As part of my self-care, I try and keep up with a regular gratitude practice. This is very simple: I just take five minutes or so to fill a page with things I am grateful for. Some things get mentioned daily (my husband, daughter, our family, our home) some reflect what’s been happening in my life (booking a new client, having a good conversation with a friend), and some small things which bring joy (a new candle, a hot coffee). Research shows unequivocally that that being grateful for the good things in our lives is good for our mental and physical health (if you don’t believe me, read this article).
Today whilst Frida was in the bath and I was writing my list on the floor beside her, I asked her if she would like to make her own gratitude list. She asked what gratitude was, and I explained that gratitude was feeling happy and grateful for the things in our lives that bring us joy. She said yes, she wanted to make a list, so I told her I would write her list down.
Here it is:
If you can’t read my writing, it says (in her own words):
- Octonauts (these are toys)
- Gups for Octonauts to go in (also toys)
- Friends – Elsie, Otis, Sophie, Estelle
- Other toys; wooden toys
- Having a wash and washing hair: taps that turn on when I want to have a bath or shower (a few days ago we lost our water for a day or so, so we talked at the time about having running water and that not all families had this)
- Being on my own and being with grown ups like grandma and grandpa who don’t live in my house
- Having skin so blood doesn’t come out
- Being cheeky
- Having new toys with my Octonauts magazine
- Having ears to listen
- Washing toys that are dirty
- Trying to write
- Finding the way to The Rookery (a local garden with a cafe we often visit)
I didn’t prompt her responses at all, and I was so moved by her list. It was a lovely moment to share together, and I will be making a point to talk to her more regularly about gratitude and the things we are grateful for (this could work well as part of the evening meal, for example, talking about being grateful for our food and water) as well as inviting her to make more lists with me.
For younger children, you could simply talk about what makes them happy. If you have older children, you could invite them to write, draw or illustrate their own lists.
How do you incorporate gratitude into your life with young children?