Now that the New Year has started, most people choose a few resolutions to help guide them through the next year. While resolutions are often personal, there are numerous options that you can share with your college-aged children. Not only will these help you better your own life, but they will help prepare your student for a prosperous school year.
To help you select options that will benefit you both, consider adding these five ideas to your New Year’s resolution list for 2017.
1. Eat Right
The concept of the “Freshman 15” is well known. It often results from kids being on their own to guide their dietary choices, as well as increased stress. When stress levels go up, many seek comfort in food. However, that doesn’t mean every student is doomed to gain weight once they head out the door.
Instead of focusing on weight loss (a common resolution that is rarely attained), try to improve your eating habits in general. Make healthy substitutions in favorite meals and snacks. That way, you aren’t lamenting what you have to give up. Instead, you can enjoy your favorite meals with a healthy twist.
Start simple by ensuring you are getting your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Cutting out added sugar can also be a fairly easy switch.
Teaching your child the principles of healthy eating without making major sacrifices is a lesson they can take with them to college, and may help them fight off the “Freshman 15” more effectively.
2. Exercise Regularly
Again, this is not a resolution about weight loss. Instead, it is about adding activity to your life. Ideally, you want to work out at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym or go to a cardio class. Instead, aim to add moderate-intensity activity into your life in a way that you find entertaining.
For example, using a motion-based console game is an excellent option as long as you participate rigorously enough. The game aspects can help distract you from the discomfort or exercising, and it can often be done as a family or group. Similarly, practicing a sport or skill you enjoy can make exercise more enjoyable.
Physical activity is known to reduce stress levels and can help you maintain a healthy weight. But, by focusing on the goals of simply being active for the fun of it, you might be more likely to stick with it long term.
3. Get Organized
Many people look to improve their level of organization during the New Year, and being an organized student can certainly help your child succeed. So, how do you bring this idea into your lives in a way that sticks? By finding a process that works for you.
Consider this a resolution in exploration. First, you need to identify the systems that work best for you. For example, do you need obvious visual reminders to help you keep appointments? Then maintaining an oversized wall calendar might be a solution to try. Rely on your smartphone for everything? Then try electronic scheduling and reminders. Need to track bills (or college assignments for your college-bound student)? Then you need to develop a filing system (either paper or electronic) as well as selecting a scheduling assistant.
Different people work in different ways, so don’t feel trapped into adhering to someone else’s idea of organization. Instead, consider the tools, locations, and digital solutions you already use regularly and see how they can be used to improve your level of organization.
Essentially, you will take something you already do and retrofit it to meet a new purpose.
4. Reevaluate Your (Extracurricular) Obligations
Both parents and students feel stretched pretty thin in regards to their schedules, so now is a great time to reevaluate your obligations. While being a well-rounded student (and human being) is a fantastic goal, if your child over schedules their life, they will have no wiggle room to manage unexpected events. But how can they learn to properly manage their time if you are in the same boat as them? While it may not completely alleviate your schedules, now is a great time to reevaluate family activities and obligations.
To help the process, write down every obligation you have on your schedule. This includes every job, class, book club, regularly scheduled happy hour, visits with friends, and anything else that comes to mind. Now, reorder that list based on the importance of the obligation. You can do this activity with your student – and it will be great practice if they aren’t quite to college yet!
Often, activities like work and classes will be first, but what comes next depends on your current lifestyle. And don’t be afraid to factor in enjoyment when you order your activities. Doing things you love to do is important to your health and wellbeing, so allow yourself to consider those points.
After everything is in order, look at the items at the bottom of the list (around the last 20% of your activities). Why are these items on the bottom? Is it an activity that you once enjoyed, but don’t anymore, and you keep attending out of habit? Is it something that you got roped into and never enjoyed? Does it provide no positive value in your life? Do you need to keep doing it?
In some cases, you’ll find that the items at the bottom of your list are things you keep doing, but you can’t really pinpoint any value anymore. If that is the case, consider cutting them from your life. As you imagine letting these activities go, is there a negative impact on your life? Use the examination to guide whether you should really be keeping this on your schedule. And, if it turns out you can let it go, then don’t be afraid to do so.
5. Focus on Scholarships
Paying for college is just as scary for parents as it is for college students, so consider adding a scholarship hunt to your New Year’s resolution list. Dedicate a specific amount of time per day or week to looking at options. Or choose a minimum number of applications a week for the next few months. While you won’t be doing the bulk of the work, supporting your child in the scholarship process can play a major role in their success with it. One of our families holds “Scholarship Saturdays” where they make some delicious snacks and dedicate a few hours to the scholarship process. This applies to both high school AND college students!
If you don’t know where to begin, you can resolve to learn more about scholarship opportunities.
If you want a hand finding great scholarship opportunities for your high school or college-aged student, join our free webinar. Consider it a resolution you know you both can easily keep!
By taking the time to work resolutions together, you and your college-aged children can help each other reach goals, and learn a few life lessons on the way. Now, doesn’t that sound like a great idea? We certainly think so.