What values do you yearn to cultivate in your children? What practices do you hope to see them living out in their own way as they grow? Motherhood continually teaches me in this area. I am learning, the values I wish to see shine through in my kids need to be modeled at home. My desire is that gratitude will be one of those values fostered in our home. November presents an excellent opportunity to focus on gratitude. Hopefully, this will go beyond the politeness of saying thank you or glee over getting new things. I would like for my daughter and son to slow down and be mindful and content with their lives despite the circumstances. One idea for practicing the art of being thankful together is to create a family gratitude tree.
Gratitude and thanksgiving have so many positive effects our lives. They actually makes us healthier. Over time, practicing gratitude can decrease stress, improve sleep, increase positive emotions, and cause you to feel better about your life. Grounding practices such as naming what we are thankful for can provide a tool to cope with stress and anxiety. Here are five tips for making a family Gratitude Tree:
1. Keep it Simple
With a newborn around this year, I’m finding less time for these things, so we chose to keep our gratitude tree really simple. I purchased fall-colored leaves from Etsy; then we punched holes and tied colored ribbon on each leaf. Finally, we added them to tree branches we found in the yard, and placed them in a vase. There are so many great, simple ideas out there like this. If you don’t have fall-colored paper, use white paper. Trace hands or cut our hearts if leaves seem too daunting. You choose the level of craftiness.
2. Keep it Easy
Do you ever have the perfect idea in your head but cannot seem to execute it correctly? I struggle with letting things go now that I have two little ones. Craftiness is one area I don’t have as much time as I used to before the new baby. So instead of designing and cutting out a tree trunk to put on our wall, we used twigs from outside. Less time spent worrying about the actual aesthetics of our gratitude tree, and more time to practice gratitude.
3. Include Everyone
So many times the craft projects at home revolve around just the little ones and me. Try including everyone in the household when making your gratitude tree. Expressing thankfulness daily is a timeless practice. And I love hearing what my partner has to add!
4. Let Them Express Themselves
See what it might feel like to not steer your child’s gratitude responses. Maybe it’s Halloween candy or a tutu; whatever their response is to “What are you Grateful for today?” allow it to be leaf-worthy.
5. Visit the Tree Each Day
The creation of the tree can be fun. But it’s the practice of daily naming those things in our life we deeply appreciate that will hopefully take the focus. Try to build it into a part of your family’s daily routine. We like to do this during dinnertime. Therefore, we chose the dining room table to set our tree.
I encourage you to try your own version of a gratitude tree. There are so many different was to raise grateful kids. What are some of the ways your family works to instill this value in your home? Perhaps this practice can become a ritual even outside of this Thanksgiving season!