(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
The door slammed open and my young grandson hurtled over to his mum, slid to a stop and then eagerly bounced from one foot to the other. His little feet dripped small puddles on the floor, his hair was wet and mud splatters decorated his shirt and his cheek. He looked very excited, very wet, and very impatient and I struggled to contain my laughter.
"Mum! Mum! Could you please roll up my toe sleeves? Quick, quick!"
Really? Toe sleeves? It's priceless. Where do they come up with these expressions?
These sorts of family moments are magic. They're unexpected. If you blink, you'll miss them. And they add fun and delight to a mother's exhausting day.
But they're over so quickly and often forgotten within the whirlwind of daily life. And, as you collapse on the lounge in the evening, it's the tiring, mundane issues that tend to linger in the thoughts rather than the small moments that matter... unless you spend a bit of time with a journal.
I'm here to tell you that developing a daily journaling habit is truly worthwhile.
But I know what your'e thinking... 'I can't write. I'm too tired to add that to my daily to-do list. I don't know what to write about. What's the point?'
Well.... let me answer just a few of those concerns. :)
Five Reasons to Keep a Gratitude Journal
I expect you've often been told to be thankful for what you have when something awful happens. I know.. it sounds trite. But research has shown that being thankful actually is a beneficial habit. Keeping a gratitude journal is an increasingly popular tool used by those seeking to improve themselves.
So, here are five ways that keeping a gratitude journal will improve your focus and your attitude to daily living:
1. Changing Thought Patterns
Studies have shown a strong mind-body connection. When we are feeling stressed, anxious or another negative emotion it can have a negative effect on our physical health. By considering those things, events or people you are thankful for you are creating positive thoughts and feelings which will help reduce stress levels. It will also remind you that whatever happens to you there is always something for which you'll feel grateful.
Your commitment to your gratitude journal refocuses your mind on positive events, conversations and relationships. This enables you to see more than just those negative ones that tend to fill your mind and dominate your thoughts when they happen.
Another way your thought patterns will change is that you will find that you start pushing boundaries and removing limiting beliefs. This will happen as you not only keep your gratitude journal but also review it. You will find that your mind opens to new possibilities and you gain in self-confidence and knowledge.
2. Improve Your Health
The fact that there is a mind-body connection means that by focusing on positive thoughts and feelings in your gratitude journal you are helping to improve your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that regular gratitude journaling can:
3. Create Optimism
Some days it's just too hard to see the wood for the trees. You'll find yourself focusing on something that has upset you and that troublesome thought will nag away at you constantly. Taking some time to sit quietly and think about something you are grateful for will help reduce the negative thoughts and feelings and replace them with positive ones.
4. Improved Sleep
Regardless of whether you feel the need for eight hours sleep each night your body and mind do require a regular amount of sleep each night for optimal mental and physical health. Keeping a gratitude journal is fun, calming and a positive activity that promotes happy thoughts and feelings. By replacing worry and stress, you can sleep more peacefully and have happier dreams.
5. It's Fun
Keeping a gratitude journal should be a fun, enjoyable experience; something you look forward to. It doesn't matter whether you use a plain notebook or a really fancy one, you can jazz it up by using different colored pens or pencils, or even decorating the pages.
To begin with, why not grab yourself a beautiful pen for your work? Along with a renewed interest in al things retro has been a trend towards using a fountain pen for writing. Many consider that using a fountain pen actually improves their penmanship.There are online courses that teach calligraphy and lettering skills that you might like to consider, too. They're a lot of fun!
Of course, there are plenty of journal apps that you might like to consider. They are convenient and have the advantage of being able to include a photo/s of your day's activities. But although I've tried, and loved, using a journal app on my device I still prefer using pen and paper for my journaling. It seems to help me relax and reflect on my day.
Use a loose-leaf binder
I love using a simple loose-leaf binder for my journaling. My journal is included in my life planner and I use a folder divider to keep the journaling pages separate. It's always open as I work through my day and, with just a quick flick of a few pages, I can jot down a note or perhaps add a quirky little comment from one of my grandkids that I don't want to forget. Then I can complete the day's journal when I relax in the evening.
Don't feel pressured to write huge screeds of content for your daily journal, either. If you just manage a few lines, or a paragraph, that's fine.
Amazing journal kit
With that in mind, I've created an ongoing monthly pack that is inexpensive, downloadable for instant access, and provides creative inspiration for your daily journal. You can find more information about it below...
Journal kits are available monthly and include:
* Themed quote poster. Full colour print with quote to print, frame and display
* Calendar for the month to add special dates and highlights of the month
* Daily journal prompts as inspiration for your journaling
* Fun words to use in your journal entries during the month
* Journal pages to print multiple copies for your daily journal (and colour if you wish)
If you want to create a positive change in yourself and your life, then keeping a gratitude journal may just be the tool you are looking for. It's cheap, easy and very beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Did you think life as a grandma would involve sitting in a rocking chair and relaxing? Well, you were wrong! Grandparents have been and always will be a safety net. So, when the grandkids need a guardian at short notice, you are the number one draft pick. And, because it’s cheap labour, the odds are high that you’ll get the job on a permanent basis.
