Connection: The system of chemical rewards

SONYA LEUSINK-SLADEN
Last updated 13:33 24/06/2014
mother and child
FEELING'S MUTUAL: Routines that encourage regular connection and communication benefit both mother and child.

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Connecting with your kids is about being really close in a moment with them. Last fortnight I pointed out the benefits of it to our children, and highlighted that mums gain from it too.

To thrive and enjoy the motherhood experience, regular intimate contact with our littlies is essential. It's about what goes on in our mummy brains when we do it.

We get feelings of wellbeing whenever we connect with our bubbas. It's chemical reward system that probably would have aided our survival as a species.

I had heard about it as important for our children's development. But no-one points out that it's also important for mothers. I struggled to adjust and didn't enjoy being a mum at all in the beginning to be honest . . . think this helps. It [brain chemistry response] makes sense to me as I am a scientist and I need to understand why!. . . . - Mother of one.

The subject prompted a range of responses and thoughts from mothers contributing to The Motherhood Project. Here are some of the kinds of ways we can connect with our kids.

SLOW DOWN AND BE MORE AWARE

Sharing moments need not be an extra thing to fit into a busy day. Sometimes it is about being more tuned in to the moment. Stop, watch and reconnect.

I believe it is very important to connect, though it can take effort to stop what you doing and re-focus. Taking the moments that arise as that was a bit of advice which was relayed to me as a first time mum. Grabbing the moment like studying a bug which my son has discovered in the garden or playing hide and seek. The greatest thing we can give our kids is our time. - Mother of two.

When my son is busy engaged in play and after watching him for a while, I'll come alongside him and it's like he shows me what he is doing. - Mother of one.

SHIFT OUR THINKING AROUND EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES

For mothers who must divide their attentions between children and their activities, running a household and the business of everyday life, connecting with children may seem like just another thing to try to squeeze in. But it needn't be.

A shift in thinking about how we engage in "the stuff we have to do anyway', like changing a nappy, having a bath, or getting dressed . . .", gives us ample opportunity to connect. Being more mindful during any interaction is a great way to be connected.

We connect very simply by ensuring that we all sit down around the table for the evening meal and share about the day. Sometimes we use this time to go around the table sharing highs and lows of the day or week. - Mother of six.

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When I dress him and change his nappy I sing songs and play little games with him. - Mother of one.

CREATE ROUTINES OR SET UP REGULAR ACTIVITIES THAT ENCOURAGE CONNECTION

Routines are about creating patterns of activity that we do consistently. Children thrive on routine, and building intimate routines into our daily or weekly patterns is a good way to ensure we are well connected. Creating a new daily routine around connection is an easy way to ensure we have moments of intimacy.

We try to enjoy simple pleasures like going out together in the weekend for a walk together e.g. Sunday afternoon or playing cards, games or doing jigsaws together. We try to have one day a week where we turn off TV/computers/DVDs etc and have a technology free day. At the moment we do not have TV and we have found it a much better environment for doing more reading and doing more together. - Mother of six.

We have a book reading thing each day first thing when we get back from day-care - before anything else. We walk in the door, dump the bags, get our play or ‘at home' clothes on, and read some books. - Mother of two.

GET AWAY FROM THE HOUSE

There are always distractions at home. A phone rings and we have to get it, the washing machine cycle ends and we need to hang the washing out, the kitchen is a mess and needs cleaning before the in-laws turn up, and so on. Sometimes the best way to connect with our kids is to have regular activities that take us away from those distractions. Like going to the Library for a book reading marathon, to the beach for a walk in the front-pack, or to the park with a blanket for baby to wiggle on and do some tummy time.

The other activity which works well for us is going to the swimming pool. The boys love showing me how they can float and dive down, and I have to attentively watch each demonstration. However it is a good activity for bringing us all closer and is something that we all enjoy doing. - Mother of two.

  • Do you find this helpful? Let us know what you think about The Motherhood Project and its ideas. Email Sonya at themotherhoodproject@xtra.co.nz.

- The Nelson Mail

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