In March 2006, when Joey was 3, I decided that at bedtime I would tell Joey what he did that day that I appreciated. Each night I'd tell him, and he always told me what he appreciated that I did also. Here's a sampling from 2 years ago (because that is when I was writing them down):
Mommy: "Joey, I appreciated that you went in to go potty right away when we came up to get ready for bed."
Joey: "I'm happy 'for that' you played with me today."
Joey: "You read me stories."
Joey: "You washed my blanket."
Joey: "You took my plate into the kitchen for me.
Mommy: "When I said it was time to leave the park, you came right away."
Joey: "You buckled my seat belt."
Mommy: "I liked that you noticed I had cleaned up your room and that you made a point to tell me and to thank me."
Joey: "I liked that you made me pick up the purple grass." (He had strewn Easter grass all over the house)
Mommy: "I liked the way you crawled on the carpet on your hands and knees with your muddy feet up in the air (without me even knowing they were muddy) when you came in the house, so to not get mud on the floor." (How did he know to do that??)
Joey: "I liked that you put a sign with my name on my bed."
Mommy: "I liked the way you got right back up and tried again when you fell on your roller skates today."
Joey: "I liked the way you gave me hugs today."
Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way of what really matters. We have dropped this routine and picked it back up again several times in the last 25 months - having just picked it up again recently. It feels so good to know about little things you did or said that didn't go unnoticed - and on the flip side, it feels even better to express appreciation for someone. Especially when they are things that might normally be left unsaid. Sometimes I have to rack my brain to think of something to tell him I appreciated, and other days I say 2 or 3 different things. On those days when I have to really think hard of something to come up with - either due to a bad day or a rushed, non-connecting day - I feel so good to have made myself realize something I appreciated in him ... to bring myself back to what really matters.
It's our sunshine at night.