We made it. The year is (finally!) coming to a close, and that means we’re busy wracking our brains to find just the right set of resolutions to bring with us into the new year. And for parents, it’s not just about our own personal New Year’s resolutions for self-improvement, but also about making plans and setting aims for the whole family — kids included. Because if you as a mom are taking care of yourself through nutrition, fitness and self-love, you’re more likely to pass along those positive vibes to your kids and inspire them to follow suit. Plus, sharing New Year’s resolutions with family members holds everyone more accountable. This way, you can all choose to spend more quality time outdoors in nature — or to turn off the television and prioritize family dinners together. Mindfulness loves company, right?
If you’re searching for resolutions to hold yourself to — and which will benefit your kids too — look no further. The goals ahead will ensure 2020 is a year to remember and appreciate.
Find 3 things you appreciate each day
Try the Three Good Things app, Maureen Healy, author of The Emotionally Healthy Child (with a preface by the Dalai Lama) tells SheKnows. “Use the app for a positive use of technology or do it the old-fashioned way by looking for three good things every day,” she says.
Focusing on three positive things a day helps parents and children look for things that were good and memorable from each day, and they can then share those together as a family. “It may be pizza at lunch… making a new friend. They can be little or big,” Healy says. “Focusing on things to feel grateful for moves us in a healthier and ultimately happier direction.”
Create a ritual for a day of the week
Stay connected as a family in the new year with a weekly ritual. “Maybe pizza night? Or movie night? Or baking night?” suggests Healy. No matter what, it should be “something fun you can enjoy together, whatever your family composition is (single mom, blended family, two parents or more).”
The goal is to have something to look forward to each week and add some more fun into your normally packed schedule. A night to relax together and remember how much you truly love each other will benefit everyone. You can even have your kids make lists of activities they’d love to do each week, then “review it together and choose something that can work for [everyone],” Healy suggests.
Encourage healthy eating
Focus on eating kid-friendly foods with established health benefits, Dr. Dina Rose, sociologist, parent educator, feeding expert and the author of It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating, tells SheKnows.
“Don’t worry about reading labels, and don’t try to trade up to slightly healthier versions of the foods your kids like to eat — these products are still only marginally better for you and this approach doesn’t help your kids like different foods, like veggies,” she says. Instead, simply resolve to eat fewer processed foods and limit junk food in the house.
You can also practice more home cooking as a family to avoid fast-food runs. And when cooking together, encourage diversity. “Culinary monotony is a curse,” Rose warns. ”It may seem like a good — i.e., easy — idea to serve your kids foods you know they’ll eat, but it undermines your efforts in the long run.”
Work on a project together
Vow to accomplish something fun and meaningful together this year, whether it’s “a piece of art, a video project or a tree house, working together on it can be a great bonding activity and also a learning experience for both parents and kids,” Ana Jovanovic, clinical psychologist and life coach with Parenting Pod, tells SheKnows.
“The ideas for what you can do together can be found all over the internet. Collaborative effort in finding the project to work on together can be just as rewarding,” she adds. Pick something that will nurture or help you discover new skills.
Put down the electronics
To connect with one another, we sometimes need to disconnect. And who is often the most in need of a tech cleanse? Moms. “Considering how dependent we’ve become on our electronics for everything from managing work tasks or household to entertainment, it can be quite challenging for all of the family members to pick the time in a day to put electronics away and just have a conversation,” says Jovanovic.
Family meals can be a great time for that; your hands are already busy with eating. Board game nights or reading nights can be a good opportunity to disconnect, as they allow some form of family entertainment, but everyone is still spending quality time together. “Playing sports, running, biking or hiking together in the nature can be great ways to enjoy some physical activity and bond,” Jovanovic adds.
Give back to others
If your kids are old enough, consider volunteering together. This teaches kids to be appreciative and show gratitude by doing good to others. “Giving back to the community is one of the most rewarding types of experiences you can have as a family,” says Jovanovic.
There are a lot of opportunities for you to volunteer as a family, so pick the ones you all feel passionate about. “You can do the research together as a family. Teaching your children about compassion and generosity is far more efficient if it’s through actions,” she explains. Kids learn far more from doing than listening.
A version of this story was originally published in December 2018.