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A Guide to Year-End Reflections (for the Whole Family)

Updated: Feb 12

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As the year draws to a close, it's a great time to pause and reflect on the past 12 months. For busy moms, taking time for self-reflection is especially valuable. When we approach looking back with an open mind, we notice things about our journey that may have been overlooked before.


There are many thoughtful ways to structure reflection, like journaling, initiating discussions, or even vision boards. Choose an approach aligned with your needs, energy levels, and interests. Do you have the time to journal, or does holding conversations about your year feel more accessible to you? Setting aside dedicated time (whatever that might look like for you and your family) to reflect prepares us to enter the new year with clarity and purpose.


Reflect on Your Own Growth

Think about how you’ve grown as an individual. Appreciate how far you’ve come. Not sure where to start? This Brain Dump Exercise can be a great way to ‘declutter’ your brain and start getting some thoughts on paper.


Reflect on bonds with family and friends. Are there relationships you want to strengthen or draw firmer boundaries around? Are there people you want to grow closer to in the new year? Appreciate your supporters. Explore deeper connections. 


Look back on managing your career, household, and health. Were there times you felt overwhelmed or energized? Are there patterns in the things that felt overwhelming? What energized you? How can you seek more of that?


 

Reflecting as a Family

Gathering as a family to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new one can foster connection. Initiate an open conversation by asking thoughtful prompts like: 

  • What was your favorite memory from this year? 

  • What was the hardest thing for you? 

  • What's one thing you learned about yourself or the world? 

  • How have you changed and grown? 

  • If you had to sum up our family's year in one word, what would it be? 

  • What do you hope for more of in our family next year? 


Have each person take turns sharing their reflections. Listen closely without judgment. Discuss your collective highlights and challenges. Note the insights gained this past year and hopes for the year ahead. This family tradition plants seeds of gratitude while strengthening bonds.


 

Reflecting with Kids

Having open conversations about self-reflection models this practice for kids and shows them its value. Tailor these talks based on their age and development.


Toddlers: Ask simple questions about their favorite things from the past year and discuss happy family memories. Talk about fun activities you hope to do together in the new year that they can look forward to. 


Elementary school-aged kids:  Have conversations about things they've learned over the past year, like new skills or interests. Have them draw pictures of their happy moments or learnings from the past year. 


Middle schoolers: Ask about any new hobbies that have sparked and relationships that have become important to them. Have them create a timeline representing their past year. Include major events, accomplishments, new hobbies/interests, relationships, and challenges. Let them use photos, drawings, magazine cutouts - anything that helps them creatively capture their year.


High school students: Encourage deeper reflections on their evolving identity and sense of self. Explore insights gained through challenges they've faced, and triumphs achieved. Discuss future plans and goals. Have them write a letter to their future self, to be opened one year from now. Instruct them to reflect on who they are today - their personality, values, interests, relationships, passions, and dreams. Have them describe their proudest achievements and the most difficult challenges they've faced this past year.


Thoughtful, developmentally appropriate end-of-year talks allow kids to appreciate the value of self-reflection while also looking ahead with intention. The practice of reflecting together builds communication, understanding, and connection.


 

The new year often motivates reflection, but we can carry a mindful spirit into our regular routines. Above all, remember to simply pause throughout the day and take a few deep breaths. Reflection requires making space for yourself. Then, you can carry that mindful presence of reflection with you all year long.


 

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