The start of every new year is the time to start fresh. It is a time to tuck away our mistakes of the past and start with a clean slate. Because modern family living can be quite challenging, it is good to evaluate where you’ve been over the past year and develop a plan for moving forward – as a family. January is the perfect time to reflect on the changes you want or need to make in order to make your family better. Below are ten New Year’s resolutions every modern family should make.
As parents and step-parents, we spend way too much time second guessing ourselves and obsessing over every decision we make. Starting this year, make it a point to trust your instincts and what you feel is right for you and your modern family. While that well-meaning advice is okay, only you have ALL the facts and truly know your situation. Therefore, you have to make decisions based on your truth and not someone else’s.
Make Time for Your Spouse
This should be on every married or recoupled couple’s list! Remember, in order to keep your family intact, you must keep your marriage intact. This year, resolve to reconnect with your spouse. Have a drama free date night at least once per month. Don’t talk about the kids. Don’t talk about the exes. Don’t talk about your problems. Just lose yourself in your spouse. Get a hotel or kick the kids out (hire a babysitter) for a few hours and get back that lovin’ feeling. Play your wedding song, do some kinky role playing or just make out for as long as you wish. When you devote time to maintaining your relationship and staying connected, other areas of your family life will improve. You’ll listen to each other more; making decisions as a team will get better; you’ll present a united front to your children more often and overall, your modern family will flow better.
Find Creative Ways to Gel as a Family
Because the modern family wasn’t organically made, it will take work, not force, in order to start feeling more like a cohesive unit. Make time this year to find creative ways to gel as a family. For example, start a book club with your family and you can do this with various age groups. It will get the kids reading more and give you something all to talk about at your book club meetings. It’s a noncompetitive activity, of which no one has to take anybody’s side and it will get you all together in the same roon at least once per month. Another idea is to do a small project together like planting a tree or making a sign with your family name on it to hang on the front door.
Let’s face it, innately, we are self-absorbed human beings who always believe that we have it worse off than anyone else in the world. Our modern family lifestyles are complicated, yes, but most are definitely manageable. Oftentimes, our children adopt this attitude as well and they begin to think that the world revolves around only them because of their circumstances. A good way to change everyone’s perspective is to take time to give back as a family. Volunteer at a home for foster children (these kids have no parents, let alone parents and step-parents). Collect clothing and food to take to the home of a single parent who is struggling to make ends meet. Remind yourselves that there are children and families who are indeed in a worse situation than you are.
Create a Family Mission Statement
Gloria Linterman, author of The Secrets to Stepfamily Success, offered a great idea in her book. She said that every family should have a family mission statement and she is right! Again, because modern families aren’t organically made, we have to make a conscious effort to work to stay on the same page as a family. A family mission statement encompasses everyone’s goals/mission for the family. Everyone, from the oldest to youngest and tallest to shortest is allowed to offer input when creating your family missions statement.
Spend More Time With Friends
I know that modern mamas and modern dads lead busy complicated lives, but as regularly as possible, take some time to just get away from it all. Have lunch or go watch a football game with a friend. Remind yourself that although you chose this life, it is not your whole life and allow yourself to reconnect with some friends. You’ll discover that it will enable you to be a better spouse, parent/step-parent and overall, modern family member.
Enjoy Life More
We spend way too much time focusing on what’s wrong that we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy what’s right. Stop consuming yourself with your ex, your spouse’s ex, disgruntled stepkids, ex-inlaws…You can’t change them, no matter what you do. All you can do is change how you react. Give the appropriate response to a situation and then move on with the rest of your life already. Take more long walks in the park, laugh more, dance more, be silly more and enjoy life more!
Say it Like You Mean it
Wendy Williams coined this phrase in the theme song of her show and it’s one of my favorites. Oftentimes, we become wrapped up in being closed mouths for the sake of everyone else that we forget about ourselves in the process. This year, make it a point to lay your expectations out on the line and mean it! You don’t have to be harsh or rude; just be honest about what you expect from your modern family members. If an ex-spouse crosses the line, let him or her know that you won’t tolerate it. If a stepchild is rude and disobedient, let him/her know that it won’t happen in your house. If your spouse needs a reminder from time to time, let him/her know what you will and won’t tolerate. Standing up for yourself is not rude, if you do it in the correct manner. Doing so, doesn’t make you a bad person; however, not saying it like you mean it can be detrimental to your mental and physical health.
Let Things Go
Don’t spend another minute this year obsessing over who did what to you and why and how and so forth. Resovle to let those things go and start with a clean slate. Remember, you can’t change anybody; you can only change how you react. If you need to get it off your chest before letting it go, write that person a letter (even if you don’t mail it); tell a nonjudgemental friend; or talk to yourself in the mirror. Do whatever you have to do to release it and let it go! Afterward, make it a point to deal with the negative (if necessary), but focus on the positive.
Lead by Example
Instead of trying to fix everyone to make everyone else better, focus on being a better you. Hopefully, by example, you can motivate your other modern family members to do the same.