*This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Meijer. The opinions and text are all mine.
Practice Gratitude with Kids: Looking for an easy way to teach and practice gratitude daily this holiday season and involve your kids? This Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree for babies and young children is the perfect activity to encourage thankfulness, something that I myself, am personally working on! Plus, I’ll share how as a mom, I am re-shaping my thinking and practicing gratitude daily.
PRACTICE GRATITUDE WITH KIDS
We all know the daily rush from activity to activity that we fall into as moms. We go from feeding the baby to cleaning up after the baby, then we start putting down baby to sleep, only to finish and then start tidying the house, emptying the dishwasher, switching the laundry, and cooking dinner. It can feel like some days are a hamster-wheel of things to do, which doesn’t breed happiness. As moms, it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed by our to-do list and forget to savor the season of life we are in. Believe me, I’ve been there counting down the minutes to our children’s bedtime, so I can relax. But I don’t want to spend my days counting down the minutes until the end. This season of life passes all too quickly for us to wish it away!
Instead of trying to constantly maximize every single moment of the day (which hasn’t been very fulfilling,) I am currently working on being more present with my family and practicing daily gratitude. They say you can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time, so I am choosing gratitude! And it’s a wonderful practice to model for your kids.
We’ve always regularly talked to our kids about how lucky we are: we will drive by Lake Michigan on the way home from preschool and tell them “we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.” Or we will be playing in the backyard and tell them, “we are so lucky to have such a big backyard.” We feel incredibly blessed as a family to have our health, our education, our family, that we hope to impart that sense of gratitude upon our kids as well.
Luckily, it’s something they practice at their little Montessori preschool as well, and yet another reason we love their school! Before Bowie could talk, she would murmur this little gratitude blessing. It wasn’t until she was 3 at the end of the year did we understand all of the words: “We are thankful for the foods we eat. We are thankful for the friends we meet. We are thankful for the golden sun, the trees, the birds, and everyone.”
Unfortunately, saying a gratitude blessing before each meal isn’t realistic for our stage in life right now. As it is, I often feed the kids before 5:30 so my husband is seldom home in time for dinner as a family. Add that to the fact that one of my kids is invariably about to melt down right before dinner, and you can see why it isn’t an ideal time for us. Nevertheless, it’s important to me to encourage and demonstrate thankfulness as a family daily, so I came up with a gratitude practice that is perfect for our crazy stage of life and a fun cute idea for Thanksgiving.
THANKSGIVING GRATITUDE TREE
One Saturday morning, I had each child pick a color of craft paper from our art cart and trace their hands. Then they each cut out their “leaf” (I obviously cut the baby’s paper for her.) We put the extras in this mason jar, so each day the kids pull their leaves out and write down or draw something they are thankful for.
Bowe is pretty good at writing, so I let her do it herself (or she draws a picture). And Jack, while not writing proficiently (he is only three years old) will tell me what he is thankful for, and I write it down. Today he said he is thankful for his friend Dylan, and Bowe said she is thankful for the sun 🙂
Our Gratitude Tree is right in our breakfast area and in direct view of the kitchen sink, so every time I get stressed out, I look up and see our Gratitude Tree and remember just how blessed I am. As the month goes on and as the kids hang more and more leaves on the tree, I am reminded of how abundantly lucky we are as a family.
PRACTICING GRATITUDE: TIPS TO MAKE MOM LIFE EASIER
I get it. It’s hard being a mom; but there are lots of ways to make it easier. I’ve found that by streamlining the majority of my to-do list, it’s eliminated a ton of daily chores that took time away from my family and from myself.
1.) STREAMLINE YOUR ERRANDS: Get all your groceries, toiletries, and baby stuff in one place. Gone are the days that I had to drive to two or three different stores to pick up all of our groceries. I wasted so much time and energy! I am thankful that we live close to a Meijer, where I can get all the diapers, baby toiletries, groceries, and even baby clothes in their baby department.
Honestly, I don’t take all the kids shopping with me that often because of school schedules and naptimes. Instead, I rely on the shopmeijer app for grocery delivery to keep us fed! However, when I do bring the kids to the grocery store with me, they listen well so they can ride on “Sandy,” the motorized horse after checkout! These little things make my life so much easier, and I am thankful for them.
By getting all our toiletries, diapers, wipes, baby food, and even sleepwear in the same store that we get all our groceries, I save tons of time that I can use to spend quality time with my kids. Just last week, after taking the kids grocery shopping at Meijer for some school treats, we decided to go for an impromptu hike. It turned into a bit more of an adventure than I had bargained for; but, it all ended fine in the end! We may have gotten a bit turned around, and Jack may have had to go potty while in the woods; the kids had fun and we made meaningful memories!
Whenever we travel to my parents’ cottage in Michigan, we drive at night. We leave after dinner, let the kids fall asleep in their car seats, and usually get there around midnight (it’s a five-hour drive). Because of Meijer’s flexible times and locations, we are able to stop and pick up milk, eggs, and bread on our way to the cottage which saves so much time! I’ll stay in the car with the sleeping kids, while my husband runs in and grabs all the groceries we need!
Sometimes, if we leave earlier in the day, we are able to use Meijer’s Curbside pickup which is available between the hours of 7 AM- 9 PM. It’s such an easy way to get groceries without having the trouble of running into the store!
Knowing that we always have Meijer to shop at makes it easy for us to travel because I know that I can always get everything we need whether we are at home or on the road because no matter how well I pack, I always end up forgetting something! Mom Tip: Stock up on convenient baby food like these squeeze packs and extra wipes before you travel this holiday season. Having these two things in your diaper bag will save your sanity and this Twist Shake mat, plate, and bowl make it easy to convert any dinner table into a baby-friendly spot!
2.) Schedule it! Sundays are our prep days as a family. I bulk chop veggies for dinners, wash fruit for snacks, restock the diaper stations, and empty the trash bins. This way, whenever I have a baby with a dirty diaper, I know that there are ample diapers and wipes within reach, and whenever I have a hungry toddler, I just have to open our refrigerator!
With any family, laundry is a big chore. To make it more manageable, I put in one load every morning, and do one load of sheets three days a week: I wash our bedding on Mondays, I wash the kids’ bedding on Tuesdays, I wash our towels on Wednesdays, and I wash the dog bed sheets and blanket on Thursdays!) This eliminates spending an entire day doing laundry and makes sure we always have clean clothes for the kids to wear!
DAILY GRATITUDE PRACTICE FOR MOMS
By streamlining the amount of work I need to do each day in running our household, I am able to spend more time with my family. If you feel like you spend all your time doing household chores, I encourage you to think about how you can streamline your errands and schedule your chores, so you have more time too! Before bed, try to think about three things you are thankful for that day in particular–the more specific the better! It might be your baby taking an extra long nap, or it could be as little as getting helped a thoughtful sales person at Meijer who offers to help you to your car, all these things we should be thankful for!
So, this holiday season amidst all the chaos of running around, remember to savor the moment. It’s hard to remember, but it’s so worth it! Personally, after intentionally practicing gratitude more and modeling it to the kids with our Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree, I have noticed that I am happier and more content on the whole. And that is the kind of mom I want to be!