“Mommy, I love you so much,” my five-year-old daughter said sweetly with her big blue eyes gleaming. I was taken off guard, but before I could say anything in response she said, ” I just filled your bucket.”
I smiled and said, “I love you too my beautiful girl. ” I wrapped my arms around her and hugged until she wiggled away to play. I felt so warm and full. She was right, she had just filled my bucket.
My daughter thought she was simply sharing with me what she learned in her kindergarten class after reading “Have You Filled a Bucket Today,” by Carol McCloud. What she didn’t realize was that she brought me back to my childhood when my mother would look at me knowingly (usually when I was being a real brat) and ask if I needed my love bucket filled. Inevitably, I would cry away my frustrations and she would just hug me.
Sometimes as adults, we forget the importance of filling each other’s buckets. Especially for our children.
When I started doing daycare in 2006, I had an extremely small group of about four children, besides my own. During the winter time when we couldn’t go outside I noticed that at about 4 – 4:30 pm each day, the children would get restless and start picking on each other or “misbehaving.” For about a week, I tried to figure out a way to overcome this fussy period. I tried everything – new activities, exercises to get them moving, new snacks, etc. But, nothing seemed to work. Then one day I sat on the floor and gave one little boy a hug. One by one they all came to me for hugs. I realized how much they needed these hugs. The difference in their attitudes and behavior after we “hugged it out” was amazing. So, from that point on we had a hug time.
I am naturally very affectionate. I hug and kiss my kids all the time (mine and my daycare kids), but sometimes a deliberate demonstration of extra affection is needed. It is what keeps my daycare kids from feeling sad when they are away from their Mommies and Daddies all day long (sometimes for 10 hours). It is what builds their self-esteem and gives them the courage to try new things.
I know many schools and child care centers are moving away from giving hugs and showing physical demonstrations of affection. I sort of get this on an intellectual level, but to me this is a disservice to the very young children (really just babies) who need contact to feel whole and brave enough to face their long days.
When a person is feeling low, nothing feels better than a long warm hug from someone who cares. I remember how important it was to get my love bucket filled, even as a teenager. My mother would come to my room and just sit at the foot of my bed and let me know that she loved me (even if back then I thought she just didn’t get it). I cherish these memories and hope that one day my children will look back on their childhood and think about how I kept their buckets filled.
Have you filled someone’s bucket today? It only takes a moment. But, it could make all the difference in the world – for you and them.
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Photo Credit: Dadstreet.com