Parenthood is filled with extremes. There are moments when you feel so full of love and gratitude that your heart could burst. There are moments when you feel so overwhelmed that you feel frozen in place. Moments of peace.Moments of fear. Moments of everything. One way to help you feel grounded on the rollercoaster of parenting is to practice small moments of daily gratitude. Taking a breather for just a moment throughout your day can help you feel more at peace, stronger, brimming with gratitude, and present.
“But I’m so busy!” you might be thinking. I get it! It’s hard to carve out time for things beyond the never-ending to-do list, let alone for something seemingly of such low importance as self-gratitude. Gratitude practices can be done even in the midst of chaos. Here are some easy ways to improve your gratitude attitude throughout your day.
Waking Up and Giving Gratitude
First thing in the morning, whether it’s before your eyes have fully opened or during your (first) cup of coffee take a deep breath and do a quick body scan from head to toe. Acknowledge how incredible your body is. The beauty of waking up that day. The warmth of the bed. Just sit for a few deep breaths and notice the sensations, the smells, the sounds giving gratitude to each one individually. If you’ve awoken to the sound of a crying baby on the monitor, turn the volume down for just 15 seconds to do a quick scan and deep breath to allow your body to reset to a place of calm before rising to the day.
Gratitude During The Day
One of my favorite/ only places for “me time” is the shower. The physical washing away of the day can feel so cathartic, as if every stress and worry is literally washing down the drain. Embrace the release. Allow the hot water to pour over your head and body, taking in the warmth and comfort. If you like scents like eucalyptus or lavender this can be lovely to add to the shower. Put a few drops of essential oil on a damp washcloth and place it into the shower. Inhale the scent, close your eyes and connect to what is serving you, giving gratitude to yourself with each little task. From the small to the big, it all matters and counts. The warm water, the ability to breathe, your family and friends. Whatever you can think of that fills you up with love, just breathe it in. Refill your cup. Then on your exhalations, release what is not serving you today. Doubts, fears, petty drama, just let it wash down the drain. You can literally wash your body with soap and then shake off the negative. Rub your hands down your arms and then literally shake off the soap and negativity and watch it wash away.
Once the baby has gone down for the night (or their first longer stretch) and before you’ve gone to bed yourself, take 5 minutes to write. Keeping a gratitude journal on actual paper rather than typing triggers and more visceral connection to the thoughts and words. We feel it in our bodies more deeply this way. Don’t know what to write about? Start by thinking about some of the things to be grateful for in your life. Here are a few prompts to get started.
- What made me smile today?
- When did I feel loved today?
- What beauty did I see today?
- Did my kid(s) say or do something funny today?
- What is my favorite childhood memory?
- Who is my favorite person to talk to?
When you’ve completed your journal entry for the day, sit with it for a moment. Slow down and reflect on the words of gratitude you’re giving yourself. I like to close my eyes and notice how my body feels. Sometimes my heart is beating faster or slower. Tension in my body may have shifted. I might still be lingering on a strong memory. Then thank yourself for all that you do, all that you are and all that you’re becoming. In this way you’ll be practicing gratitude in a way that will make a very real and long lasting impact.
As A Family
Building a gratitude practice as a family is a wonderful way to infuse love and thanks into your family dynamic. Choose a time when everyone is gathered together, oftentimes that’s the dinner table. A practice that I was introduced to at a friend’s house was the Rose/Thorn/Bud activity. Everyone says what their high point (the rose), low point (the thorn), and something they are looking forward to (bud). This practice allows you to acknowledge the highs and lows that happen daily as well as foster the moments that sparked joy and creativity. This can be especially fun for young children and their answer just might inspire you to observe your own day a bit differently. It can also be a way to facilitate connection and communication between partners. For myself, my thorns are often moments of frustration when I need more support so speaking them aloud gives me the opportunity to ask for what I need for the future.
The more you practice moments of daily gratitude, the easier it will become. You may feel resistant at first. That’s ok, it’s totally normal to push away from new habits or things that might feel a bit uncomfortable and unconventional. Sometimes we have to work through our old blocks to rewire our brains to accept changes, even positive ones. Keep it up! The happier and healthier you are, the happier and healthier your children will be.