to live in that house!”

Gleaming windows and neatly trimmed grass surrounded the house – it looked picture perfect. I could feel the excitement rising inside my little 6-year-old body! I smiled with the hope that one day, I would live in that house, with my 3 children in my loving but disciplined way.

And then I grew up

Life has a funny way of giving you what you want, but not exactly in the way you expect.

When I daydreamed of my future, it seemed so easy to be the mom with a career and high heels – running with a tray of freshly baked cookies and her lipstick. That little girl knew nothing. Allow me to elaborate.

I am a mother, and my priorities include:

 1.  Keeping my family healthy and alive.

 2. Maintaining my sanity.

Not in that specific order and everything else is negotiable.

As a working mom my days are divided into two types: good and bad.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

On a good day, I manage to balance it all, the family, the career and all the added extras like fresh cooked meals, in-laws, and friendships. On a bad day (which is the norm now) it is late nights at the office, takeaways, and broken promises.  

That double storey house, with the shiny windows, let me tell you, it’s a lot of work to keep those windows shiny and mortgage paid!

The standards seem impossibly high for women. We wear so many hats. You are expected to be both the loving mother with freshly cooked meals waiting when the kids get home, and the assertive career woman conquering the concrete jungle – both roles come with accompanying shame and guilt. Please do not misunderstand, they are both achievable and many women have it all, but for me, it came at a cost.


There came a point in my life when I asked: ‘is it worth it’? The late nights at the office, and missed birthdays? Juggling both career and home-life to my own detriment?

If I could sit next to that little girl on the bus, I’d tell her to enjoy life and encourage her to do her best, because that’s really all that matters. I’d warn her that striving for academic achievements and career advancements aren’t worth allowing her mental health to suffer. I’d hug her tightly when she didn’t make it into med school and explain to her that she can still have a happy and fulfilled life even if the path she planned doesn’t work out. I’d tell her to own the space she occupies on Earth. She does not have to fit any preconceived gender role, nor earn in a certain bracket or live in a certain area code – that she should live her life as best she can and to make her happiness a priority.

On the flip side, if it were me, a 36-year-old woman on the bus, that little girl would tell me to stop worrying so much! She’d tell me to smell the flowers, and that the big house was never the prize – it was always about creating a safe place to call home.  A safe space for myself and my children.

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on

I now realise that that big beige bus could be a metaphor for life, your life is the bus, sometimes you will have stops and bumps and flat tyres (which are normal). Other times you will need to decide who gets on your bus and supports you and who needs to step off because they aren’t going in the same direction – that’s okay too.

Sometimes, when there’s a detour in life, there is chance for adventure. You end up in a scenic, unexpected destination with opportunities to discover places that you would not ordinarily seen, and that too can be beautiful and bring immense joy.

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