The New Year is here and many of us are kicking habits, picking up new ones, and making promises to ourselves. But unless you have superhuman willpower, you might be expecting to fail before February, falling right back into your old ways. Sticking to new resolutions is hard at any time of year, especially for parents who have to put their own needs second and their kids first.
But what if your kids and your whole family could help keep you on track this year? If you plan with detail and include all members of the family, they can be the best help you’ve got in achieving the “New year, new you.”
Get smart with your resolutions
You’ve probably heard that simply wanting something isn’t enough. And while there’s some truth to that, you have to start somewhere. Without knowing what you want, you can’t make a plan to get there. You can’t take action and achieve. So if you want something this year, get serious by turning your wish into a goal — specifically a S.M.A.R.T goal. That’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It’s not as hard as it looks and it helps you turn that thing you want into actionable steps.
Here’s an example:
Starting goal: Save money.
Specific: I will save by cutting unnecessary expenses and starting a weekly savings plan.
Measurable: I will save $1000 in a dedicated savings account, putting in $20 every week.
Achievable: I can save $20 per week without compromising my family’s quality of life.
Relevant: I will use the saved money to take my family on vacation.
Time-Bound: I will have $1000 saved by the end of December 2019.
The end result would look something like this:
I will save $1000 for a family vacation by the end of December 2019. To do this, I need to place approximately $20 per week in a dedicated savings account. To fund this weekly savings plan, I will quit cable, switch to a more affordable cell phone provider, and cancel a premium streaming service.
With S.M.A.R.T goals, you can turn a general idea into a detailed plan. Set your own goals, set goals with a partner, or have your whole family share a goal together.
New Year goals for families: what’s your goal and how can your family help?
Want make mealtime easier? Try these family goals:
- Learn to cook as a family, teaching the kids how to make safe and easy dishes
- Divide and conquer the grocery store with the kids, saving time and teaching them how to find all the deals — if they help, they can grab a treat for themselves!
- Teach kids how to pack their own lunch for school with a reward for healthy choices
Want a tidier house? Here are some habits to start together:
- Reward kids for chores done early or without being asked
- Parents drop a quarter in the “mess jar” when the kids catch them leaving a mess behind. They drop another quarter in if the kids help them clean it up. At the end of the year, the kids get the jar.
Need more quality family time? Try these out:
- Go for a family bike ride/spend time outdoors together every weekend.
- Tell each other something you’re grateful for every day
- Turn TV/game/screen time into a whole-family activity
How about a new year resolution for kids?
“When kids make and keep promises to themselves, they gain time management skills, practice with delayed gratification, and confidence in their own abilities”
The best part about setting goals together is that your kids can join in. Their goals can be just as well-planned as yours. You can help make sure their goals are achievable and well thought-out. Maybe they can’t become their favorite superhero, but they can earn enough chore money to get their own superhero costume! If your kid is having trouble coming up with goals, you can suggest some of these:
- Report cards they can be proud of all year long
- Learn to play an instrument or sport
- Take on new responsibilities at home or at school
- Save up enough chore money to open a savings account
- Read a new book every month
When kids make and keep promises to themselves, they gain time management skills, practice with delayed gratification, and confidence in their own abilities. All these qualities help their developing brains flourish and thrive. With your help and example-setting, they may start setting goals all on their own!
Keep each other on track
In a perfect world, you’d never falter and you’d float effortlessly down the path you’ve set for yourself. Not so in the real world. Unexpected expenses crop up. There will be unexpectedly hard tests, unexpectedly tasty chocolate cake, and unexpectedly tiring days (where you absolutely deserve a cheat day.) You will make missteps on the way to your goal. That’s where your family can make a huge difference.
Not only can family offer encouragement and support, they can remind you of what you originally set out to do. (And rest assured, most kids will be delighted at the chance to boss their parents around!) Let your child encourage you — it’s an opportunity to become an example of perseverance while simultaneously empowering your kid to be a part of that journey. You can let the people you love be part of your success, making it even sweeter.
By ourselves, it’s easy to get discouraged and abandon a goal entirely if we mess up even once. When we have people keeping us accountable, not only are we less likely to mess up, we’re less likely to give up when we mess up.
Have a bad day plan — just in case
Returning to the savings example from above, let’s say someone hit your car in a parking lot. This expense is such that you can’t afford to drop $20 in your savings account for a few weeks. You can still meet your goal if you have a bad day plan. Maybe that plan is to cut something else nonessential out of the budget. Maybe you start putting in a little more money every week to make up for the weeks you missed. Either way, you can adapt and keep going.
The same sentiment goes for dieting, exercise, home cooking, pottery, whatever you want to do this year. Life happens and you will miss a day here and there. But success doesn’t have to be a 365-day “streak.” Success is refusing to give up after breaking your streak. Start a habit, end a habit — just keep going. Don’t let one slip-up stop you. Life happens and we’re all just trying to do the best we can.
What are some of your family’s new year’s resolutions? What obstacles are you planning for?