The Secret to a Happier Family: Incorporating Gratitude into Your Daily Life

Gratitude is the secret ingredient to a happier and more fulfilled life. As a very busy "hot-mess" mom, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Between school drop-offs, work, keeping up with the endless mounds of laundry (speaking of that... did I get that load out of the washer?!), dirty dishes piled in the sink, my endless to-do list, and all the other "hats" we wear, it can be extremely hard to find time to slow down and appreciate the little things. But I've found that incorporating gratitude into my daily routine has made a dynamic difference in my overall well-being and my goal is to introduce concepts of gratitude to my littles so that we can start focusing on the good things in our day, week, month, and beyond. Gratitude has been proven to help overall mental health, promote better sleep, stronger relationships, increased empathy, increased awareness, a greater sense of purpose, and more. 

GRATITUDE... that is a big word! So how can we effectively introduce this concept to our child/children AND incorporate it into the day?

  1. Use simple language and examples that make it more "real-life" for them: For example, you can say "Gratitude sounds kind of like the word Grateful, doesn't it?! Do you know what that means? Being grateful means saying thank you when someone gives you something nice" or "when we are grateful, we feel happy inside." 

  2. Show gratitude within your actions: Our littles are always watching us, so we are the best examples to show them how it's done. For example, if someone holds the door open for you at the store you could say "thank you," but also tell your child after something along the lines of, "Wow, that person held the door open for us which was such a kind thing to do! I am so thankful and that kind act filled me up with gratitude that they did something so nice for us!"  Model gratitude in your OWN behavior and actions when a teachable moment arises. Show your children how to say "thank you" and express appreciation through their own words and actions... maybe using their words, a smile, wave, etc. 

  3. Encourage children to notice the good things in their day (big and small): Point out things they have to be thankful for, such as a warm bed, a yummy meal, or a sunny day. I always like to use "I" statements for modeling, such as, "I am so thankful for this yummy, warm meal that fills up my belly!" 

  4. Make It A Fun Activity/Game: Play games that encourage your child to think about what THEY are grateful for. For example, you can go around the table while eating dinner and each share something that you are grateful for that day. Encourage the idea that gratitude doesn't always mean it is something HUGE, it can be simple moments, like the sun peeking out on a grey, rainy day. 

  5. Create a gratitude routine embedded in the day: Create a gratitude ritual that your child can participate in each day that forms into a habit! For example, before bed, they can share one thing they are grateful for that day or even draw/write a picture about it. It' also a great thing to do in the morning to start the day!

  6. Encourage giving back: If you haven't read the book, "How Full Is Your Bucket," *linked here* I highly encourage it! SUCH a great read and it discusses how when we do good things for others, it fills their "bucket" but ours, TOO! It's a win-win! Encourage children to give back to others. Help them understand that when we give to others, we are expressing gratitude for all that we have.

  7. Start a gratitude jar: This one is so fun! As a family, choose a jar/container and decorate it together. Every day, have each family member write something they are grateful for on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. At the end of the month, or even year, read all the notes together and reflect on all the incredible things you have to be thankful for, big and small!

  8. Show appreciation through action: Instead of just saying "thank you," (which is a great thing to do)... take it a step further and show appreciation through action. Help your kids make a card or bake cookies to give to someone they are grateful for. We live in a world where so much is done with technology, so a hand-written card with a good 'ol fashioned stamp sent via snail mail can make someone on the end of that delivery route so happy!

  9. Gratitude Walks: *I LOVE THIS IDEA* Take a walk as a family and point out things that you are grateful for along the way. We take so much of nature for granted, so this is a great time to focus on what surrounds us on this beautiful world each and every day. It could be a beautiful tree, a colorful flower, or even a kind stranger that waves hello with a warm smile. 

It's so important to remember that children learn by example, so incorporating gratitude into your own daily routine is the best way to teach them! Wait, one more thing to add-in to our crazy lives?! AHHHH! I know, Mama! I get it, but I promise that this practice is one that I have found so impactful in the best of ways! Here is a journal I use every morning and night, and the best part?! It takes less than 5 minutes, typically. *linked here*

We live in a fast-paced society, that often focuses on the negative. I am SO guilty of this and tend to let small things that truly don't matter affect my entire day! Most of the time, these small mishaps were out of my control anyways, yet, I let it dictate the rest of my day. It's time to let these things roll by, breathe, and take that moment that can totally wreck havoc on your day mentally to, instead, soak in something that FILLS YOU UP WITH HAPPINESS and gratitude.

By incorporating gratitude into your daily routine and as a family, you'll find that you begin to appreciate the present moment much more, and that you'll begin to notice the abundance of good things in your life when things seem "bleh". It's a small change in mindset that can make a massive difference in your overall well-being and the well-being of your loved ones. So, go ahead and start a gratitude jar, try gratitude dinner table conversation or take a gratitude walk, and watch as your family becomes happier and more fulfilled."

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