Resolving to make a Resolution: 5 things to consider when making your New Years Resolution


By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT

Resolution picture
pixabay[Resolution by annca, November 2015, CCO]
Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Do you find yourself wondering why this happens each and every year? You have great intentions and you seem to take off with great force and then your momentum comes to a screeching halt around that third or fourth week in January. Don’t worry; you are not alone. Here is a list of things to consider when making your resolution.

  1. Does my resolution have to start on January 1st? So, it’s the beginning of a new year and it seems appropriate to make a fresh start. But, is it really necessary to start of the very first day of the year? Most of us are cleaning up messes from the holidays, attempting to get the kiddos back in something that resembles routine, stewing over that confrontational moment with the mother-in-law, and traveling to get back home. Some of us still may even have more gatherings planned that we were unable to make happen during the actual holidays. With all of these stressors and more, it seems like attempting to make a big change has potential for failure pretty quickly.
  2. Are the requirements to attain my resolution really feasible? When you make a resolution, think long and hard about how easily you can do this. If your resolution is to become a body builder over the next year, you will want to think about more than just your ability to go to the gym. Do you have the time to commit to all of the training required? Do you have all of the equipment necessary? And, if you don’t have all of the equipment, do you have the money to buy it? Do you know what type of diet you will need to maintain? And, if you don’t, do you know someone who can help you? Can you afford to pay them to help you? So, before you commit yourself to a resolution, think it through in terms of feasibility, accessibility, and possibility!
  3. Is this a resolution that I can really maintain long-term? Tying into the whole idea of thinking long and hard about your resolution choice, add this in as well. Is this something that you can maintain? Are you making such a drastic change in your life that it may not be easy to keep the same momentum at all times? Watzlawick, Weakland, and Fisch (1974) tell us that in first-order change, there are changes that are made but the structure of the system does not change. But, in second order change, the changes that occur are a direct result of a change in the system. So, ask yourself if the changes you have made are simple changes in behavior (first-order change) or complex changes in structure (second-order change) before you decide whether or not this resolution can and will continue past the 3rd week in January.
  4. What will happen if I don’t meet my resolution? This is an important question to ask yourself when making a resolution. Will you be disappointed and beat yourself up? Will you blame others for not making it happen? Will this add extra tension and stress to your life? Take some time to really think about this question before you make your resolution.
  5. Is it really necessary to even have a resolution? Yes, I asked it. I’m sorry if anyone thinks that this is blasphemous to even suggest it. But, can you skip the resolution this year? Or, if you are really against this idea, you can always make a resolution to not have a resolution this year! Something to think about, right?

During these last few weeks of December when you are thinking about your potential resolutions for the upcoming year, consider these five questions. And, most importantly, keep in mind that this is YOUR resolution. You are the expert on yourself which means that you get to choose your resolution and whether you have one or not.


[1] Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J. & Fisch, R. (1974) Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. New York, NY: W.W Norton & Company, Inc. 

This post was written by Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT, the Social Media and Programming Coordination Specialist for the MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development concentration on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Gift ideas worth more than money

By: Bari Sobelson, MS, LMFT and Caitlyn Brown

pixabay[Present by ParentRap December 27, 2015, CCO]
It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday season and find yourself wishing you could buy the biggest, best, and most extravagant gifts for your loved ones. It’s also easy to convince yourself that material items can enhance relationships and solidify connections. Military families may be especially susceptible to falling into the spending trap because of the long periods of time spent away from each other.  But, what if you can give gifts to others without spending any money at all? Or, more realistically, spending less than you think you should.  Below is a list of gift ideas created specifically with our military families in mind.


