This year, families can change up their New Year’s resolutions by focusing on consistency.
It’s a new year, and with 2022 freshly on the calendar, the challenges of 2020 are looking further away in the rearview mirror. Many of us have weathered the worst of the storm, yet some of us are still in the thick of it. But with all the change our society has seen over the past two years, it’s time to make a New Year’s resolution that will stick: consistency.
Many of us resolve to make healthier choices, to eat better, get more sleep — and we know that after a month or two of trying our best, the best of intentions fizzle. But this year, consistency may just be the “big-picture” goal we are all in search of. After all, it’s only with consistency that long-term habits are formed, weight is lost, rest is achieved, positivity is uncovered.
More than ever, kids are in need of consistency this year. Change is often challenging for kids, and while it seems like they are resiliently going with the flow, our kids are feeling the ongoing effects of living in a post-pandemic world more than we may know.
We can all do our small parts to maintain that consistency in 2022 and, in turn, see the betterment of the family unit, too. Rather than setting audacious resolutions like “have the kids in bed at 8 o’clock every night” or “have breakfast together every morning,” we can shift our thinking to focus on setting up small, new habits every day. Some added consistent structure woven into the household can reinforce positive habits and added confidence over time.
Here are a few simple habits for families to implement as we move into a new year. Start small, pick one, make it fun and stick with it — consistently.
Make mealtime fun. Getting a healthy dinner on the table doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, it can be fun! Yes, we said it. Once a week, try a new food, make a new recipe or let the kids cook. Another option is to choose one day a week to have a picnic — either indoors or outdoors. One family calls it “fun dinner” when the family lays out a blanket and eats on the kitchen floor. You’ll be surprised how one little variation on dinner can make new memories. Of course, kids always love games, so consider the “blind taste test” game one time a week, where kids (or adults) sample their food without seeing it.
Get outside. Saturday morning hikes or weekend walks around the neighborhood can get your family moving and even talking. Take an after-dinner stroll instead of doing dishes. If your kids are little, taking a “flashlight walk” makes for an entertaining wintertime activity.
Create kindness traditions. Whether it’s watering a neighbor’s yard, donating items on the first Saturday of every month or opening the door for a stranger, it is the small acts of kindness that make a big difference (especially if they’re consistent).
Unplug, unplug, unplug. Want to bond? Turn off the tech. Families hear this often, but the truth is that consistently turning off the television, phones and laptops at a set time gets everyone looking up again. Plan time every day to switch from technology to activities — swap the TV for board games, trade the screen time for an hour of puzzles. Talking about your day with questions like, “What was easiest about your day?” and “What was hardest about your day?” are likely to create that consistent communication as children get older.
If you are interested in learning more about incorporating healthy habits and screen-free programs and events into your family’s regular rhythm, visit www.ymcaoc.org.
Kaycee Martin is director of operations for YMCA of Orange County Child & Youth Development Program.