Not everyone makes New Year’s resolutions, but those who do tend to resolve to lose weight, get fitter, and eat more healthily. Winter is probably the worst time of year to try to achieve those things, though: it’s dark and cold outside, hardly the kind of weather that tempts us to leave the house, and the food we tend to cook is stodgy and warming …
By February, willpower starts to wane, and by the time Easter brings chocolate and cakes, the resolutions we made in January have become a distant memory!
Does that sound familiar? If so, how can you break that pattern? For a new habit to take hold, it needs to become part of the fabric of your household - a new way of doing things that is adopted by the entire family as the ‘new normal’. Trying to make a big change alone when you’re part of a family unit just won’t work: you need everyone’s support and engagement for it to be a success.
Simply imposing new habits or rules for your family is likely to lead to outright rebellion though, so if there are changes you’d like to see in your home, you’ll need to get everyone on board with some family resolutions that will benefit all of you.
Here are some New Year’s resolution ideas for your whole family to choose from this year.
Family New Year’s resolution ideas for quality time
1. Set a family games’ night
It’s important to give each other space, so that you can all unwind after a busy day at work or school. It’s just as important, though, to spend quality time together. One of your family resolutions could be to set a family games’ night once a week. Avoid scheduling other events on that evening, and if something unavoidable comes up then agree to swap games’ night to another set evening that week.
Gather a selection of games that you can all play together, and take turns each week to choose that night’s game.
2. Agree to eat meals together
There might be evenings when you all have your own commitments, and eating together simply isn’t an option. Look at your schedule and agree which evening meals or lunchtimes you can all commit to eating together, even if that’s only once a week.
If your children are old enough to do so (with or without supervision), agree a rota for them to make or help to prepare one meal a week, to build confidence in their cooking skills and to make them feel included.
3. Agree to communicate better
Do your children only tell you about their day or want to ask deep and meaningful questions just before bedtime? That’s a common tactic for delaying going to sleep, of course, but maybe you’ll have fewer battles at bedtime if they have a regular time for talking with you.
Agree a time each day, or each week, when each child has one-to-one time with your or your partner to talk about whatever they want. Try to do something at the same time, such as washing up, baking or making packed lunches for the following day, because children tend to talk more freely when slightly distracted by a familiar task.
Similarly, you and your partner should set a time each week when you can talk without the TV being on in the background, or having your phones in your hands. Put on some music, pop open a bottle of wine or put the kettle on, snuggle up on the sofa and just talk about your day, or bigger things.
Family New Year’s resolution ideas for your family’s health
4. Agree a time to turn off screens
Blue light from your screens disrupts sleep. We all know this, but most of us still use our phones or watch TV until it’s time to drop off. Agree as a family to put all screens down at least one hour before a scheduled bedtime - lead by example by promising to do the same, even though your bedtime will be later than your children’s!
5. Exercise regularly
Agreeing to take a walk after your evening meal every day is unrealistic. If it’s raining, dark and cold, nobody will want to go and you’ll end up abandoning the idea altogether. If one of your New Year goals is to get fitter as a family, find fun ways to do so. Good, aerobic activity three times a week is a good baseline to aim for.
Depending on your budget, you could choose a sport you all enjoy, such as swimming, badminton, tennis or climbing and book weekly sessions. If money is tight, you could put a Joe Wicks video on YouTube and all join in!
If you drive your children to school, aim to set off 10 minutes early, park your car 10 minutes’ walk from school and sneak in some daily exercise that way.
Family New Year’s resolution ideas for running the house
6. Divide the chores fairly
If one of your New Year goals is to give yourself a better work-life balance, make more time for yourself at home by sharing the chores with your family.
Draw up a list of the jobs that you and your partner regularly undertake, from vacuuming and tidying to washing up, feeding the pets, or doing the laundry. Even young children can help with some chores, so divide up the chores according to what they can achieve, how long the chores take and how often they need to be carried out. Resist, at all costs, correcting or re-doing their efforts, because this will make them feel as though there’s no point in them doing the work.
As well as teaching your children independence, you’ll be able to make it clear to them just how much work goes into running a house and hopefully they’ll understand why you’re sometimes tired!
7. Declutter your home
It’s easy for clutter to build up during the year, and clutter makes it far harder to keep your house clean and tidy. Ask each member of your family to look at their own belongings and think about whether they would take those items with them if you were to move to a new home.
Unwanted, broken or unused items should be disposed of - you could sell them (giving the money raised to the person who owned the item), recycle them or give them to charity. If there are items that you want to keep even if you don’t use them most of the time (like camping gear, sports equipment or Christmas decorations), you could agree to rent a small storage unit
to keep them safe but out of the way until they’re next needed. If you all agreed, you could use the money you’ve raised (from selling your old clutter) to pay for it.
8. Be open about spending limits and commitments
Rather than constantly annoying your children by telling them that you can’t afford to do/buy X, Y or Z, make a list of your income and outgoings and show them just where all your money goes. Explain how much money you can set aside for things like holidays, birthdays and Christmas, and that everything you spend on extras like sweets, games or meals out may need to come out of that ‘pot’. If you give your children pocket money, help them to budget for things they might like to save up for, and agree which ‘extras’ will need to come out of their own money.
Family New Year’s resolution ideas for the environment
9. Resolve to recycle more
Teach your children exactly what can be put into your council’s recycling bin (draw pictures or write a list and put these on top of the bin if needed), and what needs to go into general waste. Investigate what local recycling facilities are available at your local supermarket, too. If facilities are available that you can visit, say, every week, set aside a separate bag or bin for those items that can be recycled away from home and make sure everyone knows what can go in it.
10. Eat less meat
One of the best ways to improve the environment is to eat less meat. Explain your thoughts and reasoning to your children and try to agree on which days of each week you can do without meat (whilst not increasing your meat consumption on the other days to make up for it!). Aim to be meat-free on at least three days each week.
Hopefully, you’ll have found at least one resolution on our list that you can adopt as a family. You could also come up with your own ideas that fit your family’s routines, priorities and circumstances by agreeing on a list of New Year goals that you want to achieve, and making family resolutions that achieve those goals.