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Ten (Non) New Year’s Resolution Ideas for You and Your Family

It’s that time of year again: When your feeds are cluttered with blood oaths to lose weight, put down the phone, spend more time with loved ones, appreciate what you have, and pray for world peace. It’s early January, and everyone has a new year resolution or two they’d like you to know about. It all feels a little tired, really, like we’ve been here before.

Still, there is something to starting anew and harnessing that burst of energy that comes with the crackle of a new paper calendar (yes, we still use those). But don’t bog down that frisson with the label of new year resolution (life isn’t lived annually, right?). Instead, start fresh this year with these 10 mini-celebrations of possibility.

10 (non) new year’s resolutions for parents

Plan all your trips for the year, now

How many times have you promised yourself you’re going to travel more, finally visit [far-flung dream location], attend your college reunion, etc etc … and then never done it? Somehow, family and work obligations always pile up, and get in the way of our vacation aspirations. Plot out all the trips you want to take this year, now. Ask for the time off, block it on your spouse’s calendar, tell the kids it’s happening. You’re more likely to attend everything, explore new places, and take the time off work if you schedule it all out now (and maybe buy a few nonrefundable plane tickets).

Declutter and give as a family

New beginnings are all about reevaluating what you have. This is as good a time as any to channel your inner Marie Kondo, clean out cupboards, and give away things you don’t really need or use. But do it with your kids, to get them used to the idea that they don’t need 18 boxes of Legos, or 12 dolls. And then take them to a local NGO together. It will refresh both your home and your soul, and your kids can learn there’s more value in giving their second train set to another child than keeping it for no reason.

Start a new tradition

Go for a family walk on Saturday mornings, read a book a week together, start a monthly hike to a local nature reserve. Whatever it is, big or small, think of something your family likes to do and start doing it, regularly, now. No one’s allowed to drop out of the routine; quitters don’t get the chocolate gelato at the end of the walk.

Accept a growing inbox

Listen, you’re not going to beat this thing. You will never be fully caught up on all your inboxes, feeds, and messages. We recommend an attitude of complacent defeat. It’s okay. You’ve got more important things to do than stare at a screen all day, and whip yourself into a frenzy over technology that will likely be obsolete in five years. So take a deep breath, and accept that you can – and will – ignore those growing numbers on the phone. You will get to those emails eventually, but you’ll never have a zero-email inbox.

Teach current events

It’s been an interesting year for humanity; there have been lows like your children may not have experienced in their short lifetimes. (Hey, there have been lows we didn’t expect to see in our longer ones.) It’s a good time to start talking about the world at dinnertime, and explaining some of the things that are going on around us. You’re not going to raise a generation of ambitious, informed citizens if they don’t start learning about the world around them early. They can, and will, make a difference, if they know where to start.

Look for teachable moments in failure

Let’s stop obsessing with perfection – it’s exhausting! A lot of research has shown that we learn more, in terms of how to handle adversity, and how to problem-solve, when we encounter roadblocks. So this year, stop patting your kids on the back for every achievement. Instead, try to celebrate the moments that provide an opportunity for development and self-reflection.

Give each other a kiss

A Swaddle editor’s wise grandfather once told his son that he should show his family he loves them at least once a day. It’s not hard, it doesn’t take long, and it makes a world of difference in building a family culture of love and support. Make a small gesture every day that shows the closest few people around you how much they mean to you. But don’t make it sappy, ok? Friends are watching, mom.

Read a book from your childhood together

Remember how awesome it was when you first experienced The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe or Five on a Treasure Island? Retro family book club has a few upsides: It gets you all reading and talking about the same book, opens opportunities for teachable moments through fiction, exposes your kids to something you loved as a child, and takes you back to those years when the demons you hid from were less real.

Make a friend out of an enemy

Test your ability to charm the shell off a turtle by making one friend out of a reluctant person in your life. Consider it a challenge. Can you make that surly school principal your new best friend? What about that awful b%%tch in Finance – can she be tricked into a smiling whenever she sees you? Or the one in-law you can’t stand: make it your 2017 mission to get him on your side. You’ll prove to yourself your Machiavellian prowess… and seem like the bigger person in the process.

Ask different questions

It’s easy to get in a rut with family, asking the same kinds of questions over and over that don’t really elicit insight or thought: How was your day? What did you do? Did you eat lunch? Make a point, each day, to ask a different kind of question. Maybe it’s an out of the blue query about your partner’s best friend in primary school, maybe it’s a follow up to one of your standards (Who was your favorite character in the last book you read?) Either way, you’ll learn something new about the people you love.

Enjoy this year, dear readers!


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