It’s that time of year again when we start creating our New Year’s resolutions list: Lose weight. Love ourselves more. Learn a new hobby. These are all common things you see on those popular, yet often abandoned, lists of goals for the year.
In our family, we do New Year’s resolutions a little different. We sit down together at the start of every year and set a few individual goals that always include one character trait we think we need to work at such as being more consistent in a certain area, or working on being more careful with our words. In addition to these individual goals, we also set family goals for the upcoming year.
Family goals can consist of a variety of activities or resolutions, but they all have one common hopeful outcome – to bring us closer and stronger as a Christ-centered family unit. Some goals are the same every January, such as taking one family vacation just the six of us, but many are different from year to year. We create our lists of goals as a family, and the list includes resolutions from both kids and parents. The kiddos often have some of the best ideas!
Here are five family goals you can set for 2014 that will change your family for the better:
1. Have a weekly/monthly Family Night. As my children get older, I’m realizing that finding time together is becoming more difficult when they were all under the age of eight and by our side 24/7. Between play rehearsals, karate calls, and youth group activities, we spend many evenings apart as do many families with older children. Having a consistent, scheduled evening each week (or monthly if you’re not able) where we plan no activities except spending time together is key. It allows us to reconnect, set aside our digital devices, and truly come together as a family. Sometimes we plan a family movie night complete with popcorn, sometimes we play board games, and sometimes we just lay around and be silly, but we always do it together.
2. Spend dinnertime together at the family dinner table every night if possible. I am big fan of the family dinner table. Growing up, we ate dinner together every night, and I truly believe it help us stay close as a family unit. There’s something unifying about coming together at the end of a busy day to spend a time calm, and comforted by good food and a loving atmosphere. When your children are smaller, it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page at the same time when it comes to eating dinner. I remember well trying to get one child to stop crying, while another child is attempting to sneak food to the dog, while yet another child is asking for the hundredth time how many peas they have to eat. But I promise that as your children get older, the family dinner table becomes more and more important, and you will look forward to that time together, relish it, and one day look back on it fondly with a tear in your eye.
3. Have a daily family devotion time. Our nightly family devotions keep our family rooted. It’s a consistent time each day that we come together to study His word, give prayer requests and praises, as well as discuss important family issues. Our children are old enough now that they take turns participating in our devotional time, and even lead the lesson or prayer time themselves. Watching and listening as they pray from their heart or share a truth they recently found in the Bible is a joy I cannot explain. As parents, we strive to pass our faith onto our children, and by spending time together in the Word each day, making it a priority, we are passing on our love of the Lord to them by our examples and that’s the best way!
4. Schedule consistent date nights. Yes, I know this one doesn’t include kids, but it’s an important way to bring your family closer together. For your family to run smoothly like a well oiled machine, you have to have a strong foundation daily in Christ (we covered that in goal #3), and you and your spouse have to work together as a team. My husband and I have had years where we did well in this area, and others where our busy-ness got in the way of our time together. Those were the years that we struggled more than others. Spending quality time, just you and your spouse, is super important to the health of your family. It’s so much easier to work as a team when you are in sync with the other player.
5. Do a community service project together. At least once a year, our entire family does a community service project together. There are so many different options for this activity. Find a project that aligns with your family’s passions, and serve those less fortunate. It’s amazing the lessons both children and parents can learn when we spend time giving back. And the rewards are great when you bond together as a family during an activity like this!
These are just a few of our favorites to get you started. As you look forward to the next year, think of family goals that will help you and your children grow in a certain area you feel you may be lacking in. As you make an effort to grow as Christians, you will inevitably grow together as well.
Our main goal as parents is to raise children who love the Lord. Take some time this New Year to read Dave Stone’s Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord. It’s a great resource for Christian parents, and will give you a fantastic jumping off point to start your family goals list for 2014!
What family goals are on your list for the upcoming year?