Let’s face it – some days are really hard.

Even on the hard days, I’m managing to find at least one reason to smile.

I’m doing my best to write in my gratitude journal every night. I’ve been doing this regularly for a little over a year, occasionally missing a day or two, but overall, I’ve been consistent with this. While in quarantine, I have noticed this daily habit is more powerful than ever.

Stepping back a bit from the day to day, I realize these little daily reflections lead to some bigger lessons.

  • My kids are okay. They are creative, imaginative, and resourceful. They built a “swing set” in our maple tree with some help from Daddy O. They see a dandelion that looks like a sunflower, not just weeds, and even picked me bouquets today.
  • My kids really love one another. When there is no one else to play with, they will play nicely together. It is so sweet…most of the time! I’m so glad they have each other!
  • We need one another. I really value the texts, phone calls, and zoom calls with family and friends. And I’m so grateful for the chance to be with my husband and kids, especially while they are still little (8 & 10 years old). I hope this creates stronger relationships for our family to help us during the tween and teen years – and beyond.
  • My kids are learning cooking skills. They made a super complicated lasagna with a bolognese and a white sauce with some help. I don’t know how this recipe ended up in a kid’s cookbook, but it was good to try. Next time, we’ll use a recipe with more cheese (like true Wisconsinites). Would we have made this during non-quarantine times? I think not.

  • My kids are learning life skills. They are helping with cleaning, dishes, and putting away clothes. I hope this someday makes them a good roommate when they move out of the house. As my sister told her kids, “You can either learn how to do these things now, or when you’re 18 and don’t live here anymore. Your choice!” Let’s choose now kids, so we can help you when you make mistakes.
  • We’re taking care of ourselves. One day my daughter didn’t get a chance to get outside or get some exercise, so she wasn’t tired at bedtime. I am trying to model good habits – eating well, drinking water, moving every day, and getting enough sleep, so our kids learn how to feel good. Don’t get me wrong though – we treat ourselves to dessert everyday! And fortunately, we still have Girl Scout Cookies in the house!
  • We are being more present. With less running around, we are less stressed and more focused on one another. This has been a resolution of mine for some time, and I’m finally practicing it with less multi-tasking and less time on my phone (I think).
  • We are communicating better. Everyone in my family has had ups and downs during this time. We’ve had talks about being kind, apologizing, and trying to do better. Daddy O. and I have had more time to talk about how we want to jointly respond to our kids misbehaving. It’s felt really good.
  • We celebrate the little things. Often I write down that I am thankful for a family bike ride. My 8 year old can now confidently ride his bike since he’s had more time to practice. With fewer things to do, we have found biking as a fun, family activity.
  • While I’m not in control, I can choose my daily attitude. I choose to be positive and have faith that everything will work out, someway, somehow…according to God’s plan for me (and that doesn’t always match my plan).

What lessons have you learned from quarantine? Are you taking time to count your blessings?