Starting New Family Habits: Why Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today

Here are some ways to start new family habits by prioritizing what's important to your family.

Written by: Kelly Clark and Dr. Richard Joseph Behun, Marywood University

Over the course of the last several weeks, I could not help but take notice to the plethora of weight loss commercials on television. And if you have noticed like I have, you will see that they all tend to center on a pretty common theme: A new year means a great start for a new you! In this case, it seems that we are repeatedly told that a new you is a healthier you, a better you, or a more positive you. And most Americans couldn't agree more as each and every year they set their New Year's Resolutions. Lots of people start each year with New Year's resolutions to become healthier, use better judgment, makes better decisions, and implement more positive changes in life. Without a doubt, this way of motivational and positive thinking is sure a great way to start the new year.

Perhaps you weren't one of those people to make a New Year's resolution this year. In fact, maybe you haven't changed a single thing since December. But on the other hand, you really wish you would have. The most beautiful thing about making changes to your life is that it's never too late to start. New Year's resolutions do not have to start on New Year's Day. If you see a need to make changes in your life, there is no better time to make that change than right now! The purpose of this article is to discuss how easy it is for families to unintentionally adopt some bad habits and then to explore some positive changes in the new year that parents can consider to better help promote an overall healthier household.

Living life, day to day with children, can be very busy and certain things that seem less important fall to the way side. Neglecting certain items and tasks continually can create bad habits. After habits are formed they can seem hard to break. According to Sharon Miller Cindrich, author for Chicagoparent.com, there are a few bad habits in which families typically find themselves. Possibly the most prevalent bad habit among families is not spending enough time together. Busy schedules and an abundance of activities can keep families on the go and apart with no time for each other. Cindrich also states that busy schedules can lead to the creation of other common problems as well, such as:

  • Eating separately
  • Letting clutter and mess pile up
  • Missing special days, such a parental birthdays and anniversaries

These bad habits are all rather common but can take a toll on a parent’s or family's happiness.

Thinking optimistically, the best part about a bad habit is that it can be changed. According William Glasser's Choice Theory, the behaviors of human beings are chosen based on needs that we need in order to fulfill our lives. Habits are no more than behaviors that have been happening repeatedly. Glasser also states that our behaviors are chosen. Meaning, because we choose our behaviors, we choose our habits. In other words, it is possible to change our habits because it is possible to be in control of our behaviors. Therefore why put off tomorrow what you can do today? There is no time like the present to make positive changes and start break some of those bad habits.

According to both Cindrich and the Raising Children Network, the best way to break a bad habit that is causing family turmoil is to replace it with a good habit or a new routine. In order to implement a new routine, the Raising Children Network states that a few things should be considered. It is important for families to consider:

  • The needs of the family
  • The long term goals set by the family
  • Each family members strengths and how they can contribute to the new routine
  • Starting things ahead to save time and organization
  • If the routine can fit with an old routine such as brushing teeth

Although change is not easy, preparing for the change will make things smoother. A new routine can be implemented and achieved with a little preparation and simply the desire to change. Cindrich states that if the lack of time is an issue, families should put aside time in their calendars to spend with each other. Each member of the family should treat the time set aside just like any other commitment that should not be broken. Cindrich suggests that if eating dinner together is an issue schedule time to eat as a family, even if it starts slowly with once or twice a week. Cindrich states that eating together can also be quick and easy, sitting down and conversing while eating can be done over sandwiches or a crockpot dinner, it does not have to be fancy. If a family is having trouble with clutter and messes around the house, Cindrich recommends, implementing new clean up routines and utilizing organizational items. Finally if parents are having trouble taking time for themselves it may be time to find a sitter and practice some self-care.

Common bad habits that families form can be broken if there is the desire to change. Forming new habits and new routines can be hard, but we are the only ones who can choose to change our behaviors. A new routine can be formed at any time, not just on new years, why not start today!

If you or someone you know would benefit from learning effective communication skills, please contact the Marywood University Psychological Services Center at 570-348-6269 or go to http://www.marywood.edu/psc/ to learn more about our services. To learn more about communication with children, please feel free to contact the author of this article, Dr. Richard Joseph Behun, at behun@marywood.edu. Dr. Behun is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Marywood University.

For more information, please see the links to the references below:

  1. 5 bad family habits and how to break them, Sharon Miller Cindrich for ChicagoParent.com
  2. The Glasser Approach of Choice Theory from The William Glasser Institute
  3. Creating new family routines by Raising Children Network

Written by: Bright Horizons Education Team

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