New Year’s Resolutions for Families by Emily Hasselquist, LCSW

Sure, we’ve all made New Year’s resolutions. I too have promised myself that I would start eating healthier, join a gym, and finally organize that hallway closet on January 1st only to have my goals fall short.  Rather than making individual resolutions this year, consider making resolutions as a family.  Sit down together to brainstorm things you can all work on and post them somewhere in the house as a constant reminder.  Help hold each other accountable by setting dates throughout the year to revisit your family resolutions and asses your progress.  Below are 5 suggested resolutions to get your family on the path to a happy and healthy 2017.  

  1.  Less Screen Time.  If you look around and notice that your teenager is Snapchatting, your other child is playing Minecraft and your spouse is checking Twitter for the latest news all while you’re checking the final score of last night’s game on the ESPN app, your family may need less screen time.  Make a pact to spend less time on your phones.  No electronics after 7pm, for example, will allow for more face-to-face interaction.  Many studies have shown that children’s social and communication skills are negatively impacted if they spend too much time on electronics. 
  1.  Get Moving.  If your family spends more time on the couch than on their feet, it may be time to get more active together.  Look into fitness classes or team sports at your local park district.  Go for walks through the nearest forest preserve as a family if the weather permits.  Look into investing in pedometers or fitness trackers for each family member as a way to encourage some friendly competition.  Consider fun challenges, like whoever gets the most steps in a day gets relieved of cleanup after dinner that night.  
  1.  Save Money.  Learning the value of money is helpful even for younger children.  Whether it’s your 3rd grader earning an allowance for doing chores or encouraging your teenager to seek a part time job, teaching the value of money and encouraging saving is important.  Set a good example by reviewing your own finances.  Setting financial goals, reviewing your life insurance policies, or setting up college savings accounts are just a couple things to do to ensure your family’s needs are being met in the future.
  1.  Worry Less. Think about what worrying has done for you.  Has it helped solve a problem? Prepare you for the worst? Make you feel better? I’m guessing the answer to all of these questions is no but yet many of us spend precious minutes every day worrying. When you notice a family member worrying, allow them to talk through their worries but help them to use their time in a more positive or productive way.
  1. Get a Hobby.  Spending less time on electronics may result in your children (or yourself!) feeling bored.  Hobbies may include anything from do-it-yourself home projects to playing an instrument or learning another language. Encouraging hobbies to do either individually or as a family will help fill the time typically spent online.  Trying out a couple different hobbies may even result in a new passion or undiscovered talent for one of your family members.

These are just a few ideas for resolutions to help your family grow throughout the year. On behalf of Gurnee Counseling Center, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year!  Please keep in mind that if your family could use some help setting goals, improving communication or reducing conflict, our staff can help.  Contact us at (847) 336-5621 for more information.