Sue Kirchner is a family fun coach and weekly contributor to Patch.com. She created ChocolateCakeClub.com and ChocolateCakeMoments.com both sites dedicated to helping busy families have more fun together. Sue and her family fun ideas have been featured on TV, newspapers, magazines, and blogs.
This year, instead of focusing on self improvement, I wanted to work with my husband and kids to create resolutions to improve the "health" of our family. Last year was a hard one for our family and I really wanted to work on a plan to strengthen the family bond by spending more quality time together, improving our relationships, and most importantly, having more fun.
We all know it's hard to make and stick to resolutions so I did some research online for tips on how to keep New Year's Resolutions strong beyond January.
1. Don't make them unrealistic. Resolutions need to be attainable or you'll get frustrated and won't bother. If you want to spend more time at the dinner table together in 2012, set a realistic goal of 4 nights a week or 3 dinners and 1 breakfast. Also, don't make too many resolutions. Focus in on 3 or 4 areas that you want to improve this year, so it's not daunting.
2. Get everyone to agree. This is a family decision so it can't just be Mom or Dad saying we need to do this. As with any group, everyone has to be committed or it will never get done. Sit down together as a family to create your list of resolutions.
3. Write it down, keep it visible. Create a document that sits out in the family room or kitchen to remind everyone of your goals. Here's a cute idea for creating a 2012 Family Motto board from MakeandTakes.com. Also, get the family calendar out and start scheduling your activities or family time. Our lives are so over-scheduled with school, work, kids activities, and other commitments. Get the calendar out now before it fills up and schedule your family dinners, family nights, weekend outdoor time, evenings to invite friends over, and parties.
4. Be specific. Breaking down your goals into small bites makes them easier to achieve and provides a sense of accomplishment. Instead of saying the family needs to be more physically fit, say we need to do one physical activity a week together as a family like hiking, swimming at the Y, or biking. Or set a goal to walk the dog every night together. Then, celebrate your family's success. Put a star on the calendar every time you fufill one of your family's goals or make a special dessert for the 4th meal your eat together each week. Here's some more advice from TheWeek.com on how to make your New Year's resolutions stick.
We are still working on our final plan, but here are some of my family's resolutions for 2012.
- Eat in more often. We are going to work together as a team to cook more at home. It's healthier, cheaper, and gives us an opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen talking. Here are some tips on Getting Your Family to the Dinner Table for Fun.
- Volunteer as a family. We are in the process of looking for ways that we can give back as a family. We do a lot of volunteering at school, the Y and for our son's scout troop. We also write a lot of checks to various organizations. However, we want to give our children a chance to actually see how we can make an impact by helping others in need. My goal is to find an organization or activity that we can do once a month together to help out those less fortunate. Any ideas?
- Entertain more. Whether it's a big party or just inviting a neighbor family over to watch a movie, we want to engage more with our friends and family. So every month, we're putting something on the calendar where we are connecting more with others by inviting them into our home to share our fun.
- Unplug. We want to really engage more with each other when we have our family time. So, instead of just flopping in front of the TV on Friday Night, we're going to turn off the cell phones, TV, video games, computers and have some old-fashioned fun together like Family Game Night, Family Slumber Parties, or Homemade Pizza Parties. I've got a whole list of easy and inexpensive ideas for Family Fun Nights at ChocolateCakeMoments.com. My family is committted to doing them more often this year and I hope they inspire you to have some fun, too.
What are some of your family's resolutions for the new year?