As adults, our New Year’s resolutions tend to be geared toward losing weight, exercising more, eating better, stopping smoking, maybe cutting back on alcohol, cleaning up that clutter, getting more sleep, taking a class, saving and budgeting, or planning that elusive vacation. It’s always good to have goals, and it takes dedication and discipline to meet them.
Along those lines, kids may need something for which to aim as well. While cleaning their rooms, avoiding junk food, doing homework in a timely manner, and getting to bed on time are admirable objectives that go almost without saying, helping kids make their own New Year’s resolutions is a great opportunity to introduce or reinforce ideas about reaching out to others through community service.
Organizations such as animal shelters, nursing homes and senior citizens’ centers, food pantries and soup kitchens, municipal gardens and greenhouses, libraries and literacy programs, hospices, veterans’ centers and more expose children to activities centered on others. And depending on their age, volunteering their time, energy, skills, and talent also teaches them to focus on fulfilling others’ needs, rather than their own, resulting in increased self-confidence and shaping them into productive, valuable, respected members of their communities.
It’s also been said that the easiest, most enjoyable New Year’s resolutions to keep are the ones that manifest personal interests. So if your daughter loves dogs and/or cats, the local animal shelter would be an optimal place for her to contribute a few hours a week. If your son likes to cook, a soup kitchen might be a good investment of time and energy. And if your older child excels in art, teaching an art class a few times a month to seniors or at a youth center might be a great forum where talent, skill, and a heartfelt commitment to sharing it all come together for a positive, even life-altering result for those on the receiving end–not to mention the teacher’s.
In fact, relative to the subject of life-altering pursuits, why not apply some kid-friendly New Year’s resolutions advice to your own plans for the coming year!
Want to work off some extra calories and stress? Why not swing a hammer, pound a bucket of nails, and haul some sheet rock at a Habitat for Humanity site?
Structuring a better budget for yourself in the next year? Local church groups, food pantries, animal (and human) shelters and the like could probably use your skills and ideas to help keep them running efficiently.
Maybe you are plotting your next great vacation escape to earthy locales like Banff or Bora Bora. If so, and if you love nature, there’s probably a group of city kids that could use your passion and inspiration to help them discover the great outdoors–possibly for the first time.
In short, while New Year’s resolutions are generally good for body, mind, and soul, extending these goals into the helping realm can multiply those resolutions exponentially. It may be just days after Christmas and you think the gifts have been purchased, given, and received, but the gift of oneself can be opened by anyone — any day of the year.