So it’s the time of year where families usually take time to reflect on the year that has gone and review aspirations for the year to come. Here are some suggestions that families might want to consider.
1. Take Time Out To Be Silly
Take time out to crack jokes, turn up the music and do silly dances, make up funny songs about each other. This temporary break in parent and child role will lighten the mood and show your child a different (fun) side of you.
Encourage and support each other to pursue or continue taking on a sport of their choice, and congratulate ourselves for just turning up! If you are trying something new, there are training apps available like couch to 5k that got me pounding the pavements. Or better still, find a sport or an outdoor hobby that the whole family can enjoy together, and get moving!
3. Walk, scoot, bike, use public transport
We love our cars despite it being bad for the environment and our waistline. Think about walking or cycling to run that small errand; or taking the train for that trip into town. Travelling together will give some time to focus on the children as we are not concentrating on the traffic, especially when we are taking long trips.
4. Start a new family tradition
Families are what they are because of what they do together, in their own quirky ways. It is the comfort of routine that provides a sense of security to the children. Simple activities such as Friday movie nights at home, exploring a new place a month, a family book club, or trying out new recipes are rituals that will bond as the family discovers together.
5. Eat Healthy
In our harried life, we rely on tahpaus and eating out. Eating more vegetables, salads and fruits is one way to eat healthier; as is eating less meat or cooking our own food. Again, start small by refusing that second helping and having fruit instead, packing your lunch a couple of days a week, or having a meat-free day.
6. Reduce waste
Plastic pollution is a problem that our children will be unfairly burdened with. Taking a container for your tahpaus, using reusable shopping bags, refusing free samples and straws will bring down consumption. There are online groups sharing ideas on how to reduce waste such as tips to pack food for the whole family from the hawker stall without plastics or styrofoam. Why not take it a bit further by also starting your own compost bin!
7. Share the work within the family and community
The organising and doing to run a family can be shared in many ways with spouses and children. They could take on roles such as planning holidays, routinely cooking meals, or doing the grocery shopping. The more work gets spread out, the more everyone feels a sense of belonging because of their contribution, especially the children. This sense of collectivity can be extended to volunteering at the children’s school, a non-profit, your neighbourhood’s gotong-royong and becoming a part of something bigger.
8. Buy less or buy nothing!
Everyday, we are inundated with seductive messages to consume that is environmentally unsustainable . There is a growing movement in Malaysia to reduce consumption through swapping or selling preloved items through online Facebook forums or freely giving it away. Instead of throwing it away, why not learn new skills to repair your own electronic items? Or make your kemahiran hidup (living skills) teacher proud by mending that dress? Need a baking tin but only bake occasionally? Why not pinjam kejap (borrow for a while) from your friend? If you are feeling convinced, how about trying to buy nothing for a year?
9. Take care of yourself
This one is the for moms. Pencil in a day without the kids every month. If it is not possible at the moment, try a couple of hours. And please use that time only for yourself. Read, run, journal, catch up with friends, take a bath, watch a movie, eat cake! Sit in silence. Tell your family that it’s “mummy’s me time”.
Reflection provides opportunities to learn from mistakes, make sense of our thoughts and feelings, to accept ourselves, to be grateful and to do better. It need not be done once a year, as we usually do with resolutions, but integrated into our daily lives. Some people do it while driving, praying, exercising, and some journal. The key is to provide the quiet in your mind, go inwards and connect with yourself, and resurface to connect with your family. For example, we try to talk about our day, what our mistakes were, and what we appreciated. We could do it more frequently, and that’s one of my daily resolutions!
The past year has been one of great inspiration for us all Malaysians, with renewed hopes and aspirations for our nation. May we all continue to develop ourselves, so we can better our families and our communities. Here’s to another amazing year ahead!