The calendar has turned and, once again, we are in a new year! And with this New Year comes the opportunity to begin again with a fresh start. It’s the time when most of us traditionally determine to make changes. We announce, scribble and type out our resolutions to lose weight, quit a bad habit, and better ourselves.

As a parent, most of us have had “spend more time with family” written on our resolution list. It is, however, also on Time’s list of resolutions most commonly broken. Why?

It is a change not easy to make but even more impossible to keep because it is both a vague and broad objective. “Spending more time with family” is an admirable and worthy goal, but what does it mean—exactly? It seems as though this resolution poses more questions than answers. How much time? What kind of time? When and where?

The best way to ensure a resolution is kept is by making your intention clear. So, the following are five specific ways to create quality time with your loved ones. Each one is clearly defined and easy to follow, ensuring that this is the year that you WILL keep your resolution!

Unplug— From phones, computers, video games or any other electronic device that sucks up both electricity and your attention. Remember that the best conversations, best laughs, and best times with our kids are often had when they or we aren’t tethered to a device. Choose a block of time each day to dedicate to just “being” with your kid(s). After all, they won’t be little for long and, unlike time, the text or Facebook update can wait.

Listen—Most moms are guilty of the “uh huh, honey” as we busily wipe counters, cook dinner, and think of a million things that have nothing to do with what our little human is telling us. We often give these gratuitous and perfunctory responses because we assume that a child’s stories don’t require a high level of concentration. It IS important, however, to listen—really listen—because if your child feels you value what they say now, they will value what you have to say later.

Eat Dinner together—The best place to listen to your kids is at the dinner table. For some families, it is the one time that everyone is gathered, seated and together. While your children are enjoying their meal, they are more relaxed and willing to open up. So take this opportunity to ask them about their day. Remember that kids are more likely to respond to specific questions rather than general ones.

Create A Happy Jar—Take a slip of paper, date it and write your child’s name on it. Then ask your child what was his or her happiest moment that day or week. Write it down and put it into a jar, a basket or a bin. After a few months, take out the slips, read them to your kid(s), and relive those moments. It is a great way to have your child share an experience with you, start a positive conversation, and keep memories.

Create A Bedtime Routine—The end of the day provides the perfect opportunity to snuggle, read to, and talk with your little one(s). Creating a bedtime routine is a way to carve out quality time with child. And an established routine guarantees that even if the day gets busy, there will be this special moment at the end of the day to devote to your little one.

Remember, making big, sweeping changes in your life can be overwhelming. Instead, resolve to make several small specific changes. Goals, which are clear and reasonable, can be easily reached. And each successful change will lead to another. Happy New Year!

Sherry Parnell

A full-time writer, personal trainer, and professor, I am the author of Let the Willows Weep and Daughter of the Mountain. An alumnus of Dickinson College and West Chester University, I live with my husband and sons in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania. I am currently working on my third novel entitled The Secrets Mother Told.