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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.

Show your kids your fun side! Image credit: iStock

2. Exercise

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!

Who knows where your new hobby will take you? Image credit: 123RF

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.

Movie nights at home is more fun when each family member takes turn to choose the movie. Image credit: freebiemom.com

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!

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Image credit: iStock

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?

Are we being consumed by our consumption? Image credit: tinycabinbigdreams.com

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”.

 

10. Reflect

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!

Reflection allows us time to be with ourselves, so we can be better with others. Image credit: www.upliftingcontent.com

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!

 

Chinese New Year is almost here, and preparations are underway for new clothes, eve dinners and ang pow packets. Parenting books and websites often talk about the benefits of tradition and ritual and how they provide stability and familiarity for children.

But for the second time in my nearly four decades of life, I have no travel plans for Chinese New Year. Since Grandma passed on, we no longer travel to Sitiawan for the celebrations. Instead, we hang out in KL and PJ and get excited about driving around with hardly any traffic. Although these days, traffic in town can still be heavy, because many others have also stopped going to Taiping, Sungai Petani, Melaka, or whichever hometown they once went to.

So I’ve been wondering, how do you pass on traditions and rituals you grew up with when the context in which they were practiced no longer exist?

Tree-lined driveway

Chinese New Year for me, always started with the journey back home to Sitiawan. Loading the bags, Mum forgetting something and making Dad turn back, heavy traffic, and finally, driving up the 200-metre gravelly driveway to Grandfather’s house, set amidst six acres of rubber trees. Grandpa, Grandma, and Great-Grandma, would come out and greet us, and when he was younger, Grandpa would wash our car, travel-stained from our journey.

Then, would come the wait for my cousins. My sister and I were often in the upstairs front room, with two floor-length windows with wooden shutters overlooking the long driveway. I can still hear the crunch of the gravel as their car drove in, followed by banging car doors, loud voices, and the pounding footsteps running up the steep staircase with the dark timber boards. Once they arrived, Chinese New Year officially began.

The next few days would be busy ones – pinching Grandfather’s chalk to draw hopscotch patterns on the concrete outside, picking out new and shiny rubber seeds from amongst the dead leaves, and playing hide-and-seek amongst the trees. Once, in a modified game of team hide-and-seek, my oldest cousin placed me under some banana trees and told me to wait there; which I did, even when a long, black snake dropped at my feet from the tree above and slithered off.

The clan

My Great-Grandmother lived till I was 14, and we stayed in her house. She had 10 children, and they in turn, had many children of their own. So, over the course of Chinese New Year, it was normal for us to receive over 100 visitors. We would often peek into the living room to check if anyone of interest had come to visit or whether there was a chance of adding an extra angpow to our tally.

One uncle would take us on a motorbike around the estate – three kids and one adult on a bike – bumping on the roots, laughing our heads off. Another would light fireworks with more glee than any of us kids. The adults played Gin Rummy to pass time over long hot afternoons, and when they put their cards down, we would take over and imitate them.

After the first few days, we would go visiting too – to my aunt’s medicine shop in Dad’s little town, and to Grandaunt’s house full of flowering fruit trees. We went every year, without fail, a familiar well-worn routine.

Even when we were grown, we continued these traditions of gathering, visiting and being visited. Grandaunt’s fruit trees were cut down, as she couldn’t tend to them. But, we still crowded into her living room, ate groundnuts, and talked about nothing for hours, which only families can do so well. And the uncle with the fireworks still lit them with the same glee.

New traditions

As they say, those days are now gone. Although not so long ago for me, as my grandparents lived long lives, and only left us in my 30s. The old traditions, practised for decades, disintegrated astonishingly quickly. Grandaunt’s family stopped going to Sitiawan after she passed. We stay in PJ, with one aunt still in Sitiawan, and others in various places, or on overseas holidays.

It’s a new era, and I know we can make new traditions for our kids; we don’t have to replicate our childhood for them. I’m organising a lunch gathering with some of the old crowd a week before Chinese New Year, before people disperse. And we have a four-table gathering with friends, which modern wisdom calls the new family. We visit and are visited, as before, just with different faces.

Still, a part of me misses the old days and wishes my son could have experienced some of it. And that watching the acrobatic lion dance at 1Utama and driving around KL because your mother loves the jam-free roads, doesn’t quite live up to six children running around unsupervised on a rubber estate, with snakes falling out of the trees.

Making memories

I dropped my son off recently at my mother-in-law’s, and before we left, he protested, saying he wanted to go with me instead. He was asleep when we got there, so we carried him down. As we crossed the threshold, he heard his cousin’s voice and his eyes popped open. He got down and they walked off together chatting, my son immediately forgetting about my existence; lost in a made-up world of their own.

It was baking day at my mother-in-law’s and they were the first to sample Ma-Ma’s mouth-watering kuih bangkit, which she makes only for Chinese New Year. We will have a big feast on eve night, and new year food on the first day, which after 12 years of marriage, I am still not entirely used to (I’m looking at you – waxed duck and lap cheong). We will sit in my mother-in-law’s 50-year-old sofa set and talk for hours about nothing, as families do so well. There will be love, acceptance, familiarity and fun, which are all childhood memories really need to be precious. My son doesn’t know it yet, but he will miss these times one day.

