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New Beginnings

As we step fully into a new year and decade, it’s a great time to evaluate what you want to bring forward and what you want to leave behind … as a family. Along with the holiday hustle and bustle that you just experienced, chances are you enjoyed some wonderful family and home time. Reflect on what you enjoyed, and perhaps now miss, as you head back into your post-holiday routine. What was valuable to your family in the last couple of months? Did you have more time together? Did you travel? Did you create or continue special traditions with your kids? You can blend that special time into the whole year, with a little planning.

Here are 6 steps to planning for a more connected year:

Step 1: Sit down with your children for a family meeting. It always helps to include some yummy treats so the kids look forward to and enjoy meeting as a family.  

Step 2: Let your kids know you want to plan for a great upcoming year and you want their ideas.

Step 3: Ask them what they liked about Christmas and the overall holiday season. You can also ask what they usually like about summer. You are looking for themes. Is it time off from school that they value? Time at home? Travel? Playing with friends? Alone time? What brings them peace and joy?

Step 4: Once you have a list of what everyone enjoys experiencing over the holiday and summer months, look at each month on the calendar and find ways to incorporate similar quality time into each month of the year. You can pick one weekend a month or even a quarter to be your “travel” weekend or find specific evenings during the week to spend quality family time together. Whatever meets the needs and desires of your family is the goal. You are looking for ways to create frequent and positive contact, and to take a break from the fast pace of life. Whether it’s two hours, two days or two weeks, it will bring valuable benefits to your family.

Step 5: Make sure you are not creating more stress with “have to’s”. You also want to blend in both “out” time and “in” time. Make it simple and doable. It doesn’t need to cost a lot either. The consistency is what matters, as well as meeting the specific needs of each family member.

Step 6: At the end of each month, sit down and evaluate how your annual plan is going. How did everyone enjoy the added connection last month? What is coming up in the next month? What needs to be adjusted? Make the necessary adjustments and move on to your next adventure!

Taking the time to create memories throughout the year will allow you to enjoy the journey of raising children, rather than enduring it or missing it entirely. It also teaches children how to plan and how to balance self-care with goals and work. Thirdly, it benefits your parent-child relationship enormously.

Relationships are built by spending time together. This is how you get to know your children and who they are becoming, and how they get to know you. While talking about homework, chores and issues that arise are necessary, the joys of life, board games and yummy treats are also important.

Every month is a new beginning. Every day offers a new start. Take advantage of those opportunities to improve tomorrow and learn from today. Life is lived in moments. Don’t miss a single one.

Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent. She provides parenting classes, teen programs and individual coaching. She is known for her practical parenting style and can be reached directly at 951-240-1407 or traci@alovingway.com. www.alovingway.com

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