By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
Here's a riddle for ya: What doesn’t cost a cent, is non-fattening, and we literally NEED it to survive? If you guessed a HUG, you are right! Yes, a good old-fashioned hug! Can you believe it? Something so simple as a hug is actually a necessary part of our survival as human beings. The reason for this is that when we hug or are hugged our body releases oxytocin (a hormone that reduces that stress producing hormone cortisol). So, the more hugs we have, the better we can handle the stresses life throws in our path. In fact, Psychotherapist Virginia Satir found out that we literally NEED 4 hugs a day, just to survive, 8 hugs for our maintenance, and for 12 hugs a day for growth!
Just how powerful is a hug anyway? If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then it might not surprise you that 12 hugs a day might just do the trick as well. Medically speaking, a 10 second hug has a powerful effect on our health. It not only does wonders by lowering blood pressure, but it can fight fatigue and infections, improve your immune system, and ease depression. And if that is not enough, hugs have a positive effect on child development and IQ, and actually boost their self-esteem as well as their ability to project self-love as an adult. I like the sound of that!
The very thought of all of those great benefits makes me hope that we will say . . .
I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins
Well, I like winning, don’t you? And I like having my children win. And if it means that I get to smother them with hugs and kisses, then so be it! In some wonderful way that we may not fully comprehend, hugs have the power to invisibly heal and lift. We might even call hugs our secret weapon to helping our children feel special and loved! With or without a word, a hug says, “You are so wonderful! I’m so glad you’re mine!” In times of stress, they communicate, “I’m here for you.” “Let’s work together.” When our children are sad, a hug reaches out and says, “I feel your pain,” or after a conflict, “Let’s start over.” And don’t forget the times of rejoicing, “I can’t believe this! You are SO amazing!”
We probably don’t have to worry too much about getting in our quota of hugs for the day. I believe that most of these will come naturally. We’ll greet our children in the morning with an “I’m so glad to see you” hug and enfold them in love with a “you’re the best” hug before they go to sleep. We’ll give them a quick “wishing you a happy day” hug on their way out the door and an “I’m SO glad you’re home” hug when they return. We’ll remember a “Hope you feel better soon” hug to sooth the sickies and an “I’m sorry” hug to help mend a quarrel. And at any moment throughout the day, we’ll slip in a “how are you doing?” hug and or an impromptu heart to heart “You are a joy in my life!” hug.
One way or another, we’ll wrap our arms and our hearts around our families, we’ll let our words match our actions, and we’ll let them know that rain or shine, they are the best thing that ever happened to us – a true win-win, and all thanks to our secret weapon.
Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there.
Ours boasts it quiet openly,
The signs are everywhere...
For smears on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children,
And we played and laughed and read,
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I'm forced to choose:
The one job or the other,
I’d like to cook, and clean, and scrub...
But first I’ll be a MOTHER.
By Kandis Lake, RN, BSN, guest blog post contributer
Parenting can be challenging for everyone, but parenting with a chronic or life altering illness brings a unique set of difficulties. It is important for you to accept outside support and take it easy on yourself. Realize there are many simple ways you can be an amazing parent, even if you're not feeling up to doing many activities.
Use Outside Support
Don't hesitate to seek and accept outside help. Get help with childcare, housework, meals, or whatever you feel in need of.
It has been found that new mothers with outside support are more optimistic about parenting. That finding could apply to any stage or situation in parenting, and it makes sense that if you're more optimistic about something you will feel happier doing it. If you’re happier parenting, you will show up in more positive ways for your child. Because of this, accepting help will benefit not only you, but your child as well.
It could be beneficial to talk to a trusted person about your feelings surrounding your difficult circumstance. If you're struggling to cope, you may benefit from seeing a counselor who can help you work through your emotions.
Take it Easy on Yourself
Taking care of a child is a lot of hard work. It is more consuming physically, emotionally, and mentally than any other job. Add illness on top of it, and there is no doubt a need for as much rest as possible. Let yourself rest whenever you can without feeling guilty about it.
Focus On The Ways You Can Parent Well
You may feel disappointed or feel a loss if you are unable to do active physical activities with your child. It's okay to feel that way, but it is important to remember that your value as a parent isn't dependent on how much or what things you do. You can love your kid and bond with them in many simple yet profound ways.
Find ways to make deep and meaningful connections with your child through spending time together. Some ways bonding can occur without expending a lot of physical energy can include
snuggling on the couch, talking, reading, or drawing together.
You could take turns telling stories. Try pulling up a list of questions for your child to answer, and as a bonus, audio record them giving their answers on your phone as a form of journaling. Listen to audiobooks together (you can check them out online from the library) or a podcast with children's stories. Color, draw, or watch movies together.
Having a secure relationship with your child will bring many benefits for both of you. Your child will have an increased feeling of stability and confidence, have resilience in difficult times, and a better ability to navigate difficult emotions. Connecting with your child will bring you joy and fulfillment amidst the difficulties of your illness.
Hugging and cuddling your child even has benefits for both of you. Hugging and cuddling causes the brain to release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin contributes to bonding with others and has many other health benefits as well. Oxytocin has been known to decrease stress, bring blood pressure down, increase pain tolerance, and help with anxiety.
As a parent with a chronic or life altering illness, you deserve to go easy on yourself. Don't hesitate to seek and accept the outside support you need, as this will benefit you and your child. Focus on all the ways you can parent well, and do those things to create meaningful connections with your child.
Crnic, K. A., Greenburg, M. T., Ragozin, A. S., Robinson, N. M., & Basham, R. B. (1983, Feb.). Effects of Stress and Social Support on Mothers and Premature and Full-Term Infants. Child Development, 54(1), 209-217. 10.2307/1129878
Uvnas-Moberg, K., & Petersson, M. (2005). Oxytocin, ein Vermittler von Antistress, Wohlbefinden, sozialer Interaktion, Wachstum und Heilung [Oxytocin, a mediator of anti-stress, well-being, social interaction, growth and healing]. Z Psychosom Med Psychother, 51(1), 57-80. 10.13109/zptm.2005.51.1.57
Kandis Lake, the author, is a professional health writer and can be found at www.healthwriterkandis.com
Written by Cindy Thomsen, Momivate's Director of Schedules & Systems. Originally published on her personal blog and reprinted here with her permission.
In answering the question, "What do Moms DO anyway??" Momivate declares that Moms R.A.I.S.E. U.P. society! The "A" in RAISE UP stands for Atmosphere. Moms, we create the haven we call home. With intention and deliberate effort, we contribute to the well being of our family's mentality through a pleasant atmosphere. Momivate is currently looking for a Director of Atmosphere! If you read the following blog post and feel like this is an area where you have strong desires to make an impact, please fill out our application!
Have you been in a home that just feels nice and you really can’t put a finger on it? There are things you can do to increase the overall feeling and good atmosphere in your home. Take a minute to observe your home. What is the overall feeling your home gives off? What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste as you look around? Using the 5 senses can help you set the tone in your home and improve the overall good feelings there.
Cindy's original blog post gives TONS of great ideas here: http://resilientmotherhood.net/how-to-use-the-senses-to-create-a-happy-home-environment/
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