I first became a Mom in 2010. And, like many of us are doing, as we move into 2021, I have been looking back at all the changes that occurred in my life over the past year… and the past decade, including surviving 2020. I have been thinking about the holidays and our beloved traditions, celebrating in person with family and friends. Much of that didn’t happen this year in the same way, or at all. But one important tradition will remain in our home. We will reflect on this year, all the highs and lows; and we will begin to set our intentions for 2021. We are especially looking forward to our New Year’s Eve as our time to do this as a family, in our annual practice of creating vision boards.

Having children changed so many practices for me. In particular, instead of going out on New Year’s Eve, I have made a conscious choice to spend the evening with my children (even prior to our Safe-at-Home COVID-19 protocols), Aaliyah (age 10) and Ava (age 6). In years past, we would get together with friends, join our families for a late dinner, and make it home for bed by midnight or shortly after. But over the past four years, my daughters have enthusiastically requested that we stay home together for our own special celebration. We have begun the tradition of making vision boards and supporting each other through achieving and realizing those visions.

What are vision boards?

Vision boards engage our power of intention setting and visualization. I made my first vision board thanks to the inspiration of author and coach, Rha Goddess. Most vision boards consist of images and words that represent wishes, goals, statements of inspiration, and words of motivation. They can be used for particular areas of your life — such as visioning a career or a project — or multiple aspects such as finances, career, relationships, health, etc. Vision boards are based on the theory of the Law of Attraction; the more you stay mindful of the intentions you set for your life, the more likely you are to achieve the outcomes you desire. Whether you believe this or not, there is power in taking the time to engage your children in this creative process—and it is really fun!

I am a believer in the power of visualization and the discipline of intention- setting. So, I began creating vision boards in the early 2000’s, and have used them to spark my personal growth and development. While I enjoy creating these with my children, some people host Vision Board Brunches or community gatherings at the start of a new year. All you really need is a few items to get started — some photos for your collage, inspirational words or sayings, glue sticks, tape, arts and crafts supplies. You can gather items from your home, old magazines or newspapers, head to an art supply store, or even purchase pre-assembled kits.

Gather your supplies.

As a parent, I have appreciated the process of working with my children in shaping their vision boards. We start gathering supplies a few days before our activity day. While you can cut out photos during the activity, we have made a habit of finding great photos throughout the year and putting them aside for our vision board. We put together craft bins with glue sticks, glitter glue, rubber cement, puffy paint, markers, paint pens, scissors, sometimes we print a few favorite photos and of course stickers (we love stickers). We gather materials inspired by scrapbooking and use some of the scrapping embellishments with inspirational words or phrases. We tend to gravitate towards glittery poster board as the primary canvas for our work. We post the finished product in a visible place in our home — a vision board for each family member and then one vision board for our family.

Set the stage for a fun evening. When we get down to the actual making of the boards, we create the perfect atmosphere to dream big. We celebrate Christmas and Kwanzaa in our house so we have candles lit, tree lights, and even create a make-your-own-sundae station. We have a great playlist of music, and we take dance breaks every so often and turn our living room into a dance floor! We start by making our own individual vision boards, and then we work on the family vision board together. When we are working on our individual boards we sometimes ask each other for help or ideas or share an image we think the other person might like. We then have a big reveal at the end of the night, and we use the vision boards to spark meaningful conversations together.

Use your vision boards to help plan action.

Another habit we have developed is to look at our current vision boards to get a sense of what we accomplished over the year and the impact of the images on our decisions and adventures. For example, my older child, Aaliyah, made a vision board that included text bubbles of words like “Being Kind”, “Helping the Environment”, “Staying Healthy”, and “Support Dance More”. Aaliyah started dancing at 3, taking ballet class at the Bed-Stuy YMCA and later at the Holyoke YMCA. In order to make her vision of “Support Dance More” a reality, Aaliyah planned to 1) practice dance every day 2) create new dances 3) donate to dance charities and 4) and reward herself occasionally for dancing. Guided by the vision board, Aaliyah began to put her vision into action by seeking out opportunities to move her vision forward. Examples have included:

— Started a recess ballet club with a group of friends and choreographed original dance pieces;

— Volunteered as a teaching assistant at both Ohana School of Performing Arts and the Center Dance.

— Aaliyah performed a 9-minute Halloween dance with friends and an 80s theme,

— Joined the dance troupe at her school with a choreographed lyrical ballet solo

— Aaliyah was cast as Clara in the 21st Century Nutcracker.

While Aaliyah has always had a passion for dance, her vision board helped guide the action items she would take to make her vision a reality. During this pandemic time, Aaliyah started a virtual storytime on March 30th to bring hope and inspiration to kids and their families during quarantine. As is our custom, she created a vision board with her hopes and dreams for the show. She exceeded her expectations and delivered over 200 stories between March 30th and September 30th, while raising over 10K for nonprofits including No Kid Hungry, Loveland Foundation and Moms of Black Boys United for Social Change. Dreamland now runs weekly on Sunday nights on Facebook Live and her YouTube channel. Aaliyah was recently recognized on the Nickelodeon Kid of the Year Show in a segment called Acts of Awesome.

My younger daughter, Ava, uses the vision board time to talk about foods she wants to try, places she wants to visit and what kind of games and pretend play she likes. At her age, vision boards serve as a fun way to participate in a family tradition and helps express her creative side. She is learning how to advocate for her needs, to share her interests, and to be curious about the vision of others. And most importantly, she gets to express her talents and gifts!

Engaging in dialogue.

While making the vision boards are a fun activity, I have been so impressed with the conversations that we have in the process. My family is multiracial, so we use this opportunity to talk about representation and whether or not we see ourselves as a family depicted in the magazines we are perusing to help create our boards. We talk about representation more broadly as we think about all the members of our family, and the images that are used in different publications. We talk about highlights from our year and what we want the year ahead to look like. Engaging in meaningful dialogue with children helps to build confidence in communication skills and teaches them skills to be self- reflective. I love that my children have witnessed me doing vision boards for myself and have learned about my different passion projects. This year in particular, having a sense of agency and purpose is incredibly important, as we have navigated so much uncertainty and loss.

Creating our vision boards have become such a beloved tradition and brings so much joy to our family. Use this as a time to connect with yourself, to pay attention to your vision as a parent and as an individual. And, this is a wonderful new way of connecting with your children and empowering them to achieve their dreams! Happy visioning! Please share your creations and how it works for you!