Making New Year’s Resolutions for the Entire Family

Some people think that New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure.  But statistics show that making resolutions can be effective in moving you closer to your goals.  Why not make setting New Year’s resolutions a time for reflection and a family tradition

“Resolving to Write More – a Worthy Thought” by Carol VanHook

Every family member can put forth a few ideas for both personal and family improvement.  To keep it positive, reflect on things achieved along with what needs improvement.  Keep resolutions few and simple for younger kids, and make sure resolutions are realistically achievable.   Anticipate hurdles and strategize in advance about how to deal with them.  Write out goals (for the littlest ones, use pictures) where the whole family can see them, and create a chart measuring progress toward practicing a new habit. 

There are unlimited resolutions that one can undertake, but below are five that families can do together, and the ways to go about them.


Take a simple stroll to school or around the neighborhood together.  Incorporate a family stroll into your dog walking routine. Plan a family hike.

“Walking/Strolling in the Cold” by Jim Larrison

Look for opportunities to be active together Make a list of national parks to visit, or in Massachusetts, Trustees of the Reservation lands.  Don’t forget that Parent Talk offers retail discounts to gyms, dance classes, and other activities.  The Charles River YMCA provides kids with a supervised space to tumble and play while parents use the gym equipment in a room viewable through a window.  And if you attended PT’s Preschool and Kindergarten Fair, you might have picked up a coupon to Energy Fitness which lets parents have a cardio workout for free while they watch their child’s gym class through a glass wall.

Other creative, fun ideas I have come across include: (a) joining in a family game of hop scotch; (b) family play at the playground (as long as it is safe, climb up that climbing structure and slide down that slide!); (c) ice skating; (d) family swims; and (e) going on a treasure (scavenger) hunt.


“Give Thanks to Family” by OakleyOriginals

Eat together.  Nowadays, it is not uncommon for family members to eat at separate times because everyone has an individual schedule.  However, research shows that children of families that regularly eat together are less likely to get involved in substance use and physical violence when they become teenagers.  Make a commitment to dine in (or out!) together one or more days a week.

Be entertained together.  Put on some music, bring out a few board games, and have a weekly/monthly family game night. Pop the popcorn, and cozy up on the couch for a regularly scheduled family movie night.  Take a field trip together to a museum, park, or historic site.  Start a family hobby that is suitable for all ages.

“Chicken Cobb Salad” by Nan Palermo


Cook together.  Little ones love to mix and measure ingredients.  With lower fat and sodium content than restaurant food, home cooked meals can be healthier.   If, like me, you have not been in the practice of cooking, do a search for quick, easy five-star recipes and try them out one or more times a week.  Your cooking will get more efficient over time and you will soon have a few quick go-to recipes to choose from!

Include a vegetable and/or fruit with every meal. Frozen and canned options that are low in fat and sodium can help create a balanced meal given a time crunch.

Prepare healthier snacks (like cut fruits and vegetables) in advance and keep the refrigerator stocked with them.


Once a week, have your family select a person to give special attention.  Bake cookies, send a handwritten card, help with shoveling snow or other chore, and take some time to provide a listening ear.

“who stole the cookie. . .” by Kiran Foster

Volunteer together.  Visit a senior with a meal and bring some cheer to shut-ins.  The whole family can help at Spread the Bread or a homeless shelter or soup kitchen (but check for minimum age requirements).  If going onsite to the location is not an option, find a church or other community organization that sponsors such efforts to which you can contribute.  There may be a coat or clothing drive for the homeless at which your family can drop off donations.

Discuss with your kids the idea of donations, and find something to donate. It is not for everyone, but is an interesting option that asks kids to have guests donate money instead of giving a traditional birthday gift.  The donations are then split between the birthday boy or birthday girl and the charity of his or her choice.


Have everyone take a break from screen time and cell phones a couple of hours a day or week, or one or more days a month (whichever you can handle!).  Reducing kids’ screen time can help avoid associated risks of sleeplessness, problems of attention, anxiety and depression, and obesity.

I hope you counted many successes and celebrations in 2015.  Here’s to finding many more of them (with a little resolve) in 2016!

About the Author
Darlene W. Cancell is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom, and most recently, blog coordinator for Parent Talk.






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