Morning grateful's: our new precious practice (and how you can start your own)
Just about every morning my mom would sit on the couch with me while I waited for my ride to school. My shoelaces tied, jacket on, and backpack packed I was ready to rush out the door the second I heard the horn beep from the driveway. Until then, we’d sit - in conversation or silence - enjoying a few minutes together.
Was I in elementary school or middle school? Or maybe high school? Parts of this memory are foggy. But other pieces are crystal clear. The flowered loveseat rocker, the loud tick of the living room clock, and the safety of my mom that I couldn’t get enough of - no matter how old I was. It’s a simple morning tradition that I hadn’t thought about in years but has made its way to the surface over the last few weeks.
Sending my own little guy off to kindergarten feels like a major milestone. And with the start of this new phase in life, it feels important to start our own before-school tradition. Nothing extravagant or too difficult (I don’t have it in me!). Just five minutes of love and connection before he’s out the door.
While growing up, I’m sure there were mornings that were rushed and less than ideal. But the memory that sticks with me now is this one. And the feelings come back with the memory: safe, loved, warm, happy.
That’s what I want for my little guy. So, after some experimenting (he’d rather be doing something with his hands or talking while he bounces around the living room, than cuddling with me on the couch :)), we’ve settled into our new precious practice and started a gratitude journal together.
We don’t get to it every morning, and I’m sure our morning routine will change with the seasons of life but for now I love sending him off having taken the time to set aside everything else and share with each other the things that make us happy.
I’d like to think he walks away from our home knowing that, despite the struggles and scary things out there, the world is full of happy, wonderful things too. If you want to start your own gratitude tradition with your little ones, here’s our process (plus 35 prompts) to get you started. Follow it to the letter or make it your own. The simpler, the better :)
Any kind of notebook or paper works, but I like using a spiral bound sketchbook. The blank paper is perfect for writing or drawing and the spiral binding lets the book open flat, which makes it easier for your little one to get to the pages. (Plus then I'm not worried about losing a page!) And the best thing about using some kind of notebook rather than loose pages is that when the sketchbook is full you’re left with an already bound together book of grateful's and things that make your little one special.
The promptsThis is my little guy’s favorite part. He loves that he gets to draw and talk about something new every day... even though everything somehow always comes back to dinosaurs :) You can use these prompts just as they are or as a springboard to a unique list specific for your little one.
- Favorite food
- Favorite story
- Something tiny
- Favorite song
- Favorite toy
- Favorite color
- Something outside
- Favorite thing about summer
- Favorite thing about fall
- Favorite thing about spring
- Favorite thing about winter
- Something that keeps you warm
- Favorite thing to do with dad
- Favorite thing to learn about
- Something comfy
- Someone that makes you laugh
- Favorite thing to wear
- Something cold
- Favorite smell
- Favorite animal
- Something pink
- Favorite vehicle
- Something shiny
- Something that makes noise
- Something speedy
- Favorite thing to do with mom
- Something blue
- Favorite place to visit
- Something pretty
- Favorite spot in your house
- Something you’re good at
- Someone who loves you
- Something silly
- A nice thing someone did for you
- Something that keeps you safe
After he’s finished and headed to school I write the date and prompt on the page then label what the pictures are. I usually add a note about the cute way he explained it or my own memory or observation of why the fact that he’s grateful for how speedy velociraptors are is so true! :)
Doing these morning gratefuls is new but I’ve been making notes like this on many of his drawings over the years, and I’m so glad I did! It’s made going back through his artwork so meaningful and sparks so many treasured memories of this time of life together.
Maybe someday my little guy will glance back at this morning tradition and remember my undivided attention, the markers, and all the carefully crafted T-rex’s. Maybe someday these five minutes of celebrating goodness will spark love and safety, hope and happiness. Maybe someday, he’ll remember.
But even if he doesn’t, I will. While he’s treasuring dinosaurs, I’m treasuring this - our own special version of sitting on the couch together. And I couldn’t feel more grateful.