What I Want For My Kids This New Year's

The New Year is upon us, and with that comes the feeling of stepping into something unknown. Despite the fact that we're really just changing the date our calendars, it's impossible to ignore the feeling that we all get a fresh slate. A new beginning. For ourselves, for each other, for the world around us. As a child, and even now as an adult, I look forward to the last week of December. I begin plotting what my next year will be like. I usually choose one word to define myself and my year. In the past, my years have been defined by words like "bold," "peace," and "growth," and this year I plan to choose the word "ownership," over the space I occupy, the words I speak, and the actions I put into the world. For me, the counting down of those last seconds has a feeling of magic to it. And for 2016, I am passing on the tradition of picking a word, making it yours, and owning it to my own children. I want them to welcome change with open arms, and I want them to feel like they have control over the year ahead of them.

Growing up, we'd write letters to our future selves on New Year's Eve. These letters would get sent out six months later, and you had the choice of opening them or keeping them until the end of the year. As a kid I looked forward to the return of these letters, so I could see what promises I had made to myself had happened. I have a stack of these letters that I still reflect on. I cherish them, and I plan to encourage my kids do to the same. I loved the feeling of knowing that I could stop, check in, and reassess my progress every year. I loved knowing that even if I wasn't on the right track I could still get what I wanted out of the year. A hiccup didn't stop me. And I think that's important for my children to learn too: a resolution isn't something that you fail at if you mess up once or twice. A resolution is a goal, something you work toward.

My kids are just getting to an age where they can grasp the changing over of years and the concept of time. We've started talking about how we'd like to go about our new year. What plans would we like to put into action? What adventures do they want to embark on? Who do they want to be? Do they want to grow and learn? I want them to go into the new year with hope and optimism, excited about the future and what it will bring. This is the chance to start over, to wipe any and all the slates clean. Every year we are given the opportunity for a fresh start, and as their mom, I am so excited for them to experience this.

This week, my kids are going to write letters to themselves and pick out destinations on a map that they want to visit in the upcoming year. They want to help me come up with my 2016 plans and dreams. When you ask them about the new year, they answer excitedly about how they'll be braver, kinder. They're hopeful, which is really all I want for them as we leave this year behind. Hope is a beautiful thing — and there's nothing more I want for my kids.

Images Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen (3)