Ahh, a New Year…this means a clean slate. New possibilities await. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you set goals at the beginning of a calendar year? I certainly have in the past.
Last year I came up with a word for 2016: Mindfulness. Although I must admit, it was well past the year, around August, before I became truly mindful of my family’s needs or even my own. This year, however, I want to simplify my objectives. In 2017, I only have one goal. That objective is two words (and also the title of this column): family time. I just want more family time.
How can I create more quality, fun time with my family this year? Here is my tentative plan. I will keep it simple and flexible throughout the coming months. To allow for more precious moments in 2017 we will take turns, take minutes and take trips to fulfill the goal.
Everyone in my family will take turns in deciding how we spend our time. We will even vote if needed. I will designate one person to a particular task, such as choosing one outing each weekend. We will each be monthly event planners and review the regional options for our leisure. Although mommy and daddy rule the house, all of us can have a say in the family fun activities. We can also involve our kids more in the necessities and chores. One day my oldest child can choose a meal for us to make. I intend to involve my kids more in the meal planning and snack packing for school. I asked them what decisions they want to make and they suggested more movie and craft making options. There are so many ways to take turns, allowing for more fun and time together.
Adding more time into the day may seem impossible. Yet even when quantity is limited, small amounts of quality can be placed in the schedule. When my child says, “Please, just five more minutes” of playtime, I carefully consider letting her have that extra time. If there is no reason to hurry, why not grant those additional moments to your kids? I can think of many examples when those spare minutes added more joy and I still managed to get the necessary work and chores done. I never regret spending two minutes to read another bedtime story. I take five minutes to play one more round of that board game. I may even invent the rules to make it go by faster. Ten minutes cuddling on the sofa anytime is certainly priceless. Spend one minute at the end of each day stating why each person in your family is thankful. Recite the best things about the day. Minutes add up over time. Make them count and ensure they as joyful as possible.
Road trips should be a part of every family’s annual adventure. The distance and destination do not matter. Pick a place to visit and make a roadmap to go there. In fact, have your kids draw a path on how they would arrive. Use the opportunity to discuss miles, traveling by car, bicycle or walking. For a month, visit all the museums in the vicinity. During the summer, choose a different spot than the usual one on the beach. Drive to a new library that is farther away in town to compare books from your regular location. Look around for last minute overnight stays in the region, especially during non-peak seasons. Our family planned a trip to nearby Orange Beach in less than week for a great bargain after school went into session. As you prepare for a quick trip, let your kids make a list of items to pack. Help them organize the must-see and must-do activities on your mini-vacation. Teach your children how to arrange items in their suitcases. These are handy skills that will take them through adulthood.
What’s Your Plan?
Tips like these can add more quality time, learning opportunities and chances for your family to bond. How will you grab 2017 and make it your own? Look at your loved ones and figure out what will bring you even closer together this year. Think about the joy and memories you can make. Take 2017 and make it the best!
Mandy B. Fernandez is a writer living in Pensacola, Florida with her husband and two children. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing. She writes on topics such as business, education, creative arts, health, family life, parenting and natural foods. In addition she loves sharing humorous stories, poetry and essays about womanhood and motherhood. Her first children’s book, Kazoo Makes The Team, was just released. Visit her at www.writtenbymandy.com.