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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!

 

We are here again – the dawn of a brand new year. If you are anything like me, the recent year-end period has been a jolly but chaotic time. A season filled with multiple gatherings with loved ones, maybe a little holiday break away, a mad rush of Christmas shopping and an ambitious to-do list before the year ends.

What does that leave us with when it comes to goals and resolutions for the year ahead? Here are some ideas for you parents out there, and anyone who would like to start the year as best as possible.

 

Try something different – start your new goals in February

If you think about it, is the end of the year really a good time to pause and reflect? With such a heady mix of celebrations and merriment, I prefer the time when things have died down, and we are left with some semblance of peace and quiet. For me, January is the best time for reflection and preparation. I set a No-Shopping Goal last year, but it only began on February 1st, 2017. It was the best thing I did, because I used the whole month of January to truly think about what I wanted to achieve, and to prepare myself mentally for the task ahead. With no rush and fanfare, goals-setting becomes a relaxed, reflective and deliberate affair. Think about the month of January as an administrative, preparatory month, and you may find that you are more than ready to start afresh for 2018.

 

Talk to the main person or persons in your life about setting a mutual goal

It could be your husband, wife, partner. It could your best friend, sibling, parents. Sometimes goals-setting is not just about you, it is about creating the best possible environment in your life, and that involves the main people in your life. If it’s to do with physical fitness, mental health or even leisure and travel, this could be something meaningful and fun to do with a loved one.

Every end of the year, I sit down with my husband for chats to reflect on the year past, and what we would like to accomplish together for the year ahead. Recently, we decided our mutual goal is to be more mindful of the time we have with our children. If we are with them, devices or gadgets should not be around. We know this is going to be a tough one to implement, so we have tried to put it in as simple a way as possible – we are going to treat our mobile phone use like smoking. If we need to use our phones, we will treat it as needing to go somewhere else (or outside) to ‘have a smoke’. This rule of thought works for us because we are ex-smokers, but it helps to discuss realistic and uncomplicated ways for you to help each other achieve this goal.

 

Think of realistic goals, and go easy on yourself

It is worth it to treat yourself with care and consideration when it comes to goal setting for the year. You may find it is easier to achieve your goals if you have a sense of humour about it all. My husband set a certain target of kilometres to run last year, but he did not achieve this – mainly because we had a newborn and he was very busy as a hands-on dad. “Oh well, I’ll recycle that for this new year!” he said.

When I faltered at my No-Shopping Goal by buying some nail polish a few months ago, some friends thought I would give up on the goal completely. But it helps to just laugh at yourself, note the failure, and continue persevering on your path. Beating yourself up about little setbacks along the way makes goal-setting unrealistic and unsustainable.

 

Don’t be afraid to use tools to help you out

Plenty has been said about the good or bad of social media use. But it can serve you well when it comes to goals-setting. Whether it is detailing your efforts in a blog, or detailing updates once in a while on Facebook or Instagram, friends’ suggestions or encouragement about your goals can really keep you on the straight and narrow. Obviously, some updates are more annoying than others, so don’t be surprised if you turn a person or two off by posting about your fitness exploits every day! If you’re afraid of sounding like a major #humblebragger, perhaps you could keep your updates private or limited. Or discipline yourself by writing only on a particular day, weekly or monthly. Personally, I find that people are kinder and more encouraging when they know your goals are about something meaningful and worthwhile, and not just about benefiting yourself. So if your goals are #sexybod2018 or #moremoney2018, don’t be surprised if people ignore you or laugh – unless that was your intention to begin with!

 

Remember to include relationships in your goals

It is easy to always fall back on the usual goals – lose weight, get fitter, read more and the like. It is far more interesting to try other kinds of goals for the year. Do you want to be a better friend to someone? Want to try and make a difference in a stranger’s life? Would you like to write to your godchildren more? Or perhaps be kinder to a person you always seem to nag or scold?

Make the goal, keep this one secret, keep it sweet. And reflect on how the relationship has changed through the year. It’s easy to slip into self-absorption and consumerism in this day and age. A goal like this can serve to remind you about what is truly important in life.

 

 

From the makchic team and I, Happy New Year! May 2018 be a wonderful and meaningful year for all of us and our families. Good luck and have fun with those goals!

Laych  x