Monday, May 30, 2016

Parenting with Gratitude

Gratitude and mindfulness. I’m pretty sure these two things are the cure-all for any bad mood and can instantly change your perspective. I am trying to practice these on a more regular basis and with more intention. I admit that it’s harder than it sounds. I’ve always been a pretty optimistic person but in the mundane daily grind of work, chores and rushing around, it can be easy to forget to recognize the greatness in each day.

A few months ago, as part of my Masters of Public Health Practicum, I was enrolled in an online mindfulness course through The schools here in town have been having teachers trained in order to teach students mindfulness and self-regulation strategies in the classroom. My project was on community based parenting education and parents identified mindfulness as an area they’d like to know more about, so myself and some of the Public Health nurses enrolled in the course in order to help facilitate strategies with parents. Since then, I’ve been trying to practice these skills at home and at work, and in particular with my son.

Parenting is hard. It’s stressful and exhausting, tests your patience and can feel unrewarding at times. Other times, it’s the most amazing, rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I love being a parent, and can’t wait to have more kids eventually. It’s often hard to remember just how fleeting the younger years are. Max is a toddler already and I have become hyper-aware of just how quickly time flies. I am so guilty of being glued to my phone or thinking about school or work when I should be absorbed in the present moment with him.

As I walked down stairs on Sunday morning to let the dog out and get some coffee started, my living room came into sight. The floor was littered with yesterday’s toys; Lego, books, a dozen cars, a ride-on quad and a red balance bike. My first thought was how much had to be cleaned up even though I spent the majority of nap time yesterday mopping and scrubbing.  But as I stood on the bottom step and looked around, I couldn’t help but smile and be grateful for the mess.

Grateful for the hand-me-downs and the money for new toys.

Grateful for the little boy who made the mess.

Grateful for the time to build Legos and play cars with him.

Grateful for the smiles that these toys bring.

Grateful for a healthy child who brings us so much joy every day.

Grateful for the crayon scribbled art hanging on my fridge door.

Grateful for the quiet moments when Max sits down and plays independently.

Grateful for his squeals of delight at the simplest things.

Grateful for every slobbery kiss and sticky hug.

Grateful that this is my life.

It’s not glamorous, or extravagant. But I have a family I love, we are loved by so many, and we wake up every day with the ability to make messes and have adventures.  For that, I am, and forever will be grateful.  

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