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Happy New Year! Did you make a New Year’s Resolution for 2017? Good for you! Unfortunately, simply resolving to make the change is the easy part. Making the time to achieve your goals without shaking up your entire household could prove to be more challenging. With that in mind, here are some tips to make some popular New Year’s resolutions more do-able.

Healthy Habits

Working in some exercise (especially during the winter months in Wisconsin) is no easy feat, but when you have children, finding time for yourself becomes even more difficult. If you have a child with special needs, dropping him off in your health club’s child care center while you take a spin class is probably not an option. While working out at home can be convenient and less expensive, not everyone has the space for a home gym. And, unless you’re willing to exercise late at night or early in the morning, you can expect frequent interruptions.

The good news is that many gyms, recreation departments and nonprofit organizations offer adaptive classes specifically for children with special needs, including swim lessons, yoga classes, tennis lessons and even martial arts instruction. So, while your child is learning new skills in one room, you can run on the treadmill or participate in a Zumba class in another. Or, if you don’t mind paying extra, you may even want to consider private lessons for your child.

Another option is to find activities that involve the WHOLE family, so you can all reap the benefits together. Look for family swim and family open gym times at your health club. Or search for local gymnastics centers, skating rinks, rock climbing facilities and trampoline parks that reserve times just for kids with special needs and their families. The Countywide Rec Room, a service provided by the Milwaukee County Office for Persons with Disabilities, provides a list of recreational activities for residents with disabilities at www.county.milwaukee.gov/RecRoom.

Saving Money 

If you’re saving up for something special like a family vacation, you can use this resolution to teach your children some valuable lessons about money. All the members of your family can participate by putting their loose change in a jar labeled with your goal, such as “Disney trip.” Ask your kids to cut out pictures of activities they want to do on your vacation and glue them to the jar for extra inspiration!

Before they put down those scissors, recruit the children to help you cut coupons from the newspaper for your next shopping trip. It’s a great opportunity to talk about how saving a few extra dollars every week can really add up over time…even if that means switching to a lower-priced brand of cereal or toothpaste.

There are plenty of other ways to spend less, including getting rid of or switching to a different cable or satellite television service, changing to a cheaper cellular phone plan or provider and transferring your credit card balances to cards with lower or 0% financing. Again, these are good topics for a family discussion, as everyone will need to do their part to help you reach your goals.

Spending More Time with Family 

I saved the best for last, as more family time is really the most important resolution of all! Fortunately, this one can fit right in with these other resolutions. For example, the whole family can get some exercise by walking the dog or going sledding together, and it won’t cost you a thing! And, you can save lots of money AND have fun with your family by planning a weekly game night at home instead of going out for your usual “dinner and a movie” routine.

Just remember that you didn’t gain ten pounds or acquire all your debt overnight, so be patient. Taking baby steps towards achieving your goals will not only make the transition easier on your family, but it will increase your chances of success in the new year. Good luck!

Tara Clark is the development & marketing director at St. Francis Children’s Center

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