Each time a new year rolls around I am flabbergasted at how quickly the previous year has flown by. There are usually quite a few things I wanted to do that I didn’t. But a squeaky clean calendar is exciting because it is a new opportunity to get some things right that we may have overlooked the year before. It can also be a great time to let go of some things that affect your family negatively- perfectionism, unwashed clothes, unforgiveness, too much television, unrealistic expectations, dirty dishes…I could go on and on..
The beginning of each year is the perfect time to take account of what we as a family have done well and enjoyed. (We can also take a real look at what wasn’t so great.) It is our family tradition to sit down and write out what our favorite memories of that year were and what we desire to find time to do in the year to come. Did we spend real time together sitting down for supper at least a few times a week? Have we traveled to the spots we want to share with our kids? Have we loved our family, friends and church well? Have we been generous and grateful? Have we challenged ourselves and learned anything new? Can we learn from our mistakes?
I have to admit I can be the last one who is excited about diving back into “real life” after the fun and unstructured time that the holidays bring. Christmas cookies and coffee for breakfast anyone? It can feel sad to leave being comfortable and sugar-crazed behind, but I am also a sucker for wanting to improve the purpose and flow of our days, not to mention what we may have been eating for breakfast. I think I am officially past the days of setting unrealistic goals and life shattering changes as resolutions but I have begun to see the beauty of the fresh start at each new year.
Try looking back at your year as a family and discuss how you have spent your time, talents and money. Are you happy with how your time was used? Did everyone spend a majority of their time pursuing their own interests or did you accomplish some things together? There are a thousand questions you can ask about the time that has passed but the important thing is to focus on how you as a family will use that information to change your future. Consider deciding together what is truly important to your family and use the new year to make time for whatever that is. This may mean letting go of some things, but what you can get in return could far outweigh what is lost.
I think we all feel that family time is not only difficult to make a priority, but fleeting, especially when our kids are young. I also sense that we would all say we would like to have more of it this year. I recently watched a video of kids being asked who they would have dinner with if they could choose anyone in the whole world, dead or alive. The overwhelming majority of them said their parents. This proves a point: Our kids may appreciate the opportunities we provide them, the things we buy them and all of our busy and well laid plans, but in the end what they really want is our full attention, even if only over supper. So consider 2017 the chance to reset what your family life is going to look like. Changing your family culture is possible but it has to be intentional. The good news is…it might only cost you a few changes and supper.