Resolutions made as a family are perhaps easier to keep! Especially if they are all about giving back, staying healthy, bonding as a family, and having fun? These are six family resolutions worth sticking to.
1. PLAY TOGETHER
Why You Should Stick to It: Setting aside time to play a board game or a round of volleyball in the front yard does a family good. Your teenager may forget that she’s been disciplined or grounded, and your toddler will get to see you at play. “I’m always left amazed at how healing play is,” says Melissa Kester, MA, LMFT, Founder and Director of Madison Marriage and Family Therapy, PC in New York City and the editor of Towards Healing. “A game night helps remind us that we enjoy being around each other, that we can have fun with one another.”
2. EAT AT THE TABLE
Why You Should Stick to It: For many families, plopping down in front of the television set with dinner trays seems like a great way to unwind after a long day. But TV dinners aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. “Television is fun, but it is divisive,” warns Kester. “It doesn’t nurture a connection. And most of the time, it doesn’t leave us feeling as relaxed as we hoped it would.” And now, studies show that there are significant benefits to be had by simply eating around the dinner table as a family. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Kids who eat with their families have healthier eating habits, tend to be at a healthier weight and do better in school.” As if that weren’t enough, “teens and tweens who eat three or more family meals per week exhibit less depression, substance abuse, disordered eating and other risky behaviors.”
3. TALK WITH EACH OTHER
Why You Should Stick to It: At the dinner table, banish cell phones and other electronic devices. Not only is it good etiquette, but it’ll encourage conversation and lead to bonding. At a loss for what to say? Take a cue from a tight-knit clan known as the Presidential family. “We learned at the White House lunch today that the Obamas have a family tradition that I want to adopt at our house,” reported Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos in 2009. “At dinner, they play a game called ‘Roses and Thorns.’ Everyone takes a turn describing a good thing that happened that day (rose) and a low moment or tough problem they had to deal with (thorn).”
Read Related: 7 Rules for Effective Family Bonding
4. TAKE FAMILY WALKS
Why You Should Stick to It: There are many reasons why walking is beneficial on a physical level. Adults who walk can reduce their blood pressure, lose weight, and improve their mood, according to the Mayo Clinic. But the time you’ll spend walking and talking—or taking a stroll in companionable silence—is too valuable to measure. You’ll not only reap the benefits of walking, you’ll model healthy activities for your children and spend quality time with them. Instead of turning on the TV after dinner, commit to having everyone put on their walking shoes, and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood or at the local park.
5. VOLUNTEER TOGETHER
Why You Should Stick to It: Lots of families schedule charitable acts, like donating toys or volunteering at a soup kitchen, during the holiday season. But making it a resolution and a year-round family activity is beneficial to your community and a great way to teach your children the value of giving. “By spreading love we nurture healing and emotional wealth to the world around us, including ourselves,” says Kester. Not sure you have enough time, or don’t know where to start? Check out a site like VolunteerMatch, which lets you customize a search for places to volunteer by location and type of work.
6. TRY NEW THINGS
Why You Should Stick to It: If your kids complain about being bored with meatloaf on Mondays or Superhero Movie Saturdays (and you secretly agree), trying something new is a great way to shake things up while spending quality time together. “We are creatures of habit, but occasionally we can dare that habit by trying a new type of food, game, genre of movie, etc.,” says Kester. Planning a trip is a great way to get everyone talking, but that’s not always an affordable (or practical) option. So make this month Italian Month—try whipping up some Italian cuisine (if the family cooks it together, all the better) and watching some (family-appropriate) Italian film. Or start a Family Book Club, with everyone taking turns choosing a book that the whole family has to read and then discuss.