5 Ways to Challenge Your Family in the New Year

Have you already started tackling your New Year’s resolutions for 2017?

If you’re already hitting the gym, practicing more mindfulness or cutting out the salt, then you share New Year’s Resolutions with more than 50 percent of Americans, according to research on the top 10 most common resolutions.

While setting and working on personal resolutions is a trendy and healthy way to start the new year, and an admirable devotion to continued self-improvement, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important at the first sign of trouble: relapse.

So, consider challenging yourself with new and different goals that offer a stress-free side of 2017: New Year Challenges, things you can do with your family that are fun ways to challenge yourselves and grow, while spending time together and learning some new things along the way.

Here are five ideas to get you started:


  • Get Outside. Challenge you and your family to see how many weeks in a row you can get outside and do something active, like go for a walk, play at the park, or jump on the trampoline for 20 minutes (which is especially fun to do in the snow: hello, January!). Being outside in the middle of winter can be cold, so bundle everyone in weather-appropriate attire. Head to the slopes for a short ski getaway (we even wrote a Busy Mom’s Guide to Ski Resort Adventures!). Research shows that a little sun exposure during winter months can combat things like seasonal depression. It’s one of the best things you can do for your family to spend time together and be active outdoors.
  • Teach your children that the key to patience lies within them: the ability to control your breathing to harness the calm. We recommend trying the new app, Simple Habit, developed by a team of Harvard psychologists and meditation experts, to share the power of breathing and meditation with your family with 5-minute meditations “for busy life.” Research shows that meditation can relieve stress and a daily dose of five-minute meditations can lift the whole family to a new zen.
  • Challenge yourself and everyone in the family to set aside a certain amount of money (even $1) each week in their piggy banks as savings. Set a goal for how much you’re going to save and what you’re going to spend the money on once you’ve reached the goal. We recommend parents use an app like Albert to provide recommendations for savings and automatically pull funds comfortably from your bank account to set aside as savings for later withdrawal. Teaching children how to save is an important lesson that will influence their financial decisions for years to come. Help them take it seriously by staying accountable and showing them how the whole family benefits when you save money together.
  • Organize. Every family has challenges with organizing toys and committing to decluttering, but try setting a cooking timer an hour a week for everyone to share in the chore of cleaning up and getting your home in order. See if you can beat the timer by working together fast. It’s easier to tackle if you approach it as a group. Even small children can help with direction and patience.
  • Time-Block Your Morning. Hitting the snooze button over and over again is so tempting. We just want five more minutes of sleep! But that five minutes can turn into a 25-minute delay in getting to work on time. Have you considered the 15 minutes it will take to help an independent toddler put his socks and shoes on? Or the 10 minutes it will take to clean syrup off the children (and, oh yeah, your black work pants!) after they eat their morning waffles? Try starting your day sooner, rather than later, by avoiding the snooze button (and its five minutes of glory). When it starts to become a routine, treat yourself and your family by swinging through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through for a donut before school starts.
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