I have a little parenting secret: 6 Mississippi’s. I do it daily with my girls. Ten doses a day keeps the blues away. And helps strengthen my connection with my kids.
What are 6 Mississippi’s? Heartfelt hugs held for: 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi… you get the picture.
Research shows the benefits of hugging: decreases blood pressure, stress, anxiety, and depression; helps increase empathy; improves self-esteem; reduces loneliness; boosts memory; lowers risk of heart disease; improves immune system; reduces fatigue; reduces cravings (good this time of year!); and may even help you stay younger! Best of all, it helps to improve your bond with your hugging partner. All of these benefits happen because hugs help release oxytocin and dopamine, important hormones that play a major role in bonding and happiness.
I usually prolong my hugs with my kids well beyond 6 seconds: 20 seconds is considered the ideal for maximum benefit. Additionally, I maximize every opportunity to cuddle. An extra five minutes in bed to cuddle with my little ones is well worth being a few minutes late. We all start the day off so much better than when we’re rushed and yelling at each other to get out the door.
Today was a particularly cuddly day, in which I spent 20-60 minutes with each of my kids and my husband cuddling. And you know what, we had a glorious day. My children played excellent together. It was a relaxed, happy household today and we all enjoyed each other’s company. I personally felt so much more relaxed, never thought once about what I “should” be doing, and just enjoyed every minute. I was more present with my kids. I was the mom I always try to strive to be.
It doesn’t take much: just the commitment to make it happen every day. Even those days when I am stressed, busy, tired or frustrated and the last thing I want to do is give anyone a hug. Those are the days I need them the most. So do my kids. It helps ground us all and reconnect. And makes me realize nothing is more important in the whole entire world. So, that’s my secret to you: 6 Mississippi’s. Enjoy!