The Big day has come and gone, and hopefully you enjoyed a healthy dose of laughter and love during the holidays. As we experience the slower, after-Christmas pace we can use this time to initiate a few positive habits with our kids. Here are my top three recommendations for this week.
1. Write Thank You Notes. Help your kids to form a positive habit of writing thank you notes to their family members and friends during the holidays. This is an important activity to establish in your home as it encourages gratitude, thoughtfulness, kindness and consideration of others. You can even make it an activity with the kids to create and decorate cards, or turn on one of your favorite movies and set the Thank you cards out on the coffee table for everyone to write while they watch the show. I always address large white envelopes for the different families to whom we need to send notes, then we all write our individual notes and put them in the various envelopes and send them off.
2. Set Goals. As the new year approaches we want to teach our kids to think about what they want to achieve in the coming year. It is a good time to reignite a fervor for good grades, new friendships, spiritual growth and a healthy lifestyle. Goals help us to think forward and consider where we are headed and what we want to do about it. Goals ought to stretch us and move us in a positive direction. They are not meant to discourage us, so be sure you make them achievable. I usually set a goal in the following four areas: Spiritual, Physical, Social and Mental. My spiritual goals relate to reading scripture, praying and memorizing God’s Word. Physical relates to exercise and eating habits. Social usually centers on my friendships I need to work on and getting together with people on a regular basis. With my mental goals I typically make a plan for reading and learning a new skill each year (this year I’d love to develop a skill in painting and pastels). Teach your kids to set their own goals, and invite them to share their goals with you so you can be their encourager.
3. Clean out the Junk. We all have stuff that has accumulated over the years, and now is a great time to clean out and reorganize. It feels good to start off the new year with the junk cleared out and everything in its place (so you can find it at least for a while). Start with the junk drawer in the kitchen, then the refrigerator. As much as possible, work together with the kids as it makes the process more enjoyable. Provide a box and a trash bag for each child to use to conquer their bedrooms and closets. The box is to be used for give-aways. In our house this year I designated a box specifically for books. We all have books we need to give away in order to make room for the new ones, so use this as an opportunity to clean out and freshen up your library. You can resell the books at Half Price Books or you can give them to a local charity or shelter.
If I were going to add a fourth item to the list it would be, “Have fun!” Don’t make any of the three activities above into a laborious tasks, but rather turn them into fun family adventures. It begins with your example and attitude. Writing thank you notes can be an arts and crafts time (while watching a movie as I said earlier or listening to a favorite CD). Sharing your goals can be a conversation topic at the dinner table and a time to think of a family motto for the year (like “Redefine in 2009” or “Seek the Divine in 2009”). Cleaning out the junk can become a contest of who can give away the most or who has the biggest trash bag. Laugh and enjoy the week together. Be deliberate about investing in family time and enjoy ringing in the new year together! Happy New Year to you and “ May all be fine in 2009!”