My little boy Leo (4) got up this morning, got himself dressed, ate breakfast then made his own peanut butter sandwich. He put his shoes on, brushed his teeth, and put a hat on (he hates brushing his hair), he then went into his baby brother’s room and put away the toys, then into his room and made his and his older brother’s bed.
I thanked him, told him how amazing he was, especially as I hadn’t asked him to, and then told him at the end of the week there would be extra money in his pocket money. We have recently started giving them a few dollars to do some jobs and although they do often need to be reminded it is working as an incentive. It also makes life easier around the house if they know what has to be done.
Meanwhile my six year old is in his pyjamas at 8:30. He hasn’t brushed his hair or his teeth and we spend ten minutes following him around until he does his jobs, because he keeps forgetting what he needs to do.
Some mornings the opposite is true and it makes me appreciate those gorgeous mornings when the kids are in sync and everything is done without reminders.
Appreciation can only be truly understood when something goes wrong, is missing or causes pain.
This morning at yoga the teacher said lets be thankful for our eyes today and all they do for us. I have to admit to lying there in quite the panic imagine life without sight. Imagining a life where I couldn’t edit what I’d written, see the beauty in nature, the smiles on my kids faces or walk confidently down the street. Suddenly, imagining them gone, has made me appreciate the fact that I have eyes.
The other day when my washing machine broke I realised how much I appreciated having a working washing machine! When the dishwasher was out of action it was the same deal – the day it was fixed I was so, so grateful.
These are the things we take for granted everyday. These are the things when our life is full of problems and complaints that we need to think about because our lives are beautiful. Truly full and bursting with blessings.
Now onto the subject of children. I know a lot of parents (ourselves included) often grumble that are kids aren’t grateful. They get so much and ask for more, they go out all day and whine about staying home in the evening, they get money and are sad that it’s not more.
But they are just watching the adults who stop and see a friend then complain about how busy they are, how the weather is too hot, how hard the mornings are now that the kids are back at school.
They see this lack of gratitude and they copy.
I wrote the other day about being a perfect parent, how you are perfect just the way you are, you and I – but we can always improve. Today we know more than we did yesterday.
Sometimes I am perfectly imperfect.
Leo can’t find any shorts in his drawers and he complains.
Julian doesn’t have one matching sock and throws a tantrum.
Elijah is unhappy with the watered down milk I’ve given him because we didn’t have enough to fill a bottle.
We can’t always be perfect, we do learn to deal with disgruntlement but these little humans just deal with them the way they see us do it.
My kids are most appreciative when something that they have been upset about is resolved. The day when I do washing and Leo’s drawers are full of shorts. I buy Julian some new socks from the shops and the fridge is full of milk.
This is when I see true appreciation. I get hugs, I get told many “Thank yous!!” and they chatter excitedly about their bounty – because it is not until something is taken from us that we know it’s true worth.
It is in life’s imperfect moments that we learn true value of things. Life’s lessons.
Start being grateful today. Vow to stop complaining. You are no longer “busy” – your life is full.
Reframe your life. See it from another perspective and practice these things with your kids.
At night I ask the kids what they are grateful for. They get bored of this question and sometimes Leo says – “I’m too tired for gratefuls” or Julian will just quickly say our two dogs names and his baby brother. I have to reframe the question – I ask them for their favourite moment of the day or give them a challenge of naming ten. I will also show them how its done but saying what I am grateful for – big things and little things. Sunshine and toes, eyes and computers, dogs and children, yoga and meditation, working appliances, coffee, filtered water….. the list goes on.
I am also grateful for you reading this. Have an awesome day.