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New Year's resolutions aren't just for grown-ups. These are the goals I've set for my 8-year-old son and blended family.

Sara Lyle   

New Year's resolutions aren't just for grown-ups. These are the goals I've set for my 8-year-old son and blended family.
  • As a single mom, Sara Lyle and her young son visited Hawaii while moving from Singapore to the US.
  • Two years later, the trip inspired the New Year's resolutions she's set for her now-blended family of five.

In December 2021, when my then-6-year-old son and I embarked on our journey from Singapore to start a new life in the US, I decided to squeeze in a quick five-day vacation in Hawaii — one of only two states I hadn't yet visited. Alaska is still on the bucket list.

I did this partly to break up the long trip, which meandered through Tokyo, Houston, and Orlando, all while juggling six large suitcases. It was also a much-needed break from the stress of the past two years due to COVID and a divorce.

On top of all this, I worried there might be a bumpy transition to American life, especially for my son, who had never lived there. I thought stopping off in Hawaii would be a good opportunity to reset and recharge before opening the next chapter of our lives.

Hawaii didn't disappoint. From hiking to the top of a dormant volcano to swimming in the freezing-cold pool below a sacred waterfall to trying different foods like "purple pancakes" made with ube, a type of sweet potato, we threw ourselves into discovering all that the island of Oahu had to offer.

Thinking ahead to 2024, this short but sweet trip, which also came just before the upcoming year, has motivated me to embrace the new all over again. However, this year's resolutions aren't just for me but also for my son, husband, and two stepsons — even if I haven't told them yet.

A 2020 study about New Year's resolutions based on 1,066 participants in Sweden found that those receiving some support to reach their goals reported greater success. The study also showed that "approach-oriented goals," which aim to achieve or gain something, are more successful than "avoidance-oriented" ones. As a result, this year I'm not planning to give up anything, other than some more stuff from the closets and garage.

These are the resolutions I'll be striving to meet — along with my husband and kids — over the upcoming 365 days.

1. Explore our surroundings, preferably by foot

One of my favorite things is walking — the more interesting the path or place, the better. I received crampons as a Christmas present this year and am already looking forward to using them in Colorado's winter weather, where my son and I now live.

More importantly, I'm recommitting to exploring unknown spots with our boys or even just with my husband, who is my frequent walking partner. New hiking trails, historic sights, natural wonders, cultural centers — here we come.

2. Move more — and do it together

Despite my earlier statement, exercise is not just for exploration. It also promotes overall well-being for parents and kids alike. And working out as a family has even more benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics pointed out that kids who see their parents enjoying exercise are more inclined to try it out themselves.

Next year, from AirSoft to tennis, running and biking indoors and out, and workouts together at our local YMCA — all activities various family members enjoy — I plan to prioritize fitness as a family.

3. Get more adventurous in our eating

Despite fewer eateries here in Colorado, I am as determined as ever to savor unique flavors — especially at home. There is a high probability that some of the family won't like the different foods, but, hey, you never know till you try.

4. Learn new things

I have always been curious. It's why journalism appealed to me as a profession back in the day: I knew I'd get paid to learn new things with every assignment.

I want to channel that sense of wonder and push myself — and the rest of the crew — to get outside our comfort zones and explore different interests. I love finding out things that the guys are into as a way to strengthen our relationships as well. For example, I took up fly fishing with my husband this summer, and we had some of our best day trips together.

5. Cherish time together... alone

Speaking of together time, thanks to shared custody, my husband and I usually have at least one or two kid-free weekends a month that allow us to reconnect without the pressures of full-time parenting. It's not that we don't love our kids, but our love for each other brought this family together in the first place, and that shouldn't be taken for granted.

Also, earlier this year, he and I started doing one-on-one hangouts between each of us with each of our boys. While family time is important, so is giving one person your full attention. To quote a recent sign I saw in a restaurant, "Your text can wait. Enjoy your company."

Sure, not every moment can be a vacation in Hawaii. But, I believe that by setting intentional, positive-not-punitive resolutions, you can turn a potentially meh year into one of meaningful growth and awesome memories.

Now, I just need to get my family on board.

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