New Year’s Resolutions + Kids

January 10, 2013

By Gabrielle.

Six years, I wrote a post about how we handle New Year’s Resolutions with our kids. But that feels like eons ago, so I thought it would be fun to revisit the topic. It’s one of our favorite family traditions!

I adore making goals and resolutions. I love having a plan — even if the plan falls through. And I love having a handy list of goals and daydreams where I can focus my thoughts when I’m discouraged or distracted. The photo above (one of the zillion I snapped in Venice) makes me think of why I like resolutions — they function as a map for me as I head into the foggy unknown of the new year.

Our family keeps a journal where we record our resolutions. To help our kids get started thinking about the coming year, they get a short reminder (read: lecture) about what resolutions are for — to become better people. Then, Ben Blair and I offer them prompter questions to get them started:

This year, I want to learn: __________
I want to read: __________
I want to make: __________
I want to visit: __________
I want to change: __________
(The change prompt is supposed to help you think of something like a bad habit you’d like to get rid of.)
I want to be better at: __________
Most of all I want: __________

The journal is a treasure! It’s also a wonderful resource where the kids can see how much they’re growing and changing. The older kids love to read the resolutions from their early years — here are Olive’s resolutions at age 5:

Olive’s 2007 resolutions:
I want to learn: ballet, again
I want to read: all kinds of books
I want to make: a playdough horse
I want to change: (she couldn’t think of anything she wanted to change)
I want to visit: Emily Dowdle (a neighbor)
Most of all I want: an Ariel barbie

Five years old is so cute!

Are you a goal-lover like I am? Do you make yearly goals with your kids? Any tips or traditions you’d like to share?

P.S. — Famous resolutions.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The New Diplomats Wife January 10, 2013 at 9:43 am

what a great idea, truth be told, i could use this very same list for myself.


2 Margaret January 10, 2013 at 9:49 am

I love the idea of a family resolution journal! How sweet to look back on your little ones’ changing goals for themselves…

I’ve had bad associations with resolutions in the past — probably because it struck me too much as a futile exercise in trying to break my every bad habit all at once, something I knew couldn’t stick. But lately I’ve started thinking about resolutions in terms of more attainable and specific goals, like you mentioned — “run in a 10K” rather than the vague “get fit,” that sort of thing — and I find that they work a lot better for me. And putting some goals on the list that are sheer fun (rather than just for self-improvement) makes the whole exercise so much more enjoyable! “Make a playdough horse” is the kind of goal I can get behind. ;)


3 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I agree! I’m much better with smaller, specific goals.


4 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag January 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm

This is a GREAT idea, I’m going to sit down with my daughter this afternoon and try it out on her :)


5 Christa the BabbyMama January 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I don’t like the resolutions model, heh, but I do set yearly goals! This year, I decided my big goal was to have more fun with my family – even if my job tries to get in the way. Personally, I want to dance again (check!) and start really trying piano. And I’m starting a business, so I want that to work out, too!


6 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Hey, I’m of fan of goal-making in all of its forms. : ) Thumbs up to dancing and piano!


7 Kate January 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

The prompter questions seem so good with kids that I might even give this a go myself! I just know that the answers would make good, and likely funny, memories.


8 Kristen January 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm

These questions are great for us grown-ups too! I’m literally printing them out now and will be filling in the blanks, then posting them on my fridge. Cheers to 2013!


9 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Yay! I’m so glad they’re helpful. Cheers right back at you!


10 Barbara January 10, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Oh, it’s a really good idea, thank you, I’ll try it with my kid’s this week end


11 Sara January 10, 2013 at 6:24 pm

We love New Years resolutions! Each year each family member gets a momiji doll. ( these are great little wooden dolls, created by artists, with a slip to keep a message inside.) we each write our favorite memory from the last year on one side, and our next years resolution on the other. Our only rule is to make it “measurable”. This year my girls had “try gymnastics” (6yo) and “make a new friend (7yo). I love it because it is a peice of art to display always and a wonderful keepsake to look back on!!


12 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm

What a fantastic tradition, Sara! So glad you shared.


13 Erin January 10, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I am a resolution/goal setter too. We do it with our kids in January as well, but I really like the idea of keeping them in a special family journal. Thanks again for a good idea.


14 Kate January 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm

It’s funny, because I wrote a post on my blog about resolutions and why we so rarely keep them. I think that concrete goals are much more accessible than abstract ideas like “exercise more.” I like that list you made because it allows you to create a concrete goal that then allows you to focus more on the means of making it happen than having a goal in the first place.


15 G at willowday January 11, 2013 at 1:41 am

I love this! I can’t wait for the kids to get home from school and fill their out. Thank you for starting us on a new tradition. (Yes, me, too — I’m a big list maker and prefer to use them as a general navigational map but, admire those who literally check very specific things of number by number) Happy New Year!


16 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm

I knew you must be a list-making kindred spirit.


17 Tasha January 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

I love the “no threat” style of questions here! I do not ever do resolutions, because I think I’m afraid of failure…pressure! But then I get angry at myself because studies show goal-oriented people succeed more in life LOL!

This year I suggested at New Year’s breakfast I suggested that we give each other ones! I said “suggestions.” It was very eye-opening but mild and compassionate as we were all worded so well. My husband, (adult) son and I each gave each other one!!! I thought I knew for sure what was coming and they each said the same, surprising one to me…interesting! Who knew!
So far I think we’ve all been keeping them in back of the mind and doing pretty well.

Luck to all in accomplishing (or not as Gabby tells it)!!! ♥


18 Tasha January 11, 2013 at 4:07 am

PS – There is something terrific about checking off a to-do list! But I still recall joking my mother years ago that she had a list for a list for a list. Example…taped to the hanging kitchen lamp shade, “See: list on desk.” HAHA memories…I doubt she was that bad, but when I visit (often) I still see a little pad with a list of some sort every time!


19 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I am like your mother. Lists and lists!


20 Victoria January 11, 2013 at 5:21 am

I can’t wait to share this with my daughters. I did a poor job of explaining goals and resolutions, but I think this will be the perfect way to guide them. Thank for sharing!


21 Alison Chino January 11, 2013 at 7:36 am

Love this idea! We did it with our kids last night after seeing it yesterday! So much fun! I loved hearing what they wanted to be better at and where they hoped to go!



22 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

An instant treasure for your family!


23 marian January 11, 2013 at 8:37 am

Thanks for the fantastic prompts! My husband is a determined “resolutioner” and it is not my favorite, so when it’s time to help 6 kids with goals I’m less than chipper. However your prompts are excellent and I can see them helping the kids really think. I also love the journal idea!


24 Corinne January 11, 2013 at 9:22 am

Thanks for this list! What a great idea. I love resolutions, too! My whole blog is based on making a resolution a month, then continuing that resolution as I make new ones (as inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project). It has been a wonderful experience.


25 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I’m such a Gretchen Rubin fan.


26 Alice January 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I like resolutions too, there’s nothing like a goal to keep you motivated. I write mine down in my diary (2013′s is red, leather-bound and small enough to carry in my handbag at all times) so I can remind myself what I want to achieve whenever I want.
I wrote about resolutions in my blog recently too, and it turned out one of my friends, who lives 2,000 miles away, shares 2 of them. That made me smile :)
Olive’s resolutions are indeed very cute, would your other children let you publish them? I wouldn’t have let my mum see them when I was little, ha!


27 Design Mom January 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

How fun for you and your friend. Adorable!


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