Ways to Teach Gratitude this Thanksgiving!

55BF7F28-8512-43F2-B279-DEAFE38F3C78I just love this time of year!  Maybe it’s the different energy that seems to abound in the air, my children’s contagious excitement, the onset of new and old traditions, the changing of the seasons or, perhaps, all of the above! I’m just one of those people that absolutely loves this season and all of the energy that comes with each holiday. With all of this positive energy, I got to thinking more and more about Thanksgiving and how we emphasize the meaning of it with our own children.

My deeper thoughts surrounding Thanksgiving were inspired one late  evening  as I was prepping for the story time I lead within our church. I started thinking, wait, how can I make this a much more meaningful lesson? How can I teach more about truly having a grateful heart?  That’s when I thought…let’s set up different ways we can bring a genuine “thanks” back into Thanksgiving!

Below are some quick ways I’ve scooped from Pinterest to help your kids focus on more than just talking  turkey  during next week’s holiday celebrations!

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  • Create a Gratitude Pumpkin-ONLY four supplies needed!

The image above in this post is one of my favorite new crafts we created last week! Of course I found it on Pinterest (my not-so-secret obsession)

Here’s the Pin: https://pin.it/3i4mhyzennqvof

Here’s the direct link to the website it was posted on:

http://themoffattgirls.com/november-fun-fill-learning-resources/

Here are the simple directions!

Materials Needed:
*orange and green construction paper
*staples or brads
*scissors

Directions:
Step #1
Cut out 8 pieces of orange contraction paper into 1 inch strips.  You will also need to cut out 2 leaves and 2 skinny strips of green contraction paper for the vines.

Step #2
Have your kiddos write something they are thankful for on each strip of orange construction paper.  Be sure to leave about a 1 inch space on the sides of the strip so the writing isn’t covered up when stapled together.

https://i2.wp.com/themoffattgirls.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/IMG_2294-1.jpg?w=940

Step #3
Use a stapler or tape to attach the orange strips at the top and then at the bottom to form a pumpkin.

Step #4
Add your leaves and green vines.  You can roll up the green construction in a paper to help curl the vines.

 

Painting Thankful Rocks!

This is an awesome activity inspired by my local library!

Materials Needed:

  • Any size rock–although selecting ones that are the flattest possible make it easy for writing!
  • Orange or Yellow paint–could be acrylic or even simple water-based paints your kids have
  • Permanent Sharpie Marker–any color but black works best.
  • Mod Podge–easy to find at your local craft store like Michaels or, if time allows, order it from Amazon here!

Step One:

  • Set up a “safe” painting space ( we used our hard wood floor and newspaper).
  • Paint the rock on one or both sides

Step Two:

  • Let the rock dry for as long as possible. You will need it to be completely dry before applying the Mod Podge.
  • While waiting for the rock to dry–brainstorm a list of different things/people/places you’re thankful for with your kids. Ask them why they are so thankful for these things.
  • You can also play a great game called the “gratitude” game  based off of the classic “pick up sticks” game while you wait! Here’s the information: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/252975704049236823/

With Thanksgiving heading our way, I love to do things to remind my kids of the many blessings we have. There is so much in our lives to be thankful for. I created this little Gratitude Game to play with them, and we have been having loads of fun with it! What is The Gratitude …

Step Three:

  • Apply Mod Podge with a paint brush in thin layers. The Mod Podge will look white but will dry clear.
  • NOTE! Mod Podge can take several hours to a full day to dry depending. No worries! Just have the kiddos add what they are thankful for at the Thanksgiving Day Table or at anytime you gather together!

Step Four:

Take the Sharpie marker and recap what you spoke about with your kids! Depending on the size of the rock, have your kids choose those people or things that they are most thankful for and begin writing! My “littles” had so many things –we had to create several thankful rocks to fit everything!

Have a fun and a very blessed Thanksgiving!

 

 

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Run Mama Run!

 

I haven’t run since June. J-U-N-E. It’s November. Almost two full seasons have passed. Five months. Whoa. As this very real piece of my reality waved over me,I stood in the shower this morning and recalled another another significant number. The number of days it’s been since I’ve taken a shower. THREE. Yikes. Those poor parents at story time. Whoa. Time to run, mama, R-U-N.

Perhaps you’ve seen it. I know I’ve lived it. The mom who enters the grocery store, cell phone in one hand, baby in another, purse wildly dangling from her shoulder. Her hair in a lopsided ponytail (perhaps some reminisce from playing “hairdresser” with her toddler), and she smiles all the same while pulling a shopping with her right foot, balancing her precious cargo with her left. Ah…the great balancing act. Many of us live it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and by the grace of God, we attempt to manage it all. However, without fail, we also manage to forgo one key factor in this crazy balancing act: OURSELVES. Yes…Y.O.U. ME, I, the forgotten, the abandoned, the wounded without the advance of chicken noodle soup to calm our souls. The one left lying in bed at night making lists and figuring the schedule out for the holidays months in advance. YES…Y.O.U. You remember her, right?

To Run or Not to Run….

