New Year’s resolutions for families

The great thing about New Year’s resolutions is that you can make them even after the clock has struck midnight and the silly hats have been put away.

I find that it takes a few days after the hubbub of the winter holidays has passed to reflect and allow priorities for the coming year to crystallize. Luckily, there’s no one checking our homework to ensure our New Year’s resolutions are dutifully recorded, or standing there with a stopwatch to make sure we’re getting to the gym, teaching our kids Mandarin or cleaning closets January 1. If you haven’t yet quite figured out what you’d like 2014 to hold for your family, don’t sweat it! You can gently move in the direction of your goals as you catch your breath.

Here’s how I like to approach New Year’s resolutions, both for myself and my family:

Keep it simple: This isn’t your bucket list. If your resolutions fill an entire page single-spaced, you’re complicating it too much. The point is not to catalogue your vision of the perfect life with everything you’d hope to accomplish from perfectly tidy kids’ rooms to learning to play the guitar. There are many virtuous pursuits to undertake as the various seasons of our lives allow. Go easy on yourself and zero in on what really matters to you and yours in 2014.

Accelerate slowly: Whatever your goals are, choose metrics that are realistic. If, like so many others, your goal is to exercise more, don’t make your resolution “Go to the gym five times a week.” It’s January. It’s cold. New routines take a while to establish. Instead, consider articulating your fitness goal with something like “Improve endurance and strength.” This way you’ll be making progress even if all you’ve committed to for today is one weekly yoga class and more brisk evening walks. Once you’ve got a little momentum, ramp up.

Make resolutions about the important stuff: Yes, it would be nice if every closet were perfectly organized. As the owner of what I like to refer to as “The Garage of Doom” and “Attic of Shame,” I know what I’m talking about. But as much as it would be nice to address these overflowing storage spaces, I’m not sure that getting organized for that garage sale we keep talking about is really a priority for us this year.

I like how Leslee Mason, Canadian Family senior editor and mom of four, is approaching resolutions at her house in 2014. Her family has pledged to go screen-free one day a week. “We’re going to start small with a weekday but then work up to a Saturday or Sunday spent playing boardgames,” she says. It’s a goal that emphasizes quality family time, and I can’t wait to hear how it goes! You can learn more about what Leslee and other families are pledging to do in 2014 in our special New Year’s resolutions package in the Winter issue of Canadian Family, which is on newsstands now, and find more inspiration in this great list of 101 goals to accomplish over 1001 days

Involve the kids: Sometimes family resolutions are going to be the inspiration of Mom and Dad, but your kids probably have some great ideas about how they’d like to spend time as a family or what they’d like to prioritize. Ask. Sure, they might say they want to go on a Disney cruise, but they might also simply request more family taco nights.

Celebrate growth: While it’s great to keep resolutions about family fun, the changing of the calendar year does provide a tidy excuse to gently nudge your child toward simple goals that will benefit him and the family as a whole. The key is to frame these in a positive light: “Wow, now that you’re nine and getting so much more responsible, I think this may just be the year you can learn to write things down in your school agenda. What do you think about that as a potential New Year’s resolution?” Ditto taking out the recycling containers, remembering to make their own beds in the morning or picking up Duplo.

This is a bit of an unusual year for me in New Year’s resolutions. About a year ago I decided that I would endeavor to complete the Pentathlon des Neiges in Quebec City as a way to mark my 40th birthday. The event is on February 22nd, so getting through the last weeks of training is my only New Year’s goal. It’s a biggie, so I’m not complicating life with anything else right now. My eldest son, Cameron, 10, says his goal is to help me, which is pretty sweet. We decided that one of the ways he could do this is by making dinner once a week, something he was doing for a while until soccer disrupted his cooking night. Until now we just haven’t managed to reestablish the routine. He told his brother to, “Get ready for grilled cheese sandwiches and simple pulled pork!” (his two specialties).

Today I’m up early to finish this blog post and squeeze in some time on the stationary bike before the kids get up (mercifully, they’re past the early-waking years during which I never needed an alarm clock). When the Pentathlon is past, I look forward to seeing what the rest of 2014 will hold. May it be a great one for you and yours!

What are your family’s New Year’s resolutions? Please share in the comments!

 

About the Author:

Brandie Weikle, Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Family

Brandie Weikle has been a parenting journalist for more than 13 years. She’s the Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Family magazine, has been parenting and relationships editor at the Toronto Star and held various roles at Today’s Parent. On the digital side, Brandie was the founding editor of the Toronto Star’s ParentCentral.ca and digital director of House & Home Media. She’s an avid user of social networks, especially Twitter, where she tweets as @bweikle. Raised in Alberta and B.C., she’s a winter sports enthusiast and the mother of two boys, Cameron, 10, and Alister, 6.

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