How to Balance Work and Studies with Family Life |

How to Balance Work and Studies with Family Life

Are you a parent looking to find ways to balance your career and/or studies with family life? Or perhaps you are concerned that the work you do does not align with your Islamic morals? There are big decisions and ramifications that Muslim men and women must make when it comes to earning an income. But parents also have to be mindful of how their work also impacts their family life.

Doing Work that Aligns with Islamic Beliefs

The first guiding principle to keep in mind is that having the intention and doing work that is Islamically acceptable is considered worship. Moreover, feeding your family earned with halal (permissible) money is also considered worship and highly rewarded.

Hence, any job that involves the conduct, sale, promotion, and provision of goods or services that are generally prohibited - such as gambling, alcohol, intoxicants or drugs, exploitation of the body, singing/dancing, and interest - are forbidden to us as Muslims. Any money earned from these enterprises is considered haram (forbidden) and will, therefore, negatively affect the blessings in our lives. If you are unable to find work that is halal, remember that even jobs that you are overqualified for but are at least halal are more beneficial than that lucrative job based on haram earnings. Allah reminds us in the Quran that these choices are ultimately a test.

“Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”

(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:268)

This is a reminder that when we take steps to follow Allah’s guidance, He will save us and grant us more blessings in our lives. If you haven’t already, make the intention to earn money with this goal in mind: I am earning to provide all the needs for myself and my family for Allah’s sake and to earn His Pleasure. Whatever we intend to do, Allah rewards you accordingly. There is a commonly referenced hadith which relates to this point:

Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The rewards (of deeds) are according to the intention, and everybody will get the reward for what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah’s and His Apostle’s sake, his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger; and whoever emigrated for worldly benefits, or to marry a woman, then his emigration was for the thing for what he emigrated for.” 


Opportunities Created by Remote Work at Home

With the pandemic came the rise of remote work – doing our jobs from our homes. Many people had a hard time adjusting to this new setup because they were used to commuting, being in a different building, being face-to-face with their co-workers and employers. In addition, many children were also learning virtually from home exacerbating the nuance of the physical changes required to work from home. Parents had to juggle having their children concentrate on their online classes while attending meetings and completing reports from their computers at home at the same time.

While the pandemic has mostly passed, remote work has become a norm for many. The change also allowed parents to realize the importance of spending more time together and about making that a continuing priority. With many children back to in-person learning at their schools, remote work can be a little easier. Many workplaces have also given their employees a hybrid option to work some days from home and some days at the job site. This has been a great solution for many employees as they are now able to give more time to their families.

The shift to working online has also affected high schools and universities, with the options to choose virtual classes and/or full-time online courses as opposed to going in person. This is beneficial for many parents as well who want to pursue a diploma or degree online. I, myself, have been pursuing a 4-year diploma online since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, alhamdulillah, all praises and thanks to Allah. This has been very convenient for me as I was also raising two toddlers at the time. Many new mothers like myself can  do the same if they are able to delegate their household and childcare affairs in order to make more time for this pursuit.

Roles and Expectations Between Spouses 

Before parents embark on career changes or switching to remote work, they need to discuss how their roles will change in the household with respect to finances, chores, and child-rearing. For example, if the father begins to work from home consistently without having to worry about losing time commuting, does that mean he will pitch in more with taking care of the household chores or helping with the kids’ homework more often? Or would mom’s new home-based business mean less time to focus on the kids’ extracurriculars? These new changes can be cumbersome or relieving.

When it comes to balancing work and family life and maintenance of the home, families have their own way of handling chores. These can be based in cultural traditions and practices, but it is important to keep in mind that gender-specific roles are not etched in stone. Even our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is known to have helped with housekeeping chores and also childcare. There needs to be amicable discussion and consideration given to each parent’s needs and goals in order to find a compromise or solution that can work for both of them.

Balance Work and Family Life

With all of the variables of concern, how should a family go about balancing their family life with their career or studies? The answer to this question may be different for every family. But the task is not impossible as long as you are sensitive to everyone’s needs. 

