I've been enjoying an extra long weekend over the past few days which means I've been home since the start of Ramadan. Since I'll be heading back to work tomorrow, I've been trying to think and plan for my week ahead. So I thought I'd share with you what fasting at work looks like for me.
Thankfully I have a set consistent work schedule. This is a luxury that I haven't always had. In years past, I've rotated between working first and second shift which makes it difficult to establish any sort of regular sleep schedule on a regular day. During Ramadan when I'm staying up extra late and getting up extra early, this makes it even more challenging.
About a year and a half ago, I finally managed to get a set schedule. Now I work the same thing every week. I work 10 hour days Monday through Thursday and have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. The "catch" is that I only work second shift and work very late evenings. But truthfully, this schedule works out perfectly for me.
However, this means that during Ramadan, I am having to break my fast at work four days out of the week. I'll be completely honest, I work independently for most of my shift which makes it fairly easy to arrange breaking my fast. So what I do is work straight through what is usually my dinner break time and push my break back. That way, I am able to take my break at maghrib time so I can break my fast on time and not be rushed.
That said, it hasn't always been that simple. Before I had my regular schedule, I would work some days and other evenings. I was also working in other areas of the department which meant that I wasn't always working independently. However, I really never had any issues when it came to stepping away for maghrib.
The way that I handled things was by communicating with the people that I was working with. At the start of my shift, I would discuss with the person that would be covering my position while I took my break about what time I wanted to take my break. It didn't take long before it was essentially common knowledge for most everyone in the department that I was fasting and would be taking my break later on in the evening.
The most challenging part of working during Ramadan for me is trying to figure out what foods to bring to work. Depending on how the day is going really depends on what kind of time I have to sit and eat. If it's a busy day, I try not to waste too much time eating before getting back to work. However, with things being fairly quiet at work these days, it's likely that I won't be feeling rushed quite the same this year.
For me, I try to bring quick and easy foods to eat when I'm working. That way, I'm not waiting around while my food heats up and can eat quickly if I need to. Most often, I bring a couple of the muffins that I've made up ahead of time and throw them in with whatever I'm bringing on that day. That way, if anything else I've got those to eat quickly and I can have a larger meal after I finish work and go home.
I also make sure to always have my water bottle filled and ready when I come in to work. The last thing that I want to do when it's time to break my fast is to run around trying to heat up food, fill up my water, eat, and pray all within whatever amount of time I have.
Finally, I make sure that I have a thermos full of coffee along with. Like I said before, I work late evenings. After fasting all day and then finally getting to eat, it's easy to want to fall asleep. It's not that different from finishing Thanksgiving dinner and wanting to go and take a nap. So not only do I want my coffee fix, but I also need a pick me up to get me through the final few hours of work. And let me tell you, drinking that coffee after I'm done eating feels like absolute bliss.
In addition to planning for my meal, I also need to make sure that I have a place to pray while I'm working. This is something that applies even outside of Ramadan, but for the sake of explaining my routine with breaking my fast, I'm including it. We have a designated place within the hospital where I work for prayer. However, this designated location is on the opposite end of the hospital and on a completely different floor than where I work. So when I was preparing to start in the position that I work now, I spoke with the pharmacist I work with about being able to pray in our pharmacy. I explained that praying doesn't take long and that it would make more sense for me to be able to pray within the pharmacy rather than hoof it across the hospital multiple times a day to the designated location. He had no issue with this and assured me that I was welcome to pray within the pharmacy or even use his office if I needed to. I also have a little cubby in our pharmacy where I can store any of my personal belongings that I may need at work. So within that cubby, I have a prayer rug and a scarf for when it is time for me to pray.
When it comes to breaking my fast at work, I typically have whatever food I'm eating that day in our refrigerator in the pharmacy waiting until it's time to eat. So once it's maghrib time, I have everything all in one place. I have my things to pray and a spot to pray, I've got food, and I've got what I need to drink.
After having done it so many times now, it's become like second nature to me. I'm really grateful for the consistency that I have at my job to be able to establish a routine. It definitely makes it much easier, especially when you're one of the only people in your department that is Muslim and celebrating Ramadan. And thankfully I work with great people that have helped me out along the way and have helped me figure out a routine that works for me and makes things as smooth as possible.
I hope everyone that finds themselves having to break their fast at work also finds a good routine that works for them. It can definitely make a world of difference in how the month goes.