An experiment in hugs

"We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." ~ Virginia Satir


I read an article on the interwebs awhile ago via a pin on Pinterest with that quote as the subtitle. Isn't that pinteresting? I thought, as I clicked the link. It went on to discuss ten ways in which a parent could connect with their child from the moment they woke up, during the day, and right on up until bedtime. I really enjoyed the article, but of all of the suggestions, the one that hit me the hardest was the 12 hugs one.

I am a huge hugger. I love them. It comes as no surprise to the people who know me best: I am a highly affectionate person. Hugs are perfection to me. I love to embrace a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time, my child when he or she is crying from a skinned knee, and my therapist after each monthly appointment. My family is especially big on bear hugs. I remember being hugged frequently growing up, and hugs became even more meaningful to me after I left home for college. My parents were on the verge of tears when they finished moving me into my dorm and we were hugging goodbye. Me, not so much. I could taste freedom, fun, and the excitement of being on my own for the first time in my life. But three months later when I drove home for fall break, I was the one on the teary side of the hug. Comes back around, I guess.

There is just something so wonderful about having someone wrap his or her arms around you. You immediately feel loved. It is the ultimate expression of caring for someone, in my opinion. It feels good.

Hugs are so simple. So why don’t we give them more often?

After reading the article, I made it a point to aim for twelve hugs for each of my kids the next day. I think I ended up with six or so (if even that many) hugs during the day. Wow. That was harder than I thought it was going to be. Maybe it is really important. Whenever something is hard (think eating right or exercising) then it is usually a pretty important habit for us to add to our daily routine. Plus, if hugs make us feel so much better, this is a no-brainer, right? I started thinking about my hug distribution approach.

So, four hugs a day for survival, huh? I know I give the kids each about that number a day, but shame on me, my marriage is barely surviving. I thought about our normal routine - a hug and quick kiss in the morning before he leaves for work, and another one when he comes home. Sometimes a squeeze while one of us cooks dinner, and occasionally a snuggle in bed before falling asleep. Most days we were barely getting by on our usual disbursement of hugs.

This family needs more HUGS, I thought. It was time to plan my strategy.

Mornings I can definitely get a bunch under my belt to start the day off on a good foot. I’ll give the hubby a snuggle hug in bed before we rise and shine to start our busy days. The kids will each get a good squeeze to wake them up with a smile. Once I have their breakfast ready at the table, I’ll hug them each before sitting them down to eat. In order to transition from breakfast to the next step in our morning routine, I’ll send my husband off to work with a hug and kiss and will hug each kiddo before taking them upstairs to get dressed and brush teeth. When I drop them off at Mom’s Morning Out or preschool, I’ll give each another embrace to send them off to play, and when I pick them up I’ll give them each a great big bear hug and kiss to tell them how much I missed them. At home before nap time, I’ll give each kid a cuddle hug to tuck them in, and when they wake up two hours later I’ll hug them again.

(In case you’re keeping track here, we’re up to two husband hugs and seven hugs for each kiddo.)

Whenever someone has a meltdown or in case of a sibling squabble, the fix is easily a hug. This is typically the case for us when we’re late and need to get a trip to the potty, shoes on and coats on, all within a five minute span which can be next to impossible sometimes so it usually calls for a hug to help calm the situation.

By dinnertime, we're usually at eight to nine hugs. After dinner, we tickle-wrestle and hug before heading upstairs for bathtime and bedtime. There are hugs given as we pull the sopping wet children from the tub to wrap them in warm, fluffy towels. While reading stories in bed, we each hold a kid in our arms, wrapping them with love. And a final hug once the books are read and it is time to turn out the light. My husband and I hug again after the kids are asleep, while brushing our teeth before bed, and before closing our eyes for the night. It feels good to give and receive so many hugs in a day. Makes me feel more complete, happier, closer to my family.

This little hug experiment taught me a great deal about the amount of affection I currently share with my family and friends. Starting this year I am making it a habit to hug more, hug often, and hug with all my heart.

Why? Because I'm scared of the day when I won't be able to hug them, when one of us is no longer here. I want to be sure to give and receive as many hugs as I can because hugs are quite possibly, one of God's most amazing gifts that He gave us: the ability to put your arms around someone you care about to show them your love and affection, your support, your thankfulness for just being there.

Hug your spouse more, hug your kids more, hug your friends and family more. I’m pretty sure they’ll return the favor.


Have you had your twelve hugs today?