Grandparents love looking after their grandchildren because it’s one of the perks of the job. There’s no need to discipline, refuse them treats, or do any of the yucky stuff involved in parenting. However, you do have to fill the hours and that isn’t easy as kids are energetic and get bored without difficulty.
If you are running out of ideas, you have come to the right place. Here on At Grandma’s Place, we aim to please and help out take the strain of grandparenting. With that in mind, below are six fun and educational activities grandmas and grandchildren alike will love.
An old faithful but one a grandmother should stick to regardless. Why? It’s because, over the years, you have baked millions of cookies and cupcakes for your kids and grandkids. Now, it’s time to get them involved in the process. All you have to do is plant the seed and watch it take hold because children love the idea of eating junk food. “Hey, should we bake a cake?” is all it takes for kids to want to be apart of the process because they can see the sugary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Of course, baking is incredibly practical too as it involves measuring ingredients and setting timers. In their head, your grandchild will be using their mental arithmetic to make sure the bake has a warm and gooey centre. Plus, they have to read the recipe and follow the instructions.
Arts And Crafts
Baking is a no go unless a child has an apron to protect their clothes. So, rather than buy one from a store, make your own at home with the grandkids.
You don’t need much material and the cost will be as cheap as buying one. Even better, the activity will keep them occupied and they will love every minute. Start by finding the raw materials, such Burda tissue paper and one metre of nylon. A post on the John Lewis website also points out you shouldn’t forget a sewing machine or a sewing kit. The kids won’t be able to use them, but they are essential to creating an apron from scratch. Next, cut out the material in an apron shape which is long enough to cover a child’s body. Then, follow an instruction manual or a set of guidelines! Arts and crafts can encompass pretty much anything, so don’t let their creative side only focus on an apron. A simpler activity is a painting session or playing with Play-Doh.
Kids love to sit and watch TV. The problem is they watch too much and don’t get out of the house enough. As a grandparent, you want them to be happy but don’t want them to be lazy or put on weight. So, spending a day at a cinema may not seem like an excellent idea. Indeed, their mum and dad may not be thrilled when they hear about it at the end of the day!
Still, TV is incredibly educational and enjoyable at the same time. Okay, the physical benefits may not be off the charts, but it’s only one day. The trick is to buy a day-pass at the local movie theatre and immerse them in the experience. Kids love going to the cinema because it’s a grand affair with sweets and sodas.
But, theatres also show educational documentaries and kid’s films with an underlying subtext. The “March of the Penguins” is a prime example as penguins are cute yet the film focuses on relationships and hunting. At the moment, “Earth: One Amazing Day” is in cinemas and details nature’s amazing events over the course of one day.
Sticking with the animal theme, why not see them in real life instead of on a screen? Children love animals and a zoo is a perfect place to see exotic creatures like tigers and elephants. Not only do they get to watch them in real time, but they can interact too. Nowadays, lots of zoos having petting stations where attendees can touch and hold domesticated animals. SeaQuest even lets its paying customers swim with stingrays in a controlled environment.
The ultimate zoo experience, though, is a safari park where the animals roam around without cages. Seeing a giraffe eating from a tall tree is a humbling experience because most kids won’t get to replicate it ever. The same goes for walking past a herd of elephants or driving through an enclosure which is home to a pride of lions. Of course, as you go around, the kids can listen to an educational guide or read a pamphlet and learn all about the creatures they see.
Older kids hate the idea of taking part in science experiments. Grandma, it just isn’t cool! Thankfully, the younger ones aren’t as bothered about their image and just want to have fun. Science, contrary to popular belief, is full of enjoyment and may encourage the kids to study harder at school.
After all, learning is about having fun.
All you need is a basic science set with cool ingredients which make clouds of smoke and erupt over the kitchen table. Don’t worry because you don’t have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson or have a PhD to take part. A simple experiment such as putting Mentos in a bottle of coke will leave them in awe. To take it one step further, buy or make a lab coat and hand out goggles to make them feel like actual scientists.
Spending time with the grandkids is the greatest way to bond. With these tips, you also be able to teach them a trick or two.
Help your family discover the Light of Christmas in a new way!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Every year, Christmas seems to arrive in the stores earlier than you expect. Beautiful Christmas displays appear mid-October, Christmas gift ideas fill store catalogues, and glittering ornaments are hung in the specially created Christmas-theme areas.
And that's fine... although I never seem ready for Christmas despite the early reminders and displays. But the Christmas proclaimed in the department stores and shopping centres is not the Christmas that's important to me. And it's not the legacy of Christmas that, by and large, I want for my family. It doesn't reflect the humble stable of the Saviour's birth or the gift of that first Christmas.
The store-bought Christmas is filled with music and joy and fun and feasting and unwrapping endless gifts. I want to help my family unwrap the real joy of Christmas. And I believe that families, like mine, can hear the Christmas story in a new way using creative family-focused devotions.
So I looked at just five such devotional resources and you can check them out, too, below:
So.. first up..
