Starting to plan New Year's resolutions? New Years is a time for families to reset together. Here are a few ideas that will help families set their goals together. Best of all, they are simple, don’t cost anything, and make happier families.

Develop Healthier Eating Habits

All kids benefit from relaxed family mealtimes. Bonus: they’re also more likely to eat their vegetables.

  • Track servings. Studies show that calm, repeated daily exposure to a new food for up to 14 days is often effective in getting a child to overcome a food aversion. Don’t give up on foods children don’t like. Instead, keep offering it and track serving attempts on a calendar.
  • Involve the kids in meals. Kids are often more willing to eat something they make, so include them in meal preparation.

Adopt better sleep habits

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that one in three kids are sleep-deprived. Here are ways to help your child learn healthy habits to get a more restful night’s sleep.

  • Create wind-down sleep routines. Create a bedtime ritual tailored to children's sleep needs, and stick to it until it becomes a habit. Teach younger kids the Bedroom B’s: Bath, brush their teeth, and book before bed. Children can draw each step and paste it on a chart as a reminder.
  • Teach mental relaxers. Many kids fall asleep, and then wake up unable to go back to sleep. Teach your child how to relax and encourage sleep with techniques such as breathing deeply while focusing on a different body part from head to toe, or recreating a peaceful place with their mind.

Tune out digital distraction

Electronics are wonderful, but digital devices can also monopolize children’s lives. Here are tips to help families find a healthy digital balance.

  • Do a family screen time self-check. The average eight-to 17-year-old is plugged in around seven and a half hours per day. Have a family conversation around electronic usage. Discuss when there should be “unplugged times,” how much time they should spend per day on their devices, and what places should be digital-free. Don’t forget to stick to your plan.
  • With established “unplugged time”, many parents wonder how to reinstate meaningful family discussions. Ask children to help think up questions to spark family conversations.

Tune in to kindness

An NBC News State of Kindness poll found that 62 percent of survey participants believe that kids are less kind today than in the past. Here are ways to strengthen children’s kindness muscles.

  • Look for good news. Kindness is strengthened by seeing and hearing about it, so help children find and cut out inspiring news about kind-hearted people. Discuss those uplifting stories at dinner or before your kids go to sleep to help remind them about the good in their world.
  • Start a charity box. Kindness is increased through practice so make kindness an ongoing family routine. Kids can decorate a cardboard box and place it by the door. Everyone fills it with their gently used toys, games, and books. Then deliver the Charity Box together.

Get homework back on track

Homework can be stressful for both kids and parents. Try these tips to reduce homework frustrations in the upcoming year.

  • Study in chunks. Take advantage of those in-between times (like picking up siblings for carpools) to complete simpler assignments. Kids can make flashcards for their spelling words or math facts to review on the go.
  • Teach time management. Provide an oven timer, egg timer, or stopwatch and tell your child to set it for a specified time (like five minutes per task), and then try to “Beat the Clock.” Gradually stretch the time length as children's attention span increases.

For expert tips on these subjects to do a family reset for the New Year, contact the local Semper Fit Health Promotion office, School Liaison, or Child and Youth Program office.

Adapted from the article “Starting over: 10 simple ways to reset family routines for the New Year” by Dr. Michele Borba.