gratitude with a side of enthusiasm, please?

I've never thought of the idea of spoiling my children experientially, but lately I've been doing it without noticing.  Almost every night we've been going and doing something fun as a family.  We go to thanksgiving point, the park, the canyon, the splash pad, or the grocery store. I'll be honest and tell you that this has been for my sake more than theirs. By the end of the day, I'm ready to get out and breathe a little bit.  Since none of these things cost us money to go and do, I haven't thought of this as spoiling.  BUT, the other day we announced our plans for the night (five buck pizza and the splash pad..fun, right?) and instead of gleeful exclamations of gratitude, I was met with disappointed whining.  The boys who not long ago would jump at any chance to jump in the car were suddenly PICKY about where it was we were going. And I've begun to notice a change in them in general throughout the day.  They've started to order me around and flip out when they don't get their way.  What has happened to my good little boys?

I remember loving this post about raising grateful children on Asking Jane.  I've been thinking of it in terms of things we do, rather than objects I'm giving them, and see that it's time to cut back a bit.  I don't think this means that we have to be shut-ins, but I think I'm going to try to institute a little program where together we earn outings by being good and helpful.  Have any of you ever had this problem?  Where suddenly your children are snotty?  Even if not, I'd love to hear your ideas or suggestions about it.  I don't want to cut out the fun (because, it's really for me), but I'll do it if it means my boys start being sweet again.  Demanding children are so very unappealing, and I prefer to love my children.

Motherhood certainly is a balancing act sometimes....and my arms are getting tired.

*updates on previous posts:

This morning I got my first Chinese comment since moderating, and it felt wonderful to click the reject button.

Noah's binkie is officially unusable now (yahoo!), and he's actually doing alright with that.  Though he still takes it to bed with him and insists that it isn't broken.  Every now and then he'll try to put in in his mouth, and he can technically hold it there if he clamps down on it, but there is no satisfaction to be had so he's quick to abandon the effort.


  1. Summer time use to bring this out in my boys. Not sure why. But I learned something those many years ago that helped me. Actually it was in overhearing a conversation. One mom was telling another how her little kids were so disrespectful that she asked her pediatrician about it. He told her that she needed to show them that she had feelings too. That she needed to show her sadness, tell them how hurt she felt, even cry if she felt like it, when they hurt her feelings. Not in a drama unreal way, but in an honest open way. I started doing this and it really did help. I can remember a few times them looking at me almost in shock, like they hadn't realized I had feelings. I think this is especially good with boys because empathy does not come as easily sometimes for them as it does for girls. And like my mother use to tell me, "They will be living with women for the rest of their lives so they need to learn to how from their Moms."

  2. I like the idea of earning it...but I have the best memories of being spoiled by grandparents over the summer...but that is grandparents!

  3. oh I'm going to start writing down "Nat quotes" to pick me up during my down days! You always tell it like it is...in a nice way :)
    It's probably not the best way to go about it, but I make sure Travis knows that fun things are a privilege and that stuff costs money. I tell him exactly that. The more money we spend, the longer Daddy has to be at work. And that only people who do their chores and act nicely get to do fun stuff. I even go so far as to tell him that "I didn't clean the dishes yesterday so I don't get to go to the fabric store and I REALLY wanted to go, (real sad face) boy, I wish I had washed the dishes..." he says "so lets go Mommy!" "nope, I wasn't a good Mommy yesterday so I don't get to go" "oh." I think it helps if he sees us as sharing some of the same rules. At night in bed, after we have had a great time somewhere, we talk about how awesome it was and how if he's good tomorrow, we can do it again. Don't you really want to go to the playground again tomorrow? Plus, it always helps us if I tell him exactly how I expect him to behave before we do or go anywhere. What to do and what's not ok. "I love that you want to play on your Gator, it's so much fun. I'll get it out for you now, but when I say it's time to go inside, what are you going to do?" "park it back in it's farkin fot" "right, and what don't I want you to do when I tell you it's time to go in?" "no crying" "right. so you promise you're going to be a good boy right?" "yes, I no crying" "ok, lets go play!" I might just try the earning system though! Granny gave us some posterboard and I've got a ton of free stickers, maybe like the gold star program they did in elementary school?

  4. I find this very interesting. I think this is true for anyone...when you get something regularly, it becomes less of a privilege and more of an expectation. It's a part of our regular routine now, so why not get picky about it, right?

    I noticed this in myself. My husband is always so kind, patient, soft-spoken, and forgiving. Instead of recognizing his overgenerous nature as an amazing gift, I started taking it for granted. When I got whiny or impatient or nagging, I assumed he'd forgive me or overlook my unkind behavior, and I'd go on blindly with my negativity.

    I knew should act with kindness and patience out of love and respect and gratitude for him. I had to put some energy into self-reflection and pray to change my attitude.

    Feeling gratitude is something that isn't a natural reaction. We have to be taught, we have to be reminded, and it's a conscious effort.

    I wish you luck in your new system! What kind of a system will you do?

  5. crazy...a girlfriend and I were just chatting about this tonight. Love your perspective and totally agree!

  6. Could it be maybe too that they are just feeling over stimulated? Maybe not, I just find that when I have a lot of days where we are going here and there (for my sanity or just because life can be crazy), I start to get attitude from Noel - even if it is some place fun. One day I asked her about it and she said, "I just want to play at MY house." Just a thought :)

    But I see where you are coming from. We used to take a walk on the bike path near our house (wooded) every weather permitting day just to be outside and see the trees, flowers, and animals. Now she only wants to go if our destination is the play ground. So hard...


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