When I was single and had lots of time on my hands, I came up with a New Year’s plan to have one goal a month. The amazing thing is that by the end of the year I had accomplished most of the goals. It helped that the goals were concrete and limited.
That’s a good approach for families too. This year, choose one goal for every month. You can keep it simple and just put up a list with the goals, or you can have a family celebration at the start of each month to kick off that month’s goal and get input from your kids. Here are some family goals to consider for this year.
Most moms want their kids to learn how to cook before they graduate from high school so that they’re able to take care of themselves when they’re on their own. For this goal, assign each child a meal to prepare for the family. For younger kids it can be breakfast or lunch, older kids can cook dinner.
Meet as a family to come up with a way to help others. Let the kids give lots of input. You can spur them along by asking who in the neighborhood, at church, or in the community needs a helping hand.
You can use our share, save, spend jars to kick off this month’s goal. You might also consider explaining to your children the financial basics of running a family. Or you can use beans to show how much goes into each category—housing, cars, food, insurance, etc. And you can teach them about matching plans by telling them that you’ll match whatever amount they save this month.
Don’t run away! Poetry can enhance your family life by showing how words can help us express emotions. You can make this fun and funny. Have your husband read a love poem by Emily Dickenson; look up some quirky poems by Shel Silverstein for your kids.
5. New Skill
What will it be? Knitting? Juggling? Shooting 10 free throws in a row? Everyone chooses a skill and works on it throughout the month. At the end of the month, you can have a Skills Showcase.
Make your family goal to say one kind thing to each other every day. At first, it will feel hokey, but pretty soon you’ll see that it really does encourage more kindness.
If you can get your kids to read an hour a day, studies show their vocabulary and comprehension will be off the charts. That’s the science behind this goal, but it can be fun too. Choose one book to read aloud as a family, or have your kids read on their own and then meet every weekend to talk about the book. Make your time together even more special by having foods related to the book.
This month focus on moving. Go for a walk as a family after dinner or on the weekend. Play doubles tennis (there are large tennis balls that slow down play for younger kids) or make a circle and do jumping jacks facing each other.
Explore faith if it’s not already a part of your life. Since studies show that attending faith services strengthens families, visit a house of worship. If your family already practices a faith, add another element. Unsure about how to shape your family’s faith? These ideas can help.
Research shows that when we show thanks to others, it improves our overall happiness. This is a great skill to teach our children. When they’re out on their own they can use this to help themselves through tough times. So gather everyone around a table to write one thank you note—mom and dad too.
11. Online Awareness
It would be easy to make this month about, “Turn that off!” But, instead, use it to teach your family about being aware of how much time they’re with a screen. You can have everyone keep track of their screen use for a day, or a week. You can have a Noel day, a no electronics day.
12. Your Idea
Tell us! What should the twelfth idea be?