Thanks so much for everyone who read and shared last week’s My Mountain post from Coffee With Katie. Today we have Emma from Wanderlust & Wetwipes talking about practicing gratitude which is something I feel personally really strongly about too.
I’ve already written this post once yesterday but even as I wrote I knew it was the rambling rants of a frustrated mummy and not anything coherent that other people would want to read! I’m feeling a bit more zen today (not much, but a bit…so it’s progress) and I’ve had time to reflect on my rantings and decided to write an open letter to my kids instead.
Dear Thing 1 and Thing 2
What do I want to say to you?
You are so so lucky. You spend time with people who love you to the moon and back and way way way further even than that. You have more people who care about you right now, on this day, than some people get in a lifetime.
You are so so lucky. You live in an enormous house on a beautiful compound. The roof doesn’t leak, we have hot water and air conditioning and you are driven around safely ensconced in up–to-date car seats and in nice cars.
You are so so lucky. As a function of where we live, you have to get on a plane to go almost anywhere. As such, we go on multiple holidays a year to incredible destinations. You get to complain about going on a green Qatar Airways plane (for GCC trips) because you already know they won’t have TV screens. We just took you on an incredible 3-week holiday. The holiday of a lifetime for some. We showed you places that most people don’t even get to dream of seeing. More relevant to you…You ate Italian ice cream every day!
You are so so lucky. Every week this summer you will go to summer camp with your friends. We will have play dates in expensive soft play areas and you will have swimming lessons in our pool. We have the most amazing paddling pool / bouncy castle known to man. We will eat in restaurants or get fast food more times a week than this mummy wants to admit even to herself.
You are so so lucky. We have multiple electronic devices designed to let you zone out in various ways. iNanny has never been so busy despite my smug realisation that the first 2 weeks of our trip included zero screen time.
You are so so lucky. I might not do crafts with you but we play games and jigsaws. We cook and bake. We do drawing, painting, colouring, mazes and dot–to-dots. We do writing and read stories. We play schools and shops and doctors. We live a life where I don’t have to work and I can spend my time doing that with you.
You are so so lucky. You have an entire room dedicated to just your toys. That room is overflowing with toys you once wanted and quickly bored of. You get to choose, today, which you want to keep and which we are going to give away to people less fortunate than us.
I know our summers are hard. 50C heat is exhausting even without humidity and the humidity is well and truly here. We can’t go to the playground or the beach without melting into a puddle within the first 2 minutes. Almost all your friends are gone, part of the mass exodus that happens every summer. I know it is hard to remember how to entertain yourselves after a long break with the undivided attention of all your favourite people and excursions galore. But seriously did that ability just evaporate with the sheer strength of the sun here???
Daddy is working longer hours than you will be able to remember him working (a shock after 3 glorious weeks of holiday). Mummy is trying to be diligent with her new blog and is fighting with the sheer boredom of going to yet another mall to find yet another soft play. See? Its not just you who is bored. We are all going stir crazy… I get that.
My brain knows that you are too little to grasp the cruel reality of this world. Of just how unbelievably lucky you are. You are too little to really understand the abstract concept of a child who doesn’t even have access to running water, let alone the toys you take for granted. Or the child whose mummy has to live in another country, working hard so they can have an education and have clothes to wear. I try to explain it but our reality is so far removed that it is hard for ME to really connect with it. How can I expect you to?
My brain knows that you can’t really understand the value of money or just how expensive anything is here (ridiculously). It knows that you are surrounded by other children who just take for granted this life that they have been granted as effortlessly as you do. How could you possibly understand that there are people who don’t have enough money to buy food or medicine, let alone go to a movie or own their own bike?
I just wish…. I really really wish that you could be grateful for what you do have. You say thank you sometimes in a way that makes me think you understand your good fortune…. But then you have a tantrum because you don’t want to stop doing something super fun, or 5 minutes afterwards you whine that you are bored or that “we never do anything fun”. I wish you could wait for longer than 30 seconds of inactivity before you start winding each other up and fighting for the eleventy millionth time today. I wish you could truly be thankful and really realise just how lucky you are.
And I wish I could look around sometimes and not be the shouty mummy who is as bored as you are. I wish I could be as thankful as I should be for all that we have. I wish I could take that step back from being hot and a bit unfulfilled and appreciate that you are fit and healthy, that you do say thank you (sometimes), that you love each other more than life itself (don’t worry, I won’t tell) and that my life is better for having you in it.
Right, it’s time for me to shut my screen off and to turn yours off too. Our job for today is to spring clean the playroom and to donate the toys you don’t want to people less fortunate.
Having realised that I am not alone in this I asked around and found that I am not alone in this frustration and got a few pieces of advice to help. Here are my top 5:
- The Value of Money
- Talk to them about money, how it is earned
- Help them understand that nice things are treats and a reward for being good, not the norm.
- One way of teaching a sense of money might be by having visual charts and jars so that they can appreciate that to have good things takes work.
- Teach them manners and model good manners. Children imitate what they see and hear.
- Reward manners and ignore rudeness. It doesn’t take long to catch on.
- Read books about manners like Max’s Magic Word – books and stories often help with younger children as they can explore social issues through a 3rd party so it’s less pressured.
- But it’s more than manners…
- Teach them to express their love for each other and family.
- “We use a traffic light system before we leave the house each day. We don’t leave until were feeling green. One of the green conditions is to tell each other we love our family. They say it even when they have the hump with one another.”
- Talk to children about what they get to do that other people can’t afford to do or don’t have the opportunity to do
- Discuss why some people have more opportunities than others
- Give Thanks
- Ask young children what they can say thank you for at a regular time of day such as dinnertime or bedtime. It’s amazing what they suggest and certainly teaches gratitude. Don’t pressure them to think of a given number of things.
- Practice mindfulness – a big part of that is showing gratitude
- Hearing what they are grateful helps us know that they are on the right track.
Special thanks to the following people for helping me compile this list
- Emma Reed Https://emmareed.net
- Becci Angell toaufinityandbeyond.com
- Hannah Clementson anewadditionblog.co.uk
- Becka Smith mummyest2014.wordpress.com
- Emma Bradley emmaand3.com
- Sophie Gillum-Webb https://www.sophobsessed.com
- Veronica Mitchell http://myparentingjourney.com
- Nikki Turner-Chaplin yorkshirewonders.co.uk
Emma is a closer-to-40-than-30 mum to 2 mostly adorable but mad and often also very irritating young kids, married to a travel mad husband. Emma is a travel addict having lived in the USA, UK, Australia and Ecuador by the age of 18!
Since then she has lived in Ecuador again, California, the UK, Texas and is now living in the Middle East. Emma enjoys travelling to new places including in South East Asia, South America and Europe but since having kids has struggled to find ways to balance holidays so everyone’s needs are met.
In January she started a family travel blog following an epic holiday in Bali. She aims to create a community showing how to do exactly that.
You can find Emma at:
Facebook : http://facebook.com/wanderlustandwetwipes
Instagram : http://instagram.com/wanderlustandwetwipes
Twitter : @wanderwetwipes
Do you have a parenting struggle or challenge you’d like to write about? If you’re interested in contributing to the My Mountain series please email me at email@example.com.