I recently got married into a well-off family. Alhumdulilah, we have plenty of domestic help around the house. This often leaves me with absolutely nothing constructive to do. My mother-in-law is involved in mainstream Dawah work, and I would like to help her out. But somehow I get the feeling that she neither likes me to be too involved with the work that she is doing, nor does she appreciate that I do nothing to help her. I am quite confused. Please direct me towards some productive work, which I can do to utilize my free time.
Answer: The time you have right now will never come back, particularly once you have children, Insha’Allah. So, it is very commendable that you wish to use it productively. There are many things one can do in this regard. For instance, you can join an Islamic course. This will provide structure to your day and give you something to look forward to on daily basis. In addition, you could also pursue a hobby and take it up in a more serious manner. For instance, if you enjoy drawing, painting or crafts, you could take an art class and hone your skills. If you enjoy stitching or knitting, you could enroll yourself into proper sewing classes. If you are a reader, join a book club. If you can’t find one, start one!
There may be times when you find that you are not fitting into activities that are already around. That’s okay – you can always be proactive and initiate constructive endeavors. For example, perhaps you don’t want to commit yourself to an Islamic course right now. So get a few friends together and organize a weekly study circle. As a group, you can decide what focus you want your Halaqah to have: Quran, Ahadeeth, a book-study, or a mixture of all three. For such self-initiated ventures to be successful, though, do make sure that meetings are consistent and everyone stays on-task. Another word of caution: we often think of food when it comes to any gathering, but sometimes food takes over the entire event. Keep food to a minimum, if at all necessary.
Reading good books is always a constructive activity. If you wish to focus on yourself more, take up a certain aspect and study it. For instance, you could decide to delve into the Seerah of the Prophet (sa), read and reread any relevant books and dig into online resources. Make notes, and consider it as self-education. Similarly, you could also take up something like the history of Pakistan and read up on it. Unlike school days, you may actually enjoy it. In fact, you can couple it with outings to important landmarks in Karachi, such as the Quaid’s house-museum, Frere Hall, Mohatta Palace, etc. Next time a relative is visiting, you can add a different flavor to their trip by taking them to these places as well. When visiting another city in Pakistan, make it a priority to go historical sightseeing.
Writing is another productive activity. You can share your thoughts on life, religion, books or other topics by submitting articles to newspapers and magazines. Once you start doing this, you might actually realize, how much there is to be written about and find a comfortable place for yourself in it.
Have you considered working? If you’re not career-oriented or cannot afford to be away from home for long periods, think about a part-time job. It could be based on your degree or something completely different. Many women like to teach; others prefer office work.
Decide if this interests you and start searching. Alternatively, you could consider volunteering your time at an Islamic organization, school, hospital or an NGO. The rewards and the gratification one derives from volunteer work are immense. All you have to figure out is what will be most feasible for you and then go after it.
Don’t worry too much about your mother-in-law – it might be possible that she is quite confused herself, as to how your role will play out in the home. You’ll have to play it by the ear and learn over time how to strike a balance. In the meantime, keep yourself busy with things of your own to do. You won’t have to look to your mother-in-law for constructive activities, and she also will not have to wonder why you are not involved with her.
Lastly, I want to stress again that the time you have right now is irreplaceable. Later on, you will think back to this time and wonder why you didn’t do such-and-such a thing, when you had the time. If the above ideas don’t seem to speak to you, you can always type “free time” in any search engine, and I am sure you’ll get plenty of suggestions that way. The possibilities are endless! So, harness your time right now and don’t let go!