We all know that most New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside come Feb. 1 (or earlier!). Instead of making unrealistic resolutions, make some new commitments as a family to spend more time together, argue less and stay active.
Sit down to dinner
Eating family dinners together has been linked to a lower incidence of teen smoking, drinking and drug use. Research also shows that kids who eat with their family get better grades. And if you need even more reasons to sit down to dinner, eating meals at home costs less than eating out, and cooking your own meals puts you in charge of what (and how much) you and your family are eating — so it will be easier to make healthier choices. This year, make a resolution to sit down and eat dinner together as a family at least four nights a week.
If your kids have every moment of their days scheduled, consider letting them opt out of one or two activities. You have to let your children find the balance of participating in activities they enjoy while also allowing time for free play, friends, family and sleep. Parents who overschedule their kids often overschedule themselves, too. Make a promise to your family to ease back on all the structure and planning to allow everyone (even you!) to have a little more free time.
With all of his activities, is your child overscheduled? >>
Unplug once a week
No one can deny the positive impact technology has on our lives. However, if your family is constantly “connected” to the computer or smartphones, watching TV or playing video games, it’s time to take a break and reconnect with each other. Designate one day a week as an “unplugged” day. On this day, turn off computers, televisions, smartphones and all other electronics and get back to basics with these fun and simple ideas:
- Go hiking, biking or swimming.
- Create a special arts-and-crafts project.
- Cook a meal together as a family.
- Set aside a couple of hours for reading time.
- Go visit family or friends.
- Do some spring cleaning.
- Draw, paint or take pictures.
- Plant a vegetable garden.
- Play board games or cards.
- Spend time talking, relaxing and laughing.
Read about ways to maximize your family’s time together >>
Plan family fitness days
Hold fun family fitness days to keep your family fit and healthy this year. Take a walk or go running together every evening and take advantage of extra time on the weekends to try out these new, fun ways to exercise as a family:
- Take a hike or bike ride around your neighborhood or a local park.
- Create an obstacle course in your backyard.
- Play laser tag or paintball.
- Go Rollerblading or ice skating.
- Join a family flag-football or soccer league.
- Sign up for martial arts classes.
Start a family hobby
Collaborate with your family members to start a hobby together. Discuss options that interest everyone and take a vote on which hobby you would all like to try. When tossing out ideas for a hobby, consider the following:
- Age-appropriate activity: Can everyone in the family participate at an appropriate (and enjoyable) level?
- Affordability: Can your budget accommodate the cost of your new family hobby?
- Longevity: Is the hobby something that you and your family can grow with for years to come?
The family that journals together stays together
Starting a family journal is a great way to spend more time with your kids as well as gain insight into their innermost feelings. Journaling with your kids can be as simple as sharing a spiral notebook in which you can all jot down a few sentences (or more) about a shared experience. For example, if you’ve recently gone out to a new restaurant, ask everyone in your family to jot down their personal “review” of the restaurant as well as their favorite moments of the dining experience.
Connect with your kids by sharing a journal together >>
Hit the road
Traveling more is a wholesome resolution that every member of the family is sure to enjoy. The trips don’t have to be extravagant, break-the-bank treks. Think camping, road trips and visiting friends and family in nearby cities or states.
Make a chat pact
If you’re not used to simply chatting with your kids, creating a resolution to communicate more (outside of the necessities of the day-to-day) may seem a little silly at first. However, the more you start enjoying casual conversation with your family as a whole, the easier it will become. Plus, it will bring you closer to your children so that it will be easier to have those tough conversations that are oh-so-necessary throughout the awkward teen years. If your kids seem reluctant to open up at first, make the first move by telling them about your day or a special memory that you have from when you were their age.
Laugh more, argue less
Probably the most important thing you can do for your family is to enjoy life and avoid arguments. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Create a laid-back atmosphere in your household with lots of laughs and love. Control your temper and be kind to others, and your children will follow suit. Reducing confrontations and stress leads to a healthy and happy environment for everyone.