Find a New Year Resolution for the Family
This year, pick a resolution that the whole family can get behind.
This might be the year for a family resolution. It strengthens family bonds and can be used to promote a healthier lifestyle or focus on a group goal, such as raising money for a big-ticket item everyone can enjoy.
“Any time a group of people unites to do something they all agree upon, it helps to build a bond,” says Stacy Kaiser, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert. “Sharing common interests and ideas while working together helps us to connect with one another.”
Susan Kuczmarski, EdD, an expert on the dynamics of family culture and bonding, says her family made resolutions when her three sons were younger. “Our youngest son was only 10. I believe you can start early with this exercise, and, when they become teens, they relish this opportunity,” she says.
12 Family-Resolution Ideas
1. Family “date” night
Schedule a regular family night out, such as bowling, dinner at a restaurant or a group painting class.
2. Tech-free days
Instead of everyone’s attention focused on their phones, have a monthly family reading night. Rotate the reader. Family members can read from something they’ve written for school, a journal or from a favorite book. Then, everyone discusses it.
3. Family conference day
Consider a weekly family meet ing. It keeps communication flowing and is a great way for members to support each other and resolve internal issues. “My family (children ages 17, 14, 11 and 9) has a meeting Sunday evenings where we each share things that went well for us during the week and things and people that disappointed us. This is a time to share and to work through selective issues,” says Michelle Maidenberg, PhD, a psychotherapist whose specialties include marital and family issues.
4. Schedule meals together
“It’s extremely important to eat meals together,” Maidenberg stresses. Set a specific time. If schedules won’t allow for daily meals, do weekend meals or rework schedules so that weekly meals are a given. Even a family breakfast would work.
5. Plan family exercise
“This can be an agreement among family members to include exercise ( biking, hiking, etc.), meditation or yoga as regular family activities,” says Maidenberg
6. Volunteer together
“When the family engages collectively toward a mission and purpose that is meaningful to the family system, it provides them with something to talk about, bond over and work toward,” says Maidenberg.
7. Monthly money meetings
“Hold a monthly financial-discussion night,” suggests Pamela Yellen, a financial advisor. She recommends a focus on the family budget. “Even children as young as four or five can get involved. Create your family’s ‘Personal Spending Rules’ together to work toward family goals.”
8. Save for a purchase
Pick a big-ticket item that the family can enjoy together, such as a trampoline or a special vacation. This is also a great teaching moment about the importance of saving for something special.
9. Improve the home environment
Each family member suggests one thing that can be improved around the house. For instance, the family van may be a dumping place for toys, newspapers and candy wrappers. Each week a different family member takes a turn to clean it out.
10. Document family memories
Take turns photographing family events. Have a monthly family scrapbooking day.
11. Plan a reunion
Include the kids in the planning. Take a group photo at the event and have reunion T-shirts designed to document the day.
12. Create an ancestry project
Do an ancestor search as a family. Once you have a family tree completed, make a book (one page per family member) with photos and descriptions of each person.
Myrna Haskell is a freelance writer.