Today I am concluding my New Year's goal list with one that I think a lot of us always intend to do, but don't follow through with and that is goals for family. I don't mean the goals of making sure the kids get to school on time (all year long) or the goals of getting the kids to keep their rooms clean--what I mean is the goal of putting our families first through the year. You can say "I am putting my family first" now, but, saying it and actually doing it are two different things. Here are some ways to truly keep that "family first" thing going all year.
Reunion Planning - Whether you have an actual large extended family, or you have a group of friends that are your family, the only way to keep those connections alive is to plan times to be together. A lot of us (myself included) get so wrapped up in our day to day lives that we say "let's do lunch" and "can't wait to get together" more often than we actually have lunch or see that person. Sometimes when you have a large extended family, the logistics of getting everyone together at the same time can be an enormous task. But, why not have several mini reunions with those you love? Plan times when smaller groups can get together. Maybe meet up for dinner somewhere or invite them over for an evening. If you have those that live a distance from you, maybe plan an event somewhere and invite everyone, but, don't be upset if everyone can't come. Maybe they will the next time. Sometimes just having something consistently helps keep that connection going. One side of my husband's family has 2 reunions a year in different states, and the other side has a reunion yearly in the same place. Sometimes we have made it, but, other times we haven't. We have, however, because of those reunions been able to connect with some of his cousins, which has been a really cool thing.
Time Well Spent - Another thing to concentrate on for your family goals, is to make sure you have quality time with those you love. If you have several kids at home, just getting through each day alive can be a task! Make an effort to have some time where nothing else matters but spending time together. It doesn't have to be a special trip somewhere or a huge family meal. Sometimes it just means forget a household chore so you can sit and listen to how someone's day was or ignore your cell phone and just watch a TV show together. Maybe read to your kids. When my kids were home, we made a point to eat at the dinner table for supper at least 4 nights a week. One night we had pizza night and generally it was more casual, but, the other three to four we sat at the table (weekends my kids were at their dad's). During those meals, my boys usually had an argument every evening, someone usually didn't like something on the table and sometimes I learned things I really didn't want to know about my kids...but I believe that time together really bonded all of us. We talk about the bickering and craziness, that was family supper time, with fond memories now. In fact, I truly miss being able to connect with everyone together like that on a daily basis. It was time well spent.
Trips or Events - In some cases it's good to plan some goals of vacations you can go on, or things you would like to do with your family ahead of time if possible. Get it on your calendars--if you don't, something else will fill that spot for sure! If you have little kids, sometimes you wait to tell them about a trip or event (because they can drive you and themselves crazy with anticipation) but with older kids it might be smart to decide when you are doing something and be sure they know so if they get involved in something extracurricular, they will know ahead that a certain week is just off the table. Plan trips with extended family at times or events to meet at! I have planned trips with my sisters, my mother when she was alive and close friends that are like family to me. All have been great times and given me some wonderful memories.
Early Holiday Planning - One other family goal that is important is holiday planning. Every year my daughters and I go over the menus we had for the holidays past for family dinners and make one for the next holiday meal so we can be prepared ahead of time. We plan who is going to make what and what dish we may leave off or add this year. We also start to look at the calendar all during the year so that we can find what works for everyone with work schedules as far as what day to plan the meal. Since all four of my kids are grown and married with their own families, there are now four new families that are in the mix for holiday celebrations--not to mention their father and his wife and their family celebrations as well! I decided with each holiday to plan a time when everyone is available rather than just stick to the exact holiday to get together. That way it doesn't compete with the other families. Sometimes it can add stress getting everything ready for a Christmas celebration nearly a week ahead of time, but, it's well worth it so that we can have uninterrupted time together. Nothing is perfect because people aren't perfect, but, if you have planned properly, when the little things happen you don't expect, you can handle them much better because everything else is ready to go.
These are just a few family goals to take a look at. Don't beat yourself up if some of these things won't work for your family. You know what you can or can't do and you know what you need to improve upon. Above all if you have a goal to just make things better with your family, then whatever step you take to do that is a step in the right direction.
Until Next Time!
Jen Lush--Associate Broker and Lover of Her Family Photo Credit: Tyler Nix