At the suggestion of one of my favorite blogs,, we decided to start a habit during Lent rather than giving something up. We began a family gratitude journal and while it's only been about two weeks now, it's really been a great exercise. Watching a four year old and (almost) six year old take hold of the concept of gratitude has been very revealing. One of the very first things Grace was thankful for was the fact that her cousin's were getting to go on a trip over Spring Break, I thought that was so sweet. Elijah took a bit more coaching. In the beginning he tended to be thankful for whatever his eye's landed on or whatever his big sister happened to be grateful for that day, but over the last week he has come into his own and was thankful for play time with Emily at church, and hearing the frogs outside, to name a few.

I've read many studies that explain the variety of health benefits and the general improved well-being of having an attitude of gratitude, so I'm excited to have found a way to help the kids 'learn' this important life skill. An unexpected benefit though is what a window into their sweet minds this is proving to be. Almost always, at least one thing listed each night is about time that someone spent with them. Whether it is reading time with an aunt, or play time with mommy and daddy, one-on-one time always makes the list. Often they also list something that happened that I would not have known about without the journal. Things that happened at school, like learning new math, or things that they appreciate but wouldn't necessarily have mentioned, like cracking an egg without being scared. (I guess Grace has been too scared to crack eggs up until this last weekend, who knew?)

And just as the studies on gratitude suggest would happen, I can sense a change in my attitude as well. I'm paying more attention to life, noticing when things go right, and thinking, 'This will go in the journal tonight!' I am appreciating when I reach my three before I even make it in the office in the mornings, and I'm more apt to find the silver lining in a difficult situation. It's also a great way to highlight special moments for the kids throughout the day by letting them know, 'I think this moment might be in my top three tonight.' They are learning to be mindful of the good so they can record it at the end of the day – and being mindful of the awesome things that happen each day is such a life changing skill!

And some days it is just a chance to remember the things that we may take for granted, like Elijah's a few days ago, 'I am thankful for my bones.' Me too, although I hadn't ever said those words…

I highly recommend this practice. We have been delighted and suprised every night with what they come up with, not to mention seeing their choices mature and grow in just two short weeks. This will be a habit that we continue even after this season of Lent. Oh, and also – because we started this during Lent – we use our journal time to talk about Lent and Easter and what they mean to our family. This has given us a great opportunity to remind them that it's about more than the Easter Bunny bringing eggs (although that's still something to anticipate!)

What are some other ways your families practice finding gratitude in life? Do you have any other traditions that you do as a family during this season?

Here is one of the things that made my list today when I opened Grace's backpack from school:

Dear Mommy, I love you You like owls.
Mommy (today) you like purple. From
You like purple


And so, from now on, I like purple. The picture is Grace, me, and a silly squirrel looking up at me :).

Hope you have a fantastic week!



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: