DISCLOSURE: This blogpost is sponsored by Dreft. All opinions and experiences are mine.
Anyone who knows me personally knows I take baby bonding — and now, daily bonding with my young daughters — very seriously. Every day is an opportunity, whether it’s for five minutes or five hours. Since they’ve been babies, I’ve believed that even the smallest things we might do as moms (to keep us close with our kids as they grow) can add up to big things later.
When my first daughter was born, bonding didn’t necessarily come instantly. It took me a few weeks to settle into my new role as Mommy (my husband was much more at-ease with her than I was). At first I was thrown, but then I realized that bonding is different for all of us as new moms.
When my second daughter was born, I knew what to expect — and had an easier time bonding with her only because I wasn’t such a newbie to the mom-game anymore. Since then, we’ve been The Three Musketeers. The Triple Threat. Three’s Company.
Since the weather’s good here now, a few weeks ago I barked at my girls to get their shoes on and get in the car. “It’s a gorgeous day!” I had way too much coffee. “We’re going to get flowers and plant them!”
My daughters snapped their heads around as they played with their dolls and immediately spat back, “But we’re having fun! We don’t want to go anywhere!”
“You’re coming,” I shot back smiling. They threw on their shoes and hopped in the car. We stopped at the convenience store and got ice cream sandwiches and then parked at the nursery next door. It didn’t take them long to get in the spirit.
“Let’s get these! Or what about these? These purple ones are pretty….” Flower shopping with my ladies was just the boost we needed that day. We shopped, we bought, we loaded our trunk with two huge bags of potting soil and started getting punchy with giggles because it smelled like p-o-o-p — that’s what makes the plants pretty, my dears!
“Mommy that was so fun!” they said on our drive home. Another mother/daughter bonding experience on the books.
Bonding with our kids doesn’t need to be planned.
Bonding with our kids doesn’t need to expensive.
Bonding with our kids happens when we live regular life together – at the grocery store, in our kitchens or shopping for new flowers.
I tend to talk to my daughters in the same way I talk to friends (minus the occasional crude language and inappropriate topics). I have no qualms about sharing my opinion (ie: “I don’t like your friend so-and-so, she doesn’t seem like she treats friends well”), I don’t fear them feeling sad/angry/disappointed if I tell them no/stop/not-happening-today. We’re close, and real close relationships are solid.
How did we get this way?
I talked out loud to/with them from the first day they were born.
Granted, doing this from Day 1 made me feel less lonely and isolated during those early months of new motherhood (as I wrote in my book for first-time moms)… but now I’m convinced this created a firm foundation of trust and love (and now, very talkative young ladies!) that I never imagined. I’d ask questions and talk out loud with my babies about what I was going to eat for breakfast, what they wanted for breakfast (hi, as though they had a choice), when we were going to load up the stroller and go for a walk, when I’d put them down for her nap… even though they couldn’t talk back.
We did laundry together. Not a joke, people. (Life as a mother can sometimes revolve around laundry — we know this). I remember washing baby clothes and blankets before they were born just to smell that super-sweet iconic ‘baby scent’ from Dreft to get myself in the mood for newborn-life. (I remember that time so fondly that, to this day, I’ll often gift a bottle with personal care items to expecting friends in a cute ‘Nesting Kit’…)
Folding that fresh laundry bonded my babies and me — I remember how much that smell of babyhood helped me feel more capable, in-control and closer to my girls, especially on some of those hard days. When my daughters were brand new, I’d prop them in their bouncy-chair next to the dryer and chat with them while I folded their tiny clothes. Little did I know that ‘baby smell’ would actually prove to bond us too — a new survey just found that 8 out of 10 parents say Dreft’s scent helps us parents feel more bonded to their children. 94% of parents say the scent of Dreft reminds us of baby — and when we’re apart, 87% of parents agree that the Dreft scent helps us feel more connected and closer to our little ones. Crazy but true….
Sorting onesies — with my daughters in their baby swings staring and smiling at me — quickly evolved into 3 and 4 year old toddlers throwing clothes in the washer, 5 year olds playing a ‘name who this shirt belongs to’ game (as I folded) and 6 and 7 year olds helping me pour detergent and pushing the start button. Dreft’s purtouch is also the #1 pediatrician & dermatologist recommended baby detergent, hypoallergenic and exclusively formulated to be gentle on baby’s skin — its ingredients are 65% plant-based and it’s earned bio-based certification from the USDA BioPreferred program. I guess doing laundry together has become sort of a kid-raising essential in my house…
I set limits and rules… and rarely ever wavered. Yes, all parents set rules… but I don’t bluff. Never have, most likely never will. I started when they were toddlers and stuck to whatever I said – none of this, “Oh, they’re three, they don’t know any better” nonsense if one of them started screaming at the top of her lungs in a busy restaurant. Now, if I say “There’s no screen time right now,” that means that the TV will *not* be turned on even if two certain little people throw major fits and whine and cry about it. There will also *not* be any more candy if I say “no more candy right now.” No means no — and I don’t cave no matter how loud, persistent and/or obnoxious anyone might get in a grocery store aisle. Sticking to limits isn’t easy, but I’m finding I’ve reaped more long-term respect (and better behavior) from my kids because I started early, stayed strong and maintained steadfast and appropriate control as a parent.
Bonding with our kids like this, every day, in a way that shapes them into responsible people is when real parenting success happens. It also reminds all of us that every life-moment counts towards something bigger and more significant (even the seemingly-mundane ones) because we find ourselves more connected to our kids. And isn’t that the end game?