One of the things I have loved, loved, LOVED about being momma to baby M are the pre-nap snuggles.
My third baby is the only one who truly loves to snuggle with me. Even as infants, S and C would wiggle in my arms as I rocked and sang to them before nap. They weren’t upset, they just wanted to look around – at the room, at the fan, even at me.
They were never fully relaxed enough to snuggle up as I had envisioned they would. Eventually I came to terms with it, figuring that’s just how babies actually were.
Then little M entered my life.
The first four months of his life were literally, one long hug. He never wanted to be anywhere but on me. So that’s where he stayed, 24/7, living and sleeping in his carrier during the day and sleeping right next to me at night.
Eventually he grew out of it but even when he started sleeping and napping in his own crib at around 5 months, everyday before sleep time he’d still bury his little head into the crook of my neck, nuzzle his chest right up against mine, and hug me contently until I lowered him to his crib.
It was heaven.
Everyday at that time I would experience actual, physical sensations of joy and it always reminded me of the instant euphoria I felt when the nurses placed my first child, C, on my chest right after he was born.
The undeniable impact these baby hugs had on me and my mood got me thinking a lot about hugs and happiness. And then I saw this clip on “the right way to hug” on The Today show (it’s at the end, around the 3:30 mark) and, despite the fact that Hoda and Kathy truly suck at it, I just knew that our next Happy Family Habit had to be all about the hug.
So I asked our contributor Kristin to do a little research on the science of it all. Here’s what she found…
There’s nothing better than the smell of a newborn. That squishy skin and fluffy hair just makes you want to snuggle all day long. As they grow, you get to the stage where they are pushing off and ready to go explore the world.
They come back for cuddles, but the older children get, the more independent they become.
That’s a wonderful and healthy process but have you noticed that as we propel through adulthood, we cuddle less. Our amount of daily hugs goes down. And here’s the crazy thing, studies show that we need hugs to maintain emotional health.
In fact, when it comes to staying healthy, Hugs are underrated! They boost everything from oxytocin levels to self-esteem. There’s also added benefits like lowering our stress level, relaxing our muscles and creating a sense of safety.
I’m a mom of middle-schoolers and a teenager. As the kids have grown, I’ve made it a goal to never stop hugging, snuggling or cuddling.
I guess I just figured if I never stopped, it would never be awkward to start it back up again!
I know many of you are moms of younger children, so don’t forget to keep hugging every day. Even when they are growing and stretching and sometimes moody, they still need hugs.
A great time to get in some ‘together-ness’ is on the couch at night.
We may be reading or watching TV, but when we all get on our big sectional couch, we get close. We share blankets and the dog even gets in on the affection.
I’ve noticed that my kids now initiate the hugging. If it becomes a constant in their life, they start to crave it.
The “Right Way” to Hug
Of course any hug is a worthwhile endeavor, but there’s actual science the best kinds of hugs we can give our kids – how cool is that?
Hugs in which each participants heart is pressed up against the others’ stimulate the thymus gland. This regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which in turn keeps you healthy and disease free.
Don’t Let Go Before Six
Another study shows that the hugs should be about 6 seconds long for maximum happiness benefits.
This seems like a long time. But, if you think about it, doesn’t a long embrace communicate much more than a quick and abrupt hug?
When my kids were younger, I used to make them hug it out when they had a squabble. It was part of the saying I’m sorry and I thought it would help them to really forgive one another.
But then I noticed that the hugs were obligatory, so I told them they had to hug until they were laughing. It’s funny how you can’t really be angry at someone when you are that close to them. The long hugs melted away the issues into giggles.
Get in 6 to 10 a Day!
So, how can you get all those hugs into your day? Start by hugging when kids wake up and are going to bed.
Kids are calmer as they are beginning and ending their day, so it’s a natural place to start. You can also fit hugs in as you are greeting them, think school aged children leaving and coming home from school.
And any time you are stationary (like on the couch), you can have a child tucked under your arm, getting in a few more hugs.
Send a Virtual Hug
Steph here again and I’m so happy you’re still reading! Since we’re covering such a loving topic today, I wanted to update you guys on another project of love we’ve got going here on the blog.
While that shop is now closed, I’m so thrilled to be able to report back that through your efforts:
You Guys Raised Over $1200 to Help Families on the Brink of Hunger & Homelessness!
What You Can Do Now
All I can say is you guys are amazing!! So now, of course, we want to help again!!
It’s my great pleasure to announce that:
10% of all MPMK e-product sales for the months of June and July, 2015 will once again go to help out the families supported by Hopelink.
I should also mention that with the official start of summer on the horizon, you only have a few more days to take advantage of the “Save Your Spring” bundle pack…
Three of our most popular products, each at 25% off:
- The Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life 2015 Printables Pack PDF – 38 PDF pages in all
- The Camp Mom Activities Pack PDF – An 84 page PDF perfect for keeping the kids busy over spring and summer breaks
- The Kids Responsibilities & Money Management Pack PDF – routine charts, chore charts, allowance ledgers and more!
Bought separately, these PDFs would be $23.97 but for a limited time you can get them all for only $17.97.
Get yours today and welcome a calmer, happier summer with your family while supporting a truly great cause!
At it’s core, Hopelink is an organization dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families and children in just about every way conceivable. What has always impressed me most about this truly incredible organization is the comprehensive ways in which they serve their families – from summertime meals to kids who receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year to helping a family to keep the heat on during the winter.
They do all this through their Theory of Change:
First, Hopelink services help clients achieve stability through the provision of basic needs, such as shelter and food. By achieving stability, the harmful effects of poverty are eased for all family members. Without the stresses of homelessness or hunger, family members are more able to focus on the next phase of their journey out of poverty.
Second, clients become equipped to exit poverty through the acquisition of skills and knowledge that can permanently change their lives. Clients come to Hopelink earning far from what is considered a living wage—the amount of income it takes to live without any financial assistance. Hopelink works with clients through various programs that can: increase their income, improve their employment potential, maintain stable housing, and when appropriate, advance their education.
Last year alone, Hopelink served more than two-million meals, distributed more than $2.5 million to keep homes warm, provided more than 1,000 home owners with assistance to keep their homes, and provided educational classes to hundreds of adults seeking employment.
Furthermore, Hopelink keeps administrative costs low so that 92 percent of financial support goes directly to helping families in crisis and preventing homelessness.
We are so honored to partner with them and the families they serve!