Top 10 family resolutions

Originally posted on Modern Parents Messy Kids
When you think “kid-friendly holiday”, New Year’s Eve probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.  But just because the kids might not last long enough to see the ball drop, doesn’t mean they can’t participate.  In fact, New Year’s Eve is a great time to come together and set some family goals for the upcoming year.
In case you need a little help, we’ve put together a handy list of our Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Families.  You’ll notice that a lot of the items on the list are things that you’re probably resolving to do for yourself this year – we just added a family twist!

Get Outside More

If you’re a regular here, you may remember when I had the pleasure of attending an amazing talk on raising creative kids in a hurried world by Nancy Blakey. The entire presentation was fantastic but during the two hours or so of talking, there was a statement that really stood out: 90% of our best childhood memories take place outdoors.  I’m not sure what type of science was involved in coming up with this conclusion but as I thought back on my own childhood it certainly seemed accurate.  Activities such as camping, hiking, boating, swimming and just laying in the grass were pervasive.
Make a commitment this year to get outside more with the kids. That can mean hiking, bike-riding or camping.  But it can also mean simply exploring your back yard together.  For inspiration, see our series on how to set up Natural Outdoor Play Spaces as well as this post on The Many Benefits of Family Camping.
Also, check out one of my favorite books on the topic – 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids.

Practice Gratitude as a Family

I feel like I’ve talked about this a whole lot lately – to the point where you might be grateful if I just shut up about it already.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that the more grateful your kids are, the happier they’ll be their whole life through – and to me that’s something worth shouting from the rooftops.  For ideas on setting up a regular family gratitude practice, see this post (a part of our Happy Family Habits series).

Go on More Adventures

In researching this post (yes, that’s right, I didn’t just throw this thing together willy nilly), I came across a great list of New Year’s Resolutions the New York Time’s parenting blog, The Motherlode, put together by polling some of their favorite parenting authors.
One of my favorite ideas came from Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, “Think about how you want to spend your downtime. Weekends, evenings and vacations can be opportunities for adventure, but we often lose them in front of the TV because we fail to plan… make a bucket list of the fun you want to have as a family — then get those ideas on the calendar.

Keep a Record of Your Life Together

From a similar post over on Disney Family, I love this recommendation from Mark Victor Hansen, best known for co-creating the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, who believes that there are a few very important gifts that parents can give to children in order to provide a sense of what is important.
“Give your children family pictures,” he says. “Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you…Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence.”Read more of his advice here.
I’m totally smitten with that idea of creating a library to help your kids get to know you. One thing I would also add is not to forget to get yourself into your family photos. As moms, we’re often the ones snapping the pics (or sometimes even hiding from the camera), but we need to remember it’s such a gift to our kids to make sure they have photographic evidence of these years with you! Check out our post, Getting in the Picture with Your Kids, from professional photographer Kristin for tips on how to get in the picture.

Read Together

Studies have shown a steep decline in kids’ interest in reading around 4th grade.  You know what else not-so-coincidentally occurs around that time? Parents stop reading to their kids.  Make a concerted effort this year to read to, with, and around your children.  If your kids aren’t interested in story time before bed anymore, up the ante by graduating from simple story books to chapters of classic adventure books each night like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or (my personal favorite) the Red Wall Series.
And don’t forget the importance of modeling with your teenagers.  Consciously turn off the screens on a regular basis and pick up a book while in plain site of your offspring, encouraging them to do the same.  For even more help, check out our post on 7 Ways to Help Your Child Love Readingfrom our in-house elementary school librarian, Janssen.

Start a Family Game Night

Having a regular family game night is a great tradition to strengthen the family unit. Not only does it ensure time for connecting with each other, it also gets your kids in the habit of communicating with you – something that will pay-off big time when they’re older. Plus, with the right game, it can be really fun!
For help finding the perfect games for your family, check out our Top Picks for Family Game Night.

Give Warm Greetings and Farewells to Each Other

Another great suggestion from that list came from Gretchen Rubin, author of our latest Virtual Book Club selection, Happier at Home, “It’s easy to fall into the bad habit of barely looking up from games, homework, books or devices when family members come and go. For that reason, in my family, we made a group resolution to “give warm greetings and farewells.” This habit is surprisingly easy to acquire — it doesn’t take any extra time, energy or money — and it makes a real difference to the atmosphere of home.

Be Silly Together

This was another one of our Happy Family Habits from the past year that I think bears repeating. In the post, MPMK contributor Kristin wrote, “In raising kids, my husband is often the fun parent and I tend to be the one holding the fort down.  Many of you moms will side with me.  Someone has to keep this ship afloat. Over the past few years I’ve learned that there’s a time let go of the rules and what ‘should be done.’  There’s a time when the goal of having FUN is more important than anything else.  And being the organized mom that I am, I have a few tips on how to have fun.” Get all of her tips here.

Eat & Make Healthier Food Together

No New Year’s Resolutions round up would be complete without a mention of eating better.  As parents we all want to instill in our kids healthy eating habits that they can take with them into adulthood.  Check out our post, 9 Sure Fire Ways to Raise a Health Nut, for tips on just how to do it.

Challenge Each Other to Think More Creatively

Last, but not least, help kill the creativity crisis plaguing our youth by encouraging them to flex their creative muscles this year.  My friend Rachelle of Tinkerlab is my go-to source for raising innovative kids with amazing critical and creative thinking skills.  Check out her 5 Resolutions for a Creative New Year (#5 is my favorite and ties in nicely with #6 on our list).

So... what are your family New Year resolutions?  Ours? Of course it's to PLAY more! 

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