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Morning grateful's: our new precious practice (and how you can start your own)

Start a gratitude journal with your kids with these tips and prompts. Your and your little one, some markers, and just 5 minutes... is all it takes.

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 :)

The journal

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 prompts

This 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.
  1. Favorite food
  2. Favorite story
  3. Something tiny
  4. Favorite song
  5. Favorite toy
  6. Favorite color
  7. Something outside
  8. Favorite thing about summer
  9. Favorite thing about fall
  10. Favorite thing about spring
  11. Favorite thing about winter
  12. Something that keeps you warm
  13. Favorite thing to do with dad
  14. Favorite thing to learn about
  15. Something comfy
  16. Someone that makes you laugh
  17. Favorite thing to wear
  18. Something cold
  19. Favorite smell
  20. Favorite animal
  21. Something pink
  22. Favorite vehicle
  23. Something shiny
  24. Something that makes noise
  25. Something speedy
  26. Favorite thing to do with mom
  27. Something blue
  28. Favorite place to visit
  29. Something pretty
  30. Favorite spot in your house
  31. Something you’re good at
  32. Someone who loves you
  33. Something silly
  34. A nice thing someone did for you
  35. Something that keeps you safe
How to help your little one celebrate the goodness, despite a world of sad and scary things. 35 prompts + tips for starting a simple gratitude practice.

A keepsake

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.

Here's how we're making our morning a little more meaningful. Plus 35 gratitude journal prompts for starting your own. Pin this image and spread some encouragement into the world.
Nothing elaborate or difficult... just 5 minutes of love and connection before your kids are out the door. 35 prompts + tips for starting a gratitude journal with your little ones.

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