Domestic bliss is laughing with your loved ones - and a big TV
What's your idea of domestic bliss? You might think you need a mansion, a live-in maid and a cordon bleu chef in order to be really content, but the secret to harmony in the home could be far simpler to achieve. According to a new survey by manufacturing company Origin, traditional values could play a more important role than possessions.
The study, which questioned more than 2,000 families, revealed that old-fashioned heart-to-hearts, copious hugs and the ability to know when to say sorry contribute greatly to domestic happiness, as does sitting down to eat together as a family, laughing a lot and sharing chores.
If all that sounds too much like Little House on the Prairie, you'll be relieved to hear that modern technology counts too - a big TV, fast wifi and a Netflix or Sky account are all important comforts for today's modern families. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, kids have their own ideas on the subject, with many listing a tree house, a swimming pool in the back garden and a large playroom as essentials.
These same kids will probably look back on their childhoods and realise in retrospect that the happiest moments were the simplest ones - when they baked with a parent or played a board game with their siblings, for example, even if it ended in burnt cake or someone upturning the Monopoly board in a temper tantrum.
Feeling happy at home boils down to feeling comfortable, safe and secure. Your home is supposed to be a place of refuge where you can escape from life's stresses. Unfortunately, far too often these days, it's almost impossible to shut the door and forget about the world outside, because it follows us home on our phones and laptops. We rarely switch off and just have dedicated family time. Conflicting and busy schedules mean we often eat at different hours, and while we may technically sit in the same room to watch TV, the chances are that at least some of us are plugged into other electronic devices at the same time. Sometimes it can feel like we're ships passing in the night, never connecting in a real way, and this can definitely erode our sense of contentment.
I'm not saying we should aim to be more like the Waltons, but wouldn't it be nice if we tried harder to spend more quality time together? Big TVs and lightning-fast broadband are all very well, but they just don't give you the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from laughing with your loved ones over a good meal.
We need more of that for our peace of mind. Mind you, I wouldn't say no to the swimming pool.
- NIAMH GREENE