5 Natural Ways to Be a More Nurturing Mom (When You Don’t Actually Consider Yourself a Naturally Nurturing Mom)

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Last year, a study came out stating that a mother’s nurturing love changes a child’s brain. Most people read this and think, awesome, I got this, one brilliant mind coming right up. I read this study and think, oh dear, I’m going to ruin my child’s brain. Because you see, I don’t think I’m all that nurturing. I think of nurturing moms as sweet June Cleaver types, baking cookies, doing crafts, hugging away. And I really want to be June Cleaver, but friends, I’m just not. I’m a high energy, working mom who is balancing 87 things and labels a day an extreme success if everyone brushes their teeth. Adding to this, I grew up in a state where problems or setbacks were met with a prompt “walk it off,” “put some dirt on it,” and “I’ve had worse cuts on my lip and kept on a whistling.” Nurturing doesn’t come naturally.

That’s why I have to be mindful of it. I have to try harder than many. I have to build it in to my consciousness and my schedule. And honestly, I hate building things into my schedule. But recently, my friend Susan reminded me of the Five Love Languages that adults have…and I figured it would work for kids too (the guys who developed this agreed and have written a whole book for kids. (I recently ordered it; It’s a quick read and it makes sense.) And I must say, applying these five lovely elements to communications with my son is totally making a difference … at least for me. It’s helping me be more mindful of the exchanges I have with him. It’s shifting my brain to be in the moment, and to be more intentional and purposeful in my interactions. It’s like a little check list I have in my own mind … and if I can cover each one every day, well, I’m feeling pretty darn nurturing. And I like that.

Here’s what’s working for me.

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  • 1. Words: Just Say It. Words of Affirmation 2 of 6
    1. Words: Just Say It. Words of Affirmation
    There are hundreds of opportunities everyday to do this. And it's really so easy. To mix things up, I try to be as specific as possible. And instead of leading with a freakout like, "Why are you holding that live frog?!", I try to chill (as long as he's not running out into the street or anything) and say things like "I see how you're trying to turn that live frog into a Lego Robot. That's creative." These are the kinds of things that come up on a regular basis. "I love you" is always nice too.
  • 2. Deeds: Just Do It. Acts of Service 3 of 6
    2. Deeds: Just Do It. Acts of Service
    This could be doing laundry or cooking a meal, for sure. Because that's service. But that doesn't always translate as personal. For our son, it's getting involved and working in things that he values. And believe me, I'd rather wash 8,000 dishes than coach a soccer team. I also feel 8,000 times more nurturing when I'm actually attempting to get out of my task list and do an act of service for my son.
  • 3. Time: Just Make It. Quality Time 4 of 6
    3. Time: Just Make It. Quality Time
    For me, there is no such time as finding time ... there is only making time. And it makes sense to me to make it. My son is teaching me how to play chess. That should take about 5 years... so lots of time there.
  • 4. Touch: Just Reach Out. Physical Touch. 5 of 6
    4. Touch: Just Reach Out. Physical Touch.
    I figure I have about 5 more minutes that my son will let me hold his hand. So I try to remember to reach for it every chance I get. Hugs are priceless too.
  • 5. Gifts: Just Give From the Heart. Receiving Gifts 6 of 6
    5. Gifts: Just Give From the Heart. Receiving Gifts
    This one is actually tricky for me. Not the giving part ... that's actually easy. We all have so much stuff thrown at us to buy and give and consume. No. Not that. Buying more unnecessary plastic items is easy, brainless, and pointless. I'm talking about giving thoughtfully. Writing your child a letter is a great gift. Simple things. Personal things. You know your kid. Give from the heart. Photo by Leslie Fandrich


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