 

By Ding Jo-Ann

Ding Jo-Ann is a full-time mum, part-time writer, and once-upon-a-time lawyer.

 

Makchic’s tips for creating new family traditions:

  • Think about your family identity: Are you a musical family, or are you concerned about social welfare? A little cultural performance or volunteering experience together with your children may be the right fit. Think about what you would like to share with your children that is both fun and meaningful.
  • Be creative: Don’t be afraid to think up new additions or tweaks to old family rituals you hold dear. Were there fireworks in the past? A little session with sparklers or lanterns with the kids could work just as well.
  • Ease it in: Gently introduce new traditions or rituals in a relaxed and engaging way. Do not rush to implement ‘rules’ or force things on family, as that may create bad memories instead of warm ones! Remember to have fun with your family.

 

Image Credits: Ding Jo-Ann

FunRun

Looking to squeeze in a workout session that you’ve been putting off since the start of the New Year but can’t seem to get away from the kids? Well, you don’t have to choose. Here are family fun runs taking place in the first half of 2015. Mark your calendars, run and most importantly, have fun with the entire family!


KL City Day Run

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As if the durable bright orange jersey isn’t incentive enough, participants of the KL City Day Run also stand a chance to win medals and certificates. The family category would comprise of 2 adults and 1-3 children, so depending on the size of your household, everyone can come along and join in the fun.

 When: February 8, 2015

Where: Padang Merbok, Kuala Lumpur

How much: RM 155 for 5 pax

Distance: 5 KM

Read more here.


TKC Walk-A-Run Carnival

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Family members, young and old, can dress up in creative costumes and stand a chance to win attractive prizes simply by uploading your selfies with #thekurshiancarnival to Instagram. Other activities such as Aerobics, Zumba and Insanity Fitness await you! The proceeds are directed towards athletic and sports development facilities in Tunku Kurshiah College, Bandar Enstek, Negeri Sembilan.

 When: February 15, 2015

Where: Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur

How much: RM 50 per person/ RM 200 for 4 pax

Distance: 5 KM

Click here for more information.


Oral Cancer Run

oral

Be a part of the annual run organised by UKM’s Dental Student Association (UKMDENSTA) in the support of the Cancer Research Initiative Foundation (CARIF). Besides contributing to a good cause, the event will be a learning experience for kids to be more aware of the underprivileged and the ways to help those in need.

When: February 15, 2015

Where: Perdana Botanical Garden, Kuala Lumpur

How much: RM 40/person

Distance: 5 KM

Read more about the event here.


Thirsty Runner 2015 – Run For Every Drop

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In conjunction with World Water Day, join the water-themed run to educate your kids about the importance of sustaining water and at the same time, to foster a healthy lifestyle. Make your pledge to conserve water in our home by joining the run for every drop.

When: March 22, 2015

Where: Padang Timur, Dataran Petaling Jaya (opposite Amcorp Mall)

How much: RM 30/person

Distance: 3KM

For more details, click here.


ACKU Charity Run 2015

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Why not bring the whole family along to run for charity and even stand a chance for a lucky draw prize of goodies ranging from an iPhone6 to a return air ticket to Taipei, Taiwan via China Airlines. The race which takes a scenic route through Taman Botani Negara would be a fit treat for the entire family.

When: March 22, 2015

Where: Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam

How much: RM 43/person

Distance: 4 KM

For more details, read here.


Jandabaik International Rainforest Run 2015 (JIRR15)

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Make the upcoming school holidays a family affair in one of Malaysia’s most naturally beautiful locations outside the city. Experience the ‘kampung’ living surrounded by rivers and book your stay at the homestay chalet to unwind for a relaxing weekend after the putting in a good run.

When: March 22, 2015

Where: Stadium Frenz United, Janda Baik, Bentong, Pahang

How much: RM 30 for kids and students/ RM 65-80 for adults

Distance: 4 KM

Click here for more information.


Penang Rainbow Run Rock n Roll Concert

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As the name of the race suggests, the Rainbow Run would be one full of fun and it would not even feel like a race at all. Coloured powder would be thrown at the Colour Zones and that would render your white shirts decorated with every shade under the sun – just like how your kids would like them anyway!

 When: April 12, 2015

Where: Botanical Garden, Penang

How much: RM 40/person – FOC for kids aged 13 and below

Distance: 5 KM

To know more about the rainbow-themed run, read here.


Kemensah Kiddos Krazy

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What better way to introduce trail running to your kids at a young age than the Kemensah run which is suitable even when you’re not the athletic type. Experience something different with the kids as you get the opportunity to show them how strong and fit they can be when they just put their minds to it.

When: April 12, 2015

Where: Kemensah, Ampang

How much: RM 200 for 5 pax/ RM55 per person

Distance: 5 KM

Visit their website for more information.

Text by: Sian Marie Low & Anna Lee.

Image credit: Thirsty Runner 2015, KL City Day Run, TKC Walk-A-Run Carnival, Oral Cancer Run, ACKU Charity Run 2015, Jandabaik International Rainforest Run 2015, Penang Rainbow Run Rock n Roll Concert & Kemensah Kiddos Krazy.