The beginning of a new year carries with it the inevitable looking back paired with the hope of a fresh start and second (or third) chances. As the clock moves ever closer to midnight on December 31st, we feel the need to promise to do better than we did last year. We resolve to lose weight, to be on time, to be better with our money…to stop smoking or drinking or swearing. By the time January 31st rolls around, many of us have had a relapse in our resolve.
Part of the reason that we fail to keep these resolutions is that we attempt to tackle them on our own. So, this year, instead of making an individual promise that you’ll soon forget, why not make some resolutions as a family? You help hold each other accountable and can grow closer in the process.
- A Weekly Family Game NightTake one night a week and make it a time of fun! One week, pull out the cards and play “Old Maid” or “Crazy 8’s,” or teach the kids a game you used to play. The next week, make it a Wii™ night…let technology bring you together and show the kids you’ve still got it (or at least you know where you left it). Take a trip to the local bowling alley for a game. Or pile up the board games on the dining room table and have a tournament. The act of playing together fosters feelings of fun and family. Playing board games can teach children important social skills such as taking turns and how to be a good winner or loser. They also learn a lot about interpersonal communication as you talk and laugh together while you play the game.
- Commit to One Healthy Eating ChangeTrying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different colorful vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking, or skipping sodas altogether. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
- Turn off the TVTelevision is a wonderful invention and not bad in and of itself, but in many homes, we use the TV as a buffer from communication. So, turn it off when you’re eating meals together. Turn it off for game night. If you’re really feeling adventurous, try going without television one night a week. Who knows, you might discover that you don’t miss it at all. So take the plunge and try not watching TV.
- Eat Dinner as a FamilySharing a meal together, breakfast, lunch or dinner, is one way a family builds its identity and culture. Stories are shared, jokes are told, and family values are instilled. The act of coming together for a common meal teaches the importance of sharing and compromise, and helps younger members of the family understand problem solving and listening skills. According to Time magazine, the statistics are clear: Kids who eat meals with their parents are healthier, happier and better students. That’s a lot of bang for your buck! So, resolve to eat together as a family.
- Be Quick to Apologize and Quick to Forgive.Let’s face it—we all mess up. In a family, we have the freedom to be real and to let our guard down. You’ve heard the old song, “You always hurt the one you love…” Well, it’s true…we sometimes do and say things to hurt the people that are closest to us. It’s best to try to avoid causing pain, but when you mess up, be quick to apologize. When it’s your turn to be hurt, be quick to forgive. Forgiveness is good for your body, your relationships, and your place in the world. That’s reason enough.
- Exercise TogetherThis resolution plays well with #1 – 4. You could have a game of tennis, or miniature golf. Get out in the yard and play ball! Point out your end zones and have a game of scrimmage. Don’t have a football? Toss a Frisbee. The whole idea is to get outside and do something you and your family will enjoy. You remember that dusty thing in the garage? It’s got two wheels and a chain? Pull it out and take a cruise around your neighborhood. Your kids might not even know that you ride a bike! Show them some of your old tricks, and then have them show you what they can do. You’ll have fun together as a family, and you’ll get lots of exercise at the same time.
- Revisit your ChildhoodGet down on the ground and roll around with your kids. Build a fort in the family room with couch cushions and sheets. Tell knock-knock jokes to each other. Just because you’re a grown-up, doesn’t mean you can’t be silly and have imaginative fun with the kids. Get the whole family involved. In those moments of silliness, you can have serious bonding and build bridges for heart-felt communication.
- Do Something New as a FamilyRoutine is a great thing when it comes to families, but that doesn’t mean to have to get stuck in a rut. Make a point to do something new as a family. Never been camping? Give it a try. Always take the same route to school? Branch out and take a new road. Doing something new together will give you a common memory…so get out there and get adventurous together.
- Make each Child Feel SpecialIt’s great to do things as a family unit, but it’s equally important to celebrate the individuality of your kids. Make a resolution to do something once a month with each of your children. Do something together that will make them feel special and valued.
- Nurture your Relationship with your Spouse
The best thing you can do for your children is to nurture your relationship with your husband or wife. When your kids know that you value each other as your first earthly priority, they have a feeling of security and love that’s nearly unshakeable. Make a point to put that relationship first, and your family will benefit.