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Starting Fresh - Get your kids excited about the new year!

January 1 ImageI love New Years Day. It’s a time for us to leave behind the things of the past and look toward the future with a new set of goal and aspirations, whether they be financial (budgeting for a family vacation), physical (eating healthier food and using that treadmill three times a week) or emotional (taking time for personal reflection).

Every year when I put away my old daytimer and crack open the new one I feel renewed and like anything is possible. I think it’s important to get our children excited about new possibilities as well. There can be a real sense of letdown after all the parties and gifts and late nights of the holiday season. And for people who live places where the winter months tend to drag on and on, prospects can seem even more gloomy.

Here are a few tips to help spark some excitement about the year to come.

1.  Good news jar.

At the start of every new year, we get a large jar and put it on the counter somewhere that everyone can access it. Every time something good happens, like grandma and grandpa coming for a visit or Mommy getting a new car, it goes in the good news jar. The only rule is that the news has to be good, and anyone can put something in the jar. Then, on New Year’s Eve the following year, we sit down and go through all the wonderful things that happened. This is a great practice, because no matter how difficult the year might have been, reading about all the things that made us happy helps us remember that we always have lots to be grateful for!

2.  Start a weekly tradition that gives your child a sense of empowerment.

For example, you could let your child pick what’s for supper every Friday, then have them help you prepare it. It’s something fun to look forward to each week, and kids tend to eat what they make themselves. You could also start a family game night and let the children take turns picking the game, or have a family movie night with popcorn and special drinks. Children love routine, and they will look forward to it every week.

3.  Set a weekly goal list for each family member.

It could be that Suzy is going to practice piano every day for 10 minutes or that Johnny is going to pack his backpack the night before so he’s not late for school anymore. Let the children choose what they want to work on. You can keep a chart on the wall where kids (and adults!) can check off each day that they complete the task. Kids respond well to these kind of charts and will often compete the activity just so they can tick off the box. Then, on Sunday, if everyone has reached their goal, you can have a family reward…maybe ice-cream sundaes?

There are lots of ways to get the new year off to a good start, and setting goals as a family will help you support each other so you can achieve them. Here’s to new beginnings, and all the best to you in 2014!

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