This has been an unprecedented time for most Americans. As we emerge into the New Year, some may be finding a lot to be grateful for– for example, having a home to shelter in, or remaining healthy through the pandemic– while others may have had a different experience and may be struggling with feeling gratitude. Sometimes having gratitude is something people have to work on, especially children, who are used to seeing the world with themselves in the center.
The best way for children to learn gratitude is by having good role models. Seeing you express gratitude regularly goes a long way. Helping them see the world outside themselves helps build gratitude. For example, understanding that not everyone lives in a house or neighborhood like theirs, or that people in different cultures and countries celebrate and give thanks in different ways.
Here are a few daily traditions you can start with your kids to teach them how to begin to think about how their actions can bring happiness to themselves and others.
1. Start the day with an intention. Mornings can be crazy, especially on school days, but grab a second, at the breakfast table or in the car, to ask your kids to set an intention for the day. It’s OK if their intention is self-centered, for instance, if they say they want to perform well at sports that evening. The point is to get them thinking about being intentional and learning that their actions affect others. Eventually, you’ll likely see their intentions involving goodwill towards others.
2. End the day with an expression of gratitude. Again, help them draw their thoughts to the world around them and how they fit in by asking them to state one thing they are grateful for that day. It doesn’t have to be big ticket items, their family, or their best friend, in fact, it’s better if it’s not. Make them think about all the little things they can be thankful for each day.
3. Start a “highs and lows” tradition at dinner time or bedtime. Each family member states the best and worst thing that happened that day, or their high point and their low point. Then, take it further by asking everyone to “flip” their low point. Can they identify a silver lining in their low point. Is there a lesson in it? Or did their low point benefit someone else? For example, if your child’s low point was that they sat the bench when they thought they should have been playing, help them to see that it was someone else’s turn to have that high point.
4. Practice acts of service as a family. One of the best things you can do for your children is to teach them the gift of service to others. Besides benefitting other people, it teaches your kids that giving time and service to others helps lift them emotionally, so it’s a win-win! While it might be difficult to do acts of service physically during social distancing, you could bake cookies to donate to a shelter, write letters to residents of nursing homes, or offer to walk your elderly neighbors’ dogs.
5. Start a family charity. Kids love to save up money, and many can be very generous with their savings. Start a family charity fund and offer to match what your children contribute from their allowance, other earned money, or monetary gifts. Once or twice a year, decide as a family where to donate the accumulated funds.
6. Let them be secret superheroes. Have your children pick a person to be a secret superhero for. It may be a classmate, neighbor, or member of your extended family. Your child can write notes of encouragement or praise to this person, leave them small gifts, or secretly perform an act of kindness for them. The point of remaining secret is to teach your children that they don’t need to be recognized or rewarded for being kind to others.
We all want people to love our home as much as we do, but especially when you are trying to sell it! While it’s impossible to please every buyers’ taste, there are several easy things you can do to make your home more appealing without spending a lot of money. Try some of these tricks and see if your showings cause buyers to swoon.
1. Check your curb appeal. Take an honest look from the curbside. What are buyers seeing first? If your home needs to be painted or pressure washed, consider making that investment. Clean up landscaping by trimming trees and bushes, planting some fresh annuals and laying new mulch. Clean windows, repair sagging soffit, or porch railings, and have any trip hazards on your driveway or front walk repaired. Finally, consider some attractive, yet subtle decorations for your front porch.
2. Create an inviting entryway. When buyers step inside your front door, you want them to feel welcomed. If you have a foyer or front hall, it is easier to make an attractive entryway, but even if your front door opens right into your living room, you can create the feel of an entryway with a couple of simple tricks. Clear the area of clutter things that tend to pile up at the front door, like backpacks, dog leashes, or shoes. Place a small table or bench beside the door with plants, candles, or other simple décor. A small area rug can help define the space as the entryway.
3. Let the light shine in. Take advantage of natural light as much as you can. Trimming any bushes or trees outside your windows can help immensely. Wash your windows inside and out and replace or remove any worn screens. Make sure to open blinds or curtains before all showings.
4. Add some fresh color. Painting is an easy and inexpensive way to make an older home look new and is especially important if your current wall color is dark or outdated. Choose a light neutral color like a warm grey or light beige and use the same color throughout the house. If your home tends to be dark, this will help brighten it up.
5. Let storage spaces speak for themselves. Many sellers make the mistake of waiting until they have a contract to start cleaning out closets. Cleaning out clutter is part of getting ready to show, not just getting ready to move. You want buyers to perceive that there is ample storage in the home, and this doesn’t work if every drawer, cabinet, and closet is stuffed to the gills.
6. Eliminate distractions. Streamline your decorating so your buyers see the house and not your collection of Mexican roosters. Go ahead and pack up collectibles and family photos and keep decorative touches to the minimum. Too many plants, magazines, or toys distract the buyers from seeing the home as their own.
7. Entice them with outdoor space. The back yard shouldn’t be an empty space of infinite possibility, nor should it be a storage area for neglected toys. Get rid of any eyesores you’ve been avoiding dealing with, spruce up your landscaping, repair irrigation or pool issues, and create an entertaining space with a patio set, or a backyard oasis with some potted plants and a hammock.
8. Make it easy for them. Taking care of minor repairs is another step you can take to help buyers see your home as an easy and comfortable move. You want them to be mentally arranging their furniture as they walk through, not making a list of nicked woodwork, torn window screens, and leaky faucets. The less work involved, the easier it is to fall in love.