Sometimes it’s easy for me to get bogged down in the day-to-day stress and worry that accompanies motherhood. I too often waste precious moments wondering if we’re doing right by our kids. I worry about a messy house and stress that we won’t accomplish all of our tasks. When I start down the path, I find that it often spirals me to a place that I never want to be. I allow the negativity to inch it’s way in. Before I know it, I’m looking at my life’s glass as being half empty.
When I pull myself together and regroup, I often feel silly. Because my family and I are so very lucky and grateful.
We have a comfortable home, food to eat, we are all healthy, and my children are happy. I am so deeply grateful for this life that I live. I don’t need to be a victim to this way of thinking. It’s possible to counter the negativity and head it off before it becomes overwhelming. And with Thanksgiving right around the corner, there’s no better time to double down on my efforts to cultivate gratitude. I’m trying to do this by building a habit of gratitude within in my family.
The moments we spend each day thinking about our blessings will add up to a life lived through the lens of abundance and gratitude. And ideally, I’ll help my children develop this habit so it can follow them through life, helping them notice all they are blessed with.
Here are 5 ideas for cultivating gratitude within your family. We have tried all of these in some form and practice some more actively than others.
- Mealtime gratitude: When trying to create a new habit, it helps to anchor it to another behavior that is already a habit. Sharing meals is something that most families do together, so it’s a perfect time in which to add a little gratitude ritual. Often during meals, each person in our family will share something that we are grateful for.
- Daily gratitude: We’re trying something new this November. Each day, I’m asking my kids, my husband, (and me), to share one thing we are each grateful for. I’m writing each thing on a little paper leaf and hanging the leaves around our kitchen windows. By the end of the month, we’ll have days and days of gratitude leaves filling our space and reminding us of all we have to be thankful for.
- Intentional gratitude sharing: I’m trying to remember to occasionally mention things I’m grateful for out loud. It helps me recenter myself and also model for my kids the act of gratitude. I might mention aloud that I’m grateful for the warm sunny spot on the couch keeping me warm. Or, I’ll comment that I feel lucky we have a reliable car to get us to some of our favorite places.
- Saying thank you to and for my kids: I try to remember to thank my kids for all the different things that they do. I also don’t require them to say thank you. Instead, I’ll model the behavior and say thank you for them when the situation calls for it. This way, their gratitude will always be authentic. I’ll also point out when it seems like they are grateful. For example, if one of my kids is jumping up and down with excitement upon receiving a gift from somebody, I’ll say, “Wow, you seem so grateful to have been given that gift.” Gratitude comes in all forms and, for kids, it doesn’t always look like saying, “thank you.”
- Thanksgiving gratitude tree: When I hosted Thanksgiving for extended family a few years ago, I brought in a tree branch from outside and cut out little leaves from paper. Everyone who shared the holiday with us filled out leaves, writing things they were grateful for. We then hung them on the tree. This was a great way to focus on gratitude and have a beautiful visual representation of it.
Does your family have any traditions when it comes to gratitude? I’d love to hear what has worked for you.