Parents tell how they're resolving to make even happier families in 2018

From banning screens, to decluttering, reading, learning maths facts and having family fun, local parents tell Jenny Lee what they are resolving to do for their families in 2018

Charlene Brooks, Chief Executive Officer of Parenting NI with her three children, Isabella, Jack and Alexander who are planning to have a digital free zone at least once a week during 2018

THE new year is the perfect time to put all those parenting blunders of the past 12 months behind you and focus of some new goals for your family. If you tend to lack willpower, making a resolution together as a family is a great way to hold each other to it.

Sitting down and thinking what I would change about family life and what resolutions I would make for my family in 2018, I jotted down many thoughts. Eat more family meals together, declutter, get the children involved in cooking more, have more patience when it comes to homework (for both parents and children) and perhaps start a new family tradition – like a Friday movie night, snuggled up together.

Top of my husband's list was getting the kids to keep their rooms tidy. At seven and almost five I really should make a weekly chore list for them to tick off.

We would also love to take our family cycling hobby to the next level and getting our youngest off stabilisers is also high on our priority list. Assembling the greenhouse we bought five years ago and growing more of our own vegetables is also a dream.

While I would love to achieve all the above, I know it's unlikely. So if I were to choose one thing, it's simply to appreciate those magical little moments of childhood and write down in a journal all my children's funny little saying, like when I told my daughter we had to wait at the zebra crossing and she replied: “Don’t be silly Mummy – we don’t have zebras in our country.”

Here are the family resolutions and desires of personalities from the world of politics, sports, broadcasting and literature:

Clare Hanna, SDLP MLA and mum of Eimear (6), Aideen (4) and Niamh (8 months)

Clare Hanna, SDLP MLA, with husband Donal Lyons and children Eimear, Aideen and Niamh who resolved to keeping their home organised in 2018 to prevent morning chaos

This year I'm resolved to keeping organised. One of the best things I've ever got for the family was a unit in the hall, designed for shoe storage but there is a drawer for each of us for shoes, school bags, hats and the other stuff that always seems to be missing when we're trying to get out the door. It has made our mornings a lot smoother and a bit more organised. We've a long way to go but I think generally staying on top of the clutter will mean less time sweating the small stuff and more of fun as a family.

Charlene Brooks, chief executive officer of Parenting NI and mum of Isabella (7), Jack (6) and Alexander (6)

Although I try not to give ourselves the additional pressure of new year resolutions, I do think it gives us that prompt to turn over a new page, think of new things for us to do as a family and nudge us in the direction of considering what we do together. We have agreed two challenges for ourselves for the upcoming year. Firstly, in our house where week days are so busy we already consider our Sundays to be family days. So in 2018 we plan to have as many of these days as we can outdoors. We will aim to get out and about visiting different parts of Northern Ireland no matter the weather. Second, in an age where we all rely on technology so much, we are going to have a digital-free zone at least one day in the week – where none of us, parents or children, will rely on our phones and devices for entertainment.

Myra Zepf, Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland and mum of Áine (14), Kilian (12) and Lorcan (9)

Myra Zepf, Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland is planning to have family reading parties in 2018 with her children Áine (14), Kilian (12) and Lorcan (9)

This new year we plan to bring back to life a much-loved tradition that has fallen by the wayside in the busy day-to-day with older children. Our 'reading parties' that we always loved will make a comeback, complete with duvets, popcorn, favourite novels and towering piles of picture books. Cosy together-time and a welcome device-free zone.

Jonathan Rea, three-time World Superbike Champion and dad of Jake (4) and Tyler (2)

World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea with wife Tatiana and sons Jake and Tyler

My job in superbikes means I’m often travelling over the world competing. Our life goes at 100 miles per hour and when possible at home we try to spend as much time hanging out together outdoors, going on nature walks, going to the local park or taking the boys out on their little electric trial bikes. When I'm competing all over the world, my family join me trackside when possible, but this year our target as a family is to spend proper holiday downtime together and get away abroad for a proper holiday without any bikes involved.

Ralph McLean, BBC Radio Ulster presenter, Irish News movie columnist and dad of Tara (11), Dan (9) and Eve (2)

BBC Radio Ulster presenters Ralph and Kerry McLean with their children Tara, Dan and Eve

I'm a committed, hands-on dad who’s happy to do just about anything to help the kids – but I have to admit I have a blind spot with maths. I hated it at school and when the guys come home with their maths homework and ask for help I’m totally lost. I haven’t a clue. I think I blanked the whole subject out like some traumatic experience. As my son Dan approaches his big transfer test this year I’m going to knuckle down and try to understand at least the basics so I can help him more. That’s the plan anyway...

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