Here are a few suggestions on how to balance your life on both the home front and work front: 

On The Home Front:

  • Make family time a priority in the evening and on weekends. Try not to schedule or allow work to enter your evenings and weekends. And during this time, put down your phones, close your laptops and give your undivided attention to your family members. 
  • Make dinner time family time. Set an obligatory daily dinner time with your family so that everyone plans their work and other commitments around it. This way, every adult and child from the household is present at the dinner table and is able to spend time together. It can be a time to catch up on how one another’s day went, to discuss any issues or learn lessons, or even to share stories and jokes. The goal is to maintain family connections and create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the house. It will also be the opportunity to always check in with each other no matter how busy it gets. 
  • Schedule family activities. Set out a routine to spend more time with your spouse and children. For example, turn off TVs or tablets and plan activities your family enjoys such as walking in your neighborhood or in a park, playing outside or a sport together, dining out or taking picnics, reading books together, attending family halaqas (Islamic learning groups) at the masjid or other Islamic events, playing board games, visiting family or friends, and even having thoughtful discussions at the dinner table or in the living room. 

On the Work Front:

  • Check if your job allows flexible hours and timing. You can also inquire about whether you can work from home more often.
  • Utilize family leave when possible. Inquire about  maternal/paternal leave and take advantage of it when a baby is born or when there is a need to care for sick family members. Note that most Canadians have this option for both mothers and fathers for up to a year to 18 months – whether through work or the federal government.
  • Be mindful of daycare options. See if your job or government offers a daycare space or at least subsidizes it for outside daycares. Canadian parents can now apply for this through the federal government.
  • Seek part-time work as an alternative. If you are a new mother or at a stage in your parenthood where your children need more of your attention, seek part-time rather than full-time work to give them that extra time. It can be a temporary measure that will work wonders for your children and homelife, inshaAllah, God-willing.
  • Consider self-employment. Parents can start their own businesses as well. It can be as simple as making your hobby profitable such as baking or selling handicrafts online. Entrepreneurship allows for flexibility and enables parents to build a name for themselves by pursuing their innate talents and skills.

Family-Friendly Career Recommendations

There are many jobs out there that allow for flexible hours, are conducive to remote work, and are less demanding of work outside of work hours. Here are some suggestions:

Those that are performed online include:

  • Blogging 
  • Content creation (as long as it is halal!)
  • Affiliate marketing, digital marketing
  • Running a YouTube channel on beneficial topics
  • Graphic design
  • Virtual assistant: self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office
  • Teaching or uploading ready-made online courses 
  • Writing articles on various topics on portal websites, news websites, or online newsletter
  • Video editing 
  • Online tutoring
  • Translator
  • Voice over: providing your voice for commentary on videos made by others
  • Data entry

Those that are performed in-person include:

  • Teaching in school or college 
  • Administrative work in schools or developing curriculum
  • Doctor, nurse, or physician assistant at a clinic with fixed hours
  • Public relations specialist: promotes their clients to the public via a number of marketing and media strategies and works with many kinds of organizations, including healthcare institutions, educational services, and government agencies (this can also be contract work)
  • Speech language pathologist 
  • Therapist or counseling at a clinic with set hours
  • Tax accountant or bookkeeper
  • Teacher’s aide/Education assistant 
  • Human Resources representative 
  • Lawyer with set hours, if possible 
  • Account manager: establishing and maintaining client relationships, managing negotiations, liaising between clients and upper management and attending meetings regarding clients.
  • Sales manager 
  • Business analysts or consultants 
  • Dietician
  • Health coach   
  • Teaching lessons on hands-on skills such as cooking, baking, painting, and more
  • Fitness trainer    
  • Receptionist
  • Call centre or customer service 
  • Selling products from your home business at fairs or shops
  • Childcare in day cares or babysitting
  • Freelancing 
  • Ride-Share drivers 
  • Bus drivers

When looking for a job or already doing one, always pray to Allah for His help and guidance in all matters. Pray Salaat ul Istikhara (Prayer of Seeking Counsel) after making a decision so that Allah can guide you to what is best for your religion, character, and Hereafter. Having the right intention of providing for your family and making the time to spend with them for His Sake goes a long way. 

Sumayya Khan is a homeschooling mother of two and a teacher. She has worked with several Islamic schools and organizations in the last 10 years. She is currently teaching Literature online with Dawanet and studying the Qur’an through Al-Huda Institute. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, play sports, enjoy nature, and read books. She currently resides with her family in Toronto, Canada. 

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