Remember those New Year’s resolutions you made a couple of weeks ago, the ones you swore you’d keep? With our bunch, those good intentions fell apart quicker than a stale gingerbread house. Here are some post-New Year’s resolutions your family just might keep, because they have one thing in common: fun.
RESOLUTION: Eat healthier.
Vow to munch on more kale, less candy? Commendable, but . . . yawn! Try taking a cooking class together. At the Kitchen at the Boston Public Market, parents and kids whip up meals together at the Trustees of Reservations’ Family Dinner Night. There are some slated for Friday, Feb. 10 and 24 with chef Avi Shemtov of the Chubby Chickpea and March 10 and 24 with chef Joe Gatto of Seriously From Scratch. You’ll get a quick tour of what’s in season at the Public Market and then create a three-course feast featuring local ingredients and classic flavors (vegetarian and vegan options are available). This group activity (dining is communal) is recommended for kids ages 6 and up. Trustees members pay $24 per adult, $12 per child; non-members $30/$15. The Trustees also offer back-to-basics classes in bread-and-butter making and cheese making at Appleton Farms (located in Hamilton and Ipswich); visit www.thetrustees.org for dates and details. Your child on “Chopped Junior”? It could happen.
RESOLUTION: To reconnect with your artsy side.
We know. You barely have enough time to clean off the table for a family art project, let alone engineer one. So, keep it simple. Pick up a few coloring books (including some adult ones with mosaics, mandalas, or famous paintings and the like) at the dollar store, along with a big box of crayons, and go for it. Or, to really get those creative juices flowing, make it an event: Head to the Museum of Fine Arts
and check out the new exhibit “Make Way for Ducklings: The Art of Robert McCloskey,” showing now through June 18. Next, grab a tote from the Family Art Cart (free with museum admission on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; it’s yours to use, not keep), filled with gallery-inspired activities. Perhaps it is time for a sequel to McCloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal,” written by you and yours? Adults, $25; free for ages 6 and under; ages 7-17 free weekdays after 3 p.m., weekends, and Boston public school holidays, otherwise $10;
admission by donation every Wednesday after 4 p.m.
RESOLUTION: To rediscover the cool stuff in our own backyard.
Why should tourists have all the fun? One of our best winter weekends ever was spent in good old Boston, staying overnight at a hotel (with an indoor pool and a super-cheap off-season rate), and doing all the things we never have time to do — like lunch in Chinatown, skating at the Frog Pond, and museum-hopping. This year, make a list of all the touristy things you never make time to do, and vow to do them in 2017. Tip: Bypass some of the usual suspects in favor of some smaller but wondrous sites, like the Harvard Museum of Natural History (www.hmnh.harvard.edu; $12 adults, $8 ages 3-18; free to Massachusetts residents every Sunday morning, year-round, from 9 a.m. to noon; free on Wednesday from 3 to 5 p.m., September through May) Dinosaurs! Sea life! Rocks and minerals! There’s lots to love there, plus special programming (like story hours) for families.
RESOLUTION: To travel the world, one plate at a time.
Globe-trotting with the crew to exotic locales in ’17? Don’t we wish! In the meantime, eateries in and around Boston offer tastes of new places. For a helping of Tibet, try the Nepalese fare at House of Tibet in Somerville (momos, a.k.a. dumplings, are a good start). Somerville is also the place to sample authentic, slow-cooked Ethiopian food at Fasika. Never tried Burmese food? Head to Yoma Burmese Restaurant in Allston. Sizzling Senegalese cuisine awaits you at Teranga in the South End. It’s all about homestyle Polish food like pierogies, kielbasa, and goulash at Café Polonia in South Boston. For Venezuelan eats, try Orinoco in the South End, Brookline, and Cambridge. For Peruvian fare, head to Machu Picchu in Somerville or Rincon Limeno in East Boston.
RESOLUTION: Laugh more often.
A family comedy movie night is always a blast. Make it a DIY Kevin Hart film festival. Better yet, head to Central Square in Cambridge to attend the live family show at ImprovBoston (Saturdays, 4 p.m.; $14 adults, $8 ages 12 and under). The theater is tiny, and the show, just over an hour with no intermission, is highly interactive, so kids are kept engaged with music, singing, and slapstick, made-up-on-the-spot comedy. There’s nothing too raunchy, but the jokes will keep both kids and parents chuckling. Is there a budding comedian in your brood? Children are invited to hop on stage and take part in the fun.
RESOLUTION: To practice kindness
Studies have shown that giving to others can make you happier. So, in celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Week, Feb. 12-18, why not discover new ways to pay it forward? Visit the nonprofit Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website (www.randomactsofkindness.org) for uplifting stories and suggestions of some simple things you and your kids can do, such as let someone else go first, help carry someone’s shopping bags, and greet your neighbors by name. Want a bigger commitment? Visit Boston Cares at www.bostoncares.org. The organization matches volunteers of all ages with 200 monthly service projects in and around Boston. Families can volunteer together, and kids as young as age 5 (with an adult) can help with garden cleanups, play games with residents of elderly housing, assemble Smile Kits (toothbrush, paste, and floss) for homeless shelters, sort and fold baby clothing for homeless expectant mothers, and a variety of other tasks.
RESOLUTION: Spend more time outdoors
The benefits of getting outdoors for a little exercise are well-documented — improved sleep, higher energy, and stress reduction. So, put on those warm layers, open the door, and go! Here are some suggestions: Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuaries (www.massaudubon.org) offer a variety of fun activities for families. For example, at the Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary in Mattapan you can join a winter family bird walk and go on a guided snowshoe hike through the sanctuary’s scenic fields and meadows. Other programs include nature story hours, introduction to beekeeping, and nature-inspired crafts. Programs are offered throughout the week and typically cost $5 for members and $7 for non-members, although many are free.
Here’s to an amazing year filled with health, happiness, and joyful moments spent together.Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.