Building strong connections with others is essential to life as a parent
For many parents, albeit mothers in particular, feelings of loneliness and isolation as part of the parenthood journey come as a complete surprise. During the early stages, there is so much focus on the birth and the first month or two after bringing bub home that little thought is given to the reality of what life will look like once we are caring for a child 24/7.
More than 90 percent of mothers admit to feeling lonely after having their first child. Although prevalent, many first-time mothers keep their experience of loneliness to themselves; trying to hide their feelings from partners and other people in their life.
And the loneliness and isolation felt as a parent (mum or dad) doesn’t necessarily go away as the kids grow up.
As busy parents, we often unintentionally invest less in our relationships with those around us as we focus on nurturing our children. This tends to happen much more with friends that either don’t have kids or have kids that are significantly older. Often, parents feel like they don’t have anything in common anymore, or that having to arrange catch-ups around their kids is too hard or burdensome for their friends.
Even as a working parent surrounded by co-workers every day, it can feel extremely lonely. Working parents tend to want to be more productive so that they can leave work on time and get home to their kids. This reduces the time to chat about office happenings, which can also make them feel out of the loop. Even if a parent was to strike up a conversation with someone at work, outside interests and activities of childless co-workers are likely to be very different from their own.
Being connected to others socially is widely considered by experts of psychology, neuroscience, and sociology as a fundamental human need. It is crucial to both wellbeing and survival.
As a parent, connecting with people and maintaining strong, positive friendships is essential to living a happier life. The old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ holds an enormous amount of truth; we can’t go through parenthood alone.
Strengthening bonds with our partner, family members, friends and colleagues not only helps relationships grow; it can also provide some added benefits to our overall wellbeing.
Here are 7 small actions that are proven to contribute to the strengthening of an existing relationship, and don’t take much time.
Of course we enjoy a nice smooch with our partners, but when was the last time you properly kissed one another? Kissing is a wonderful way to connect with each other, or even start something more.
Kissing can also reduce blood pressure, help prevent cavities by getting saliva flowing, as well as giving us a mini facelift by working our facial muscles, especially through deep kissing. Kissing also increases self-esteem by making us feel loved.
Aim to give your partner a good snog every day to reinforce your feelings for one another.
Hug Longer Than 20 Seconds
Hugging comes more naturally to some people, and is appropriate for certain types of relationships more than others, but it gives us many benefits.
A whole-hearted embrace gives a sense of security and reduces stress. This reduction in stress helps our physical health and mental wellbeing. This is why kids always feel better after a hug when they’ve had a fall or are upset.
Hugging also stimulates the release of several neurotransmitters in our brains; serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone that gives us a good feeling. Serotonin is another naturally produced drug that makes us feel good, reduces pain and increases feelings of happiness. Oxytocin helps us feel trust and a sense of safety.
Look for opportunities to give someone a big warm hug… or start asking for them.
We have two ears and only one mouth so we should listen twice as much as we speak, but we rarely do. More often, when someone is speaking, we are only waiting for our turn to speak rather than listening to what they have to say.
Listening is more than just hearing the words that someone says. When we listen, we should be trying to understand the person talking. When they have finished speaking, ask yourself: what was the meaning that they were trying to get across? What were they feeling as they spoke? What is important to them? Then ask any questions that you need to that will help clarify their meaning.
Unlike hugging, cuddling is not defined by arms and bodies connecting in a specific way. Cuddling could be anything from touching foreheads together, leaning against each other, or sitting side by side with an arm around someone.
Cuddling can be very powerful emotionally, socially, physically and mentally; so much so that there are even ‘cuddle clubs’ popping up around the world to facilitate hugs for those deeply in need of human connection.
Mistakes happen and when someone says “I’m sorry,” harbouring resentment will only make us unhappy. Punishing that person by withholding forgiveness will eventually eat away at our own inner peace.
Forgiveness releases the tension between two people and allows them to start over. There may be need of a period of rebuilding trust, which can be painful, but start by accepting that this person is a human being. Forgiveness is what you would want if you made a mistake, so give someone else this gift.
They say that laughter is the best medicine and whether or not we need it for healing, we should definitely be laughing more often.
You don’t need to perform a comedy routine, but if you already know how to make someone giggle, see if you can increase how often you do it.
Find the humour in daily situations and share it with a friend or family member. If you put on two mismatched socks, show your partner your silly mistake and have a laugh at your own expense.
Laughter relieves tension and creates an emotional bond of joy with someone close to us.
Say “I Love You”
How often we tell a loved one that we love them doesn’t equate to how much we love them, but doing it more will strengthen the bond. Expressing love out loud is a way of confirming that we care.
More often we demonstrate our love through our actions, like preparing meals with love. Actions speak louder than words, but don’t forget that words have tremendous power also.
Remember! Happiness is contagious; by doing what makes you feel happy when connecting with someone creates happiness for that person too. Before you know it, you will have surrounded yourself with happy people!
If you need any help with strengthening connections in your workplace, or would like to know more about our parent support programs, then please give us a call today on 0402 294 953. We’d love the opportunity to help!