4 Little Ways to Create New Year's Intentions as a Family

This New Year's, skip the resolutions and set intentions to focus more on your internal growth and how you feel as a family.

Mother and Child setting intentions together

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As the year 2022 winds down, many people will set New Year's resolutions that may or may not hold when January 1 rolls around. Instead, consider creating a new tradition that includes the whole family. While resolutions are often goals that focus on external accomplishments like hitting the gym more or date night with your spouse once a week, intention-setting is focused more on internal growth and how you feel.

Setting intentions collectively is not only a beautiful practice, but one that helps to keep the family accountable. Think of this as a lovely way to support one another throughout the year and watch each other grow individually and together. Getting the kids involved can make them feel more valued as members of the family whose voices are being heard and appreciated. And it's fun to hear what the kiddos want to intentionally focus on in the New Year and beyond. Not only are you as parents teaching them the power of setting intentions, but you could be inspiring a lifelong tradition they carry on into adulthood and into their own families.

Here are four small ways to create New Year's intentions as a family.

Shine Light on the World

Life isn't always a cakewalk and it's important to teach our children that although obstacles and challenges may come, their light within will never dim. This pertains to the family as well. So gather around (and include some hot cocoa and marshmallows, if you'd like) and take turns setting intentions on ways to shine the loving light of the family onto others. Everyone can name one thing they'd like to do to share love and joy with others, which in turn can strengthen the family unit at home.

Start simple here: when you're out in the world, try smiling at a stranger. Or check in on a friend and ask them if they're OK. Now, more than ever, these small moments matter.

Then, go bigger: try volunteering to take out the trash for a neighbor in need, or spending Sunday afternoons at an old folks' home. Encourage your kids to do good by modeling it in your own behavior to make these intentions count.

Gratitude Is Grand

Setting an intention to practice gratitude is quite powerful. When we consistently acknowledge the things we're thankful for, we often see more great things enter our lives. The energy practicing gratitude creates within and around us is beautiful. It can ease anxiety and stress and provoke feelings of happiness and peace. And what better time of year to begin this practice than during the holiday season?

Grab some paper (colorful construction paper and glitter can make this even more fun) and distribute a page to each family member. Have everyone write 5 to 10 things they're grateful for—from extravagant things to the little things that bring joy. Afterward, each person gets a chance to read their list out loud. You may be surprised to hear what your little ones are grateful for!

Inspired? Invest in gratitude journals to record your thoughts and keep this going throughout the year. They're the perfect reminder that being grateful is the gift that keeps on giving.

Meditation Magic

Meditation is the act of going inward and focusing on your breath. Sounds simple enough, but the results of a meditation practice are profound. It's never too early to set an intention as a family for the kids to get into it. But asking children, especially small children, to sit still with their eyes closed for long periods of time (or even two minutes!) may be a bit of a challenge. Instead, use the magic of imagination to help them navigate deep within themselves so they too can experience the beautiful impact of meditation.

Sit around in a circle holding hands and ask the kids to imagine a beautiful ring of light forming around all of you. By sitting quietly with eyes closed, that beautiful ring of light will continue to get brighter. Try and see how long you can all sit together in mediation. Illuminate the room with holiday lights to add to the ambiance. You can even play soft instrumental music to help everyone stay focused. When you're done, take a deep collective breath together and slowly release before everyone opens their eyes. Close the meditation with smiles and a group hug.

Honoring Emotions and the Breath

Setting a family intention to honor one another's emotions can really help your children to understand that their feelings are valid. Ask your little ones questions to ignite their thoughts around emotions. For example, what happens inside their body when they are feeling frustrated vs. when they're excited? By acknowledging what is physically happening to their body when these emotions arise, they'll be able to navigate them better. Even better, give everyone a printout of the human body frame. Choose a child-size body frame for your little ones so they can really relate. Then, ask them to color the area of the body they feel is affected when different emotions arise. They may color in the stomach when they describe feeling nervous, or the heart when they're overjoyed.

Explain the power of the breath and how it can help with relaxation when emotions like anger, sadness, and even too much excitement arise. This practice can reinforce that what they feel matters and they can allow emotions to flow without overwhelming them.

Taking time to focus on your emotions and intentions as a family every day will keep you connected in the new year and beyond.

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