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Practicing Gratitude

If you come to my house, the first thing you’ll see when you walk in the door is Mr. Turkey. You can credit the creative mind of my 2.5-year-old for that one. Mr. Turkey is pretty bare right now, except for a few feathers. Through the month of November, he’ll get more and more feathers. On each feather, you’ll find words like “mama,” “dada,” “Play-Doh,” and “pancakes”. You see, Mr. Turkey is a gratitude turkey. Every day, my toddler tells us one thing he is grateful for. At the end of the month, we’ll have a turkey full of feathers that contain all of my son’s favorite things. (Side note: I wish I could take credit for this idea. But it actually comes from @busytoddler on Instagram. If you have kids, you need her in your life).

Of course, my son is too young to truly understand the meaning of gratitude, but he does know what he loves. So when we ask him “what do you love?” and he responds with “the playground,” we say to him “you’re grateful for your playground.” It’s actually a pretty simple concept, if you think about it; being grateful for the things we have and the things we love. However, it can be tough for people, including me, to remember. For some reason, it’s easier to find things to complain about. This month, I’m practicing turning my complaints into thanks. So instead of “ugh. My toddler is delaying bedtime again. All I want to do is go relax by myself for a minute,” I’m working on changing that to “I’m grateful for this extra time to connect with my son. I love that he feels safe with me and wants to spend time with me.” Did I mention I’m practicing­ this? Because by no means does this come easy. But I’ve learned that a change in mindset really can do wonders. That’s why my husband and I want to teach our boys gratitude at a young age. It’s a practice. And it’s easy to fall out of. So something as simple as going around the table at dinner and saying just one thing we’re thankful for is a quick way to practice gratitude. For my son, every night it is the same answer. He’s thankful for “giving mama marshmallows.” He did this once and saw that it made me happy, so that’s what he’s grateful for every day. It’s a reminder that we can be grateful for even the simplest things. And giving me marshmallows because he knows it makes me happy? I mean, come on. Too sweet. So, here’s a reminder, for myself and for you, to find something to be grateful for today. As the brilliant Brené Brown said, “A good life happens when you stop and are grateful for the ordinary moments that so many of us just steamroll over to try to find those extraordinary moment.”

*I recognize my privilege in having many things to be grateful for. My hope is that we can all find at least one thing, big or small, to be grateful for each day.*