As we write this, the holiday season is in full swing.
There’s the whimsy of magic in the air as people throw themselves into celebrating. It has been a tough year and there are many reasons to make the most of where we are now, reflect on where we’ve been, and look forward to better things.
The upcoming New Year provides an ideal time to share reflections and future goals as a family.
It’s a great habit to develop with kids - goal-setting is linked with higher achievement and also a sense of responsibility and empowerment. After the turmoil of 2020, now might be a great time to help kids find some sense of “can-do” – the adults probably need it too!
Let’s make 2021 your year of magic!
Acknowledge and let go
It’s a good time to reflect on what happened over 2020. Your kids probably had some moments they really loved, and it’s worth celebrating those. On the other hand, it’s also a healthy exercise to acknowledge the challenges…
time away from friends and family…
figuring out online learning…
spending A LOT of time worrying about mask-wearing and sanitizing…
keeping rooms tidy so classmates and co-workers don’t see dirty laundry...
If things have been particularly challenging in your household, engaging the family in a “letting go” exercise can help. Symbolic actions can be great for helping us cope with our feelings and finding ways to live with them, or let them go. As this Psychology Today article highlights, simple rituals can make us feel better.
For many people, the idea of not bringing the “bad stuff” with them into 2021 can be really helpful. It sets them up in a positive light for some New Year magic!
There are some things you can’t control (like whether school will remain online), but it can help if you reframe them with an optimistic outlook: “We get to spend more time as a family,” or “We can stay warm and dry when it’s cold out.” Talk to your kids about playing the “glad game” and the power of positive thinking. It’s about bringing focus to the things you can control.
Where there are negative things they do have control over, there are many creative ideas for letting go. For example:
- Go outside and yell your troubles to the wind.
- Write them down on a piece of paper and throw it in the fireplace.
- Speak it or write it onto a smooth stone and skip it across the water.
- Write the problem on a kite tail and fly it. The problem is blown away by the wind.
Need ideas to prompt reflection? Here are questions to ask:
- What did you accomplish this year that you’re most proud of?
- What are you most grateful for from 2020?
- What was your favorite activity this year?
- What was your least favorite thing about 2020?
- How can our family better support each other in 2021?
- What did you love the most about our family in 2020?
Celebrate as a family
The New Year tradition usually starts with a celebration. You can pick whatever order you prefer to do activities, but it seems quite fitting to let go of the past year, then celebrate!
This New Year’s Eve might look a bit different for your family, especially if you’re used to big parties or gathering in crowds for public activities. What can you do to make celebrating as a family magical?
We’ve found a few ideas for fun, at-home parties:
Have a science party. In honor of the New Year, kids get to do sparkly, fizzy, messy science experiments. You could try fizzy baking soda science, slime-making, even fireworks in a jar.
Have a family paint and sip! Everyone gets their favorite beverage, you set up canvases and paints, and everyone gives the painting a go. Here are a few paint and sip at home videos on YouTube.
Create a time capsule! You decide when the opening date will be—one year, five years, etc. It can be fun for kids to think of something special they’d like to put in a capsule, then reflect back on it in the future. Parents, you can include extended family by sending an email of questions for them to answer in reply. Opening the time capsule this time next year or even in five years can offer fun reflection. “Time capsules allow us to step back from our complex and often overwhelming present to sketch its essential outlines,” says Nick Yablon, an associate professor of history at the University of Iowa and author of “Remembrance of Things Present: The Invention of the Time Capsule.” “By adopting the perspective of the future recipients, we acquire a kind of distance from the present that allows us to attempt to summarize, or historicize, it.” Here’s a template you can use.
- Make eco-friendly confetti to unleash at midnight.
You can also still watch the famous New Year’s ball drop in Times Square. It might look a little different with no celebrating crowds, but it will be streamed online for all to see.
Look forward as a family
It almost seems as though it’s tradition to make New Year’s resolutions, only to break them by February 1st. While that’s true of a lot of resolutions, there are some things you can do to create a more meaningful outlook for your year.
Resolutions often go wrong because they’re not really a plan. They state a desired outcome, but don’t include the steps needed to get you there. As Anton de Saint-Exupery is credited with saying, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”
As a family, set goals rather than resolutions and make a plan to achieve them. Make them as specific as possible and include an intended timeline. If you’re saying, “We want to visit Zion National Park in the summer,” you’d create a clear, written plan. When in the summer? What needs to be organized to make it happen? Can you book now? If your kids are old enough, they could take responsibility for some of the planning.
One idea is to make a family “bucket list” for 2021. Some questions to prompt that list include:
- Where do we want to go outdoors?
- Who do we want to see?
- What new adventures do we want to have?
- What activities do we want to try?
- Where do we want to go indoors? (For example, museums - if 2021 allows!)
- What books do we want to read together?
- What do we want to learn together?
Of course, you can do all of these things both as a family unit, and as individuals. It’s great for kids to think about what they want to aim for themselves - “I want to learn to draw horses” or “I want to read Harry Potter.”
One of the great things about going through a goal-setting exercise together is that it’s empowering. You can show kids that they really can make things happen if they come up with a plan.
As a final note, we’d suggest not making a huge list of goals for the family or with kids, especially if it’s a relatively new exercise. Start with two or three achievable goals and go through the steps to attain them; this can be enough to show kids that goal-setting does work. You don’t want to teach them that New Year’s is about a huge resolution list with no follow-through! Put your goals up somewhere visible so you can mark off progress for all to see.
From all of us here at Hold The Magic, we wish you more happiness for the New Year and a magical 2021. And we hope you enjoy some safe, quality time with your family.