Christmas and New Year are over and the kids are going back to school. By now you've probably broken any new year's resolutions hastily made at midnight on New year’s Eve (sorry, but the chances are phenomenally high that I am right). We adults make (and break) new year's resolutions all the time. But things are generally easier to stick to (and more fun) if we do them with other people. This year, don't make new year's resolutions on your own that you won't keep. Instead make a fun New Year Plan with your kids. As I say, you’re more likely to stick to it with all of you involved. It also teaches the kids the importance of using their time intentionally. And finally, it just increases the likelihood of you spending time together. Who knows, it may also just mean you have your best year yet all together.
To do the plan, you just need to get together and answer five simple questions. Make sure someone's writing the answer's down! You’re going to need to place the list somewhere prominent so you can track how well you stick to the plan.
1. What will you do more of?
What did you want to do in 2016, but just didn't get round to? Did you try to have more dinners all together, but it just didn't pan out? Did you plan to cycle more, but time and the weather got the better of you? Commit to do one thing more this year as a family and decide how often it needs to be done (daily, weekly, monthly). Don’t pick more more than one - life's busy enough as it is and this will make failure much more likely. Now keep track of every time you do it.
2. What will you do less of?
For many of us there's probably one obvious answer - spend time in front of a screen (whether it be a computer or your smartphone). But whatever it is, pick one thing that's getting in the way of you spending more time together as a family and commit to reduce it. So, taking screen time as an example, set yourselves a daily limit of perhaps two hours after school / work (that’s TV, tablet and smartphone by the way!). Again, you need to track it. The ones most likely to struggle with this one are the grown-ups.
3. What will you learn?
Learning is fun and learning together is even more fun. And these days it doesn't have to cost much, if anything. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help and even free or very low-cost classes offered locally. So pick a skill you’re going to learn this year as a family. It could be singing, sewing, playing the ukulele (actually scratch that one - the idea of a family ukulele band makes the blood run cold), learning a foreign language. It doesn’t matter. You just need to set a regular time to do it.
4. Where will you go?
OK, here you can pick more than one thing. What are three places you've been meaning to go for ages now, but just haven't got round to it? It can be an attraction in your local town, a nearby city or, even another country. Just note them down and make sure that by 31st December you've been there.
5. Who will you see?
There's always those people that you regularly stop and say, "I haven't seen them in ages," but haven't done anything about yet (I'm always doing this). Pick three and make sure you see them at least once before 31st December. I’ve done this myself in the past and have been surprised to find it’s led to me seeing those people even more than just the once in the year.
So get a big piece of paper, write up your plan, stick it on the kitchen wall and get cracking!