Skip the gym membership this year and go for a family New Year's resolution instead. One of the best things you and the kids can do this year is to get off screens. That doesn't mean you have to toss your smartphone or skip the upgrade. But come up with a plan for spending more time talking, thinking and looking at each other's faces instead of your own individual screens.
One way to spend less time on screens is to have something else to work on. Better than that, make it a project you can work on together. Volunteer to build housing for the homeless—or construct your own backyard shed or outdoor retreat. Learn how to tile your bathroom from YouTube videos. Make it long-term, intense and with a big payoff at the end.
If you're a family that likes to game together, make a resolution to go analog, too. Rediscover board games and make them a regular habit.
Chore charts only sort of work. What will motivate kids (and you) to do weekly cleaning is a resolution to do these things together. Set the day and time, and get to it. Go for getting it done rather than super sparkling pristine. Remember, your kids are learning this responsibility and your nitpicking is making them less motivated.
Kids love being in the kitchen and cooking is a skill you want them to learn. So, resolve this year to do more cooking together—with real knives and hot stoves and everything.
While you're in the kitchen, how about a menu makeover? Where would you like to improve? Fewer carbs? More vegetables? Less meat? Pick one or two changes, and make the family New Year's resolution about that.
Live near an earthquake fault line? Tornado alley? An area at risk for flooding? Natural (and manmade) disasters can strike anytime or anywhere. So it's important to have emergency kits packed and ready. It's also important to have an emergency plan worked out with your partner and kids. Where will you meet up if the house is ever on fire? Who will race to which school to get the kids in the event of a tragedy? Walk through the plan once so you're not second-guessing and putting anyone at risk if you're ever in an emergency situation.
Expand your personal New Year's fitness resolution to the whole family. Exercising together is a way to stay motivated, and there's nothing like crossing a finish line with each other.
We're so busy with schedules and work and homework that it can feel as if we spend all our time inside a house, office, school and car. Resolve to get out more next year—in nature, on an adventure or visiting museums.
Family dinners are a great way to catch up with each other, but having monthly family check-ins can reveal more important issues or needs. Make them positive and about support, not punishment, blame or tears. This resolution can bring you all closer together and change the next 12 months for everyone.
It's a difficult resolution to make right after a holiday filled with gifts, but resolving to own less in the new year can be life-changing for everyone. Being mindful before acquiring new things, and asking whether what you have now is too much, is the first step toward decluttering your home, and changing the energy toward calm in the home.
There's nothing like a good road trip to remember why you love having a family: the conversations, the music, eating garbage, feeling bored. Before the clock strikes midnight on January 1, make sure you've planned a road trip for the spring or summer (or both!).
Are you getting enough sleep? Are your kids? The answer is probably no. But for healthy lives, you need to get adequate, quality sleep. Figure out what each person in your home needs based on these recommendations. And then ask yourself why those sleep needs aren't being met. Is everyone on their screens too late? Are there too many weeknight (or weekend) activities? Is the house too hot? Beds too hard? Neighborhood too noisy or light-filled? Find the problems and then come up with solutions.
Shhhh, but keep a New Year's resolution to play hooky once this year—take a "mental health day" from work and school. It's a great way for the family to recharge mid-year.
If you're type A and feel as if you can't do anything without first researching it to death on the internet or getting a thousand "hive mind" recommendations, resolve to change that. Be spontaneous and just head out together for fun. It's about being together and making memories, not perfecting your Instagram feed.
Do you text and drive? This is the year to resolve to stop that. Distracted driving is a killer and you're setting a terrible example for your kids, who will one day grow up to be dangerous, distracted drivers themselves.
One of the best things kids can learn to say is "no." And they learn this from their parents. Resolve to say "no" more often to them, and weather their tantrums or pouting. Encourage them to say "no" more, too—to overscheduled lives, unhealthy behaviors and their own impulses.
But also? Resolve to say "yes" more—to going to the park, having breakfast for dinner, stopping at the tacky dinosaur gift shop, signing up for fencing, one more story, one more piece of cake.
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