When you think of New Year’s resolutions, you normally think of people making plans to lose weight, improve their time management skills, or decide to break a bad habit once and for all.
Making resolutions to improve the family is NEVER the first thought that pops into your head – and why is that? YOUR FAMILY should be the most important thing in your life – which means, as a MODERN PARENT, that you should be spending a lot of your time purposefully managing your family.
Managing your family? What does that even mean? It means that smart MODERN PARENTS have an overall plan for their family that includes their personal values, passions, and beliefs and they make a point of using parenting techniques and skills that support these principles. (For more on identifying your family passions, values, and beliefs, see THIS POST).
The problem is that most parents don’t take the start of a brand new year as an opportunity to create FAMILY IMPROVEMENT RESOLUTIONS – instead these parents tend to be focused only on themselves. Don’t be this type of parent!
The goal of this post is to show you that creating family New Year’s resolutions is one technique that MODERN PARENTS use to create the family of their dreams. MODERN PARENTS know that great families don’t just happen by accident; you need to put effort into your family to build an environment that encourages the development of a great family. In addition, this post will also outline HOW to create family resolutions.
Reasons Why You Should Be Making Family New Year’s Resolutions
MODERN PARENTS know that it’s important to PURPOSEFULLY have a plan for their family that includes improvement – just as you would for self-improvement, business goals, or fitness goals.
1. Making family New Year’s resolutions allows MODERN PARENTS to RE-FOCUS, RE-EVALUATE, and PERFECT their parenting plan. If you have not already created a parenting plan that takes into account your core passions, values, and beliefs, then the New Year provides the perfect opportunity to create this plan.
If you already have a plan in place, making New Year’s resolutions allows you to focus on an area of parenting that might not be working as well as you wanted it to. For example, if you feel like your family has fallen into the habit of using too much technology (i.e. computers, iPads, iPhones, & other iThings) and individual family relationships have begun to suffer, then create a family resolution that focuses on reducing electronic use during family time.
2. Even “good” families need a yearly audit because of the changing nature of the family itself! One constant principle governing the family is that the family is always going through change. Kids get older and enter new stages of development. Parents switch jobs. Economies expand and contract causing families to tighten or loosen their belts. There are many other internal and external factors that cause each individual family to react and change in unique ways.
Smart MODERN PARENTS take a yearly inventory (much like successful businesses do) of their family’s:
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Short- and long-term goals
- New vs. completed family challenges (i.e. family member’s illness, child with academic difficulties, etc.)
- Developmental stages and needs of each family member.
By taking an inventory of the above factors, MODERN PARENTS are able to better identify areas in which their family can improve.
Am I suggesting that your family needs to be “the best”? Is parenting a competition? No! What I’m saying is that I want you to have the family that you have always dreamed of! By taking a yearly inventory of where your family is currently at, you can better concentrate on creating an environment for your family that encourages it to become the family you have always wanted.
3. Finally, it is important to create family New Year’s resolutions for the simple fact that your family should be the most important part of your life and it deserves your full attention. Even if the other members of your family (such as your spouse or partner or children) do not see you overtly making plans to improve the family, they benefit in many ways by having a hands-on MODERN PARENT.
MODERN PARENTS who give their time and attention to improve their family gain a calmer household, a closer relationship with their spouse/partner and kids, and experience a greater satisfaction with their family (and with themselves!). This selfless act also communicates a special kind of love to their family members.
Now that you know how important it is to create family New Year’s resolutions, how is it done?
How To Create & Keep Family Resolutions
Forbes reports that just 8% of people actually keep the resolutions they make at the New Year. I don’t want you to become one of the 92% that flakes on their resolutions, so I have compiled 6 useful tips for you to use while creating your family New Year’s resolutions.
1. Start by identifying several areas where you believe you and your family can improve. It is very important to keep in mind that YOU need to be involved in this new resolution as well (after all, you are the parent, right?). You can’t, for example, just decide that your kids or your spouse/partner need to listen to YOU more when YOU speak. That’s an unfair resolution.
Instead, your resolution needs to be something that YOU change about YOURSELF that will impact the FAMILY (i.e. YOU will make an effort to listen to your kids more often and/or yell at them less) or something that you and your family can work on TOGETHER.
For example, you might decide that your family as a whole eats too much fast food. As such, you inform the family that you will not be stopping at McDonalds after work anymore, and (most importantly!) stick to that decision.
2. Make your resolutions REALISTIC and SPECIFIC. Making a vague resolution like “We will eat less fast food” is WAY less effective than “We will only eat fast one night each week on Fridays”. The more effort you put into making your resolution realistic and specific the more likely you and your family will be in keeping this new resolution.
Ask your family for ideas on how to make the resolution more realistic and specific. You might be surprised how creative your kids are at problem-solving! Plus, if your kids get an opportunity to help create the resolution, they are more likely to buy into the resolution in the first place!
3. I recommend making only 1-2 resolutions per year. Quality over quantity. It is extremely difficult to devote the necessary mental energy required to keep up with multiple resolutions; therefore, stick to focusing your energy on 1-2 family problems this year. Next year you can tackle 1-2 different family issues.
4. Make your resolutions measurable. Once you have created your family resolutions, make sure that they are measurable so that you are able to track your progress.
For example, by stating that your goal is to eat fast food only 1 night per week, you are able to track how many weeks in a row you were able to keep your resolution. By tracking your family’s performance, you can also set up a reward system for small successes such as rewarding the family with a movie night at the local movie theatre if you were able to maintain your new resolution after 4 weeks.
5. Remind yourself DAILY of your resolutions. By reminding yourself of your new resolutions daily, you are able to keep this goal in your short-term memory which makes it more likely that you will remember your resolution during times when you are tempted to stray from your goal.
During my Thanksgiving vacation in Mexico, I read the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. First of all, this book is a great read for anyone serious about changing their habits by explaining the SCIENCE behind the success of starting successful HABITS.
This book also points out the scientific proof that writing down your goals DAILY in a small journal often leads to a greater ability to ACTUALLY KEEP YOUR RESOLUTION! Try it out and see if it works for you!
6. Be prepared to FAIL. Yes – be prepared to fail, but DON’T GIVE UP! Another reason I really liked the book The Power of Habit is that the author does a great job explaining that people who initially fail at maintaining a new habit go on to eventual success with their new habit when they use the failure opportunity to ADJUST their technique in carrying out their new resolution.
Here’s an example. Let’s use the goal of only eating fast food one night a week again. Perhaps a working mom tried out this habit, but still found herself getting fast food most nights of the week on her drive home from work. When she reflected back on why she was so tempted to pick up fast food on most working nights, she might have realized that she got tempted to pick up burgers when she smelled the familiar “fast food smell” on her route back home. A simple adjustment would be to choose a route home that did not involve driving past the fast food joint so that she does not get tempted by the burger smell.
After you read this article, I’ve got a question… What family resolutions are YOU inspired to create for your family? There are so many possibilities! Share your ideas in the comment section below.