With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we are in the season of gratitude once more. Sadly, many of us only put the gratitude in focus this time of the year and instead of making it a tentpole in our day-to-day lives. But, there are many simple ways of making gratitude a part of our daily life. Here are some simple ways to practice gratitude as a family:
Earlier this year, a great friend advised me to begin journaling on a daily basis. Being a writer already, I thought I was already journaling because I was writing all the time, but gratitude journaling is different. Gratitude journaling is about remembering and writing about things (big or small) that you are grateful for. Often, you sit with the intention to just do it quickly, but tapping into things that make you feel blessed and happy makes you want to continue more. This small, simple practice has changed my perception so greatly that I began practicing it with my kids.
When we started lockdown in March, we were all pretty tense with emotions. The kids especially felt worried and scared about the talks of quarantine and pandemic. I knew right away that we needed to tap into a positivity mindset. I gave each child a journal (teenagers to kindergarten-aged kids). We sat down and put on a timer for five minutes. I asked everyone to list three things that they were grateful for. They didn’t need to elaborate if they didn’t wish, they could just make a list. Three things was just a minimum, they could list more and write as much as they wanted to.
Of course, I got the attitude but I promised them that they would feel better. And, that they didn’t need to show it to me. This was for themselves. On the first day, everyone was a little skeptical but by day three, as I glanced up from my own journaling, I heard the timer go off and saw pens still on paper, writing away. I saw smiles. I saw little faces who waited in anticipation for the next journaling time.
Often kids mimic our actions and our behavior about said actions. My consistency with calling the kids to the table after lunch every afternoon with our bin of journals and pens in hand developed our habit of journaling regularly. Sitting with them and journaling together gave us a chance to bond together as a family. Not having the pressure to show their list took the pressure off (especially for the teens) to write about whatever they wished. Gratitude journaling is a great and simple way to practice gratitude as a family.
There are great journals available. Here are some options you can try:
- For a guided journal especially for kids try the Gratitude Journal for Kids: A 90 Day Gratitude Journal with Daily Writing Prompts.
- For a blank journal for kids, check out this super cute one: Diary of an Awesome Kid.
- For us moms, try this beautiful guided journal in a hardcover: The Gratitude Journal for Women.
- Or, this softcover, blank one for either mom or dad: Gratitude Journal.
Gratitude Word Wall
Creating a gratitude word wall is another simple way to practice gratitude as a family. Last Ramadan, we decided to teach our kids the idea that the more you practice gratitude, the more you’ll find things to be grateful for. An idea that gratitude is something that keeps growing. With this in mind, we decided to dedicate a wall in the house to show how gratitude grows. Thus, the gratitude word wall.
We kept different colored post-it notes in a small basket with some pens and pencils. We asked the kids to write something they are grateful for in one word and stick it onto the wall. It could be anything, no explanations, no questions asked. But, they had to commit to writing at least one word a day. Well, pretty soon we had a wall in our family room full of colorful little sticky notes with words written on them. Their words included love, cookies, Disney, and WiFi. It was amazing to watch that wall fill up daily with words and ideas that even I had taken for granted. Many times a day one or two of us would stand by that wall and just read the words written by ourselves and others.
The word wall was a simple idea for our family to practice gratitude.
Here are some ideas for the sticky notes:
Gratitude through Acknowledgment
Sometimes the easiest way to practice gratitude is the most forgotten one. A super simple way to practice gratitude as a family is by remembering to say “thank you” to each other over the little and big things.
As adults, we are often wrapped up in our daily hustle. Often, my husband and I do what we are expected to do for our family without acknowledging the effort from one another. Meaning, we were forgetting to say a simple “thank you.” Whether it was for cooking a great meal, watching the kids, putting the little one to bed, bringing a glass of water, etc. We are guilty of saying “thanks” as a reaction instead of an acknowledgment. But, we have realized taking the time to make eye contact, hold a hand, or give a hug and say, “Thank you, you really helped out today,” gives it an extra weight of sincerity that means a whole lot more.
Being grateful for the contribution to our family also includes the kids. When the kids help out with their daily chore, I know that I often forget to thank them for their efforts. I am trying to remember to thank them for their help; that those efforts in helping their family are noticed and appreciated. Saying thank you, or texting thank you with a sweet emoji or gif on the kids’ phone, or a little note on their door is sure to bring a smile to their face. In turn, they also remember to say “thank you” for a cooked meal, clean and folded laundry on their bed, and remembering to get their favorite beverage at the grocery store.
Appreciating and acknowledging each other with thankful words are super simple ways of practicing gratitude as a family.
It really is simple and possible to practice gratitude as a family as often as you like. Gratitude can be nurtured from a young age and encouraged in the older ones through consistent practice. It applies to all the seasons of our lives and doesn’t need to be remembered only around Thanksgiving. But it just might be the perfect place to start.