One week. For just one week challenge your family to go cold turkey on these life luxuries before you warm up that turkey on Thanksgiving Day. This will be like the twelve days of Christmas but Thanksgiving style, and instead of giving gifts over those twelve days, you take away something each day for a week. Things you can take away gradually to grow gratitude in your home for the stuff we take for granted.
Here are the ground rules, so listen closely.
- Once something is taken away it is gone until Thanksgiving, so whatever is gone on day one is gone the entire week, day two is gone for the next six days… and so on…
- If your children (or husband) cheat and use whatever has been taken away when they go to a friends house, etc, the penalty is extra help on the big turkey day (for example, dish duty or extra chores, you get the gist, yeah?)
- Make sure you have a good hiding place in the house so as to encourage participation from everyone when you take their stuff away. You know, where you hide all the Halloween Candy and Christmas presents. That place. 😉
- Lastly, make the most out of this! Make it a positive, uplifting experience! At the end of the week, meet together and talk about gratitude and being thankful for all you have. Encourage everyone to record in their journals what they learned from the experience, and make this a tradition every year!
Day One: No Television.
Say, what?! The first thing is no T.V.?! How are we going to survive seven days like this?! I know, I know, I think I’m a little crazy making this the first to go too but I know it will be the best way to kick off the week of gratitude. Start with the hardest and everything else from this day forward will be a piece of cake. Talk to one another instead of having the T.V. interrupting, read that book you’ve been setting aside to binge watch your show or learn something new with all the time you have.
Day Two: No Dishwasher.
This means the electrical dishwasher doesn’t work, and the mom dishwasher doesn’t work. Make sure your kiddos wash their dishes by hand when they are done with their meals. For five years of my college and newlywed life, I did not have the luxury of an automatic dishwasher, my two hands did all the washing. Let’s give our kids a little preparation before that day comes for them because if they aren’t prepared they will become just like my roommates who let the dishes pile up like no one’s business leaving me to clean up after them. And that’s just not right.
Day Three: One Bathroom.
You heard me. Just one. You know, I’m getting a lot of these ideas from flashbacks of my college years so go with me on this. I had to share one bathroom with six girls who never cleaned, it changed me. And now my husband and I have a luxurious two sink vanity! It’s enough to spoil those children if you ask me.
So lock up those other bathrooms in the house. All but one. Preferably the smallest bathroom in the house. You will have to schedule times everyone will have to use the toilet, shower, and sink and depending on how many kids this can get hectic. Grow closer together by being closer together.
Day Four: No Microwave.
This may be hard for you, I know, but don’t lose your grit! A lot of families across the world don’t have microwaves, and if you were like my husband and me when we were newlyweds you were without a microwave for a good portion of your life too. Heat everything up on the stove or eat it cold!
Day Five: Drip Dry.
(Oh no, did I forget to wash all of the towels in the house for your shower? Too bad…) On day five, hide all the bath towels in that secret place that you know no one will look for them and leave everyone to either drip dry after their shower or some other creative way! This is gonna be fun, especially with only one bathroom. Laugh through it and find the gratitude in multiple bathrooms in the end.
Day Six: No Toys/No Social Media.
Take away your children’s favorite toy and/or their favorite social media site(s). Social media can have more effect on your children and teens than you may realize, take a couple days to track and monitor their activity and keep them from those sites so they can feel free from social obligations and standards! It’s really a gift to them to take it away. 😉 And this can be an excuse to have that conversation about proper social media usage!
As for the little ones who aren’t on social media yet, it’s all about the toys! Take away that simple and immediate entertainment to help them get creative to be entertained. Play some board games or pull out those books and read the day away! And in two days, top it all off by doing a cleanse with the toys. Give your kiddos the great privilege of donating those toys that have collected dust to children at the local homeless shelter. This will open their eyes to a world that they don’t see every day!
Day Seven: No Heat/Air Conditioning.
This is last because in our modern day I’m not sure how many houses would really be able to survive a whole week without Heat and Air Conditioning. So if you live in a warm climate around Thanksgiving time tell your family the Gratitude fairy just took away the Air Conditioning for a day and a night, and if it’s cold where you live to say the heater is now broken and bundle up!
There are many people living on the streets year-round that have to use all sorts of different tactics to stay warm or cool. Get creative with your kids and problem solve. Use the fireplace for once or that crappy old fan that sits in your window. Or turn on the oven a few times during the day and night to warm up! Try to help your kids feel how you felt when you were young and all you had was a swamp cooler or space heater. And if it gets really cold, make a fort in the living room and snuggle up for a sleepover!
Lastly, Day Eight: Thanksgiving Day.
The day everything magically returns and life goes back to what it was before. The kids will be celebrating by turning on that tv again, heating up their first thing in the microwave, showering with towels and all giddy about the luxurious life they didn’t know they had! How amazing the perspective you can give yourself, your husband and your family by taking the time to take away the things that make life a little easier so you can better appreciate what you have.
Thanks for sharing our tradition! And please tell me how it goes with your family, let’s talk about it in the comments! Happy Holidays to all, and cheers to the New Year!