How to Prepare Your Family for the New Year

"Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."  - L.M. Montgomery

I grew up reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and even at a tender age, that line fascinated me.  Now that I'm an adult and understand what it means to regret mistakes on a grander scale than when I read those words at age eleven, I appreciate them even more.

And it's that same sentiment that has caused this week to have always been one of my very favorite weeks out of the year.  The last few days in December, when last year stretches behind with all of its memory, its triumphs, and yes, its mistakes, while next year stretches out ahead with all of its invitations and opportunities.  

A fresh start, with no mistakes in it.

I think of it like a giant etch-a-sketch just waiting to be shaken until all the lines disappear.  Some years, I'm pleased with what I've drawn over the last twelve months and just want to tweak a little here and there.  But, if I'm honest, most years I'm ready to hoist that thing over my head and chunk it as far as I can in order to hit the cosmic reset button.  

But, whichever it is, that's the magic of a new year.  Anything can happen.  This really can be the year that I make the changes.

And the crazy thing is, I do.  

Don't give up on me too fast here.  I don't mean to say I make ALL the changes.  I usually start out with a pretty good sized list and whittle it down from there.  And yes, that last sentence is code for saying I buy the gym membership and go four times the first week in January and then not again until October 2nd. But, it doesn't all go that way.  There's most often a few essential things that stick.  And that may not sound like much of an accomplishment, but over time, over the years, those few essentials add up to a lifetime of successively better choices.  They are the building blocks for self-improvement.  And when I apply them to my family, they become the foundation for healthy relationships and good memories.

So, go ahead.  Shake that etch a sketch until you forget that the skinny girl who works the front desk of the gym has no clue what your name is and thought you might be there to sell Girl Scout cookies when you walked in the day after Thanksgiving.  Shake it off.  And then start dialing with the knobs, a little here, and a little there. 

And while you do it, see yourself a year from now, doing the same thing again.  Except next time, you'll be a little stronger and a little healthier and a little more joyful than you are right now.  Because you're growing.

Here's a few of the things I like to take stock of during this week.  I don't focus on all of them every year, I just choose the ones I think are most needed and concentrate on coming up with a plan that is attainable.  I also find that writing it down is important, to keep me motivated and to help me track my progress next year.



  • How healthy are our relationships?  In what ways can I foster good relationships among us this year?  Do we need to make some different choices to get there?  (Click to read about instituting creative family nights!)
  • How healthy are our finances?  Do we need to make some shifts or some sacrifices to get where we need to go with our money?
  • How healthy are our conflict resolution skills?  What could we do to focus on solving problems with better communication and less stress?

And beyond:

  • What am I most passionate about?  What am I going to do to see that area grow in my life?
  • What is causing me the most anxiety?  What am I going to do to see that brought towards a place of peace?
  • What can I give away this year?
  • What is the most enjoyable thing I can imagine I could do this year?