It was Monday morning and my household had a severe case of the Mundays (See the movie Office Space for the full reference, caution: it will make you laugh). For most of the morning there was much bickering and it reached a peak on the way to the bus stop. It began to shift when I clearly remember thinking that what we were doing was not working. Then we turned a corner, both literally and figuratively.
The rays from the rising sun streamed through the fence boards as I was filled with the inspiration to share with my children the things about them for which I was grateful. Following my lead, we each began to heartfully thank one another instead of bickering. I wish I could remember the words we each spoke that morning (it feels so long ago). Truthfully, the words did not really matter; it was the feeling of the words that mattered most: gratitude.
That night and the next morning, I continued to share my gratitude with my children for their behaviors; things shifted even more. My 9 year old daughter noticed that the dishwasher was filled with clean dishes and she began to put the clean dishes away. She also packed her lunch without my imploring her to. I was astounded and a warm smile spread across my face and heart. Of course I shared with her that I was grateful for her help. I may have even held back a few tears.
In feeling appreciated, my daughter went above and beyond what I expected of her and she did the things that I usually have to nag her to do in the morning, without my need to do so. It’s amazing how much such a small token of appreciation can do! Her brother may need a little more time to catch on, however, we get what we pay attention to. So now I will turn on more gratitude for when he does well and helps us get out the door on time.
I will add that this gratitude shift did start a bit ago when, instead of asking my children about their days, I began to ask them what they were grateful for that day. There have also been other times where, when they were bickering, I interrupted the arguments by asking each of them to state things they were grateful for about the other sibling. When they each heard that they were appreciated for being themselves, they opened their hearts to love instead of closing them in lack, fear and anger.
Gratitude opens the heart. The more open the heart is to love, the more we can find things for which we are grateful.
The most amazing part of this was that last night when picking up my children my daughter shared that she purposefully left their tablet at their father’s house that morning because she enjoyed being tablet-free the last time they were over. They will not have the tablet again for another 5 days, when they return to their father’s home. For me, that was a parenting win! There is SO much strife over the tablet. To hear both of my kids say that they enjoyed last week without the tablet made my heart grow 3 sizes. I shared with them that my heart was smiling and very grateful!