Back to Top

Nine Hugs a Day

Now that's a hug

Now that’s a hug

This just in–we humans apparently need nine hugs a day to survive at our optimal level of health and happiness. To clarify, when I say ‘This just in’, it doesn’t mean this information is breaking, or even trending,  it just means someone mentioned it to me when I was actually listening, and then I remembered it, which at this juncture is something of a perfect storm.

Think about that—nine hugs a day. That’s a whole lotta hugs! I have three kids and while my husband adores his small people, he also travels a lot and often works late. I consider myself the primary hug-giver because I’m most often in a place where my people have just wiped out or have a tummy ache or won an award or scored a goal or learned a fresh dance move. On some days, I’m not sure my kids will get even one hug if I’m not the one giving it, unless they can finagle one out of their teacher or school nurse. However, two of my kids go to public school where, understandably, any form of hugging between staff and students is highly discouraged, if not verboten. Thus, school hugs are probably not happening. So I’m IT. The hug stops here. And 27 of them a day need to start here, too.

This is my kind of challenge. I can’t hug too much and no reason is too small. I can do this! Here’s what yesterday, my first Perfect Hug Day, looked like:

Mornings can be tricky. As a family, we run late. Hey, I’m working on it so pipe down, Cheap Seats! By the time the kids had stumbled out to the table, I was performing in the first of many juggling acts. The hugs were not forthcoming.

Once assembled, we ran to the car and belted up. Some of you might think the seat belt counts as the first hug of the day. NOPE. I looked it up and it needs to be nine human hugs. Not a side-hug either, Mr. Shortcuts! A full frontal, two-arm hug with a squeeze. No wimps allowed.

I pulled up to the don’t-you-dare-even-think-about-stopping-for-an-instant school drop-off zone. I threw it into park, rushed around to the back, and gave an embrace so large and strong, I think it scared them. They looked at me curiously as they jogged away sideways, stumbling through the gates to class.

School pick-up was easy breezey since I parked and walked in. Hug #2, DONE.

Hugs 3-5 were something of a blur. Between lessons and practices, I squeaked one in at every opportunity and had them checked off by 5:30pm. Then panic set in– Two hours till bedtime and I’ve got twelve hugs to go, four per kid! Time to step it up! I casually trolled the hallway waiting for someone to come out of the bathroom. Gotcha! Someone rolled in, all rosy-cheeked, from playing outside. BAM. No one walked by without getting squeezed. They didn’t know why and I didn’t care. Just take the hug, you’ll thank me later! No one fought me on it, which felt very foreign, and also like a plus.

Everyone was snuggled into their beds and I had three hugs to go, one each. By this time of night, I was ready to don my invisibility cloak and curl into a ball in the corner of the couch, sucking my thumb. But I was so close! So I hobbled down the hall and doled out two of the three final snuggles.

One to go. Middle child was still in the red.  She was reading, buried into the far corner of her child-sized top bunk.

“Did you already brush your teeth?” I asked, barely able to see the crown of her head and the glow of her book light.


“Do you need to go to the bathroom?”


“That’s what I figured,” I sighed as I scaled the ladder and army-crawled to the back where she had surrounded herself with eight hundred stuffed animals, several overstuffed pillows, and the cat.

“Prepare for a crash landing!” I said as I dropped, sprawling on top of her book and fluffy zoo. The cat yowled and she giggled. “Now bring it in for a goodnight hug,” I ordered her and she obeyed.

“Whatcha reading?” I asked once we’d let go but before she’d answered, I was out for the count. I’m fairly certain a small smile was curling the corners of my mouth. Sure, I’d given 27 hugs that day and some of them I’d had to work for, but I’d also received 27 hugs, not counting a few from the odd friends I ran into and cornered awkwardly. I had clocked in at over triple my own hug quota. Ding ding ding!  I was the winner, brimming with health and contentment.  And love, lots and lots of love.



12 Responses to “ Nine Hugs a Day ”

  1. Ed Franqui says:

    You know during drop-off the other day you gave me a hug, it was unexpected because like you said, they’re quite militant about time spent on the curb (IT SAYS 3 MINUTES!!!) Anyway, it put a big smile on my face because it had been a tougher morning than I had liked, I was rushed, and had a lot of things to yet to get done. But taking literally 1 minute to stop, talk to a wonderful friend and get that hug really made my morning. Moral of the story is, they make a difference not only to yourself, but to others!

  2. Karen R says:

    always funny and awesome and this one made goofy grin. all true. gettin’ my 18 hugs on for my girls today.

  3. Mary Keltner says:

    Your postings are so awesome. I started my day hugging my male hairdresser! Next I will hug our housekeeper then off to errands. Two down and seven to go…Does the dog count?

    • Glad to hear it! The articles I read discussed the benefits of nine human hugs, however, I’m sure there is the same amount of research, if not more, dedicated to the benefits of hugging your dog. You can never hug too much, so I say go for it!

  4. Tomira says:

    So very true and good. Now we have no excuse, everyone needs loving embrace.

  5. Nancy Villalobos says:

    I admit it – I’m a teacher in a public school and I hug my students all the time -always have. Some days I even say, when I can see someone needs a little human warmth,”Anyone need a hug? I’m giving them away free today!” There are always takers, and everyone benefits. Thanks for your post.

  6. Heidi Berry says:

    You RULE Mommy! Here’s an air hug..ready….catch!
    Love you!


Leave a Reply