When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, follow-through can sometimes be a challenge. If you are looking for a way to boost the chances of sticking with positive change this year, consider making it a group effort. Involving the entire family can provide the accountability and strength in numbers you need to see New Year’s resolutions through. Plus, setting and pursuing goals with other family members may help you develop deeper relationships with your loved ones. This year, consider these 10 family resolutions.
Remembering to count our blessings can have some profound benefits, especially in difficult times. One study found that people who wrote a few sentences per week about things they were grateful for felt better about their lives after 10 weeks than people who journaled about things that bothered them.
Gratitude might even be good for your physical health. People of all ages with more grateful dispositions report fewer health problems—such as headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, and sleep disturbances—than those with a less grateful outlook.
A gratitude practice can take many forms, both individually and as a family. Perhaps it is something as simple as going around the table at dinnertime to say one thing everyone is thankful for or beginning a meal with a statement or prayer of thanks.
To take the concept even further, try keeping a family gratitude journal in an easily accessible place in your home. Encourage everyone to regularly share their thankfulness. This way, you will not only enjoy the benefits of gratitude, but you will also create a keepsake for years to come.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
When planning resolutions, it is best to choose goals that are measurable and realistic. Instead of a blanket statement like “We’ll eat better this year,” consider narrowing your focus to one food group, such as fruits and vegetables. Then, in your family meal planning and grocery shopping, be intentional about purchasing and incorporating more produce for meals and snacks.
Once you have stocked your fridge with these healthy foods, you will be more likely to consume them. Make a family practice of eating a piece of fruit for an afternoon snack, topping sandwiches with lettuce or sprouts at lunch, or adding spinach to a breakfast egg scramble. Be specific about how you will incorporate more fruits and vegetables to help you follow through.
You are probably familiar with the fact that serving others boosts your own sense of well-being. Volunteering as a family spreads these positive vibes to the whole clan—and, when done with kids, teaches them the importance of helping others.
Make a commitment this year to find ways to serve as a family, perhaps once a month or more if your schedule allows. If you have young children, this may be a challenge, but do a little digging to find projects even little ones can participate in. Toddlers and preschoolers might create arts and crafts that bring a smile to another person.
Older kids can take on more responsibility, cleaning a neighbor’s yard, packing food boxes at a food pantry, or babysitting for a single parent.
Home cooking is often associated with a more nutritious diet. When you involve the whole family, you will reap more than just health benefits. Getting kids comfortable in the kitchen also can promote independence and creativity, and even improve spatial reasoning and math skills.
If making meals with young kids seems overwhelming, designate one easy meal a week where little ones can help out. Or, if your large family means too many cooks in the kitchen, divide into smaller groups who rotate with meal prep on certain days.
Spend More Time Outdoors
Whether you hang out at a local dog park, go on a hike, or spend the day at the beach, exposure to nature has been linked to a number of mental health benefits. For instance, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), being outdoors can improve attention, lower stress, improve mood, and reduce the risk of mental health issues. It can even lead to more empathy and collaboration.
This year, make a concerted effort to incorporate some family hikes, picnics, or simply playing at a park into your weekly routine. Doing so can go a long way toward refreshing your collective spirit. Plus, unplugging from screens, breathing in the fresh air, and getting active can have a positive impact on physical health as well.
In a world of shiny, enticing screens, it can take some convincing to get kids to sit down and read. But once you find a story that reels them in, they may not want to stop.
This year, consider regularly reading together. For families with younger kids, this might look like pulling out a few picture books before bedtime. For older kids, work your way up to a chapter a night, which may lead to reading an entire series together.
By spending quality time reading, you will build positive associations for your child while building lifelong reading skills. Plus, you will likely enjoy the stories yourself.
Consider making a family resolution to perform more acts of kindness—both for each other and in the world at large. Kids can spread the love by making a sibling’s bed, writing a note of encouragement to a friend or grandparent, or sharing a toy.
As for the grown-ups in the home, tackle a chore you know your family member dreads, prepare a favorite meal, or leave notes of encouragement. For inspiration, write up a list of kind actions and keep it somewhere visible, like tacked on the refrigerator.
Exercise as a Family
Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your family’s schedule. Not only will it help you stay physically active, but it may motivate you as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exercising with just one other person makes us more motivated, more adventurous, and more consistent.
Set aside one day a week for a family walk or bike ride. Or host Friday evening dance parties with favorite songs and be sure to let kids pick some of the tunes. For large families, try playing a game of kickball, volleyball, or football.
Even tossing the frisbee at night is a good way to stay active.
There is a time and place for constructive complaining. Done right, speaking up about problems helps us blow off steam and enact positive change. But in the context of family life, endless complaints can send the entire household into a negative cycle of pessimism.
Developing a resolution to complain less is one the whole family can benefit from—parents included. Just as you might want the kids to stop grumbling about their chores or what’s for dinner, your family members might enjoy a reprieve from your own grown-up gripes.
This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to voice frustrations about real concerns. Rather, it is an encouragement for the whole family to think before speaking. Set a good example for your kids by modeling a positive attitude, pointing out the good in every day.
Get Better Sleep
If your goal is improved health for your whole family this year, try starting with better sleep. This often-overlooked area of wellness contributes to physical and mental well-being for everyone. Plus, getting enough sleep can improve performance at school or work as well as improve behavior.
To get the whole family on a healthier track with sleep, be mindful about bedtime routines. Certain sleep rituals like reading, snuggling, or listening to relaxing music can be done together.
Practice healthy sleep hygiene as a family by turning off screens and devices at least one hour before turning in for the night and focusing on keeping consistent bedtimes. You may be surprised at the cascade of benefits that result from a good night’s rest.