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Making Memories

PPfamily gifTraditions matter. You probably have some in your family already; a family lunch on Friday followed by a long walk on the beach, or a favourite television program that is loved by both you and your children. Creating meaningful memories through rituals and experiences has a profoundly positive impact on a family’s wellbeing.

 

December is here which means children are off school, Christmas and New Year celebrations are taking place. With a little extra time on everyone’s hands and a focus on togetherness, you might want to think about introducing traditions for the coming year, or perhaps even picking up one that is flagging behind.

 

The benefits of having family rituals may seem obvious but they’re easily forgotten with an increasingly busy life for both parents and kids. Homework, activities and jobs fill up schedules. Traditions are a way that you can tell the story of your family. They can be activities or hobbies; religious or not religious, trying something new, or doing something everyone loves.

 

Studies have supported that having established rituals in your home gives children a firmer grip on their family history, something that is known to give a higher level of self-confidence. It can give children insight into their cultural or religious background, and on a day-to-day basis act as a reminder of events or experiences you’ve had as a family.

 

Aside from that they provide a sense of continuity and security; they are known create strong family connections, as well as open communication for questions and concerns. They can be used to reinforce your values as a family.

 

Ideas and Suggestions

 

Ideas for these traditions can range from ridiculous to slightly more serious, but remember the more they are enjoyed, the more likely they are to become a tradition.  Food based traditions are a good start.

 

Tying the tradition to memories you already have is a way to revisit them; perhaps a relative used to make a special recipe. Why not set aside one day a month for meals that remind you of loved ones? 

 

The New Year brings a great opportunity to make resolutions of ways to improve ourselves and grow as people- unfortunately by February we’ve usually forgotten what they were. What about a family meeting once a month to keep on track of them? Goal setting is a great way to improve the self-confidence and self-understanding of older children, and teaches a valuable life skill. Give rewards to yourself and your family for following through.

 

You might also want to have a special weekly meal, like pancakes on a weekend breakfast or pizza on Thursday. Something continuous.

 

Create an annual or biannual time capsule- or something to be opened even later! Fill it with physical notes and photos. People living the expatriate life sometimes means moving around a lot- you could include digital video and photo memories on a USB flash drive to revisit as well.

HappyJar gif 

Create a Happiness Jar- every week both you and your family can write down something that made them happy and place it into a jar. A fun idea could also be to invite relatives abroad to share things that made them happy, then whenever you need to feel grateful for the things in your life. This is easily done with technology, and a nice way to have your children connect in a positive and meaningful way with their family.

 

If you have more than one or two kids, it can be challenging spending equal time with all of them. When you do family activities, you probably want to all be together. It might be worth thinking about a monthly mum or dad date with individual kids. Finding an activity that bonds one on one can make children of larger families feel more connected. 

 

Having a movie or game night at home: take turns picking and make every family member feel important. Turn it into a special occasion with popcorn, nachos or favorite snacks. You could also have the person picking choose the dinner for that evening.

 

However you choose to make experiences count, enjoy spending time with them when you can, discuss ideas with your loved ones. Teach yourselves and your family the value of experiences over material goods. Enjoy the process!

Links

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