This year we are trying something new. We are going to have a family word of the year. We were given this idea by a good friend of the family, who does this each year at Thanksgiving when her grown children come to town. In their case, they reserve a board room at a restaurant and don’t emerge until they’ve agreed on a focus word for the upcoming year. This year, they selected the word “integrity”.
As much as I love that word, and the idea of sitting around a grand table (with cocktails and finger foods!) deliberating inspirational words and phrases, we are just not there yet with our crew. Nowhere close.
How to pick a family word of the year
Between my husband and I, we have chosen the word “respect”. As hard as we try with our kids, this word needs a little reinforcement this upcoming year. We have a 7-year old daughter who is seriously going on 17. She gave a laundry list to “Sammy” (our elf) to deliver to Santa that you seriously would’ve thought was written by a teenager! A 5-year old, in his exuberant ‘lover of life’ good nature, tends to innocently blurt out things that makes me think I’m going to be spending a lot of time in the principal’s office when he starts school next year. And then our 2.5-year old… Well, the jury’s out on him.
So, “respect” is in this new year. You know, the challenges most families deal with like respect for each other’s stuff, respect for each other’s space, respect for each other’s time. And speaking nice to each other doesn’t hurt either!
While we’ll probably never quite be that Norman Rockwell family (is anyone?!), at least we’ll be respectful. Fingers crossed.
How to Select a Family Word of the Year
- Decide on a goal for your family for the upcoming year. Will it be to show each other kindness? Will it be less stress? More family togetherness? Better time management?
- Depending on the age of your family, order takeout one night and brainstorm inspirational words. Have everyone write down their top 5 words, or just shout them out to be jotted down on a large pad of paper. Cast a vote to select the word. (In my home, a vote would go the route of the Bush-Gore election. There’d be tears, someone angrily storming off and demands of a recount. And this is why mom and dad have chosen the word this year.)
- Select a word(s) that everyone can understand. As much as I love the word “integrity”, I’m not sure my 5 and 7-year olds would comprehend. But they do know what the word “kindness” means.
- Does the word you’ve chosen work with the family goal you’ve set? If it doesn’t, go back to the drawing board.
You’ve Picked a Word of the Year. Now What?
- Print out and laminate the word and its meaning. Stick the word on the fridge where it can’t be missed, or place it in a picture frame to hang on a wall in a highly visible area of the home.
- Another idea is to create posters of what the word means to each member of the family. Words can be interpreted differently for all of us. Place those posters in their bedrooms, or create a family word of the year gallery wall down a hallway.
- Stuck for dinner time conversation? Talk about your family word of the year. How have they applied the word in their lives? How has the focus word made them more aware of their actions in their everyday lives?
- Just like any goal, check in with the family and make sure the word is working for all. Celebrate the victories as you look forward to a new year and a new word.
Have you ever chosen a word of the year? Does your family make resolutions for the new year? Let me know in the comments. Cheers to a happy new year and a new word!
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