How to Make a Meaningful Gratitude Jar with Your Family
Earlier this year I found myself looking around at my beautiful family, friends, and life and realizing that I was missing a really big opportunity to be fully grateful and thankful for all that I have.
I just kept getting lost in the mess and the muck of the everyday. Breakfast, laundry, dishes, snack, homework, errands, lunch, activities, sports, snack, practice, reminders, dinner, a signature here, a signature there, ohmygoodness, my signature seemed to be needed EVERYWHERE.
Anyway, I know you know about the everyday of being a mom. It’s beautiful, but it’s messy. And, admittedly, sometimes the mess gets more of a spotlight from me than the beauty does.
So I decided that I needed to be more purposefully grateful within my everyday. I’m certainly not the first one to realize what a smart idea this is.
In an article in Psychology Today, licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, college psychology instructor, and internationally recognized expert on mental strength author, Amy Morin, wrote, “Showing just a little appreciation for what you have could greatly improve your life year-round. Here are nine powerful ways gratitude can change your life: people will like you more; you’ll sleep better; your psychological well being will improve; your physical health will improve; you’ll have more energy to work on your goals; you’ll be a better leader; you’ll recover from hardship easier; you’ll feel less stressed; you’ll feel better about yourself.”
That alone sold me on the concept of creating more gratitude in the everyday for myself! And so, I started a gratitude journal.
But then I read another Psychology Today article by neuropsychological educator and author, Rebecca Jackson, in which she explained that, “A recent study out of Brown University has concluded that routines and habits in children, including household chores and responsibilities, are unlikely to vary after the age of 9. For most children, this takes firm root by the third grade.”
When I read this research, I kind of heard a tire-screeching halt inside my mind — and my heart — and I realized that one thing that I could absolutely do right away is gift my children the routine, or habit, of gratitude as well.
And so we created a Gratitude Jar and today I want to share with you how you can start one, too, with even the youngest of children!
At my house, I have a large Mason jar on my kitchen table. Next to it, I have a box with pretty scraps of paper and a few pens. My husband, our children, and I all try to add one thing we’re grateful for into the jar each day.
And honestly? Our routine is as simple as that! It’s not complicated, because at this stage of my life, complicated means it doesn’t get done. Maybe you can relate!
What I did do in the beginning to get this habit started is practice, or model, the kinds of things we put down on our papers and inside our Gratitude jar.
I definitely didn’t do this to change or lead any of their ideas. But more so to help them see how much there is to be thankful for when we push ourselves to look beyond the obvious.
So the very first time I introduced our Gratitude Jar, my middle child wrapped a beautiful ribbon around it; my oldest cut the paper scraps for us; and my youngest gathered a few pens. And then, we each wrote TEN ideas down. Yes, ten! Here’s why.
In my own gratitude journal, I aim to fill one page per day. So if I write a paragraph about a Girls Night Out one day, I might get a few less ideas to fit on that page. At least a few less ideas than on the day that I simply wrote “Puppy snuggles”; because enough said about puppy snuggles, amiright? 🙂
But I can always push myself to find and see and notice MORE things to be grateful for when I try; and I want that for my children.
So if I let them stop at “my friends” and “my family” — which are both great places to start!” — we might not have ever gotten to splashing in puddles with the neighbors; finishing a book; one on one time with me (swoon); or seeing so many worms on the way to school. Kids are simply the best, aren’t they?
Because as a former classroom teacher I believe that all great ideas come from the teacher — or mom! — next door, I want to end this article with a great idea from one of the moms in my Facebook group.
She also has a Gratitude Jar in her home and her family reads the slips of paper from the jar together each year on Thanksgiving!
Another mom told me that they do the same thing, but on New Year’s Eve!
I love how full circle this family gratitude routine is and I hope that you and your family love it, too.