The District at Tustin Legacy

The Year of the Fire Monkey: Tips for Moms!

By Eileen Wacker 

Chinese New Year, called Lunar New Year in Korea, has been celebrated for more than 4,000 years. Originating during the Shang Dynasty (about 17th–11th century B.C.), Chinese or Lunar New Year honors family and some deities, and, represents the advent of spring. In 2016, it is celebrated from February 8–23. The holiday begins with the second new moon following the winter solstice, unlike the New Year based on the Gregorian calendar, which begins on January 1st.

Let’s understand our monkey and what influence he/she may bring. Since the zodiac has twelve signs, a person is a monkey if born this year or turning any multiple of twelve. If someone you know is turning 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, discuss some big dreams with them. The monkeys are the innovators of the zodiac. Monkeys love to brainstorm and are full of ideas. They are smart and love to be challenged. The monkey is wise, energetic, and charismatic.

The monkey can be independent but is a loyal mate once committed. The monkeys are compassionate and generous, making them great mates.

On the flip side, the energetic, persuasive, and charming monkey is known to be a bit of a rascal. Monkeys are the pranksters of the zodiac, which can get them in trouble.

In this New Year, every mom should get ready to embrace a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and last minute shifts. It promises to be a lively, optimistic, and progressive year. Even if you are not a monkey, you will be influenced by the Monkey’s energy. Here are considerations for moms to survive and thrive:

Good energy–

Clean out your closet. Bring innovation into your kitchen. Buy a new gadget like a convection oven, to simplify your life. Decorate with some bamboo (strong) and flowers. Leave empty space for new luck to enter your life. Always remember to dance with the luck. Don’t try to kidnap it.

Shake it up. Although a solid routine is the cornerstone to a mom preserving her sanity, let your children be inventive this year. I know it’s risky! There are no blank spaces on the calendar. I’m not suggesting going off on wild tangents. Monkeys don’t belong in rabbit holes! Ideas are excellent, and the fodder of invention, but as a mom of four, I’ve never said, “no idea is a bad idea!” to my children because there are absolutely bad ideas. Like when my daughter turned my bathtub into a spore’s laboratory. Or, my son only packed Halloween costumes for a family vacation. My other son tried to convince me that only eating off the dollar-value menus was a good idea that would save us lots of money.

Defend your rowdy child, the one who talks at the wrong time in class and moves around a lot. If you have multiple kids, you likely have one. I’m going to tell the teacher, “It’s to be expected in the Year of the Monkey.” I’ll say it with a straight face. The teacher will likely hesitate before responding, not wanting to come across as culturally clumsy. I’ll follow up with, “This year is not silence of the lambs – the sheep was last year!” Of course I’ll look a little crazy but my child is forever getting shushed and told to sit still. He is not disrespectful; he’s just busy at the wrong times.

This is the year of the good mom. Monkey moms are cheerful, flexible, wise and loyal. Go a little bit easier on yourself. This is the year to be fun mommy. Appeal to your children’s sense of adventure and you will win them over. Be playful. Moms, do not be the place where fun goes to die! I’m not underestimating the challenge. I’m sometimes tempted to cheat and let my child win in Sorry or Trouble just so it can end. And every kid’s menu has games like word search and tic/tac/toe. It’s exhausting!

Be chatty with your kids. Little kids love to chat and ask questions. This year, even if they ask 431 random questions every day, which they will, let it amuse you, not wear you down. Because the Chatty Cathies are going to be even more chatty in the Year of the Monkey.

The monkey is considerate and values a strong relationship and romance. Although the monkey can be jealous and need reassuring, this mate will always try to work it out. This is a year for second chances in a relationship. The monkey likes fire, passion and light; but the monkey does not want to get burned. Monkeys do not like it when their partners have hidden agendas.

Monkeys are definitely the poop throwers at the zoo. Here are some things to avoid if you don’t want to end up with poop thrown your way.

If you are a snobby mommy that engages in mom shaming, tone it down or you will be taken down a notch. Put away your Whole Foods and Lululemon bags if they’re just to show how cool you are. And if you get on a soapbox about how the result of your excellent parenting is perfect children, you’ll be called on it this year. Keep judgy thoughts in a thought bubble to avoid a confrontation.

Unlike the collaborative year of the sheep, avoid group-think and group collectives. Be a problem solver. If you love working in a group or team, don’t steal credit for anyone’s, but especially the monkey’s, ideas. The monkey can be arrogant, egotistical and crafty when challenged or crossed. You can still be the idea person with a monkey. They love brainstorming too so they do not feel threatened by others having good ideas.

Keep jokes light hearted or you could get in trouble with the sensitive types that hate to be teased. Be especially wary of moms with bumper stickers that call the rest of us out. Or a mom that randomly yells out, “Reading stars are going to be the death of me!” She needs a hug, not to be teased. Dish it out in a playful way and be ready to take it too. Don’t take every suggestion as a criticism. You have to be thick-skinned in the year of the monkey.

Open up your house, no matter how cold. For the week leading up to the New Year, open the windows to let the stale air of the past exit and new opportunities and good luck sweep in. Kids love to open and close things. On New Year’s night, if you are awake at midnight, open a door or window briefly and feel the good luck breeze wash over you. Look up into the sky to imagine all the possibilities. Many Chinese families gaze up at the moon and stars, and comfort themselves that a far away loved one is looking at the same sky.

Feast together. On New Year’s Day, share a meal with your family and talk about the future and its possibilities. Do not talk about the past! Eat at a traditional Chinese restaurant if you can. Dumplings are wonderful and most kids love them, or try wonton soup with white rice. If you can get the kids to eat it, seafood represents wealth. If you eat in, serve long noodles, which represent long life, with chopsticks. Slurping is an acceptable and authentic sign that the meal is being enjoyed.

The monkey is generous so be a giver. Give small gifts to children. Little pouches or red envelopes with small tokens or money are lucky for children, and well as for the giver. Donate items as you de-clutter; these are gifts to others as well. Overall, be generous with love and be generous with praise.

I was holding a glass of wine and my son asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “Research for the Year of the Monkey.” He was instantly suspicious. “Do monkeys like wine? I don’t think they do. I think it’s against the law. They would go to monkey jail.” I said, “Well this year red is an unlucky color and white is a lucky color, so I’m going all in with Sauvignon Blanc.” I pointed to my screen. “See? It says right here that red is unlucky this year and white is lucky.” He rolled his eyes and walked out.

Wish your Asian friends and neighbors a successful monkey year. They will appreciate your sentiment and be impressed with your cultural knowledge. And since the monkey is known for big moves, follow your passion. Anything can happen this year. Don’t plan every move. Embrace your inner monkey!

Eileen Wacker, a Harvard Business School graduate, has lived and worked in seven different countries, including the United States. She commuted to Asia for nearly three years as part of a business development team, which sparked her interest in Asian culture. A mom of four, she’s the multiple-award-winning author of the Fujimini Adventure Series for children, as well as the upcoming book for women, The Mom’s Code. For more information, please visit