Every night before bed, I go through a ritual with my kids to ask them 3 questions: What did you do well today? What are you grateful for? And what was your favourite part of today?
The practice stemmed from one that I do myself every night, and I realized that it would be a good habit to instill in my children. What I didn’t anticipate was the ongoing enjoyment I would get out of these conversations. In fact, if I ever forget to ask, chances are that I will be reminded: “Mommy, we didn’t say our gratitudes!”
I admit, there are some nights I just want them to get to bed so that I can have some down-time. And I have come to realize that on those days, listening to what they have to say is even more important – possibly because they want to hear my list, as well. And on those nights that I just want to “shut off”, this little ritual with my kids brings me back to what truly matters.
For them, as well, I can see how it can be the perfect closure to a venting session about something that might be bothering them from that day. Afterwards, I can leave the room content that they have felt loved and heard, and are falling asleep with the positive vibrations of love and gratitude.
Noticing how their comments show their personality differences has become another great source of pleasure (and amusement) for me. Oftentimes they surprise me with what they say, and I can see how this may give me different insights into their thoughts and lives. (perhaps even more important as they grow older) Audra tends to be very enamoured with the tangible aspects of her life – family, friends, toys, gifts, and so on. She has no problem repeating her top few (Mom and Dad, a family who loves her, Monkey (her lifelong best friend stuffy), and any new “thing” in her life) Ethan, who has always been my “little philosopher” often surprises me with being grateful for the intangibles, listing off being grateful for things like: imagination, working towards a goal, having new experiences, learning new things – of course interspersed with the things he likes: books, friends, family, school.
Tuesday night when I got home from work, I walked in to Ethan’s room to be rewarded with the image of the two of them lying side-by-side on his bottom bunk. Their heads were close together, with Audra’s little feet happily kicking in the air as he enthusiastically read a chapter to her. I was filled with a fierce sense of love and pride. I must be doing something right, I thought.
As I tucked them in, Audra fairly shined with joy as she told me she was grateful to Ethan for reading to her, and that the best part of her day was when she unexpectedly heard him ask his dad if he would be allowed to do so. As I recounted to Ethan how moved I was, and how happy he had made his sister, his eyes beamed love and self-pride back at me.
And on my part, it was a no-brainer when they asked me what I was grateful for.