10 New Year’s Resolutions to Make as a Family

Family Matters on 12.28.11
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Each year, we wish the best for our families: health, wealth, love and happiness. But what's the easiest way to ensure this happens? By pursuing any of these 10 resolutions together as a clan, you can all live with more joy, ease and vitality this year.

There are a few ways you can go about using this list of resolutions. You can select the one or two resolutions that will have the most impact. Or you can pick whichever resolution you think will be the easiest, and therefore guarantee the highest level of success. Or you can go hog wild and tackle the whole lot!

Whether you tackle them all or pick just one, these resolutions will take your family to the next level of happiness in the new year.

1. Keep the House Neat and Tidy

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The whole family will enjoy a neater home when everyone chips in towards keeping it tidy. From the toddlers to the adults, everyone is responsible for picking up after themselves.

A positive approach to this resolution is a must, rather than nagging, cajoling or yelling. Make it fun: See who can put away the highest number of items while you all hum the theme song to "Jeopardy." Create a score board to show who is on top and who needs to step up their game. Invent new games each week or month to keep it fresh.

2. Cook and Eat Together as a Family

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Kids who eat dinner with their families on a regular basis get better grades, are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, less likely to become obese or develop an eating disorder, are less likely to be depressed, and have better social skills.

Letting kids help with the meal planning and cooking each week teaches them valuable life skills and makes them feel more personally vested in the family meal.

3. Be Harmonious

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Rather than letting fights drag on and hoping they will go away on their own, focus on solutions. When a conflict arises, talk out the issue. After the airing of the grievances, seek common ground by brainstorming solutions together.

Holding a grudge is pointless; trying to punish another person with negative thoughts is a terrible use of our time and energy. Practice forgiving, accept apologies, and let go of past hurts.

4. Create a Gratitude Practice

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The New York Times reports, "Cultivating an 'attitude of gratitude' has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners."

Each day, set aside time for everyone in the family to state what they are grateful for. Choose a time when moods are lightest. This could be at the breakfast table when everyone is well-rested, or at the dinner table. Right before bed is a nice time to reflect on the day and share pleasant thoughts before settling in to sleep.

5. Simplify Your Morning Routine

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Do you ever have those mornings where getting everyone out the door on time results in shouting, tears or frustration? Does it happen more often than you'd like? Then it's time to revamp your routine.

Sit down with a pen and paper and list everything that needs to be done the day before with the aim of stripping your mornings down to the bare bones: breakfast, hygiene and dressing. A Google images search for "morning routine chart" will give you great ideas for print-outs that will keep your kids on track.

6. Cut Back on Activities; Allow More Unstructured Play

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It's tempting to schedule our kids to the hilt with academics and activities. Resist the urge. Consider the benefits of play, from the book Raising Happiness, which states play has an essential impact on children's development.

Kids who are allowed to flex their imaginations via unstructured, pretend play with their peers or siblings are more socially competent, have higher emotional intelligence, better school performance, superior self-discipline, greater creativity, and better cooperative problem solving skills.

7. Get More Sleep

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Make sure everyone is getting plenty of shuteye every night. Sleep deprivation raises your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Lack of sleep is also linked with risky behaviors in teens, bad grades, bad moods, ADD, and bullying.

Besides, being exhausted, frazzled and grumpy is no way to live. When we're well-rested, we have more energy for physical activity, we think more clearly, we're more productive and we experience a greater sense of overall well-being. Make sure everyone is going to bed early enough each night so they can wake up on their own, without the help of an alarm clock.

8. Declutter

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Along with making your home a nicer place to be, frequent decluttering sessions may help your family reduce your attachment to material possessions. Materialistic people tend to be dissatisfied with their lives; materialistic kids don't do as well in school, and are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and unhappiness.

An uncluttered and organized home will help your family feel less irritable, more productive and focused, and better able to process information. There's a chance your kids will be better behaved with less stuff to overwhelm them.

I'm going to edit my possessions down to only those that I love or find useful by carrying a trashbag through the house on a daily 5-minute mission. I'm also going to schedule the Salvation Army to come for a weekly pick-up.

9. Save Money

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Make the resolution together to live below your means. Create a budget and savings plan and ask all of your family members to help you stick to it. Create savings accounts or piggy banks for each kid to teach them about saving up for purchases and delaying gratification.

If you're all in it together, it will be much easier to stave off requests to buy stuff you don't need with a level-headed answer. It will also help your kids learn there are limits to the amout of money you can spend; hopefully, you'll never have to utter the phrase, "Money doesn't grow on trees."

10. Get Fit and Be Healthy

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You only get one body to get you through life, and it's important to treat it with care. To live a long, healthy life with your family, make the commitment to eat healthy and get regular exercise together.

Schedule a weekly physical acitivity to enjoy together. Don't forget to make appointments for your annual physicals -- this means Dad, too; no one is off the hook. Make your six-month dental check-ups while you're at it.

Make this year better than the last one by choosing to tackle some of these resolutions. Whether you want to make your home a nicer place to be, share a daily meal with your family, feel better or laugh more, decide today to make improvements that will make your family a happier one.

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