Looking for ways to improve the relationships in your family by making them more harmonious and enjoyable? Author and parenting coach Alyson Schafer and relationship therapist Marion Goertz share 10 suggestions for family goals you can undertake with your kids.
1. Resolve to laugh more often together and find more ways to have more fun as a family.
2. Think of ways you can all get out and enjoy nature more.
3. Don't overbook yourselves - on your calendar actually mark down periods in the evening and weekends that are "do nothing" time.
4. Find ways to invest in your marriage -- every relationship needs nurturing. This goal will benefit the kids, too, so don't feel guilty about taking a date night once a week or on a biweekly basis.
5. Talk about how you can eat more healthily. Do you need to come up with weekly nutritious meal plans that everyone contributes to? Set some goals, such as eliminating all white bread and pasta products, and build on them slowly throughout the year. Find what works best for your family.
6. Eat together as a family more often. Life gets crazy but family meals are very important. If you can't have dinner together more than twice a week, see if family breakfasts are a better option.
7. Discuss how you receive spiritual nourishment. You may decide to visit a local church if you don't belong to one, try different places of worship to expose yourself to new faith traditions, or try meditation and incorporating more quiet time for reflection into your family schedule.
8. Resolve to ask yourselves at least one a quarter. How are we doing as a family? Is there anything that we need to talk about?
9. Accept one another. Have each family member privately pick something about everyone else that bothers them but they resolve to accept. You may decide to overlook your son's terribly messy room and remind yourself he's a good kid.
10. Think of ways to show all family members they are appreciated. Try this new tradition: start each Saturday or Sunday dinner by going around the table and having family members say what they like best about the person sitting next to them.
It's always a good time to start fresh and set goals that you'd like to achieve. This goes for families as well. Here's a plan for you and your brood to follow.
• Start by organizing a family meeting.
• Set a time that works for everyone (kids, you, your spouse) and tell them what it's about in advance.
• Ask them to think about family goals that they would like to work toward this year. Yours may be getting the kids out the door on time in the morning with fewer arguments; your 14-year-old daughter may want to negotiate more independence.
• Make sure you meet in a relaxed, comfy spot such as the family room or kitchen and ensure there are no distractions - turn off the TV and stereo and ask the kids to do the same with their iPods and electronic games.
• Whatever goals your family decides to work toward, make sure everyone feels like they come away with a "win." (It's no fun and you likely won't succeed if you and your spouse are calling all the shots.)
• Once you all determine your objectives, write them down and post them somewhere, such as on the kitchen bulletin board.
• Monitor your progress each week or month.