A new year brings another chance to make a changes to your family’s priorities and routines, but even if the new year has passed, it’s not too late to resolve to make things better. If it feels like your family could use a bit of refresh, but you’re not quite sure where to start, we’ve come up with a few simple ways to help you begin.
Spend More Time Together
How much time do you actually spend together as a family? Do you eat dinner together every night? Enjoy family activities on the weekend? Shuttling kids to and from activities or sitting in a waiting room doesn’t count. Try to carve out one night a week or a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday to spend together as a family. Think beyond having a meal together. Instead, play a board game, put together a puzzle, go for a walk, or visit a museum. Give your kids a chance to choose the activities too. You might plan something more elaborate and find that they’re content to sit and color with you for an hour.
Remember, during the family time, try your best to turn phones off, put away computers, and avoid as much work as possible. Even though it may seem impossible, it will be worth it in the long run.
Say “I Love You” More
When’s the last time you said “I love you” to your children or your significant other? These three words are so simple to say, but they’re also easy to forget. Make it a habit to tell you children that you love them more regularly. Set an alarm to remind you if you need help making it a routine. They may roll their eyes or shrug it off, especially if you have teenagers, but deep down they’ll appreciate hearing it.
In addition to simply saying the three little words, think of other creative ways to show your children you love them. Leave a note in their lunchbox, buy them a treat “just because,” use window markers to write a cheesy message on their bathroom mirror, or cook their favorite dinner.
Reduce Unnecessary Stress
What causes stress in your family? Maybe it’s unclear expectations, a lack of routines (or too many routines), or even the tone of voice you use to speak to your children. Take a closer look at how your family functions and see if there are simple changes you can make to reduce the stress. For example, maybe you rush to pack lunches in the morning. Perhaps you could save a lot of time and energy by getting them ready the night before. Maybe your children can never find their shoes. Perhaps you could place a shoe basket by the door and help them learn how to put their shoes in the basket whenever they come in the house.
Some sources of stress may not be as obvious. If you find yourself constantly expecting your home to look perfect or comparing your family to other families, you may be introducing undue stress. Just focus on doing your best. Don’t dwell on past mistakes or frustrations either, just focus on avoiding the same mistakes in the future.
Keep Up with Clutter
Clutter around the home can also cause a lot of unnecessary stress. When you see a sink full of dirty dishes or a laundry basket that needs to be put away and you have a spare minute, try just to do it, even if you don’t feel like it. Simply getting it done will feel a lot better than living with the feeling that you still need to do it. If you just can’t spare the time to put things away properly, come up with other systems to move the clutter from view until you have time to deal with it. For example, maybe you have a draw or a tote where you can store school papers, and then sort through them once every couple months. Maybe you can add a curtain to hide the clean and dirty laundry piles or extra bins for stashing stray toys.
The expression “out of sight, out of mind” exists for a reason and can buy you some extra time and space so you don’t have clutter sitting around your house and stressing you out.
Cut the Spending
Of course the best way to keep up with clutter is to cut down what you bring into the house. Try to resist the new gadget, the latest toy, and other knick knacks you see while you’re out and about. If your children have fundraisers for school, consider donating money directly to the school rather than purchasing expensive tubs of cookie dough or rolls of wrapping paper (the school only gets a percentage of the sales anyway). Whenever possible, grab snacks and meals at home rather than eating out or grabbing pre-made meals from restaurants and grocery stores. When you cut spending, you create more margin in your life which helps reduce stress and ensures your family is better prepared for emergencies.
Are there some things you can’t live without? Think about whether there are less expensive ways to get them. For example, buy bottles of soda in six packs and take one with you rather than buying one at the gas station or purchase your own paper coffee cups with lids in bulk and make your coffee at home. You can even misspell your name on the cup to make it feel like you visited your favorite coffee shop.
Your family is great as is, but maybe this is the year to make it even better. What changes do you hope to make this year?