I love running but I don’t consider myself a runner.  Let me clarify by saying  I’m not the get up at five a.m., strap on sneakers in twenty-degree weather, (although those runners are my heroes), get up and go kind of runner. I’ve never run a marathon or even a half marathon. Honestly, 5k’s are usually my BFF’s and, honestly,  I haven’t been a great best friend to those either… not since five months ago.  I’m the runner who loves to run but puts everything else above it. Honestly, I get caught up balancing everything else that I even forgo showering at times. Somewhat commendable but, as time wears on, so does my ability to balance everything and feel good about it. Essentially, I needed to return to those things that make me…well, ME.

The Ah-Ha Moment

Self reflection is not necessarily my forte. OK, there were times when I would pause to make a mental note whilst whipping by a mirror that low lights were great if your hairdresser purposely puts them in. But these “pauses” were simply not enough. Eventually, after weeks of going and going, I would inevitably become irritable and after a month, I finally realized, why I was slowly losing my gumption, my ability to be more positive. I actually hadn’t been out alone to go running, shopping, reading, or even to simply sing out loud in the car without the occasional “mama can you please NOT sing” requests in over FOUR WEEKS. Ah-ha.

So this is WHAT Self Reflection Looks Like…

After some serious contemplation, I went upstairs to do something, anything that might trigger a starting point. So, I started with the most obvious (and easiest), the mirror. My hairdresser hadn’t seen my face (or sparklers that were starting to sprout), in about a year. Hmph.  In the midst of some rather vain self reflection and excitement by my revelation of possibilities ( do I goto the gym, grab a pedi, or a wax of any kind),  it dawned on me. There it was. Staring at me-stubble and all, (yes, I needed to shave my legs too), all I needed to do was to take care of ME.  I needed to be my best in order to be everyone’s best. That could mean an array of things.

Treasures NOT Chores

I wanted it all. The most perfect balance between wife, mommy, friend, and myself  (or as close as I could find it for myself). I wanted to feel great about teaching my kids day in and out, all while knowing I could leave and go for a solid run and maybe, just maybe, pick up on that book I put down in 2010 (true story…I’m staring at it lodged under some crafting materials as we speak). I recently stumbled upon an article about self-care in parenting in the Washington Post where writer Lindsey Roberts really resonated with what I was discovering that night. She simply states that being on and ready for your children at all times can cause burnout and make things that could be everyday treasures feel like everyday chores. Wow. A chore? EEK. I certainly didn’t want to get to the point where spending time with my “littles” felt like a chore. I loved it. I mean genuinely. every. second. That’s when it dawned on me that this could very well effect my family as well. That’s when I felt the good ol’ kick in the tush to change-and quick.

Take care, YOU

Remember that line in Pretty Woman where  “Vivienne” (Julia Roberts) tells her best friend “Kit” to “take care, you”? Well, as ridiculously corny as it may seem, for some reason, that line continually popped into my head as I continued to think about how I really needed to take care of ME. That it wasn’t a selfish act to take care of myself and, that in fact, it was a necessity.

Self-Care is NOT Selfish

In that same Washington Post article, Roberts offers a salient reminder to erase the guilt and remember that self-care is NOT selfish.  When was the last time you grabbed a sitter so you could do something because you liked it? How about asked your spouse or partner for alone time? Below are some quick tips which combine some things I’ve tried and LOVED as well as some ideas from Roberts to help you get back to being YOU:

  • Find A Day…any day

As soon as I discovered that all I really need was some “me time” I spoke with my husband to try to work out one day a week where I could get some “daylight” hours alone. Prior to this, I was getting out a little here and there…but at 9:00 at night.I felt like some strange nocturnal mommy who never sees daylight alone. We were able to work out Tuesdays as my day to get out (in fact this week, I got a haircut and highlights! YAY!)

  • Get a Sitter:

If the weekly day out doesn’t work for your schedules right away, start slow and choose a day every other week or on the weekend where you can snag a sitter or family member.

  • Make a List About YOU:

So, what do you do when you finally DO get that moment to yourself again? Grab a coffee? Go for a run? Call a friend? If you’re like me, it’s been way too long since I ventured out alone and even longer since I even entertained a thought of what it is I like to do when I am alone. I made a list that answered these questions:

  • What are things  I really enjoy? (Think-outside or inside? Crafting or Biking?)
  • A place I love to go? FOR ME.
  • Do I need alone time or a space that has many people?

Right at the top of my list–the gym. Not because I thought I needed to lose a few pounds, but rather because, for me, that was where I knew I could start to revive my running and a little piece of me.  So, without hesitation,(or much money in my pocket), I opened up a membership at a nearby YMCA to jump start running again (I run treadmills in the winter..I know, I know–I haven’t broken into the cold yet).

  • Go Out or Stay In

Some of us find pure bliss in the idea of getting outside to fulfill our much needed alone time. Others need time alone, simply at home. Figure out what will help you to feel more refreshed as an individual–then ask for it!

Run if you wanna Run….

Is this a perfect system-NOPE! I balance my new found weekly “three hours for me” figuring out which road I would enjoy most (a quiet gaze at the magazines at Barnes and Nobles or go for a run at the gym). However, I DO know that if I want to run, I’ve got the time and, by golly, I’m gonna run.