Throughout the month of December, many families celebrate Advent as they anticipate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Advent gives families and individuals the opportunity to slow down and prepare their hearts for Jesus’ birth. It invites families to reflect on four different themes throughout the Christmas Season to keep the focus on Jesus being our hope, peace, joy, and love. The definition of advent is “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” Jesus coming to the world as a baby to eventually die and rise again so that we can be saved is a major event in history that deserves to be honored in such a way that realigns our focus. However, as the Christmas season closes the gap our minds tend to start planning for the New Year and what changes we might want to make as we await the countdown. It is at this moment that New Year’s resolutions or written out goals come into play. Although, as we all know, these resolutions tend to only last for a short while because once we fall off the wagon, it’s so hard to get back on.
So, what if, instead of focusing on your own individualized ambitions, you invited the family to join in on a journey of change that can be done together? Having a common goal with the ones you love most just might be the motivation and inspiration you need to make it through a year without losing sight of the resolutions you’ve made. And who knows, maybe having something to strive towards together, will ultimately bring you closer as a team. Let’s resolve to not go throughout the year alone but to create goals that can be done as a family unit that will shape and deepen the bond between parents and children. Need some ideas on where to begin? Why not add some of these to your list?
Spending time alone with the Lord while working through a devotional and reading His word is important, however, it’s just as vital to stand before the Lord in prayer as a family unit. This alone will encourage your children to go to the Lord first when a need arises and it will give them the confidence to pray often. Your prayers as a family will make a difference. It will bless and strengthen your family. Praying together will deepen the bond and love you have for one another. The prayers don’t have to be eloquent, or formal. They don’t even need to be memorized, because all it is is simply talking to God and sharing your heart with Him. Praying refocuses our hearts and minds on what God is doing around and through us. It’s an opportunity to express gratitude for God and one another. Praying as a family also teaches children how to go before the Lord on behalf of another, so take turns to pray for the needs of the family. Praying together can happen in the morning before everyone departs ways to school or work. It can happen at bedtime while everyone comes together around one bed or on the couch, or it can occur both morning and night, and anytime in between. It’s ok if prayer time starts out a little uncomfortable, eventually, it’ll become a part of your routine. The only thing that matters is simply just doing it.
It tends to be easier to read with your children when they are young; it is often a part of the bedtime routine. But what about when they get older and can read on their own? What if this year, as a family, you designate certain times of the day to read together, even if it’s only for 20 minutes? Children seeing their parents pull out a book to quietly read is just as important as reading to them before bed when they were little. Just think how many books you could potentially read in a year if you read for 20 minutes or, even better, 20 pages each day. Reading is a discipline that will add so many benefits to your and your children’s lives. So to make it fun you can all sprawl out in the living room and read quietly, or you can pick a book together that everyone would enjoy and take turns reading it out loud, creating a “story time”. Taking regular trips to the library can keep reading interesting and exciting as each family member picks out a new adventure each week or month.
Many people include getting healthier in their New Years’ Resolutions list, and while that may be the goal, why not start out small and obtainable? Often times jumping into a restrictive diet can lead to quick weight loss but it’s usually difficult to sustain, which can result to even more weight gain. Therefore simply adding more vegetables to your weekly menu will naturally create healthier habits. One way to do this is to choose one day a week, like Monday, and reduce your meat intake and increase your vegetables. This habit will not only benefit your health but also your wallet, as meat can be expensive. Meatless Mondays will give your family a chance to try new recipes and maybe even different types of food.
With a hand-held computer in most people’s pockets, we are all so inundated with screens everywhere we turn. Therefore taking time to unplug, which includes phones, iPads, computers, television, etc., will give space for your family to come together and have a conversation or play a game together. Remove the distraction of phones and make it a priority to connect. This could be a designated time on the weekend or at certain times in the evenings throughout the week. When you are unplugged as a family take that time to make dinner together, get outside and sit around a campfire, go on a walk, or play a board game, and simply enjoy one another’s presence.
This list is only the beginning of what your family might accomplish together this year, as it might even spark other ideas. However, the most important thing is that you do it as a family unit. May this year be the year that brings your family closer and your love for one another deeper.