Our family is the pillar of a happy life, but the everyday stress and our fast pace may threaten the quality of our family life if we’re not careful. Here are some new year resolutions that can powerfully transform the routine and increase time (and the quality of time) together.
Start a weekly ritual
For instance, once a week have a family movie night. Snuggle up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and show your kids the movies you loved when you were young. Another option: Have a game night. From charades and “Name that Tune” to Uno, Trivial Pursuit, and chess, you can probably find a game the whole family will enjoy. However, this doesn’t just apply to kids; there’s no reason not to have a weekly visit to grandma’s for a reading circle and more.
Practice hello’s and goodbye’s
In her blog, Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” discusses the importance of actually giving your family member warm greetings and farewells. So, for instance, instead of waving a quick “bye” when you or your loved ones rush out of the house in the morning, take a little time to give a hug or a kiss and a genuine, “I love you. Have a great day!” Same goes for when you greet each other at the end of the day.
Volunteer as a family
Make a list of various ways that you want to help others this year, and then figure out a plan to make them happen. From participating in a charity walk to collecting used blankets, towels, and toys for an animal shelter, there are endless possibilities of ways to help. Showing your kids the importance of offering service to others is not only a great way to lead by example, but also to build their character.
This doesn’t mean you have to drag the kids to the gym to knock out 30 minutes on the elliptical together (although some older kids might actually enjoy that). The key is to make it fun! Depending on your child’s age, you can sign up for a yoga class or make an effort to take a walk together every day after school. Exercise is notoriously a tough New Year’s resolution to stick with, so make it goal-oriented: Train for a 5K together or aim to complete a particular hike in your area.
Put. Down. Devices.
You’ve probably heard this one before, but it seems our addiction to electronics is getting worse and worse. Make this the year that you make a strict rule in your household: No phones, computers, and other devices at mealtime. It’s amazing how refreshing and rewarding it is to have a conversation with actual eye contact. In other words, connect by disconnecting. Also, stop texting and driving: Seriously. We all know the dangers, but yet millions of people still do it (parents and teens alike!)… and still have the nerve to get upset with police officers for pulling us over when we’re texting with our kids in the car. tsk tsk. Let’s live another day to spend time together.
Help save the environment
Take steps to become more eco-friendly as a family. There are lot of easy ways to get your children involved: showing them how to recycle, to always turn off the water while they brush their teeth, and make sure everyone flips off the lights when they leave a room. Of course, don’t forget to practice what you preach (again, leading by example is key). Walk or ride bikes if possible instead of using your car to cut back on gas consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Investigate other ways to help—there are plenty of options!