December 30, 2019
Setting Family Goals
“New year, new me!” say some people after another year rolls in. And as days move behind us, we see our goal posts moved elsewhere. Sometimes we end up where we started or even slightly behind. The truth of the matter is that a calendar can’t make us different people. But goal setting can. When we decide we want something, we can figure out what exactly needs to happen for us to get there. And a new year is a great time to start, but every day is a new opportunity for goal setting.
For families, that can mean many things. All families are different and have different needs. Some families crave more structure and organization, like planning ahead for outings or cleaning up all the toys. Others might actually be happier if they stressed less about the little things and instead learned to live with the fact that shared spaces are family play spaces. Some families might be more education-focused and may want to come up with a kindergarten readiness checklist. But as a family, you get to decide what your goals are, and what you want the results to look like. We combed the web to see how parents are setting goals for their families, and we picked our favorites to share with you!
Three ways to set goals as a family — and how to have fun while doing it.
1) Vision boards
Vision boards are great for many reasons. But for families, they are great because they give everyone an opportunity to participate — even the ones that don’t know how to write yet! Little ones can choose pictures they like from magazines and newspapers. Preschoolers can practice fine motors skills and cut out pictures too. For parents, it is a great way for sharing what is important to them with their children.
Where to start?
Save the junk mail. Grab the pile of old magazines from the basement. Toss in the picture book your little guy ripped apart when he was a baby but you never threw away — all paper goods can be part of your vision board treasurer. Make a pile with all of your collected items on a table or the middle of the floor. Practice fine motor skills using scissors or just tear images out, if your child is younger.
What images to include in a vision board?
Choose an approach that works for your family: decide as you go, and just pick images that speak to each of you. Or choose as a family what your goals will be, and then search together for images that represent those goals for you.
Example: Your family wants to spend more time outdoors in 2019, so you find pictures of plants and parks or people walking dogs outside.
2) Jar full of ideas
This idea is great for families wanting to spend less time with screens like televisions, tablets, and phones. Place a big jar in a key area of your home, like the kitchen or living room. Have each family member come up with fun activities, names of board games, or places you want to visit together. Then, write them on little pieces of paper. Finally, throw them all in the jar and determine when each will get done. Will you pull out an idea every week? Once a month? All families have different schedules, but setting goals for doing things together can help you be more intentional about the quality of that special family time.
Bonus: Just for fun, throw in funny prompts like “walk like cat” or “dance La Macarena.” Whoever pulls out the idea may choose to go to the water park, but they may have to do something funny first.
3) Schedule a “yes” day
Parenting sometimes means saying “no” or “not right now” a lot. And that can leave kids feeling like their input is not important. It can also leave parents feeling like they’ve lost their fun touch. Pick a day of the month or the year, and turn it into a magic day where you will say “yes” to four things. Your children do the asking and you choose from their requests. They may end up learning lessons about bargaining and negotiating, and you might end up loving an activity that you may have said no to otherwise.
Pro tip: Before you proclaim a “yes” day, share some rules. “Yes, as long as it costs less than $20” or “nothing that will make any family member feel sad.”
Build Your Child’s Brighter Future!
Want to dive deeper into the emotional health of your little one? Check out our Play and Learning guidance about social-emotional growth for:
- Babies — Today, she’s already developing the early skills that will allow her to become an independent person.
- One-year-olds — Day by day, he’s developing a growing sense of independence and empathy
- Two-year-olds — Your little one is navigating how to be a friend to himself…and to others!
- Three-year-olds — Talk with your child, and help her identify and understand her emotions: happy, sad, excited, afraid, and frustrated.
- Pre-K learners — The happy, outgoing kid you dropped off at preschool may be quiet and grumpy when you see her later.