By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Creative Arts Director
Woodland Hills Church
2017 is here! Going into this new year, many people make resolutions or lists of what they want to do/accomplish/quit/try in the next 365 days. Whatever your feelings about individual New Year’s resolutions, one thing is certain: It’s a new year full of new opportunities for you and your family to grow and learn together. Below are some ideas for how your family can create new memories while also building character and faith this year.
- Have a Family Fun Day each month – Schedule a day or a weekend each month for your whole family to spend time together doing something fun and engaging (i.e. ice skating, berry picking, nature walk, day at the zoo, movie marathon at home, waterpark, eating out at a new restaurant, etc.). If you have older children, you could even divvy up the dates and allow them to choose what your family gets to do those days. Make the most of these special outings together and take lots of pictures!
- Family Service Opportunities – Look for ways you and your family can serve your neighborhood/community/world this year. You might want to pick a day each month to serve together, or you could join a mailing list for a favorite volunteer organization and pick out opportunities as they pop up. Serving together as a family does two things: It helps kids put their faith into action and it gives them the chance to see faith and love modeled for them through your example. Plus, it creates a fun family memory! Some local organizations to get you started could be Feed My Starving Children, the Merrick Community Food Shelf at Woodland Hills, and your local Humane Society.
- Learn Something New Together – When heading to the library, have your kids (or a designated child if you want to take turns) head to the non-fiction side of the kids’ section and choose a book about a subject they are either interested in learning about or something/someone they’ve never heard of before. Then, as a family, sit down and read the book together. If it proves an interesting topic, encourage your kids to do more research, either at the library or online. (We recommend you do online research with your children as it’s pretty easy to “google” something and get material you wouldn’t want your kids to access.)
- Try New Foods – When my cousin’s kids were young, she wanted to expand their pallets while avoiding the dreaded dinnertime tantrums. So occasionally, when they went to the grocery story, she would take them to the produce section and encourage them to find a fruit or vegetable they had never eaten before (it was even better if it looked weird). They would buy one, take it home, look up how to prepare it, and then try it in a grand “experiment.” If they liked it (which they often did), they would buy more for a meal. If they didn’t, they all laughed and called it a failed experiment. Her kids got all kinds of exposure to new fruits and veggies and found new favorites they never would have otherwise tried. If you wanted to really get creative, head to an international market or grocery store and find some truly unique foods (and meet new friends from around the world)!
- Create Sabbath Space for Your Family – We live in a busy world, and families are often some of the busiest people around. But it’s important to take time together to reconnect with each other and God. You might try doing this by creating a specific, regular “Sabbath” time (anywhere from an hour to a whole day) where you intentionally spend time together worshipping, praying, reading the Bible, or enjoying God’s creation. (This could be done as a weekly or monthly event.) Sound boring? Not if you get creative. Your worship time can be full of fun music and dance and even homemade instruments. Prayer time can be artistic with prayer requests being drawn or written into a journal. Reading the Bible gets a whole new life when you encourage your kids to act out the stories. And a family walk takes on new meaning when your kids are excitedly searching for the “coolest/prettiest/weirdest thing God made” in your neighborhood or at the park.
Whatever you do this new year, be sure you make the most of the opportunities you have to love on your kids, build character and wisdom into their lives, and help them to grow in their faith. Time flies, and 2017 will be no exception. So here’s to a great year full of fun, laughter, memories, and togetherness!