If you’re like me and you often find yourself surrounded by piles of laundry (that need folded and put away), a sink full of dishes, a bathroom that’s only sort of clean, and a living room rug strewn with toys and shoes, you might feel like being grateful in this situation is impossible...
You may even find yourself thinking something like “once the kids can go to the bathroom on their own, I’ll have a little more freedom, and then I could find the time to be grateful.”
But It Isn’t Impossible
But I’m here to tell you it isn’t impossible. It’s entirely possible to find gratitude, even in the most chaotic days of parenthood!
You might even find that deciding to be grateful now, regardless of what the bathroom looks like, will strengthen you and your relationship with those around you.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness.
In positive psychology research, according to Harvard Health, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.
Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
Perhaps, then, it might be important to find gratitude now rather than later and reap the potential health benefits!
But, after scanning the house, looking at those piles of laundry, thinking about that Lego you just stepped on, you may find yourself wondering, “How do I even start trying to find gratitude.”
Think About The Tiny Victories
Nothing to do! No one has dance or sports tonight? Bam! Tiny victory. Something to be grateful for.
You'll Never Feel Lonely
Or alone. Almost the same thing, right? You've got a perma-sidekick for the next … at least 18 years or so. Someone who will be with you through thick and thin.
Being Someone’s Favorite Person
As a parent, you are now someone's favorite person. The person they’ll look up to, want to follow, and lean on when they need help.
You won’t even realize it's happening, but all those firsts - first smiles, first steps, first discoveries.
They’ll somehow become your own triumphs and you’ll cherish their successes as your own. These are memories you’ll treasure forever.
Now that you’re a parent, you're keenly aware that mistakes happen, often. But it's OK because a child's ability to forgive let us start with a clean slate every day.
Reliving your Childhood
With the right lens to look through, you now have the excuse to relive or recreate childhood memories through your little one. You can pick and choose - take the good, leave the bad.
Carry on that tradition from when you were a child and share it with your little ones!
Yep. I said it. I never realized how much I would pay attention to someone else's bowel movements.
But there will, inevitably, be a day that you are so thankful your child finally pooped. Sometimes you have to count those crappy blessings.
When those picky eaters get hungry, they might just eat what you’ve prepared for dinner.
That’s always something to be grateful for! Getting them to try one new thing, may just be the tiny victory you needed that day.
Whether it's a super successful nap time or it's just regular old bedtime, counting sleeping kids as a blessing is a necessity in my book.
It’s that time when you can admire their perfect sleeping face, know they aren’t making any more messes, and get caught up in taking care of you. Count those zzz’s as blessings!
Preschool and Play Dates
You love your kid, but sometimes those 2 hours away from each other are a great time to re-set.
Bonus points if their playdate’s mom is your bff because then you get a playdate too!
Be sure to open that wrapper quietly. Remember, sometimes it is ok to not share.
Most Important Role
Of all the other role’s you’ve had to fill, parenthood takes the cake in shaping another human’s life.
Every drop of effort you put into rearing and loving your child will be beyond worth it. This is truly life’s most rewarding, loving, and challenging adventure. No other role comes close to parenthood.
There are, of course, many other things to be grateful for in parenthood and so many ways to cultivate gratitude. Here are a few simple tips to help get the gratitude flowing on a regular basis:
Keep a Thankful Journal
This is a simple, yet very effective way to help see your blessings. Try and take the time daily to write three things you are grateful for.
Some days, when the baby doesn’t nap well and chores don't get done, it may be something as simple as: “I am grateful we had food to eat today.
I am grateful we made it on time to school. I am grateful that tomorrow is a new day.”
And there may be days where finding something to be grateful for is easier said than done, while others pop right into your head. Both types of days happen and are totally acceptable!
Write a Thank-you Note
You can call in that greater happiness and strengthen relationships in the same process.
Write a note to your spouse or significant other, maybe even your babysitter. My favorite thing to do is write a note to my children.
If your child is too young to read, you can write the note, read it to them (even if they are a baby) and save it for them when they’ve grown up.
You’ll gain more love and appreciation for them than you already had (is that even possible?!) and it could become a fun tradition.
Do it weekly, monthly or maybe just each year on their birthday. What a treasure those notes will be for them one day!
Count Your Blessings
Sleepless nights may be a regular thing for you in this current part of your life. Some people count sheep, I prefer to count blessings. You can pick a number to reach or just count until you finally drift to sleep.
Take a minute to meditate and ponder the things you are grateful for, be specific and think about the way you feel or felt when you identify something good that has happened to you.
Finding and being involved in community can bring a sense of belonging.
I'm incredibly grateful, as a parent, to have the Facebook community of parents through the Official Nicki's Cloth Diaper Chatter group.
There have been many times that the task of parenthood has left me feeling isolated and alone. This community and the friendships that have been built within it have been invaluable over the years.
It has helped me to find others who know what I'm going through and who tell me to keep my chin up. It's truly more than just a Facebook group, it’s a support system.
I took a minute to ask our amazing Facebook community members over on the Official Nicki’s Diapers Cloth Diaper Chatter group how they are able to find gratitude in parenthood and this is what they had to say:
“I am thankful for parenthood because I get to look at the world through my daughter’s eyes. And it reminds me that there are still beautiful things out there. Like the first snowfall of the season, when the snow is glistening and waiting to be played in. It reminds me to take time and just have fun, like when it's raining out. She shows me that life is worth living and even if she drives me crazy she is still my beautiful little bold soul and I wouldn’t change her for the world.” -Paige
“When my children have little epiphanies about the way things happen… I am thankful I get to be part of that. The unconditional love that children show, I'm thankful to be a part of that. Knowing that I had some small part in shaping these beautiful little humans, I’m thankful for that.” -Dawn
“Being a parent has opened my eyes and heart in a different way. It makes me see, feel, acknowledge and appreciate the small things in life. Parenting reminds me to slow down, take a step back, and enjoy the present time, tomorrow's worries can wait. Having kids has shown that even the smallest task can be overwhelming, if you only see it one way, and don't try to see it from a different angle.” -Jaden
“I am thankful for the unconditional love and admiration that comes back to me from my children. It doesn’t matter if I did my makeup, if my hair is a mess from 2 days ago, if I'm still in my nightgown or if I'm a complete mess. The way my children look at me with all the love in the world makes me feel invincible. Amidst the chaos of dirty dishes and unswept floors, YOU are their place of comfort. Their safe place. Their hero. And I’m grateful to have that right now in parenthood.” -Rachel
"My second (child) has special needs as a result of a birth injury and knowing that he’s here and “healthy” despite challenges makes me so thankful. Being in the special needs groups has helped me to realize I should be thankful and while I see how this statement could sound very negative too, I try to remember things could always be worse, even when things are going wrong and it keeps me humble and thankful in my opinion." -Jasmine
Gratitude is Purposeful and Attainable
Gratitude is something that doesn’t just happen without effort. Its purposeful, and attainable.
You don’t have to wait for your child to tell you thank you or to be able to use the bathroom on their own and get that glimpse of success as a parent to live a life full of gratitude right now. Take all those tiny victories and relish them.
Remember, sometimes the days are long, sometimes really long and very hard. But when those precious little people who kept you oh so busy (and tired) are all grown up, you will realize that the years were, indeed, very short. Start now.
Write those thank you notes, keep that journal and count those blessings. Reap the blessings of a happy, grateful parenthood now and when you look back one day you’ll cherish every ounce of gratitude ten fold.