I’ve always thought gratitude was one of life’s best remedies. Being grateful seems to be the perfect antidote for feelings of entitlement, frustration and anger. It doesn’t matter if you are living the American dream in a 2,000 square foot house or traveling like a gypsy around the country in 180 square foot Airstream – I believe that living a life of gratitude is one of the best life choices you can make.
Gratitude is so important to us that as soon as our kids were toddling around and old enough to converse we talked about having “a grateful heart.” Whether it was a tantrum in the store because they wanted a toy. . . or not liking the food on their plate – we talked simply about being grateful. Not in a “you must be grateful!” way but instead we created a dialogue with our kids that discouraged entitlement and helped them find joy in what they had or the moment they were in.
In our family, we make gratitude such a priority that EVERY night as we tuck the kids into bed, we all share something from the day that we are grateful for. We take turns – all of us, each sharing one thing at a time that we are grateful for – and we go around until everyone has shared 3-5 times.
“Today I’m grateful for _______” and it’s that simple.
We’ve has this bedtime tradition for a long time and I love it for a few reasons:
- It ends the day on a positive note. No matter the type of day we’ve had, the kids go to bed thinking about all that they (and we) are grateful for. They go to bed thinking about their favorite parts of the day.
- It doesn’t take long. Frankly some days we are all exhausted and we all just want to fall into bed. But this simple routine takes 1-5 minutes depending on how detailed we get. Sometimes we get into long discussions about our day – but honestly most nights it’s a simple 5-minute routine.
- It’s enlightening to see what my kids are grateful for. It’s rarely something like a toy. . .but rather “reading with mommy,” or “going to the park with daddy.” It gives us a glimpse into their feelings and it is great for starting conversations with our kids about things they think are important or special.
- It helps us appreciate each other. It’s a chance to tell each other how grateful we are for each other. “I’m grateful Hadley read a book to me tonight” or “I’m grateful Liam snuggled with me and told me about his Pokemon cards” or “I’m grateful Dad did laundry” or “I’m grateful Mom made a delicious breakfast.” It makes everyone feel good about their contributions to the family.
- It helps us remember experiences from the day. I especially love when the kids share their favorite experiences or memories from the day. “I’m grateful for parades,” (after Mardi Gras) or “I’m grateful for Rosa Parks and her not giving up her seat” (after visiting Montgomery) or something as simple as “I’m grateful for libraries” after spending time at a local library.
- It helps us appreciate the little things. The biggest reason I love this tradition is it makes us appreciate the little things. You can be grateful for anything and it’s rarely the BIG things that make our lists. Sometimes it’s wifi that works, full hook-ups, a long hot shower, a cozy bed or beautiful weather. It’s not that we don’t have that warm cozy bed every night (we do!). . .but there is something about simplifying your life that really makes you appreciate everything you have. Especially the things we took for granted in suburbia.
I’ve considered writing down the things we’re grateful for every night. Sort of like a gratitude journal for the family – as a way to creatively document our travels. Maybe I will someday, but for now, it’s just a simple routine in between teeth brushing, prayers and a lullaby. There is beauty in that simplicity.
I think it’s also important to add that we are far from perfect. We still have plenty of moments of feeling entitled and ungrateful. I think that’s just human nature – especially in our country where I think it’s easy to think we “deserve” the gifts in our lives. But since we personally sold all of our possessions and started traveling full time it’s been so much easier to be grateful for the important stuff – people, experiences, places, history, nature. Our priorities shifted, many of our burdens lifted, and finding things to be thankful for seemed to become so much easier.
And so I think I’ll end this post, like we end our days, by sharing some of the things I’m grateful for.
- I’m grateful for my beautiful kind-hearted kids and all that they teach me, everyday.
- I’m grateful for my hardworking, awesome husband who is my favorite co-pilot in this adventure.
- I’m grateful for our shiny, tiny Airstream that has brought us so close together and has gifted us with changing views whilst providing a safe, comfortable place to call home on the road.
- I’m grateful for courage and the incredible leap of faith we took to change our lifestyle and hit the road.
- I’m grateful for this country. My goodness, it’s more beautiful than I could have imagined and I’m grateful for the freedom to travel it as we wish.
- I’m grateful for you. For family, friends, strangers, fellow travelers – for you reading our posts, encouraging us, leaving comments, meeting up with us along the road, sharing travel suggestions, and being part of this crazy journey that we’re on.
People often tell us that travel is one of the best gifts we can give our children. We totally agree. Traveling is an amazing blessing – for us all. But at the end of the day, I think nurturing a grateful heart might just be a greater gift. I see a grateful heart as a conscious life choice that no matter life’s circumstances (job, house, family, paycheck) to find joy in the little things. And as we’re finding on the road – it’s the little things that really matter.
Do you have a gratitude journal? Do you have a night time bedtime routine with your kids? If you’d like to share what you’re grateful for today – I’d love to hear.