Making SMART New Year’s resolutions as a family

As the New Year approaches, we’re taking a look back at a post from last year to help families make SMART resolutions. Seattle Children’s Dr. Mollie Grow offers advice for making resolutions with your family that will last well into 2015.

Adorable ten month old baby boy wearing a Happy New Year hat.

The new year marks a time for reflection and change, a time for new beginnings and resolutions. Each year, people boldly step forward into the future with goals in mind to make the new year even better than the one before, making resolutions to lose weight, to be more organized or to be more successful, but not every resolution is a good one.

Resolutions can be a great way for people and families to stay on track in the new year, and to set goals together, but Mollie Grow, MD, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s, says resolutions need to be attainable.

Making resolutions as a family can be a wonderful activity, but it’s important to think them through first before setting them in stone.

“Don’t set your family up for failure when making resolutions,” said Grow. “Make SMART resolutions.”

S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Timely

How to make SMART resolutions

Make resolutions specific. Resolutions like spending more time as a family can be great, but make sure the resolution is specific enough to address the five Ws – who, what, when, where, why. Spending more time together could mean eating more meals as a family, going on a walk together or incorporating game night into the family routine. Be specific before agreeing on a family resolution.

“Don’t make resolutions too broad,” said Grow. “If you’re not clear about resolutions it will be harder to succeed.”

Make resolutions measurable. After setting a specific resolution, make sure it’s measurable. Look at behaviors that will help accomplish a resolution and focus on incorporating those behaviors into the family routine.

“Tackle behaviors. If your family would like to lose weight, don’t focus on the scale. Instead, focus on concrete changes leading up to that goal: increase activity, cut down on sugary drinks, eat at home as a family more often, or track your successes and food intake with apps. Be successful with behaviors and you’ll accomplish your health goals,” said Grow.

Make resolutions attainable. Make sure resolutions are within reach and realistic. Resolutions are a way to start fresh in the new year, but setting unrealistic resolutions can set families up for disappointment. Also, make sure family resolutions can fit into everyone’s hectic schedule – in between gymnastics practices, soccer, school and other family commitments.

Make resolutions relevant. What’s important to the family? Sit down and discuss, as a family, what could be changed for the better in the new year.

“Make resolutions that are important to your family,” said Grow. “Rate the importance of a specific resolution with your family on a scale from one to 10.”

And don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

“Embrace resolutions. Try something new, something your family has wanted to accomplish,” said Grow.

Make resolutions timely. Resolutions should have a timeframe associated with them. How often should a family have meals together, or cook together? What specific dates should be designated for activities? Use a family calendar to help with the timeline. Display the calendar in a visible place where everyone can see it. A way to get the family involved in planning is to buy fun stickers and talk through scheduled events and timelines together.

Have fun with family resolutions

Can’t decide on a family resolution? They don’t need to be as grand as climbing a mountain, or trekking through the Cascades. Resolutions can be focused around taking care of others, or spending more quality time with family.

Grow offers a few of her favorites in the following resolution list:

Take time for gratitude. As a family, think about resolutions that can build trust and respect.

“A few years ago we made a resolution to say something we are grateful for at dinner. Now every night at the dinner table our family shares what we’re thankful for before we start our meal,” said Grow. “It’s a great way to connect with gratitude, which has been shown to be a key to happiness.”

Volunteer. Incorporate values into resolutions. Make a resolution to do more service or volunteer work, or even help more around the house. By incorporating service to others into a resolution, children can learn the importance of sharing and teamwork. One of Grow’s resolutions this year is to do a service activity with her family, now that her children are old enough.

Resolve to be an active listener. Listening to each other can be a great resolution as well, especially for younger children.

“Sit down with each other and dedicate time for listening as a family,” said Grow. “Talk to children about listening better when mommy and daddy are talking, and discuss eye contact and proper body language associated with active listening. This is definitely one of my resolutions this year!”

Put down devices. Dropping the devices and focusing more on family time is another great option for a family resolution. Spend more quality time together and incorporate physical activity, when you can.

Active time can mean going to the park together, riding bikes or going on a walk as a family. During the winter Grow and her family love to go swimming or play at one of the local community center indoor play areas.

“My kids now request these activities when we plan family outings,” said Grow.

Active play with family is so important for children. It can increase activity, improve motor function and build relationships within the family.

Choose resolutions that make quality of life better

The new year can also be a time for families to reset and re-evaluate. Slow down and take more time as a family.

“Sometimes we get caught up in trying to accomplish too much,” said Dr. Grow. “Find a sweet spot for individual and family balance, especially for young kids. Try not to over-schedule kids. Make a resolution to free up more time for spontaneous activities.”

No matter what resolutions families choose to incorporate into the new year, make them SMART. But most of all, make them fun and make them as a family.


If you’d like to arrange an interview with Dr. Grow, please contact Children’s PR team at 206-987-4500 or [email protected].