- KEEP THEM CLOSE
Give me all the cuddles, all the time. Every night I read my daughter (4) a bedtime story.
It’s become a part of our routine over the last four years and if I’m being honest I hope it continues for the next several. Cuddling my baby is the best part of my day. I look at her precious face as she sleeps and it nearly brings tears to my eyes. It’s a gentle reminder to cherish every stage in life, even the tough ones. We all know there are TOUGH ONES.
Those days I wonder how I managed to make it to 8:00 PM with my hair and my child intact.
Those are also the days that I squeeze her a bit tighter because mom guilt, it’s a real thing.
How could I yell at this precious gift God blessed me with?
How could I not have had more patience?
How could I not have made more time?
I promise I’m not taking it for granted.
According to Mayo Clinic hugs can strengthen bonds and release positive hormones.
So take an extra five minutes in the morning to cuddle with your baby.
Release those positive hormones. No matter their age.
It’s a gentle reminder to them that we are always there.
Plus, who can resist?
- TAKE TIME TO LAUGH/BE SILLY
Let’s talk all the embarrassment.
I have two things that most parents, if not all, can relate to.
- Acting out of character to make our babies laugh, especially in the midst of a tantrum.
- Accidently hurting ourselves to hear baby, toddler giggles.
The joys of parenting bring the most incredible childhood memories. Small acts like dancing in the kitchen and making funny faces can get our babies laughing, it doesn’t matter the age. That comfort and relaxation is the key to bonding.
“When your children laugh, it releases hormones that make them feel relaxed and happy,“ according to Jen Mann, author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. I’d imagine that would ring true for all of us, no matter the age. Let these silly moments come naturally, don’t over-think them. I can promise you, as an adult they’ll remember those precious times. I know that even in my 30s those memories from my own childhood, I hold close to my heart.
- READ TO THEM
I remember reading as I was pregnant with Riya.
Sometimes I would read the facts that I found interesting aloud, as if she would better understand. Other times I would read to myself, slowly digesting the information as it came off the pages.
When she entered this world, I knew that it was something special we could share.
It felt so right to cuddle my tiny baby and fill her with words that could bring her joy.
It was a special bonding activity that quickly became a part of our daily, nightly routine.
Reading to our children has so many more benefits that just strengthening our bond though.
Science has shown that reading aloud to our children helps shape their social and emotional development. If we model that behavior it encourages them to retain the habit once they become old enough to read on their own. It’s a great avenue for curiosity and imagination. Carol Ann Moon, a research and instructional outreach librarian at Saint Leo University in Florida spoke a bit more in depth about this in an interview she did.
- LET THEM GET MESSY
I live on 40 acres. Getting messy is a given.
If it washes out and no one gets hurt, I say go for it!
Heck, even if it doesn’t fully wash out and no one gets hurt, I still say go for it.
I might be crazy yes, but let me explain why.
Recent research from the National Art Education Association shows children develop problem-solving, sensory and spatial-awareness skills when they are allowed to get messy. Not all activities are going to be clean and perfectly organized. That’s a life lesson.
Trust me; I know the thought of a mess can cause nearly a heart attack. Let me tell you something, I am a CLEAN FREAK or used to be. Well, I still am… just a more relaxed clean freak. The truth is I got married to a guy that does construction for a living, had the sweetest baby with him and realized there’s more to life than having a spotless house, clean faced children and clean clothes. Let’s be honest, what’s your favorite childhood memories?
I’d be lying if mine where the ones filled with cleanliness. I’d imagine you would be too.
Let your babies be messy, they will thank you 30 years later.
- COOK TOGETHER
This one is one of my favorites. I’ve always had this deep love for baking and cooking.
The warmth that can come from the kitchen, it’s everything to me.
I knew that baking cookies, breads, soups, all of it was going to be something special.
No matter the recipe, old or new, I wanted to share all of it with her, to build memories.
As I did, I noticed that something so simple, like stirring pancake batter, brightened her smile. She felt important and included, satisfied. All while building some of my favorite memories.
“Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: It’s the act of cooking itself,” said Food Journalist Michael Pollan.
Don’t be afraid to teach your babies young.
Don’t be afraid to involve them.
Heck, ask them what they want for dinner.
Brownies might not cut it, obviously.
But it gives them a since of importance.
The meal that they have chosen, make it together.
Then have brownies afterwards.