The turn of the year is a traditional time for taking stock and assessing what needs to change in our lives. Whilst many of us come up with individual resolutions of the more exercise, less booze, do a diet variety, those involving the whole family can be equally worthwhile.
Here are some new year's resolution ideas for family life, with a New Old-fashioned Parent mindset...write down those that appeal to you, add your own and stick 'em on the fridge. With a bit of healthy competition and pressure from within the family, there's a fighting chance they might even last beyond the first week of January...
1. We will all try one new food a week even if we think we don't like it!
This won't transform fussy eaters overnight but encouraging everyone in the family to sample new foods and turning it into something of a challenge between you all, might bring a few new ingredients and meals to the table. Have a rule that no-one is allowed to say they don't like something unless they've actually tried it (and recently too as tastes can evolve as we get older).
Younger children might respond well to a sticker chart as a reward each time they give something a go – they should receive the sticker even if they don't like the food as that makes it all less daunting.
Keep the amount of each new food small and offer it alongside a more reliable meal or snack to take the stress out of the experience for you and them. Of course some offspring will flat out refuse to participate but for the moderately fussy, this is definitely worth a try.
2. We will go cold turkey on our gadgets once a week
Whether it's for half an hour a day or a whole 'screen-free Sunday', a bite-sized chunk of time dedicated to turning off those tablets, smartphones (indeed especially smartphones as they tend to be there, constantly beside us), and laptops can be a brilliant break for over-wired families.
Granted the idea will probably be met with groans, especially by teens surgically attached to their gadgets but try it for a few weeks and they might surprise you, and themselves. And yep it most definitely has to include mums and dads so put that Blackberry down right now...
3. We will get in a sweat together
Exercising more surely tops the list of resolution clichés but doing it as a family can make you all more likely to stick with your objectives. Plus sport can be an amazing way to build and retain bonds during the tween and teen years when you might not feel you have much in common.
You could all take up tennis (many clubs have classes for beginners and players who haven't picked up a racket for years), or train towards a fun run,with older kids joining in, or younger ones keeping up alongside on a scooter.
Whatever appeals, the family that plays together really does seem more likely to stay together.
4. We will have family meals at least X times a week (where X is more than now!)
Whether your children are toddlers who have so far had an earlier, separate dinner time compared to the grown-ups, or are teens dashing between activities, sitting down to meals as a family whenever possible, makes an enormous impact on communication.
It's the perfect opportunity to swap notes about your days and even model good table manners and more adventurous eating.
5. But...we will not have any gadgets at the dinner table
It's super-easy to sneak a glance at that smartphone during dinner. Keep gadgets away from the table to ensure mealtimes are kept for communicating with your family, texting or emailing people who aren't even there - it CAN wait 'til later.
6. We will ALL have a chore blitz for five/10 minutes each day
Many hands make light work and all that - having everyone muck in with tidying up or cleaning, even just for five minutes before heading to bed or in the mornings (if you aren't rushing), can cut down on the time parents have to spend on chores and teaches children that household jobs aren't just for someone else!
Set a timer for your chosen blitz period and make a competition out of who can do the most laundry folding or whatever. It might not be the most well-received idea by the kids but in true New Old-fashioned Parent style, remember we're being parents, not running in a popularity contest. Asking for a few minutes of chores a day is far from unreasonable.
7. We will clear out the toy clutter before each person's birthday and in advance of Christmas
Today's children seem to have a pile of stuff on a scale to rival any toy shop's stock – not to mention drawers full of party bag junk. Make it a rule that there's a clear out of no longer used items and a trip to the charity shop, before birthdays and Christmas bring a new influx.
8. We will each get our stuff ready the night before
Hate those mornings when everyone's rushing round having forgotten their homework/musical instruments/sports kit? Count me in on that one.
There comes a time when children need to start taking responsibility for gathering their own gear together and it's easy to let that slip to beyond when they're capable of doing so (guilty as charged here...so this is on my resolution list this year) Again, making a specific five minute period each evening to get older ones to sort their own stuff out the night before will ease the morning craziness.
9. We, as parents, will get 'down with the kids' a bit more
With hectic work, chore and gadget-filled modern lives, quality time with our children can easily be pushed to one side. Rare is the child who won't appreciate some one-on-one time with their parents if you make the effort. A quarter of an hour playing a quick board or card game, kicking a football about or reading together will most likely make their day.
10. We will agree a set of family rules for the whole year and stick to them...
Sit down together and work out what you want to change all year. Have clear consequences for not following the rules and include everybody in making them, but in true NOFP style, remember the grown-ups have final say...
Happy new year New Old-fashioned Parents...