5 Ways to Make the Mosque More Mom-Friendly This Ramadan

I want to apologize to all the mothers at the mosque that I used to judge before I became a mother myself, thinking to  myself while trying to focus on prayer “I would never let my kid run around wildly like that.”
Two kids later, and I rarely go to the mosque because I am often afraid to get judged while I try to keep both eyes on a fearless one-year-old and an energetic three-year-old.
So, what can mosques do to become more mom-friendly? I mean, mothers are part of our community, right? The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged children to go to mosques and was very accommodating to children. So how come nowadays a young mother will get death-stares from older aunties, and then be shamed after salah because her kid was crying and even asked to leave?
Prophet Muhammad said, “When I stand for prayer, I intend to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short, as I dislike to trouble the child’s mother.” (Reported by Bukhari).
And we can’t forget the beautiful story of when prophet Muhammad prostrated for a longer than usual period of time because a child was sitting on his back (seriously, perfect time for a toddler to play horsey).
Here are some ways that I think mosques should become more mom/kid-friendly:
Hire a babysitter. Seriously, how simple is this? There are tons of high school and college students at the mosque who would love to make extra cash, so how convenient would it be to hire them during events and taraweeh? Please don’t do the whole “Please volunteer for the sake of Allah to watch 20+ children.” You’re using a service–pay for it– even if it means having the mothers pay to contribute to the fee.
Having a nursing or quiet room. Please don’t ever tell a nursing mom to “go to the bathroom to nurse.” Ever. In fact, don’t even approach her while she’s nursing. She’s probably trying to keep her fussy baby contained so her nursing cover doesn’t fly off and holding herself from yelling out loud because the baby is teething and biting. Having a nursing or quiet room for babies to nap in would be great, and very accommodating to mothers.
Have different activities for children. Many events during Ramadan are geared towards older people and teenagers. But we need more activities for the young ones. My friends and I are starting a Ramadan Kids Club at our local mosques and have received a ton of interest. That way Ramadan will always be special to them, and they will look forward to their month-long holiday every year.
Smile and play with children. So you see a kid who is walking around the prayer area, throwing Cheerios on the floor and then purposely stepping on them–creating more of a mess–and the mother is no where to be seen. Or you see a child ripping out pages from the Quran and laughing. What do you do? I won’t go in to parenting and disciplining options, but if you see a child who obviously wants attention, give him that attention. Take a child aside for five minutes and tell him a joke or story so his mom can pray sunnah peacefully. Offer to watch a baby for 15 minutes so mom can go to the bathroom in peace and make wudu.
Put mothers in administration and board committees. I can’t stress this enough. Having a mother’s perspective on so many things is crucial to keeping the mosque a safe and inclusive environment.
This Ramadan, let’s try to make the mosque a more welcoming place for mothers and young children. Ramadan is a month of patience, after all!