Cultivating Gratitude (when you have little kids)

Are you a parent of a small child? Struggling to enjoy your daily life through the drudge of chores, pick-ups, drop-offs and everything in between? Or perhaps you are child free but dreaming of your next vacation just so you can escape your day to day life. If any of these circumstances apply to you, then this post is for you. One of the best ways to develop our resiliency for dealing with the not-so glamorous parts of life is cultivating a habit of gratitude. The two methods I lay out will help you enjoy each day even when life gives you lemons. Set your mind to it and read on for all the details.

Why Cultivate Gratitude

At the beginning of every year, seemingly every other media outlet is pushing you to set goals, to buy products to help you set goals, to guilt you into what you’re doing wrong already. Here at A Tiny Trip my goal is first and foremost to be a positive resource. I strive to inspire, but even more so, to help with actual concrete advice as it relates to travel and life with kids.

Travel in and of itself is inspiring, humbling and gratifying in so many ways. However, many of us in this day and age of social media can feel the green monster creeping up on us. When we have to stay home, or after we come back from a trip, it’s easy to fall into a rut. That’s where cultivating gratitude comes in.

There’s no one way to cultivate gratitude in ourselves and our children. However, there are several different methods I have personally employed, and two that have become habits. I hope that by sharing these today, you will keep the excitement alive and a full heart for your children, those around you and yourself.

Method 1: Train Yourself to Notice the Good

If there is only one habit I strongly suggest to cultivate, it’s this one. Every day, make a note of something good. This could be something you are grateful for, or happy about.

One technique I have heard a lot about is writing in a gratitude journal. I did try this one year a few years ago but just couldn’t keep up with it. So I don’t write it down (maybe I should), but I do have my eyes and mind open for a passing thought.

Very often these moments happen when out and about, or just going about the every day. The important thing is that they happen, and they are noticed!

A lesson I have learned is that when we are mindful of all that surrounds us, it is easy to find something to be grateful for. And as a bonus, when you notice the good, then the annoying and frustrating events are much easier to brush off your back.

In some way, the act of noticing, makes it easy to commit these blessings, beauty and joyful moments to your memory. At the very least, your short term memory will be full of positivity. In the long term, we are committing to a positive mindset, which is a resilient mindset!

gratitude for a tree with yellow foliage in the fall
Gratitude in the Fall

Examples of Things to Be Grateful For

Here are examples from the past few months of things I have made a note of, just to give you some ideas.

  • Even though most of the leaves have fallen off the trees, here is a beautiful yellow- leafed tree.
  • A random man on the street made some joke about “I scream = ice cream” to my tantruming, screaming 3 year old. And she stopped (if only for a minute).
  • Today the sun was out and that meant the snow melted and the sidewalks were clear for a walk.
  • I have a lot of energy today to go for a walk! What a good feeling!
  • Little A was absolutely hilarious with her commentary. I’m so happy she’s part of our family.
  • My kid was such a good helper today. It’s nice to see him grow up this way.
  • What a creative little dude, making sure there is never a dull moment around here.
  • I’m happy we’re going to go on a trip…and it’s coming up!
  • I’m so happy to be able to do laundry in my apartment. (It’s been months that I haven’t been able to because our sink faucet was broken).

More Ideas of Things to Be Grateful For

Here are some more ideas that are less specific. If you can hone in on the details, the amorphous “gratitude” becomes something real that you feel. Take these ideas and apply them in the most specific manner you can.

  • You kids
  • You spouse
  • Your family
  • Your home
  • Your employment
  • Plants growing
  • Sun shining
  • Blue skies
  • Something new in your life
  • Something old in your life
  • A picture you captured just in time
  • A memory
  • Music
  • Your health
  • Your future x
  • An item that is making your life better
  • A person that made you laugh
  • Living in a country with internet
  • A full belly

And so much more….

Gratitude for walking on the beach in the winter
Gratitude in the Winter

Method 2: What will make me happy today?

When in the throes of parenting, it’s easy to get sucked into the daily grind. Diapers, cooking, laundry, homework, rinse and repeat. What’s that expression: you can’t see the forest for the trees?

Sometimes we forget how wonderful it is to have the privilege to raise tiny humans. This is where my second method for cultivating gratitude comes in.

The question, what will make me happy today?” is one I ask myself every single day, every morning to be exact.

If I can think of just one, easy thing to do, I am guaranteed a moment of gratitude. It could be something as boring as taking care of the laundry so that it’s not an overflowing pile. Or something as big as planning a momcation (mom-vacation).

Whatever it is, at the end of the day, it could be big or small, but this helps me focus my intention (and then I am grateful for that thing later in the day).

We may be in the dead of winter right now, but spring is coming…

gratitude for daffodils meaning spring is coming
Gratitude in the Spring

How have you cultivated gratitude in your life? If you have small kids, are you enjoying the precious moments or feeling run-down?

Let me know in the comments how you’re feeling today and how I can help!

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