8 Alternatives to New Years Resolutions

The tradition of creating New Year’s resolutions dates back more than 4,000 years to the Babylonians. But, according to a recent Forbes article, 80% of those resolutions are broken. ”Making resolutions can be overwhelming and defeating,” says Nell Osborne, a mental health counselor at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. “Instead, it’s important to think of something that’s attainable to do each day. For example, to be kinder or more present with your family.” 

So, this year, instead of sticking with traditional resolutions (“I want to lose 20 pounds by March”), try one of these eight alternatives. These ideas will help you keep what’s important as individuals and as a family in focus.

Make a 2022 bucket list

Think about what experiences you’d like your family to tackle in the new year—think about specific goals for school, work, relationships and home life. If you’re a tech person, apps like iWish allow you to keep track of what you want to achieve. If you’d like a visual daily reminder you can put up around the house, try this simple bucket list—print out one for each member of the family to fill out as you count down to the start of 2022.

Create a monthly challenge

A monthly challenge can be anything from reading three books to skiing at least five days. It can be about educating oneself on certain topics or learning to only shop sales at the supermarket to save money. Make sure the challenge is achievable in the allotted time. 

Try gratitude exercises

One way to change your life in a positive way for the new year is to incorporate more gratitude into daily practices. Start with gratitude exercises—they help reduce anxiety and depression, make you feel more energized and aid in getting you a better night’s sleep. “I suggest gratitude journaling or having each person in the family share something they are grateful for that day over dinner,” says Dr. Jocelyn Petrella Gallagher, a child and family psychologist based in Denver, CO. 

Put goals in a jar

Write down family goals that aren’t time-sensitive (ie: you can complete them at any point in the year), fold them up and place them into a jar. Family goals could be anything from spending more time outside and volunteering to reading the Harry Potter series together. Once a goal is fulfilled, pick out a new one. 

Similar to the jar activity, Osborne recommends having everyone write down the strengths of other members of the family or things they appreciate about the other members. “For example, a child may say that their mom is a good listener,” she says. “Put the strengths or appreciative words in a jar and choose one each month. Then, everyone focuses on that word—whether it be listening better or helping more with cooking.”RELATED: What My Daughter Taught Me About Mindfulness

Practice mindfulness

2021 brought on stress—for adults and children alike. This year, incorporate mindfulness practices into daily life. “Often, our minds are focused on anything but the present moment and regular mindfulness helps with this,” says Gallagher. Some practices she recommends include meditation, going on a mindfulness walk and doing a body scan.

Make realistic lists

One way to kick off 2022 is to reflect on what you want to do more of, less of or stop doing as a whole in the new year. Make a list of them and add the steps you need to achieve those things. Maybe you want to stop staying up late binging Netflix so you get more sleep. Perhaps you want to spend more time volunteering and less time on Facebook.

Be sure to be realistic when it comes to the things you add to the list and be conscious of the process it will take to achieve them. “When working on activities like a list, make sure it’s diverse with different levels of intensity or ability,” says Osborne. “That way it won’t seem as intimidating and you are more likely to follow through. For example, try not to say for an entire month, I won’t watch television. Have smaller increments that are realistic and achievable such as, I’ll cut down to 30 min of television per day.”

Use a vision board

Also referred to as a dream board, vision boards keep us focused on where we want to go and what we want to achieve in life. The best approach for a board is to cover aspirations in all areas of life. Boards can be created from a variety of materials including cork (bulletin board) or canvas. Words, photos or drawings are the perfect way to express the direction you want life to go. Everyone can create their own boards to place in an office or bedroom or a family one to put in the living room. “Make vision boards appealing to the eye by using colors that you love, then add things that will remind you of the importance of what you envision,” suggests Osborne.

Have a word or mantra of the week/month/year

Encourage everyone to choose one word for the year that defines what their focus will be. Reflect on that word (or mantra!) during dinner or while in the car on the way to the grocery store, and make sure to place it in an important place in the house. Repeat the word or phrase to yourself every morning or when you need to refocus. Remind children of their intentions when a new day starts or if they have a moment of struggle. If one word or mantra for the year seems like too much of a challenge, break it down to a word or mantra for the week or month. 

This article appears in its entirety at: https://www.mommynearest.com/article/8-alternatives-to-new-years-resolutions.

A Holiday Tea for Two

When we first walked into the Hotel Boulderado for Holiday Tea, I felt like I was a part of the Stahlbaum’s party scene from The Nutcracker. Victorian Carolers sang old and classic holiday songs from the elaborate winding staircase.

Lighted garland lined the railings and a large tree, 24 feet in height, tastefully decorated in a more vintage style rose from the ground level to the second floor where families and friends gathered for tea on the mezzanine level. We enjoyed a carol or two from the lobby area before we headed upstairs for our reservation.

Enjoying a few carols in the lobby

A reservation desk on the second (mezzanine) floor is where headed to check in. We were promptly lead to our table- a round four top decorated with a candle and a wrapped present decoration cozied in among tea cups, menus, jam, lemons for water and place settings. Other tables had similar decor with some featuring a nutcracker instead of the wrapped present. The table reminded much of my parents holiday table with simple decor and red napkins to add a splash of color.

Our table

We enjoyed a few more songs from the carolers while we perused the large menu of teas. When the carolers were off for a break, piped in Christmas music played at a comfortable level, so that you could still have conversation with your party or quietly sing along.

The tea came rather quickly- a decaf Strawberry Fields perfect for littler guests and for me peppermint. Whether you prefer an herbal tea like Chamomile or a black tea like Earl Grey, there were plenty of selections. If you enjoy cream in your tea, or a sugar cube, both were available at the table to add to your cup. If you enjoy a cocktail or wine, festive options were available including an apple cider mimosa.