1. All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar
Focus on th Family has produced a beautiful Advent colouring and devotional book. It will help you focus on the anticipation, preparation and celebration of Jesus' birth.
The ongoing enthusiasm for colouring by all ages means the your whole family can be involved.
You'll find beautifully detailed colouring pages with peel-and-stick ornaments, 28 days of faith-filled activities, Scripture readings and an Advent calendar Christmas tree. (You can find a free Advent calendar, too.)
All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar.
2. All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Colour your Way to Christmas
Yes... this is another colouring devotional for Christmas. This publication is by Nancy Guthrie. It includes bonus activities, discussion starters, and kid-friendly colouring pages- Christmas ornaments and decorations.
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
3. Made by Me Nativity
This kit starts by making a great nativity keepsake set. It's included in the kit. But there's so much more...
There are gifts to make and give to friends, family and neighbours. Other faith-building activity suggestions are included: field trips, a Christmas movie makeover and other fun!
And yes, there's more...
Simple kitchen-based mission ideas (cookies, nut baskets, Christmas morning mix) will get your kids up and serving others and discovering Jesus.
Made by Me Nativity
4. Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
Host a kid-friendly Christmas family night with the Christmas Movie Night Kit.
You'll find a read aloud picture book, activities, puzzles and games. The animated Story of Christmas dvd includes sing-along videos of Christmas carols and behind-the-scenes production footage.
Celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with this creative Christmas kit.
Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
5. Advent Journey Colouring Posters
The birth of the Saviour on that first Christmas was news that was shared. This is a big part of the Advent Journey Colouring Posters, too, sharing the Christmas story with friends, family and the community through colouring.
The posters are big.. supersize. Four of the posters measure 3' x 2' and the other two are even bigger- 6' x 2'. So they are wonderful to colour together in groups. It also offers plenty of opportunities to talk and share together while colouring.
Using these posters requires some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to using them. Sure, you can use them for children's ministry groups or teen groups. You can take them to nursing homes to colour in together. Use them following your Sunday services for your church family to colour and enjoy while having morning tea. Schools may wish to use them. Your family might invite friends over for a colouring evening. There is also an accompanying Advent Journey Devotional Guide. So start thinking now... how will you use these wonderful resources for sharing the Christmas story?
Oh.. and the finished posters make beautiful display posters, perfect decorations for large walls, hallways and even stage areas.
Advent Journey Colouring Posters
Take time to explore the real meaning of Christmas with your family with these creative resources. Explore the events surrounding the first Christmas and learn how this season can bring us hope, love, joy and peace.
Family life is so unpredictable, isn't it?
My granddaughters were visiting for the week and we'd enjoyed a great day at the beach. Dinner plates were piled in the sink and I'd just finished reading the next exciting chapter of The Pet that Never Was. Koti had headed to the bathroom for the final time for the evening, I hoped, when I heard her frightened call..
I raced to the bathroom and found her crouched on the floor, a fountain of water spouting skywards from the tap. There were some frantic moments, let me tell you, as we tried to stem the flood.
When, finally, calm was restored and I settled the girls again for bed Koti was still stressed and upset.
"It was all my fault, Nannie," she sobbed.
"That's not true, honey. It could have happened to anyone."
"Yes, but it happened to me!" I talked with her for some time and told her I was very proud of her.
I reminded her of how calm and helpful she had been. But she was still upset.
So... I smiled and told her how thankful I was that she had run so fast to get Jacob, her cousin. He had arrived like a hurricane with a big armload of towels and had jumped in to help. I laughed and reminded her how the water had sprayed up to the ceiling and then splashed on his head. He had looked so surprised.... and so wet! She smiled, too. And then she mentioned something else that had happened.. something that was funny now, in retrospect. Soon she relaxed and we were laughing and talking about our wet adventure.
The importance of laughter
'Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.' - Bob Newhart
Laughter has the ability to brighten your mood, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress levels, boost your immune system and so much more. Plus, laughter causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are neuro-transmitters that ease pain.
Certainly, one of God's most precious gifts is the gift of laughter.
'A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.'– Proverbs 17:22, NIV
Dr Caroline Leaf states, 'Having fun is one of the most powerful antidotes to stress you will ever find. And it's free.'
And you can embrace the gift of laughter with your family when you…
Watch funny videos.
Use a website like YouTube or GodTube to find funny videos. You may want to look up search phrases like ‘babies laughing’ or ‘puppies playing’.
If you like comedians, look up Ken Davis, Tim Hawkins or Bob Smiley. These are Christian comedians that keep their routines clean and family-friendly.
Put on a funny song and dance.
Don’t be afraid to do your biggest, silliest dance. Your kids will love to join you.
Some songs that will make you want to dance along include Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Happy by Pharrell Williams, Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay.
Let your inner kid out.
Do something that reminds you of being a kid. Run through a sprinkler, splash in a puddle, jump in a pile of leaves, or build a snowman. And your own kids will love doing it with you!
Create some amazing family memories. Enjoy some simple moments that matter. Include laughter in your daily life and make it a family priority.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.