A hot topic recently in my local Mommy2mommy group was thank yous and specifically thank you cards. As a parent of two kids I am constantly receiving help from the community around us. I am not one to ask for help because of my stubborn and determined personality. I like to do things myself, make mistakes, and grow better knowing I worked hard to get there. But when you have kids you just can't do everything yourself. I get so much help from my wonderful hubby but also from our immediate family and friends. If I didn't have them I don't know where I would be. One thing that is important to me is showing my gratefulness for their help. I am not perfect, I forget sometimes. A few weeks ago we found a stack of thank you notes from my daughter's birth (she is 8 months now) that were filled out, stamped and NOT sent. :( It's embarrassing and I feel terrible!
I recently saw a mom complaining that her mother in law doesn't buy the right gifts for her kids- wrong size clothes, wrong style, not age appropriate, pointless toys, etc. She was asking for advice and the point is... it's a gift! You say thank you for a gift. Yes, it's a shame when gifts go to waste because they aren't fit your child but no reason to get upset and/or ruin a relationship. Yes, it's a shame when you would rather have a college savings for your child than another toy to add to the 893,267 s/he already has but a thank you is still in order. The gift is usually given for the joy of the giver which is why they spent their hard earned money on it... so just say thank you!
Last Christmas I witnessed the most heartbreaking thing scene. My aunt had prepared a gift for her granddaughter. Some pajamas, a toy, and a few other small items. Just a small Christmas gift since that is all she could afford. I watched as she gave the gift to her granddaughter who quickly rejected it as "stupid" and not something she wanted. She continued to complain, call it dumb and then walk away telling her mother about it (who just agreed and told her "I know... oh well"). My aunt was heart broken! And it was sad to see how ungratefulness can really ruin someone's day.
But enough with all that drama... here's my take on the Anatomy of A Thank You. I will share the who, what, when, how, and why as well as some tips and tricks that are fun and helpful!
Who: YOU (and/or your kids) thank every person who GIVES a gift, SENDS money, and/or HELPS in a crunch.
What: A thank you note including these four items...
- their name or term of endearment;
- your excitement and love for their thoughtfulness;
- how you intend to use it- FOR A GIFT: I can't wait to put together the train set and play each day, FOR MONEY: Your donation to our diaper fund will help us when baby arrives next month, and FOR HELP: The meal you made for our family after baby was born gave us extra snuggle time that we are so grateful for;
- your personal signature
When: Within 1 week! This one is important... timeliness is key. Honestly, I put it in my calendar as a reminder after events/holidays. Day after Christmas, day after birthday parties, etc. Having a baby is an exception and a little different. We should give new moms a free pass because there is so much going on but I did still try to get as many thank yous out as possible. One tip is to throw a pack of thank you cards in your hospital bag, write a note immediately after a guest who brings a gift leaves from a visit. Plus, you can use them for your favorite (or all) nurses.
How: Thank you cards can be really inexpensive! I stock up on thank you cards when I see a pack for $.50-$1.00. It doesn't have to be a bank breaking process but at the same time just keep in mind the time and money that the person you are thanking put in for you. Here are four tips to make it fun and easy:
- Keep a sheet of forever stamps at your house, when you know an event or holiday is coming up put it on your list to get when you're out running errands next. Some ATMs also offer sheets for a small fee if you don't want to run into the post office.
- Buy a fun return address stamp from Noteworthy (I found a Groupon for $18).
- If you have children print or buy a pack of address labels specifically for them and you can even have some fun with it by putting titles that they will love (Princess, Master, King, Queen, Miss, etc)! This tip came from another mom in the group... I am going to use it! :)
- Include a picture of it in your home, using it, or wearing it.... this is especially true if you have little ones. We have also included personalized artwork in thank you notes before.
Why: You may not think a simple thank you note makes a difference but it truly does. The first year my husband received a birthday card from my grandma he was so surprised he sent a thank you note (on his own... I know... he really is great) and my grandma still, to this day, talks about how she loved getting the note and hearing from him. In addition to making someone's day by letting them know how grateful I am there is a nice feeling of warmth I get too. A great way to inspire gratefulness in your children is to teach them to give. When they give they will see the happiness that comes from their gifts, they will give more and their own gratefulness will continue to grow!
I make it a habit even more so now because being a parent, I am a role model. I am the one who teaches them to be grateful, to NOT be entitled, to understand the Anatomy of a Thank You.
If you never thanked someone would they help you next time you're in need? Would they stop giving? What kind of world would this be?