New Year’s Resolutions: Making It a Family Affair
By Meredith Russell
New Year’s is a bookend for this holiday season, and a great opportunity to involve our children in making meaningful changes. Start some family traditions that focus less on stuff and more on action.
Environmental New Year’s Resolutions
Go green this year with your first annual Environmental New Year’s Resolution. Plan to ban plastic grocery bags or paper napkins. Or commit to recycled toilet paper products or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Get the kids involved by brainstorming ideas with them and letting them vote for which environmental change to make this year. Start small so that they can experience success and save their additional ideas for next year! Check out Kids for Saving Earth for other ideas and inspiration.
Family Charity Meetings
Set a family meeting date to discuss how to contribute to those in need this year. Ask the children some open questions, such as “How would you like to change the world this year?” “What makes you sad about the world?” This helps identify what type of giving will be meaningful to your children. VolunteerMatch is a great way to find charities and non-profits in your area that speak to your kids’ interests and skill/development levels.
Some families bring a certain amount of money to the table and decide how to donate it. Children may contribute pennies from their piggy bank. Any sum they bring adds to their sense of community giving and responsibility. Other families choose an organization to volunteer with over the next year, such as monthly collections for a food bank or weekly visits to a nursing home.
Charity birthday parties are an interesting new trend and make a great New Year’s Resolution. With the birthday child’s agreement, a party can turn from a toy binge to a fundraising event.
In 1992, 10 year-old Julia Hart decided to forgo birthday presents and make donations to a hospital instead. This was the beginning of the Peter Pan Children’s Fund, which has since given hundreds of thousands of dollars to hospitals around the country.
Children for Children® offers a “club” in which members use milestone celebrations, such as birthdays and graduations, to raise money for charity. The club provides ideas about invitations, how to ask guests to bring monetary or school supply donations, and ways to debrief the event with children afterward.
If this isn’t a good fit for your child, consider doing it on your own birthday or other holidays. Parents can set a powerful example for children by what they ask for and do themselves. You might request donations in lieu of gifts for yourself. Or ask for the gift of time: time together. An outing to the zoo or park can make a wonderful present!
Tips for Success:
• Start immediately. Just do it! Now! Go!
• Take small steps. Baby steps are best, so that you can achieve your goal!
• Take an action. Find something you can do to get started: get those cloth napkins out of the cupboard and use them!
• Involve others. By making the resolution a family affair, you are more likely to be successful!
Involving your children in these family decisions at a young age is a priceless gift to them, to your family, and to your community. What a great start to a happy new year!