Enjoying our tea

As we sipped our tea, while discussing our Christmas plans, our first course arrived. The white chocolate raspberry scones were fluffy and a perfect compliment to our tea. Clotted cream and preserves- raspberry and orange. The clotted cream was a rich butter that brought out the flavors of the scones.

A variety of tea sandwiches were available for a variety of pallets. Several vegetarian and one gluten free option were also available. I was surprised with such a vegan crowd in Boulder that at least one vegan option wasn’t available.

My daughter, who considers salmon to be one of her favorite foods, delighted to find a smoked salmon tea sandwich and a shrimp tea sandwich one too. For me, the simpleness of an English cucumber and cream cheese sandwich with tea is just perfect. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the cherry tea sandwich. I wish I could of took a whole box of the gluten free cucumber goat cheese cups home with me.

As we enjoyed our sandwiches, the carolers returned walking around the tables stopping to sing at various spots along the mezzanine area. The entertainment for each day of tea varied from the Victorian Carolers to pianists. Two special days were Nutcracker Teas featuring the music from the Nutcracker with dancers from the Boulder Ballet with a portion of profits going directly back to the studio. I imagine if we had enjoyed the Nutcracker Tea experience, the party scene at the Stahlbum’s would have come completely to life.

At one point, my daughter reached over and squeezed my hand when the carolers sang Christmas Time is Here from A Charlie Brown Christmas– one of my favorites. The beautiful music completely added to the experience making us feel like the holidays were truly here even if it hasn’t snowed yet.

Hoping our tummies weren’t too full from the sandwiches, a tray of desserts soon followed. A mix of macaroons, chocolate covered strawberries, almond croissants and cheesecake cupcakes were the perfect ending to our holiday tea experience.

For our family, the holidays are a bit more casual. But, it is always nice to dress up and enjoy a special event like a holiday tea or performance of the Nutcracker. If you are considering adding a holiday tea to your family traditions, be sure to check out the Hotel Boulderado website in November to book a seasonal tea typically held for two weeks beginning around mid December.

Johnson Holiday Bucket List

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us again. Despite the 70 degree weather outside and lack of snow on the ground in Colorado, we are getting ready to spend our 9th Christmas together with Emma. Traditions are what my immediate family is known for (people mention we should write a book), so holiday bucket lists are top on our list. Here are some of our go to ways we like to celebrate the season!

Cutting down our tree in Buffalo Creek

Cut Down Our Tree in the Forest

Every year, we grab a tree permit (available online through recreation.gov) and head to the national forest to cut down our own Christmas tree. Some years we have had snow on the ground, and some years it has been dry. Sometimes we make just a day of it. Sometimes we make a weekend of it. This year we are headed to Winter Park to find a tree and also get in some skiing with friends. We always decorate the tree at night while watching A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Holiday Tea at the Hotel Boulderado

Holiday Tea

We aren’t the fancy dress type of family, but we love to pick a holiday event every year where we can get dressed up. This year, we are attending tea at the Hotel Boulderado where sounds of the season will fill the air provided by Traditional Victorian Holiday Carolers. Each day of tea features different musicians and entertainment from the Nutcracker Ballet to pianists. They still have reservation openings if you would like to add this to your list this holiday season.

Olivia the Good Deeds Elf

Olivia arrives just before Thanksgiving to help our family spread good cheer throughout the season. We do all kinds of fun things from paying for the car behind us in line to donating toys to toys for tots. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy this season.

One of the 24 books we read

24 Books of Christmas

Every night leading up to the big day, we read a holiday themed book. It’s a great chance for the family to connect and slow down over a cup of tea or hot cocoa. Sometime in November, I gather the books and we go through them to see if there are any we would like to replace. There are always the classic we read like Frosty and The Night Before Christmas on the 24th. We have added a few fun new ones in the past years including Home Alone (based on the movie Emma loves) and The Christmas Owl.

Hike to the Boulder Star

The Boulder Star (sometimes called the Flagstaff Star) is lit every year around Veteran’s Day. The star has been a favorite symbol of the holidays since 1947. In the past, you could hike up to the star. Erosion and COVID-19 have caused the area to be closed off for the past two years. But, we plan to go see the star from a parking lot below it this year and have a picnic like dinner.

Watch Christmas Movies

Who doesn’t love a quiet and snuggly evening at home in pajamas with the fire place roaring? We ALWAYS plan a Christmas movie marathon day where we just stay home and watch movies. We also have evenings where we sneak in a movie with dinner since there are so many good ones. This year, we even went to the drive-in at Red Rocks to watch Home Alone. I think the holiday drive-in will be a new bucket list item for us. Last year, we went to see Christmas Story in a parking lot by a movie theater.

Visit With Santa

While sometimes we just do a simple Santa visit, some years we do something a bit more exciting. A few years ago, Emma climbed to the top of the wall at Neptune Mountaineering to visit Santa. This year, she is going to climb the wall at G 1 Climbing and Fitness and meet Santa up on portaledge.

Headed out for a light scavenger hunt on bikes

Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt

There are many lists for Christmas light scavenger hunts you can find on Pinterest. We print off a new one every year. We typically do two hunts- one via bike and one via car.

Zoo Lights/ Blossom of Lights

Every year we like to go to at least one walk through light display. In the past, we have done Zoo Lights and Blossom of Light. This year, we will be headed to Zoo Lights again a few days before Christmas.

Additional Bucket List Ideas:

Holiday Parade

Ice Skating

Make Cookies

Charades and Holiday Theme Game Night

Fire pit and S’mores Night

Winter Picnic

Decorate a Gingerbread House