In a society where change seems to be the only constant, and nothing seems to be immune from disaster, our wisest investment could prove to be in the area of family.

improving family life

In the worst of times, our family’s unwavering support and unconditional love can help lift us from the rut, and help us press on toward our dreams. While in good times, the immeasurable joy and laughter of just being with our loved ones is perhaps a little like being in heaven on earth.

Investing in our family is not so much about money as it is about time and commitment. With a little creativity, even the most mundane of chores can be turned into meaningful rituals that make up your unique family culture, create stability and fond memories for your children.

Someone quite wisely defined ‘family traditions’ as the glue that holds the family together.

So how do you start building family traditions in your home?

Here are seven simple ideas to get you going:

1. Eat Together Often

The food is not as important as the presence of family. Be fully present and just have a conversation. Casual chats can give you valuable insight into what is going on in the lives of your partner and children. Resist the temptation to use these sessions as interrogation or instructional times.

2. Birthdays

Choose to make a fuss over the person having his birthday. You could be celebrating with a simple homemade meal or out in a fancy restaurant. But just make sure you let the person know just how special he is to the family!

3. Festivals

Select a particular cultural or religious festival to make a big deal over in the home, and get all involved in the celebrations. A friend has the annual Christmas family tradition of having each member pick out one Christmas ornament to add to tree. In my family, we like to make greeting cards for the two major celebrations we observe.

4. A Family Journal

Families who love reading, and writing, can start a family journal to record individual goals, aspirations and gratitude. Come together every few months, or every New Year’s, to share updates about your individual journeys. You’ll be surprised how the act of journaling can open up new pathways of communication and bonding.

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5. Family Vacations or Stay-cations

The idea here is to get out of your home, and away from the daily grind of things to focus on sharing new experiences together. Paste up a map in your house, and using different coloured map-pins to mark the destinations you want to visit and those you have visited. You could also make this time for extended family bonding by planning a trip with grandparents, your parents and siblings!

6. Family Sports

Make exercising together a regular part of your family life. If you’re not much into sport, even a regular walk in the park after weekend dinner can be family bonding time.

7. Celebrate Achievements & Milestones

When children are younger, milestones like learning to walk and talk often elicit much family excitement. But when they grow older and start school, there is no reason to hold back from your parental pride either. Scoring good grades should not be the only cause for celebration; rather any individual progress like mastering the bike or overcoming the fear of cats should be celebrated. Even Mummy or Daddy’s achievements at work could be shared with the children!

There is no reason why you cannot start your very own family ritual. After all, it is your family, and you should do what best reflects your personal style, values and beliefs. Here’s wishing you and your family a very fulfilling and joyful year in 2012!

By Sarah Lee-Wong