  • Snapchat Stories: Snapchat is commonly used amongst the millennials, but they aren’t the only ones. Snapchat is a great way to capture the moments that your deployed member may be missing out on. By creating a snapchat for your deployed member and for yourself, you can send your deployed member snap shots of pictures or up to 10second videos. You can also use snapchat to live chat or video message. All you need for Snapchat is an email address/phone number and a phone with apps. If both of you have Snapchat, you can also post videos/pictures to your story, which will appear for 24 hours. That way, if there is a major time difference, your significant other can view them on his or her own time that day. It also lets you see when and who has viewed the snapchat story (in case you have other friends that you want to see it).
  • Mail a hug: The US Postal Service allows us to mail a whole bunch of things that aren’t just boxed up. Send your deployed service member a hug! You can do this by taking a pillow (that hopefully one that smells like your house) and using felt, cutting out your children’s hands and sewing (or hot gluing) the hands to the pillow. Then you can write a message directly on the pillow using fabric pens. You can then send the pillow, unboxed, by placing the stamps directly onto the pillow with the address. It will look like a little huggable postcard.
  • Memory jar/ card deck memories, I love you’s: This can be done in a couple of different ways, with the main goal of just showing your loved one how much you care. The first idea, requires a jar of your choosing which you then fill with little pieces of paper with memories (like a Penseive if you’re a Harry Potter Fan) or reasons you love the person. Another way to do it, is by getting a deck of playing cards and writing on each of the 52 cards reasons you love the person or your favorite memories of the individual etc. Both the cards and jar can be easily portable and can be constant source of comfort for the individual, especially if he or she is about to be deployed or away for a while.
  • Avocado app: This app is used by couples to stay in touch. This private app allows you to share calendars, camera rolls/galleries, chats, etc.
  • Flash drives with videos and pictures: Fill a flash drive full of videos, pictures, movies or other things that they may enjoy. Flash drives allow you to pack a lot of information into one small mail-able (and reusable) unit.
  • Coupon Books: This idea is an age old classic! Make a coupon book for your loved ones full of chores, favors, etc. This doesn’t cost a thing! 


  • Groovebook: This is a great way to have tangible pictures in book-form straight from your phone! The cost is only $2.99 a month. Check out more details here:
  • Family puzzle: Puzzling with family members is an awesome way to bond and spend time, without competing or ruining relationships like board games can (looking at you, Monopoly). There are a couple of websites that allow you to make your own puzzles based on either a family picture ( or based on a GPS location (
  • MySocialBook: Create a bound copy of all the correspondences between your social media websites. This website allows you to create a hardbound copy of your Facebook timelines between you and your significant other, you and your family members or you and five friends. While social media is notorious for archiving every moment that we post, it can be difficult, daunting and vexing to have to sift through everything posted to find a post, picture or message.
  • Matching bracelets: These are a cute idea to keep the whole family connected. Spend time creating matching bracelets out of embroidery thread. There are a bunch of different designs that aren’t hard to make (just scan Pinterest) and you can always let your kids have a say in picking the colors, adding beads or depending on their age, making one of their own.
  • ShadowBox Keys: Shadowboxes are an appealing type of home décor for displaying pictures, tickets and other memorabilia. Display the keys from the many homes that you have shared. Many military families get so accustomed to moving that it becomes just a normal part of life, why not preserve some of the memories and honor the different places you have created into a home together?
  • Flat Daddies and Flat Mommies ( Have you heard of FatHeads? They are basically giant life-size stickers that you can decorate your walls with. Well, Flat Daddies and Flat Mommies are the military personalized version of Fatheads. You send in a picture of your mommy or daddy and you get a life-sized sticker of that individual. The FlatDaddies website also does some funding to provide free flat daddies to military families, but that funding may not always be available.


This list is not the end all be all of fun gifts, but we hope we provided a bunch of fun and creative ideas for you to explore as a family. We recognize that it is easy to get swept up in buying the newest or most popular item of the year, but these gift ideas carry the potential for an emotional value that far surpasses anything monetary. We welcome any other ideas that have been a success for you and your family or someone else you know. We hope you continue to enjoy this holiday season!

This post was written by Bari Sobelson and Caitlyn Brown of the  MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.