New Year’s resolutions are about bettering ourselves, setting goals and achieving them. When my 7-year-old son came to me and asked if he was too young to make a New Year’s resolution, I was quick to tell him, “Absolutely not!” His resolutions didn’t need to be anything truly life-altering or even that hard to achieve.
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I suggested that we sit together to make our New Year’s resolutions. He was excited by this idea and so was I. What better way to kick off 2018 than setting goals as a family that we can help each other achieve?
If your child is interested in making a New Year’s resolution—or even more than one—here are some great suggestions for ones that you can make and accomplish together.
1. Less Screen Time
My son isn’t the only one guilty of this. Yes, he enjoys playing on his Xbox and iPad any chance he gets, but I too am guilty of paying more attention to my phone than the conversation at the dinner table. Making an agreement to limit screen time as a family is a great idea!
There are a few ways you can achieve this. Start by turning off the television during dinner and agreeing that no phones or electronics are allowed at the table. Dinner is a special time for parents and their children to bond, discuss the day’s events, ask questions, and catch-up. We all lead extremely busy lives and dinner is the perfect place to join together for some quality time and conversation.
If your child enjoys screen time after school, set a timer. Maybe allow 20 minutes after homework or 15 minutes before, whichever works best for their learning process. I used to allow my son to play on his iPad before bed but learned that screen time before bed can actually negatively impact a child’s sleep patterns.
As the adult, you can set the same timer for yourself or agree to not use the phone while you and your child are engaged in an activity together. Often times, Facebook, Twitter or texts can wait.
2. Get Active
This resolution is one that a lot of people make at the beginning of each New Year, but if you’re making a resolution with your child to be more active, be sure not to emphasize weight loss. Getting active means going for walks after dinner, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and playing outside instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Depending on your child’s age, you can keep track of their activity goals in a variety of ways. For younger children, you can make a chart. Each time they perform a physical activity add a sticker to the chart. Or set aside 30 minutes each day for physical activity and keep a tracker to ensure you’re meeting your goals. Be sure not to reward your child with a treat or snack once they hit their activity goals. Rewarding exercise with food can have negative consequences.
If your child is old enough, an activity tracker for kids can be a very useful tool. These devices help track the number of steps you take in a day. This can be a great motivator to get outside and walk. If you can afford it or find a deal, purchase yourself and your child matching trackers. Some brands offer friendly competitions and messaging. You and your child can stay connected and encourage each other to hit your daily goals.
3. Make Better Food Choices
Our children look to us for guidance, support, and an example. Setting a good example for your child means teaching them healthy habits. Together, you can work on making better food choices.
For example, my son loves McDonald’s (who doesn’t?). Unfortunately, our grocery store is right next to this fast food chain, which means that my son got into the habit of wanting McDonald’s every time we went food shopping. And I found that I was allowing it. So, we discussed limiting McDonald’s to only twice a month—every other time we went food shopping. This way, he can still enjoy this treat, but in moderation. We also downsized from a medium to a small french fry. Small changes really add up.
As the parent, you can try making healthier desserts with more natural ingredients and less artificial flavoring. There are so many healthy and surprisingly tasty ingredients that you can easily swap out for the full-fat versions. For example, nonfat Greek yogurt can act as a substitute for sour cream, butter or even oil in many recipes. If your recipe calls for a sweetener, opt for pure maple syrup or even agave honey.
4. Take Care of the Earth
This is a great resolution for parents and children alike and can be achieved with just a few simple changes to your regular routine.
If you don’t already recycle, add a small recycling bin to your kitchen. This allows for your child to place empty water bottles, milk cartons, and other recycled materials directly in the bin. You can even place them in charge of monitoring this. If mommy or daddy throw a magazine or newspaper in the garbage, your little helper can remind you that it actually belongs in the recycling bin.
Earth Day, which is celebrated on April 22, is a great time to educate both your child and yourself on the importance of keeping our Earth a safe and healthy place. But there’s no need to wait until spring. Visit your local library and find books on recycling. The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to follow through on your goals.
5. Be Kind
This should go without saying, but it never hurts to get a little reminder in being kinder both to ourselves and others.
This is a perfect resolution where you can lead by example. Hold the door for someone at the store, allow a car to pull out in front of you, or offer to carry someone’s grocery bags. Next time you get dressed in the morning comment on how nice you look and how great you feel. Self-love is something many of us don’t exhibit often enough. Your child watches everything you do and they will quickly pick up on the little acts of kindness you display each day.
Do you have more than one child? Perhaps your kids can make a resolution to be kinder to one another. They can share their toys, respect one another’s personal space, and help their younger siblings.Being kind should be a resolution 365 days a year!
Make This Year Great!
Accountability is a great to make sure your goals are met. And what better way to achieve this than working together as a family? When you share common goals, you can work together to stay on track and make great things happen.