They are one of the oldest traditions of mankind and yet we rarely manage to keep them past the “bongs” of Big Ben - I mean, of course, New Year resolutions. But which resolution – or resolutions – should we aim to make and keep?
Generally I can stretch keeping my New Year resolutions until about March - if I’m really determined, maybe June. According to Wikipedia, the earliest known record of New Year resolutions is from 153 BC when Babylonians would promise to pay back their debts and return borrowed items. Their aim was to begin the year with a clean slate and, hopefully, improved lives. I agree with this! A new year always gets me thinking about the things I want to change for the better. It’s that desire to improve life - even by a small amount and even if only for a few weeks – which is the point. Small changes are like stones thrown into a pond. The resulting ripples radiate out, touching other people and making more ripples which then touch still more and so on.
Here are three resolutions for families which I think are worth making the effort to keep.
1. Appreciate every quality in your loved ones, especially in your children.
The qualities we most dislike in others are often those we see in ourselves - it could be why we dislike them in the first place! The opposite is also true, so the qualities we admire in others are often those we also possess. Acknowledge and encourage the qualities you admire in your partner and children, acknowledging and appreciating them in yourself too. Accept and UNDERSTAND those qualities you dislike – but work on acknowledging and forgiving them. Every negative quality has a positive:
Bossiness is a demonstration of leadership skills,
Sulking is way of getting someone to recognise that you feel hurt or upset,
Tantrums demonstrate a determination to get your own way (!)
2. Keep the lines of communication open
It might sound obvious but it amazes me how many families have a member that they don’t talk to. Following times of confrontation, once strong feelings have died down and everyone is able to think rationally again, talk things through. You might feel you were in the right but it doesn’t hurt to say you’re sorry that the disagreement happened in the first place – doing so often gets things moving for the better again. Hurt feelings have to be acknowledged in order to heal. Explaining calmly how you were feeling and why you became angry or upset – especially to children - really helps.
3. Do something for yourself every day.
Exercise is great for mental health but so is the occasional treat too. As a young mum strapped for cash I used to feel really guilty about spending money on myself in a coffee shop until a woman called Gill Edwards explained that the shop owner, the shop staff, factory workers, importers, coffee pickers and growers all benefit from me buying that coffee. There is also the Full Cup Theory – simply that if I want to keeping pouring love and care into my family, I have to take time to fill up my own jug.
I want my children to have positive self-esteem (which is very different from confidence) so I need to role model taking time to care and appreciate myself. If you are struggling to think of something you could do, think back to when you were younger, maybe even as a child. Ask yourself what you really enjoyed doing which you’d like to have back in your life. Make yourself a promise to try it again. And then do so.
The challenge of New Year resolutions is to bring about change in ourselves rather than trying to change others. Even tiny changes can open up a whole new path of possibility – try it and see how your 2018 benefits as a result.