New Year’s resolutions usually focus inward. The usual suspects — getting in better shape, quitting smoking, and reading more — are noble goals, but tend to center on the individual. Resolutions, however, can also extend to the people around you — most notably in your household. In fact, taking a wider lens on your resolutions can present a golden opportunity to assess parenting habits and family relationships.
It is the rare (if not mythical) family that won’t benefit from healthy scrutiny and fresh ideas. We’ve done our research to find several New Year’s resolutions for parents in 2023 that you can do with your partner, children, or extended family that could have lasting benefits for the entire squad.
It’s more than a chance to change behavior. Parenting resolutions are a low-pressure way to bring your family together around a common cause or interest — something that screen time now makes more difficult than ever. (And we’ll return to that sticky wicket momentarily.)
This is a way to create positive change without making it a “punishment.” Establishing aspirations and working toward them together fosters excitement and team morale, not to mention direct positive impacts on day-to-day life.
From time-honored standards to the here and now, these ideas can up your parenting game and improve your family’s well-being in the new year.
Diet and exercise
It makes sense to kick this off with what is likely the most common New Year’s resolution — and one of the most persistent health challenges — in the American playbook today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than one in 10 adolescents and adults eat enough fruits or vegetables, while only 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 high school students reach recommended levels of physical activity.
Make this challenging, long-term work a family affair. Provide each other with support and motivation. But be realistic and creative.
- Go to the park or pool as a group.
- Consider investing in bicycles or appropriate fitness equipment.
- Take the stairs.
- Consume less soda and other sugary drinks.
- Find a family-friendly sport, class, or activity-based video game.
- Try plant-based alternatives to burgers and other less-healthy staples.
- Experiment with juice or smoothie recipes.
These are just a few possibilities. Think about what’s most likely to not only draw initial attraction, but sustained interest over time.
What are some of the passions you and your family share? If feasible, this could be a great time to involve your extended family, either by asking for input or inviting them along for an event.
Possibilities could include:
- Helping the underprivileged.
- Assisting animals, perhaps at your local shelter.
- Restoring and protecting the environment.
- Taking part in a fundraiser for a disease that has affected a loved one.
- Engaging with communities of faith.
If you try an activity or group that doesn’t resonate, try another one! Don’t get discouraged. It might take some time, but stay committed and you’ll find your niche.
Limit screen time
A 2022 analysis published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that screen time for children now averages about 4 hours per day — far more than the 1 hour recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Another recent study found a link between developmental problems in young children and higher-than-recommended screen time.
Find alternatives like reading time or a game night (it might be easier than it seems!). Mealtime and bedtime should be no-go zones.
Attention parents: If this one’s going to work, the rules need to apply to you as well.
Green your home
This one is important, and best of all, relatively straightforward. Make a conscious effort to recycle, use less water and electricity, grow native plants, and avoid any excess fossil fuel consumption.
Think big or make it incremental — it’s up to you. If you set realistic parenting resolutions, your family will follow suit. With dedication and a little luck, a New Year’s resolution can enhance the health and wellness of your family, not to mention your own parenting superpowers.
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