By Marcia Hall
With the New Year just arriving, you may still be thinking about your resolutions or setting new goals for your personal or family life. Setting goals and making new commitments can benefit both you and your family.
As you think through the changes you’d like to see in your personal and family life, consider these ways you can start the New Year off right.
Work on spending time together – Families tend to spend a lot of time around each other during the holidays, but as soon as they end the hustle and bustle of everyday life takes over and families often find themselves with little time to connect. The New Year is a great time to set a goal to spend at least one night a week together as a family. Create a game night or movie night once a week. Maybe even mix it up and do something different each week. Have everyone in the family come up with five family activities they want to do, then put them in a bowl and pick them out one by one, scheduling them a week or two in advance. This way everyone in the family gets to do something they picked to do pretty frequently.
Limit screen time – Parents often complain that all their children want to do is watch TV, play video games or text and talk on their phones. The amount of time children spend engaged in these activities is disturbing and can be frustrating to parents. However, parents are often distracted with these devices as well. How much time do you spend on your smart phone, tablet or laptop at home around meal time and in the evenings? Challenge yourself to limit the time you spend on these devices when you could be spending time with your children. Set a new rule that there are no phones at the meal table, parents included. Spend that 30 minutes engaging in conversation with your children instead. Your older children may resist at first, but as they see you put away your phone and really connect in conversation with them, they will become less opposed to the idea.
Help others – Building a sense of generosity in your children can be difficult. Working on projects to help others as a family can be a very memorable experience for them that they cherish for a lifetime. Serving at a soup kitchen, volunteering to be a part of a city wide clean-up day and signing up to do a charity walk are just a few examples of activities you can participate in with your children that benefit others. There are also a lot of smaller jobs that you can do together too. Making a meal for a sick neighbor, raking the leaves for the elderly couple down the street and taking care of a friend’s child for the day so she can rest are simple actions that make a big impact on the outlook your child has toward others.
Take time for yourself – Yes, parents need time on their own. Everyone knows that. Making it happen can be challenging, but don’t forget that your child needs some time to himself too. Whether it is taking a long bath or going for an extended run, be sure to carve out time in the week to spend caring for you. You should also help your child find time for himself as well. He may have a mound of homework to finish, but he is going to be better equipped to work efficiently if he has a little down time in his day too.
By setting a few goals for the New Year you and your family can build a connection and get off to a great start.