The Resolution Tree

New Year’s Resolutions can be more trouble than they are worth and you can be setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even set foot onto that crisp clean new page. We have taken many approaches to New Year’s resolutions over the past 15 years of parenting; long lists of ‘I resolve to’s were soon crumpled and forgotten and were more about the idea than the meaning so last year we came up with the Resolution Tree.

The Resolution Tree is an ongoing project and allows us to declare our plans, wishes and dreams as well as any worthy resolutions we may come up with throughout the year without overloading us with pressure just as we are finding our feet in January and emerging blinking from Christmas. Last year the children put leaves on for the things they were going to save up their pocket and birthday money to  buy as well as places they wanted to go and things they would like to do.

We cut a tree shape out of a piece of brown paper and leaf shapes out of green. The trunk and branches are then stuck onto a wall in the dining room and a pile of leaves is stacked in a tin on a table in front of it. Each family member can take a leaf whenever they want and pop it onto the tree throughout the year; equally when a goal has been reached or a wish fulfilled a leaf comes off the tree.

As this year passes we are going to add  flowers in spring, fruit in summer and the leaves will change colour in autumn.

My older children, of course, have very different hopes and dreams than my Bonus Boy who can be very ambitious in his plans but, because it is a tree of hopes and dreams rather than promises, it matters not one jot if he wants to build a rocket ship and fly to the moon. As the year wears on we may well construct a rocket in the garden and go on that adventure in our imaginations!

Every year my daughter declares that she is going to tidy her room and keep it tidy and, until we had the tree with its adaptable leaves, she failed at the first hurdle. With the tree we can add small steps towards a goal so, this year, we have started with ‘I am going to put my washing out every evening so I don’t end up with a massive unmanageable pile and Mum isn’t faced with the Everest of all washing mountains.’ When she has stuck to that for a while we are going to add ‘I am going to make my bed every morning and make sure there is a path between the door and the window so the curtains can be opened easily’!

The tree can include things we intend to do to help others so my promises include ‘Support my eldest son as he revises for his GCSEs by gently persuading, not nagging, offering frequent snacks and encouraging sensible breaks.’

The beauty of a resolution tree is its flexibility, it worked really well for us last year and we were very surprised to reach December with very few leaves from January still up there.

Much to my surprise, in Christmas week, this one was achieved!

I now have a brand new door to the downstairs loo and laundry which has, frankly, changed my life!

We still haven’t managed to go to London as a whole family which we promised ourselves in 2011 but we have left that one on there for 2012!

What are your hopes and dreams for 2012 and have you got any tips for making resolutions with children?

Happily Shared With


Filed under Children's Development, family life, Parenting

19 responses to “The Resolution Tree

  1. I think the resolution tree is a lovely idea – and it clearly works very well. Good luck with your dream of getting to London in 2012. The south bank is a fab visit – could even be free if you took your own snacks. If you are lucky and the Thames is at low tide you can have a quick spot on the beach to see if you can see old clay pipes. We found a medieval merchants’ shoe sole on one trip – it looked quite like a flip flop! nicola

    • Thanks for the tips Nicola! I’m going to buy a family railcard so that it is cheaper to get there. I went up with my daughter and my eldest on separate occasions last year and Mr TS took second born but it would be great to get us all there!

  2. That is such a lovely idea! I love coming to your blog, as its full of such fab family ideas!

    We had a snuggle sack on Christmas Eve, and the kids thought it was brilliant, so thank you for that idea too. xx

    • Oh you say the nicest things, thank you! I’m so glad you did the snuggle sack, it really is the bit of Christmas my kids look forward to most, I’m delighted so many people are now doing it too!

  3. What a fantastic idea! Might have to steal it…! X

  4. Brilliant, what a lovely idea Chris. Superb that the whole family do it together. You are an ace Mummy! Mich x

  5. Just wonderful – I think I told you once before that I’m taking notes from you.

  6. Such a great family idea and how lovely to be able to see when things have been achieved and be able to add to it too – wonderful x

  7. Great way of doing it, am sending this post to the reading members of the family🙂

  8. That is such a lovely sentimental family idea. I love the way it includes everyone. GCSE year is a stressful year – but a little bit of nagging does not do any harm. I love the way you are going to change it through the seasons and can’t wait to see that!

    Thank you for linking up to Family Frolics! Please come back…I love your posts. x

  9. That’s lovely, I remember seeing it last year, so it’s lovely to have an update! Well done to you all. Great to have a visual reminder, very powerful!

  10. What a lovely idea. I will have to save for when my two are a little older. I love the way that it is in the family area of the home, and shared by every one.

  11. Pingback: ‘The Pit of Doom’ aka My Daughter’s Bedroom | Thinly Spread

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