Forget New Year's Resolutions: Why We Make Family Promises Instead

Resolutions? I Prefer Family Promises
1 January 2016

This time last year, I wrote about reaching a ripe old age where the very mention of the phrase 'New Year's Resolution' makes my heart sink.

Why? Because over the years, I've made enough of them to know that a New Year's Resolution, no matter how sincerely made, rarely ends well. What starts as a shiny good intention, fuelled by boundless optimism, inevitably ends in a blaze of half-assed despair.

I invariably end up feeling like a failure long before February for not following through on my Resolution, instead of like a new-improved version of myself at the end of the year that I had envisaged at the start.

So these days I just don't bother with New Year's Resolutions. I'm simply refusing to buy into absurdity of them. I'm not giving up alcohol, I won't be vowing to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and I'm definitely not promising to take up a new hobby.

Heck, it's alcohol combined with my love of carbs and my 'hobby' of collapsing in front of the TV instead of hitting the gym that generally get me through; the last thing I need to deprive myself of is my very best coping mechanisms.

So instead of a New Year's Resolution, I've decided to go with making important commitments to each other as a family. I never know exactly what form they'll take because the whole point of our family promises is that the kids will be as involved in the process as I am. They'll shape the commitments and promises we make to one another at the start of 2016.

It goes like this - we gather round the kitchen table together to talk about the year we've had; the highs and lows, the things we enjoyed doing as a family and even the moments of family life that were less than lovely. Then we talk about the sort of things we'd love to spend more time doing together, as well as the habits (I can practically guarantee that yelling during the school run will feature highly on this particular list YET AGAIN this year) that we'd like to try and kick in 2016.

So if the thought of vowing to go on a diet has you reaching for the last of the mince pies too, why not join us in making family promises instead of New Year's Resolutions?

Get the kids together and make it your own. Maybe each family member could have responsibility for choosing one promise that you'll all agree to keep. My favourite thing about this approach to the year ahead is that we get to hold each other to account. While no-one else really cares (except for me) if I start getting flaky with a New Year's Resolution, I know I can rely on my kids to remind me if I start slipping up on promise I make to the family.

So I plan to let the kids write our family promises for 2016 out on a big sheet of paper which we'll decorate together and stick on the wall beside the dinner table in our kitchen, where we'll all see it several times a day. I'm hoping it will remind us of our promises, and spark lots of wider conversations about promises and commitments in general, too.

Maybe the experience will work this year; maybe it won't. But one thing's for sure, it'll give my kids a taste of how tricky it can be to follow through on a good intention and - hopefully - how rewarding it can be when you crack it. And like any challenge that comes your way in life, it's always easier to rise to it when you've got good company….

TOPICS:   Parents

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