Our families are pulled in so many directions – jobs, school, activities, and day-to-day responsibilities. In the middle of it all, we want to build meaningful relationships with our children and spend quality time together. Setting family goals can help enhance that together time.
My kids are nine and thirteen, and finding things we all enjoy can be challenging. Setting and working toward family goals has given us great conversations and one-on-one time with each other. It has allowed us to explore new places and has encouraged us to challenge each other.
Last summer, our big goal was to bike a total of one hundred miles as a family. Is was a fun and rewarding goal to achieve – we spent time together, explored different parts of Virginia, and got in some fabulous exercise!
In addition to building on our biking goal, our big plan for this spring and summer is to complete thirty family hikes. We love exploring, and Virginia has so much to offer when it comes to family-friendly outdoor activities. While researching the hikes we’d like to take, we set some (loose) rules: Our hikes will be about three to seven miles, not highly technical, relatively easy to get to, and at least some of our hikes have to be dog-friendly (our dog, Gromit, likes to join in on the family fun when he can). The plan is to mix it up with urban hikes, coastal treks, mountain exploring, and even some in-town adventures. We’re looking for beautiful scenery, fresh air, and quality experiences the whole family can enjoy!
If you like this goal idea, here are five strategies for setting and attaining goals as a family.
1. Ask for Family Participation
I love setting goals for myself. I set them by the day, the week, the month, and the year. Setting goals helps me get the little things done and keeps me focused on the big picture and planning for the future. My husband and I find that goal-setting is a positive way to help the kids practice time management skills and work toward accomplishing things that spark their interests.
When setting goals as a family, we ask questions like, What can we do together? What steps will we take to make our goal happen? and finally, How can we stay motivated along the way? Our kids come up with some pretty ambitious ideas, so parents, feel free to rein in the crazy – or don’t, if you’re up for a challenge! The important thing is to encourage everyone to contribute.
2. Make It Fun and Challenging, but Attainable
My family loves to ride bikes, so setting a mile goal is something we could easily plan. Last summer, we biked one hundred miles together, and we’re hoping to make it 150 miles this summer. We’ve explored new-to-us areas and have found new places to love. Our hiking goal this year will build on our love for the outdoors and help us explore our beautiful region.
If your family is setting a different goal, like eating more fruits and veggies for example, have the kids look through cookbooks to find recipes or have them help with the shopping. Encourage them to learn some kitchen skills (supervised, of course). If you’re choosing to spend time outside (and away from screens), choose activities the whole family enjoys, or rotate each family member’s favorite outdoor activity. The key is to start your goal-setting with easy and fun activities so you experience success. Those successes keep everyone motivated and open to making even more challenging future goals.
3. Break It Down
If your goal is feeling a little ambitious, break it down into small, easy-to-achieve steps. With our biking goal, we knew the kids could easily ride five miles. That would add up to just twenty rides to reach our goal – totally manageable for us during summer break! Sometimes, the kids were full of energy, so we were able to squeeze in more miles or more challenging rides (our longest family ride was fourteen miles).
If you’re trying to squeeze in more of those fruits and veggies, shoot for trying a new recipe once a week and set yourself up for success. Choose a day when everyone is home, or when everyone can take part in the activity. Approach your goal with positivity and encouragement. Know that you may hit some bumps along the way, but also know that your family goal can adapt and change.
4. Write It Down and Track It
Make a poster for your fridge or bulletin board. It doesn’t have to be fancy! Our biking poster was one hundred squares, snaking along a piece of paper, with every ten miles marked with a number. It was colorful and we put an X through every square for every mile we biked. We posted it on our fridge so we could see it every day, and it made a great conversation piece for anyone who came to visit. It also encouraged us to keep going!
We’re creating another fridge poster for our hiking adventures, scheduling some of our more ambitious hikes for specific dates, and leaving options open for the kids to select and plan hikes they would like to do.
5. Celebrate Every Milestone
When we set a goal, we want to keep everyone motivated. And what better way to motivate each other than to celebrate? After every bike ride, we rewarded ourselves. Sometimes, it was a stop for ice cream or lunch out. Other times, we would simply take a group picture or even just give each other high fives. Rewards don’t have to be extravagant. Often, just the joy and pride of reaching your goal is enough. We tried new things, we worked hard, we had challenges, but we did it –
and we did it together, as a family!
So get with your family and start setting some goals together. You’ll probably find out some neat things about each other, have great conversations along the way, and have some of that all-important quality family time.