As the clock strikes midnight and 2018 rolls in – and with, it a fresh slate – it’s tempting to create a list of goals or promises for yourself to be arbitrarily better in the upcoming 365 days. These annual resolutions are pretty much doomed to fail, but what if you transformed this new beginning into an opportunity to connect with your family?
Any family – from large clans with kids of all ages to partnerships of just two adults – can benefit from supporting each other in shared resolutions, designed to strengthen your bond and make 2018 your best year together yet. “Family New Year’s resolutions are a great idea,” says psychotherapist Amy Morin. “Establishing a resolution together teaches kids about goals and emphasises the importance of self-improvement.”
For family resolutions that matter, we offer suggestions and tips on how to start off 2018 right.
Implement A Tech-Free Tuesday (Or Any Night That Works)
Step away from the PUSH alerts, the Netflix binges and all the other digital temptations that distract us from building meaningful connections, even with those we live with. Adults and kids alike can benefit from sharing at least one night a week conscientiously keeping away from screens.
Cook A Meal Together Once A Month
Or more! Dinner has to get to the table, lunches have to be made and, if you’re up early enough, even breakfast can be an opportunity to bond. Even famously busy celebrities, like Sarah Michelle Gellar and her husband Freddie Prinze Jr., are advocates of cooking with their kids, bringing the entire family into the same room to engage in a shared activity, rather than having everyone split up while dinner is being prepared. Give small kids easier tasks – perhaps sprinkling seasonings or assisting with measuring, pouring and mixing – to get them safely involved in the cooking process.
Start A New Active Hobby
Maybe your family is already into running or biking, but more likely than not you’re on the sidelines cheering for the kids at sports games and heading to CrossFit or SoulCycle on your own time. Make getting fit a family activity by enrolling in tennis lessons, a dance course, a group aerobics class or another type of communal activity everyone can get excited about.
For a completely free yet rewarding way to spend a Saturday or Sunday together, sign your family up to serve food at a soup kitchen, organise cans at a food pantry, distribute goods to the elderly, sort clothing at a shelter or engage in other group activities that share the common goal of helping others. If you can’t find a recurring volunteer project, try different monthly activities to see what suits your family best.
Make 2018 A Less Stress Year
Spend time to reflect on major stressors from 2017, and consider ways to reduce or mitigate these stressors for the coming year. Then, make wellness and relaxation a priority for the start of 2018. “Let each family member, even children, plan a wellness day for the rest of the family,” says Lori Lite, founder of Stress Free Kids. “You will be surprised at where this resolution takes your family.”
Celebrate Individual Accomplishments
Commit to making big wins – be it a promotion at work or a child’s newly mastered ability to tie her shoes – a special occasion. Lite suggests having everyone reflect on what each family member accomplished in 2017, and then think of suggestions on how to expand on these skills or use them to gain new ones. “Focusing on the past positive accomplishments instead of failed past resolutions gets family members on the right track for the New Year,” Lite says.
Try Learning A New Language Together
Planning a big trip abroad for 2018, or just want to better communicate with neighbours in their native language? Learning a new language as a family not only bonds everyone together for the lessons (either through a private tutor or language-learning apps like Babbel or Duolingo), but provides a support network to practice and better immerse yourself in a language. Subtitled movies, basic children’s books and visiting a restaurant of your new language’s native cuisine can all help engage your family in the learning process.
Keep Up With Distant Friends And Family
In the social network age, it’s easy to forego keeping up with loved ones when you can see their Snapchats and Facebook posts regularly. Have your family make lists of people they love who live out of state, and prioritise sending them cards, letters or scheduling a special Facetime to catch up once a month.
Too much stuff? Join the club. If doing a massive home-sweep and yard sale isn’t in the cards for January, try to make a weekly family ritual of getting rid of something you don’t need, be it a book you can donate to a local library, clothes that are better off as hand-me-downs, or other clutter that belongs in the donate or recycle bin. Try making it a contest to see who can get rid of the must unnecessary stuff in a month!
A Final Word Of Advice
Of course, the hard part isn’t making the resolutions – it’s sticking to them. For your best chance at success, prioritise resolutions that will have the most significant impact in the coming year, and zero in on why it’s important to you, beyond the most obvious reasons. If you want to lose weight, for instance, consider what’s actually motivating you. Instead of focusing on the more superficial benefits of weight loss, concentrate on how it will help you build confidence and feel healthier. “Make not just realistic and obtainable goals, but meaningful ones,” says psychologist Dr. Susan Ablers. “Find a deeper reason to stick steadfast to your goals.”
Article by Melissa Kravitz