Being Present For Grateful MomentsNov 13, 2023
As we are now into the season of gratitude, what are you most grateful for?
Years ago, my kids and husband gave me a 365 Days of Gratitude Journal and I committed to filling it out for the year — and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life.
I realized that it wasn’t the big things or experiences that I was most grateful for, it was the small moments of connection with the humans in my life that meant the most. The end of day snuggle and book with my kids before they went to bed, the random hug in the middle of the day, or the uplifting conversation with the cheery checkout person at the grocery store.
Unfortunately, although these were the things that I was most grateful for, I found that I usually wasn’t present for them because my mind was racing with everything else on my to-do list.
As we head into the holiday season, with so many perfect pictures of beautifully decorated houses and great crafts to do with your kids readily available in your feed — the standard we hold ourselves to and the resulting lists of shoulds can get very long.
But I invite you to consider that the lists and expectations of the things that you should do this holiday season will actually keep you from creating the moments you really want and keep you from being present to the ones you already have.
So many parents have long lists of things they think they “should” be doing, and things they think their kids “should” be doing. For most, the list is unconscious and they’re not even aware of it — they’re just working to make their life and kids align with that list in their head.
But in most cases it’s not realistic, and it constantly leaves them dissatisfied and feeling like they’re failing.
I bring this up because my list of “shoulds” was always really long at the holidays. From the perfect picture for the holiday card, the perfectly decorated house, the perfect gifts for everyone, to setting up a scavenger hunt for the perfect day for the kids. It was overwhelming, stressful, and it kept me from being present to the moments I was most grateful for.
So this year, I encourage you to evaluate what you really want and what you’ll be most grateful for before you start that running to-do list in your head and set expectations for yourself that you couldn’t possibly meet.
Do you want a perfectly decorated house, or do you want time for a family holiday movie night with popcorn? Figure out what you’ll be most grateful for, and then put the activity on your calendar. When your scheduled time arrives, be present to what you are doing, and not your lists.
You may need to practice redirecting your mind to stay present. The point of scheduling it is to get your brain to relax as you are doing exactly what is on your schedule and this is what matters most at the moment.
Remind yourself that you scheduled the time and you’re not supposed to be doing anything else at the moment so you can stay calm, present, enjoy the time, and make memories. Consider this thought — I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now.
I encourage you to think about what you want to create in your life, and make sure that you are scheduling time for what you’ll be most grateful for! Then work on intentionally staying present to actually enjoy the time you scheduled.
As the parent of two young adults, I often tell young parents — the days may be long but the years are really short. So I encourage you to figure out what you’re most grateful for, then make time and be present for more of those grateful moments.
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