People say you should relish every minute with your kids because next thing you know they're adults and moving out. However, when you're at home constantly with young children, feeling physically and mentally exhausted, that thought just seems too far away and doesn't provide much comfort.
In order to get your children to adulthood there is ALOT of 'in-between' moments and experiences to be had. On a tough day it is easy to dwell on the negatives and use dramatic language, either outwardly or internally with your self-talk. For example, statements like "you always do this" "this always happens when you..." This makes your situation feel a whole lot worse.
So how do you make the best of your situation when it's tough?
I'm sure we have all reached a point on a particular day where you feel like you just want to run out the door, you wish you could be footloose and fancy free again.
It's completely normal to feel worn out or broken sometimes.
When I was struggling with Postal Natal Depression in 2015 I was so focused on all that was stressful and hard in my life. I found it very difficult to see any positive things I had around me.
It was suggested by my psychologist to start a daily gratitude journal.
I was asked to write down anything I was grateful for each day. And so I started.
Initially I found it difficult to come up with a single idea. However, over time and with practise I realised that I didn't need to have grand events or 'big' things to be grateful for. The simplest of things in my day can be opportunities for gratitude.
Examples of simple daily gratitude
- Waking up to lovely bird song
- The smell of warm coffee or being able to drink it while its still hot
- The sound of your children laughing and playing nicely
- A warm embrace from your partner
- Getting to appointments on time
- Discounts at the supermarket
- Meeting up with a friend or a chat with a friend over the phone
- An inspiring quote you found online
Very soon the anger and the resentment I had became less and less. I always remind myself now that no matter how hard my day is , or what tough circumstances I'm in , it is almost guaranteed there is someone else out there doing it a lot tougher than me.
Areas of your life where you can find simple gratitude
Just the fact that you have a roof over your head is cause for basic gratitude. This is a luxury that many people all over the world do not have. If you are lucky enough to enjoy creature comforts like television, ipads, laptops, and other technologies, then this is also something to be grateful for.
Look around your home. This place provides sanctuary and safety to you and your family. You cook here, sleep here, bathe here. All with clean running water and electricity with a flick of a switch.
The fact that your home isn't a palace, is a bit messy, becomes irrelevant when you instead focus the fact that your home is providing you with the essentials. You have food, water, shelter and your possessions.
Think about the special memories you have had in your home with your family. For example the many birthdays, festive seasons like Christmas and Easter, or perhaps even babies first homecomings.
Specific areas of gratitude
- Your warm comfy bed that you can rest in
- Your bathroom, where you can relax for a few minutes (hopefully!) uninterrupted
- The kitchen where you prepare your coffee or tea that relaxes you
If you are employed, that right there can be an area for gratitude. Being able to financially provide for your family is something many people are unable to achieve.
- If you are a stay-at-home mother then the gratitude can come from being able to look after your children yourself and not have to pay someone else to.
- Even if you are receiving benefits and not working, most westernised countries will support you. It may be low but there are certainly people around the world getting less or nothing.
We can't all be millionaires and I'm sure most of us could do with a little extra money, but if you are able to provide your family with the necessities, then anything else is a luxury... and your doing well!
Family and Friendships
This is an area where I feel the most gratitude. Even when my children are driving me crazy I can still feel grateful that I have my family and they are healthy.
Additional gratitude points
- A supportive significant-other in your life
- Friends you can rely on for support
- Friends and family who live close by
- Friends and family who regularly keep in touch
If you think about the country you live in is it generally safe? Focus down to the specific area or region where you live... is it clean and well maintained? Are their parks or open spaces nearby?
- Do you have access to medical care, schools, shops?
If you could answer yes to most of these questions then you have a reason to feel grateful for the area and community you live in.
Look, it's completely natural to feel hard done by when stress and frustration starts to build up in our lives. Its natural to desire better or more for yourself. That's also how we chase our dreams.
What I want to highlight is that gratitude for the simple things, that we so often take for granted, is the perfect anti-dote when we feel overwhelmed by a tough day.
All of us have something that we can be grateful for each day. I really recommend starting a gratitude journal. It continues to be a wonderful positive experience for me and it ensures I carry forward an element of positive thinking even on the toughest of days.