Over the past year, since our last child became school age, we noticed as parents that we needed to shift our parenting a little bit. We had the baby and toddler stages down pat; we could juggle those stages in our sleep after having four back to back children. It was teaching our children to be present in the now – mindful and being grateful for all around them – that we needed.
We’ve always been hands on parents, keeping our kids in line and constantly reminding them to say ‘please and thank you’, and to sit when they eat and not leave the table until they are done. But when we turned the other way, we noticed – even after years of teaching and reminding them to say ‘please and thank you’ – that they still didn’t remember to do it.
Those two simple words – thank you – are the words that were missed, and I felt disappointed. Saying thank you should come easily, or so I thought. I started to notice it was as though they didn’t see what was being giving to them, what they should be grateful for… almost like they expected and assumed they should get it.
No, not my sweet children! I have been working so hard giving them the best I possibly can, so how can this be?
Well, it was happening and it happened quickly. We were coming up on New Year’s and I was seeing articles about making New Year’s resolutions. They were all about self-growth but I wasn’t planning on being selfish this New Year’s – I wanted to focus on bringing gratefulness front and center for my whole family.
You may have heard of gratitude journals, where each day you write something that you are grateful for. I took that simple idea and expanded upon it.
In January, we started a family gratitude journal, where each night at dinner time we add something we personally are grateful for that happened in our day. We are now six months into our family gratitude journal and I have noticed a huge difference in our children. We haven’t completed an entry daily because we cannot be at the dinner table each night. However, when we do sit down as a family five or six nights a week, the kids love to listen to each other and share what they are thankful for about their day. It has allowed them the time to be mindful and realize how rewarding it can be in their hearts to acknowledge the kindness of others or the simple things they may have taken for granted.
A couple times per month, the kids request that I re-read a few days’ entries. Watching them remember that moment or day makes me happy and reinforces that this is a routine worth building on. Our goal is to re-read the whole book each New Year’s and be reminded of all we have to be grateful for.
Our family gratitude journal has become a part of our routine, so much so that the kids place it on the table beside my dinner plate just as they would a napkin.
How are you bringing gratefulness front and centre for your children?
Tammy is a mom of four between the ages of 9-4. When she is not cooking, cleaning, making homemade meals or taking mindful moments with her family, Tammy can be found letting her creative juices flow writing on inRdream.com. Although Tammy’s time is limited, as a mom of four she has learned that she needs to take time for herself to be the best mommy she can be for family. Health, laughter, lots of hugs and kisses are a great start.