Sure, it’s great to think about morning rituals for yourself, like drinking lemon water or doing some morning stretches. But what about morning rituals for relationships?
How can you connect with loved ones in the tiny spaces between pouring your coffee and jamming your power cord into your work bag? You only need a few seconds for these superb habits of connection.
Make the first thing you say to a loved one something positive
“I’m so happy waking up next to you.”
“I’m so glad you’re my son.”
“Thanks for being so quiet this morning when you got up before your baby brother.”
“I’m making you something special for breakfast! Can you guess what it is?”
Touch, hug, or kiss
Sneak in a hug, pat on the back, kiss, or snuggle with the people in your family before they go in different directions. One research study showed that people could communicate through touch emotions like gratitude and love without even saying a word (Keltner, 2010).
Write a post-it note for a child’s lunchbox like “I love you to the moon and back” or “I loved hearing you read last night – wasn’t that a funny story about the Wild Things?”
Write a post-it note for your partner’s wallet or purse like “Thinking of you already, and the sun’s not even up yet” or “I love going through life with you.” Interestingly, research suggests that the best love notes express firm commitment, such as “I know we will be happy together for the rest of our lives” and “I couldn’t imagine a world without you in it” (Forsyth, 2012).
When you pour yourself coffee, tea, or juice, fix a drink for your partner too. Cook them an egg while you make one for yourself. Pour them cereal. Iron their shirt.
While waiting for your oatmeal to cool or your tea to heat up, send a text to a friend or family member, like an elderly relative in a nursing home, a friend from long ago, or someone who helped you out lately. “I’m thinking of you” or “Wondering what you’re up to today” or “Thanks for hanging out last night – I needed that laugh!”
Instead of screaming, “Let’s go!” or “We’re late again!”, wake up your partner, kids, or others in your household with kindness. A gentle pat, kiss, hug, or singing their favorite song are good ways. You may also play them favorite feel-good music that will put them in a good mood. One music psychologist recommends this playlist.
Relationships are not about grand gestures. They’re about the little ones squeezed into the tiny moments of each day.
Copyright Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD
Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD, author of the forthcoming book The Joy Fix for Parents: 5 Steps to Overcoming Fatigue, Guilt, and Stress and Building a Life You Love, is a psychotherapist for individuals and couples in Chicago’s western suburbs. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, read her blog at www.thejoyfix.com, or sign up for email updates at www.erinleyba.com .