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 another tough year, but that’s all the more reason to pause and appreciate 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 another year of uncertainty and change, now might be a great time to help kids (and adults!) find their sense of “can-do".
Let’s make 2022 your year of magic!
Acknowledge and let go
Take a moment to reflect on what happened in 2021. 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…
Struggling with online learning…
Uncertainty around changing safety protocols…
And all those challenges unique to your family.
Some things you can’t control, but it can help to reframe them with an optimistic outlook: For example: fewer social activities creates more time for family. 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.
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 2022 can be really helpful. It sets them up in a positive light for some New Year magic!
Here are a few creative ideas for letting go.
- 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 2021?
- What was your favorite activity this year?
- What was your least favorite thing about 2021?
- How can our family better support each other in 2022?
- What did you love the most about our family in 2021?
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.
- Watch the famous New Year’s ball drop in Times Square. It will be streamed online, and the cheering crowd will be back again this year.
Look forward as a family
It’s practically tradition to break your New Year’s resolutions by February 1st. 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 2022. Here are a few questions to prompt that list:
- 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?
- 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 keeping your list short, especially if it’s a relatively new exercise for your family. 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 2022. And we hope you enjoy some safe, quality time with your family.