• 10 Ideas for Starting the Year Right with Your Kids
  • Now that the celebration is over and we're all back to the daily grind, your kids might be feeling the blahs creep in (it happens to adults too!). Keep the excitement of a newly-minted year burning by planning fun things, challenging yourselves as a family, and celebrating what's most important: each other. Here's a list of ideas to make 2016 more meaningful for you and your family.

    1. Dream!
    Grab a bunch of art materials, old magazines, photos, and an illustration board. Now ask your kids these questions:
    - What do you want to do this year?
    - Where do you want to go?
    - What do you want to create?
    - What do you want to achieve?

    Just allow them to dream. Then have them make a dream board. Cut out photos or illustrations of what it is they want in 2016. Hang it in their rooms when they're done to inspire them and remind them of their goals.

    2. Predict!
    Write predictions for each family member and for yourself for 2016. Be clear on the rule that the predictions must not be mean. If you have younger children, you might want to screen the predictions first. When everyone is done, put them in one container and hide them. Take them out on January 1, 2017 to see which ones came true and which didn't.

    3. Resolve!
    Resolutions don't have to be stressful or boring. Think of fun resolutions like "I will wear a bright color every Tuesday!" Or "I will sing every time I'm in the shower." Write them on cards or bond paper, color them and add some doodles, frame or laminate them, and hang them on the walls of their bathroom or bedroom.

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    4. Write!
    Write two cards:
    - One is to thank 2015 for the year that it was. Have your kids include what they are most grateful for and maybe even what they could have done without.
    - The second is to welcome 2016. Suggest that your kids write what they're looking forward to and maybe what they expect from this year, and from themselves.

    5. Begin!
    A new year is the best time to start new things. Why not begin a new family ritual? It can be an ice cream date every 5th of the month or a trip to a place you've never been to every second weekend. Get creative and step outside of your comfort zone.

    You can even assign a special theme to each month. For example, January can be burger month when you try and compare all the different burger joints you can find. February can be sports month when you pick up a different sport every weekend and see which ones you as a family like best. March can be nature month when you visit parks, try to grow your own herbs at home, and even eat more fruits! The themes are totally up to you and you can ask your children for their ideas too. You'll be surprised at what they'll have to say. At the very least, it will be a nice change from going to the mall.

    6. Challenge yourselves!  
    This is where you can put in your serious resolutions - but tackle them in a way that will encourage you to achieve them. Do you want to eat healthier? Does your child want to be better at math? Does your hubby want to lose a few pounds?

    Make the challenges realistic. Break them down into achievable goals. Instead of saying "I will eat healthy," your goal can be "I will have one cup of vegetables and one cup of fruits with every meal." Your child can make her goal: "I will memorize my multiplication table." Then when these small goals are reached, give an award! You can hand out medals or trophies too! Then move on to the next challenge.

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    7. Reminisce.
    You won't need anything special for this exercise. You can throw in some food or a few snacks to lighten the mood, but they aren't necessary. All you need to do is sit in a circle or maybe even around the dining table and take turns sharing what was the best thing that happened to you last year. If your kids have a hard time narrowing it down, you can use categories: best thing at school, best thing during their birthday, best thing during Christmas, best thing over the summer etc.

    8. Pick!
    Together with your kids, write down fun, positive, and encouraging messages on strips of paper. Colored paper will look better than plain white. Brainstorm, look up ideas online, or ask your kids to look for favorite lines from their children's books. Roll up the strips of paper and put them in a fishbowl where everyone can have access, like in your living room or on a console table next to your front door. These will help whenever someone in the family needs a morale boost. Just remember to roll them up again and put them back after you've read them.
     
    9. Offer.
    This new year, make a conscious effort to include in your life the people you love. Teach your kids to do that as well. Create coupons for the special people in your lives -- your family and friends -- and hand them out as promises for the new year. Don't make too many because that might put too big a demand on your little ones and on yourself. Just choose maybe one special thing you can do for many people (paint them a picture of themselves) or pick one or two people to give several coupons to (hugs, homemade cookies, an hour of screen free time, and so on).

    10. Help.
    Decide who you want to help this year. Does your child's classmate need help with a certain subject? Do you have a household helper who is trying to raise funds for her child's tuition? You don't have to look far, there will always be people around you who need help. You can also check out different organizations such as Hands On Manila if you want to widen your reach.

    Whichever idea you decide to try, taking time out to make memories with your family is priceless and will surely make your 2016 special.

    Ines Bautista Yao is a wife and mother of two little girls, a seven-year-old and a two-year-old. She is the author of young adult and contemporary sweet romance books and blogs about her crazy life as a mom at www.theeverydayprojectblog.com

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