Thankful kids

Effie2 (2)It’s this time of year — Thanksgiving holiday — when we pause and take a moment to reflect on all that we are grateful for.

A few years ago, I adopted Thanksgiving as a daily practice, and to my surprise, it has transformed my life for the better: I’ve become more centered and peaceful which naturally affected the well-being of myself as well as my family.

Having a deep sense of gratitude benefits us in developing the ability to savor the pleasant moments in life and preserve through the painful ones.

I find that as challenging and complex parenting can be, it is equally inspiring and simple — that is, if we are mindful and appreciate every challenge, pain, delight, and triumph on our parenting journey.

Our children serve as our constant reminder that the ordinary is actually the profound. When we ask children what their most treasured memories are, their typical responses are “camping overnight in the backyard with Daddy,” “baking cookies with Grandma,” or “playing in mountains of snow with friends” — small moments that we adults may not think they attribute much significance to.

I am grateful for being around children on a daily basis — observing their actions and interactions. Getting a glimpse into their delightful world keeps me grounded, reminding me that connection, mindfulness and simplicity are the essentials that fill our heart and soul.

In celebration of Thanksgiving, we bring you reflections from kids around the United States as to what they are most grateful for:

Emma, 7: “I am most grateful for my family and health. I am grateful that we are all together. I am grateful to God for everything.”

Sophia, 5: “I am grateful for my parents, sister, brother, and grandparents. I am also grateful for breastmilk when I was small since it made me grow strong.”

Valerie, 2.5: “Food. Yogurt, peanut butter in a bowl, apples, and peanut butter sandwich.”

Abby, 4: “Strawberries, because I love strawberries.  It’s my wordcloud6favorite fruit.”

Josh, 9: “Family, food, and water. Family because it’s family, and food and water because we need food and water to survive.”

Nicholas, 12: “Having a good mom.”

Tatiana, 11: “I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the house that I live in, for the food that I eat, that I have education, that I’m healthy, and that I am alive.”

Gianna, 8: “I’m thankful that my mom makes dinner for both sides of our family.”

Adriana, 4: “I’m thankful for pancakes, because I don’t like turkey.”

Rachel, 10: “I’m thankful for God, for veterans, for my family, and for my pets.”

Emily, 9: “I am grateful for my life and everything that God created, and for heaven, and I’m grateful for my family, my house, my clothes, my food, everything.”

Nathan, 5: “I am thankful for birdies and that we love animals, and I’m grateful for my family and pets.”

Camille, 18: “I’m thankful for the people who love me and the opportunities I have been given.”

Nicole, 10: “I am thankful for Tapping (EFT) and the breathing technique Mommy taught me to discharge stress.”

Luke, 14: “I’m thankful for being able to choose my career. I’m thankful for Internet. I’m thankful for love, and I’m thankful for family.”

Zaiah, 10: “Friends and family. The chance to live every day and have food and water.”

Julienne, 14: “I am grateful for music.”

Kaiya, 11: “I am grateful that not all animals are endangered.”

Ethan, 2: “Toys!”

Jared, 9: “I’m most grateful for my family.”

I am thankful for Attachment Parenting International (API) for granting me the opportunity to be part of an organization that promotes an intuitive, kind, and gentle approach to parenting — the foundation of our quest for a more tolerant world. I am also grateful for our API volunteer community and readers for all of your support, and for spreading the message of peace and harmony — because together we are a greater force, capable of making a real positive difference in the world.

My warmest wishes to you and your family on this Thanksgiving holiday. May you always find inspiration and gratitude on your parenting journey.

With Mindfulness and Light,


Take a day off from the world

I guess I’m a pretty typical parent. I am busy and my family is busy. We do lots of fun things and we do lots of things that just need to get done. When it all adds up, we are stretched a little thin. We are tired and we need some down time.

My husband and I have recently started turning one day of the weekend into our own Day Off From the World. We spend time together with our daughters. That is the only agenda. We don’t schedule anything. We leave all screens off. We get outside. We cook a lot. We read a lot. We listen to music. We dance and play. We nap. We bake things. We paint and create things. We make a mess. We chase each other. We hide and we seek. We build forts and snuggle in them. We spend one day of the weekend just being together.

When we started this practice we saw our daughters transform from their tired cranky end of the week selves into their energized joyous selves. They love having us present and participating with them all day. Time does not rush or push. There is no “have to, must, or should.” Their creativity astounds me every time.

Today my three year old handed me a ball of yarn and said, “hold on and go hide.” She held on to the end and I let the yarn spool out behind me as I walked to my hiding place. After finishing her counting she began collecting the yarn, slowly making her way to me in my hiding place. “I found you!” she announced. “Next time hide better.”

Meanwhile, my six year old and my husband were snuggled in the blanket fort we had constructed earlier that morning. He is telling her about his adventures as a child riding his blue bike. Her questions come one after another asking for more and more detail.

These games and moments of connection need time to come about. They need unstructured non rushing time. Children have fantastic imaginations and they are naturally inquisitive. What if they were not always on their way somewhere to do something? What if the doing was just being together? Helpful for us grownups too maybe?

After our day off we feel rested. Our emotional cups are full. We have connected and reconnected. We have talked and hugged and told stories from our week. Each of us has spent time with each other member of the family. As we head into another week we are full with the feeling that we belong to this family, to these people we love.

So take a hint from ancient traditions and modern wisdom. Whether it is observing the Sabbath or listening to the advice in the book Simplicity Parenting: take a day off. Connect with your people. The world will be there when you get back.