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Resolve to make 2014 the year of the family

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The new year has arrived. It's time for out with the old and in with the new. Resolve to make 2014 the year of the family in your home.

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Each year, many Americans make New Year's resolutions to lose weight, get organized or improve their lives in other ways. Statistic Brain lists more family time among the top 10 New Year's resolutions for 2014.

In our busy lives, family often comes after other obligations. Resolve to change that this year. Here are 10 ways to make 2014 the year of the family.

Schedule family time. Just as you schedule doctor's appointments, soccer games and work-related meetings, place family time dates on your calendar. Make a date to spend time together each week.

Start a new family tradition. Whether it's Friday night pizza night, Saturday morning nature hikes or going out to lunch after church on Sunday, add a new tradition to your family this year.

Kick off 2014 with a hike. Across the country, many state parks are participating in the First Day Hike program. From Texas to Maryland, Georgia to Minnesota, Utah to Virginia, check your State Park website for more details.

Eat dinner together. Studies have shown that children get better grades and are healthier physically and emotionally when families eat dinner together. It may not work every night, but try for at least three nights each week of family dinnertime.

Cook together. Make eating dinner more fun by planning the menu and preparing the food together. Let each child perform one task to make the meal a success or let each child help with dinner one day per week. You will enjoy family time and your children will learn a life skill.

Hold weekly family meetings. Set a time that works for all members of the family to sit down each week and talk about the week's joys, challenges, plans and activities.

Get off the couch. It's fun to watch TV together but it's also important to be physically active. Ride bikes together or take a walk in the park. Get your heart beating faster with those you love.

Discover your city or town. Pick a different local destination each week to explore. Visit your city's museum, play at a city park or walk through downtown. This is a great way to get to know your city and spend time together as a family without spending a fortune.

Plan ahead for special days. Family events will move to the top of your children's calendar if you plan ahead for holidays and other special days. Have parties and invite your friends or plan a special menu together.

Share more than a home with each other. In many families, home is a place to go at the end of the day. Spend time talking about your hopes, dreams and goals. Share details about your separate lives to feel connected as a family.

Family time is fun for parents and kids. Resolve to find time to make memories together in 2014. Happy New Year from all of us at Examiner.

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