There is something magical and exciting about the start of a new year—a blank slate to start anew and create fresh and meaningful ways to really rock the year ahead.
Traditionally, people celebrate this holiday by making resolutions and pledging to change for the better and rid themselves of negative habits, but it’s also a good time for families to think about some new ideas to try together throughout the year, you know—quality bonding time and all!
This week our Gansett mom’s and dad’s council chatted about ways to breathe new life into their humdrum family routines, even if it only meant making a few small and simple changes throughout the New Year.
Theme of the Month
Feel free to go ahead and roll your eyes when you read about the grand idea of “theme of the month” that I recently laid out for the Butler clan for the upcoming year, but my thought is that if you don’t try something new every once in a while, no matter how corny, you’ll never know what you could be missing out on!
2012 will not be any ordinary year in this house, and I’m thanking Clark Griswold from the hilarious holiday comedy, Christmas Vacation, for the idea of “theme of the month”. One of my favorite scenes from that movie is when Clark, played by the brilliant Chevy Chase, finally receives the specially delivered notice from the company messenger regarding his Christmas bonus. If you’ll recall, he was expecting a rather hefty monetary bonus to cover the cost of the in ground pool he plans on installing for his family, but instead receives a membership to the jelly of the month club. Cousin Eddie quips to him that it’s the “gift that keeps on giving” and although I’ve seen this movie probably 50 times, that line planted the seed for my (yes, I take complete ownership of this one!) fun-filled year of theme months.
When I announced this plan to my family, the older kids groaned and begged me not to tell the public, while the younger ones were jumping up and down with glee. Never one to be intimidated by teenagers, like it or not, January is going to be “Try Something New Month” with February delighting us with “Love is in the Kitchen”. So, in January my clan is going to help me find a variety of new things to try such as playing new games or a new sport, trying a new hobby, sending a random note to a friend or relative via snail mail—not by a text—well, you get the picture, right?
February means an entire month of trying new culinary delights, and that means they get to help decide and prepare these dishes! Each of my darlings will get to decide on a theme for one of the months and as long as none of them chooses something like tattooing hidden body parts, I’m game.
Get Involved with a Local Charity
Nancy Peterson, mom of two teen boys, plans on having her family becoming active in a local charity for the entire year of 2012.
“Our crazy schedules don’t seem to allow for our family to do much together except to attend one of the boy’s sporting events or if we’re lucky, eat together as a family more than once or twice a week. My husband and I are always looking for ways to engage the boys in a family activity and when friends of ours told us about how their entire family of six spends two weekend days a month working at a food pantry the light bulb went off for us to try something similar with our boys. We haven’t decided which cause we will devote some meaningful time to yet, but we all love animals so it will probably center on that, and best of all, the boys are actually looking forward to it."
Set 101 Goals
The Gadrow family strongly believes in goal setting. It is their tradition to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s creating a list of things they want to accomplish during that year.
"These goals are both individual and family-oriented. When we sit down to write them, the question is, 'What are we going to do together this year?' We break our goals down into categories and consider financial, social, spiritual, and health-related issues. Once we come up with our individual lists, we group things together that we can do as a family. Our kids range in ages from six to 15. Obviously the younger kids are going to need help with this and setting 101 goals is a bit unrealistic for them, but it’s great for them to learn goal setting at such a young age and the older siblings help them with their lists. Last year one of the goals was to find ways to spend more time on the water together. We started out the New Year with a seal watching cruise out of Newport and ended the summer in Block Island for a weekend. The greatest part about this exercise is we all learn more about the other family members and what drives them,” shares Maggie Gadrow.
Keep a Record of Your Life Together
In addition to setting goals together as a family, the Gadrow family also believes that there are a few very important gifts that parents can give to their children.
"Even though online photos via facebook or venues like Snapfish are easily accessible, giving your children family pictures in by way of an actual scrapbook or picture album is so important. Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you. Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence. Save your calendars each year. A calendar is an amazing reflection of your life together as a family. You’ll see who had sports games and when, what birthday and other parties your kids attended, when you went on vacation. These things may not seem important right now, but 10 – 40 years down the line, they will be priceless keepsakes,” smiles Gadrow.
These are just a few ideas from some of our council members. How about you? Do you have something in mind that your family can do to shake things up a bit in 2012? We’d love to hear them here in the comment section or you can e-mail me at CB091987@aol.com or reach our Editor, Stephen Greenwell at Stephen.Greenwell@patch.com
Our Gansett Mom’s council wishes you and your family the happiest, healthiest and togetherness-filled New Year!