12 Awesome Family Resolution Ideas for a Happy 2015

12 Awesome Family Resolution Ideas for a Happy 2015

Find out how to make (and keep!) resolutions that will bring your family closer together.

By: Leah Maxwell

With the start of a new year comes the chance to not only detox and re-center after the blur of the holidays but also make plans for improving our lives in the months to come. When most people think of setting New Year’s resolutions, they think of planning personal goals to better their minds, their bodies, the world around them, or all of the above, but this year we invite you to consider making New Year’s resolutions for your family, and maybe also with your family. We asked experts and parents like you to share their thoughts, tips, and ideas for making family resolutions.

“Making family resolutions is a great way to start the new year,” says Carole Lieberman, MD, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and a member of the clinical faculty for UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. “The dissolution of the family is at the root of many of America’s problems, [and] setting goals as a family will go far to strengthen the family and make everyone feel supported.”

One way resolutions help reframe or reaffirm the family is in the way they bring people together. Working toward a mutual goal helps families feel like a team. Shared resolutions make it easier for each person to focus on what the group has in common instead of individual differences, a benefit that can be especially important for busy families who don’t spend much time together or families in danger of growing apart for other reasons (like because one parent travels a lot for work or because teens and tweens start to pull away as they explore their independence).

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For other families, the issue isn’t the quantity of time they spend together but the quality. Terra Atrill, from Vancouver, British Columbia, is crazy busy with 16-month-old twins but wants to make sure her older daughter doesn’t feel ignored, so for 2015 she’s resolved to have monthly outings with the 8-year-old, twin-free. “She never gets one-on-one time with me anymore,” says Atrill, but this new resolution aims to fix that.

Another popular resolution for keeping families connected is getting them unconnected from portable tech devices, especially at the dinner table. “In 2012, we started ‘technology-free table,’ where no one was allowed to use smartphones from 5 to 6 p.m. (when we typically eat dinner),” says Sarah Lena Brown, mother of three boys, ages 14, 7, and 18 months, in Hunstville, Alabama. “It made a difference in how we all interacted with each other. It’s not even a rule we enforce now – it’s just something we all see the value in doing.”

Helen Jane Hearn, a mother of two daughters, ages 5 and 6, in St. Helena, California, had a similar plan -- “no-screen Tuesday” -- but said it was hard to maintain. “When Mom has to hop on her laptop to manage a work ‘crisis,’ it’s hard to enforce ‘no-screen Tuesdays’ with any continuing discipline,” she says.

Parenting and child development expert Denise Daniels emphasizes the importance of parents participating fully in family resolutions. “Lead by example,” she says. “It’s harder to expect your kids to go tech free at the dinner table if you don’t.” For the Hearns, even though their original resolution only lasted six months, they’re planning to bring it back for 2015 because the benefits were obvious. “We hoped for a break from all the electricity [and to have] more communicative interaction. We all loved it.”

Families might also want to focus their resolutions outward rather than inward. Danielle Barber’s family has resolved to shop more locally next year as a way of supporting her Oklahoma community’s economy. “I talked to [my 8-year-old son] about why we want local, [and] I made a spreadsheet to track [the percentages] each month,” she says. When planning family goals, think about what they’re teaching your children about themselves, their family, and their world.

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If you’re searching for just the right resolution for your crew, here are some options to consider:

1. Save money for a trip

2. Save money to donate (with money, always be specific about the amount you’re aiming for)

3. Volunteer X hours to a charity

4. Make something together (a piece of art, a song, a tree house, etc.)

5. Read X books together this year

6. Participate in a fun run (or a marathon?) together

7. Handwrite a letter to a relative each month

8. Plan one surprise for each family member over the course of a year (it doesn’t have to be big)

9. Visit somewhere new each month (a park, a restaurant, a city, state, or country)

10. Try one new food each month

11. Learn three new games this year

12. Contribute to a group gratitude journal

Whatever your goals, remember why you’re making them in the first place. “Year after year, we are all given the opportunity to ‘begin afresh’ with New Year’s resolutions,” says Chris Kent-Phelps, an entrepreneur and mom of two. “It’s not just a time for adults to buy gym memberships. It is a wonderful teaching moment for parents and influencers in children's lives to use this irresistibly magnetic holiday to create lifelong habits.”

OK, are you feeling inspired now? What resolutions will your family make for 2015?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/Alina555


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