Quality Time Counts

What are your thoughts when it comes to quality time with your children? More for the to-do list? A pang of guilt? If so, allow me to introduce a more inspiring way to think of quality time.

Close your eyes and think back to when you were little. Do you have some distant memories of when an adult spent a few special moments with you? It could have been Mom or Dad, a grandparent, aunt, uncle or any other trusted adult. The key is that you shared some enjoyable time together. Usually the memories people have are very simple; reading with Mom, helping Grandma bake, wrestling and giggling, or going along to the hardware store. To this day, my husband loves remembering going to the dump with his dad. With quality time–it’s less about the activity and more about the quality of the interaction.

It’s Not Expensive or Time Consuming

Often parents think quality time is doing something extravagant and expensive, or that it has to be an all-day event. If you have the wherewithal for that, knock yourself out. But you don’t need any of that for quality time.

A favorite quality time memory from my childhood is my dad singing me a goodnight song. He would tuck me in and I’d feel warm and snuggly. “Day is done, gone the sun,” he would sing. I still have the sense memory of his voice rumbling in my ears. How safe and loved I felt as he sang, “All is well, safely rest…” Even today I feel a bit emotional when I remember that. How long did it take him to sing that song? 60 seconds? That was a supercharged 60 seconds of quality time and it laid a foundation in my relationship with my dad.

Skip The Guilt

Research from a longitudinal study printed in the April 2015, Journal of Marriage and Family reveals that children don’t need more time with their parents. What they do need is for parents to manage stress so they can tune in for moments of quality time. That means you can quit feeling stressed and guilty for not having more time with your children. Instead you can choose to lighten up and enjoy the moments you do have with them.

Here are a few simple steps for quality time:

  • Get yourself in a good mood
  • Allow yourself to be companionable
  • Be in the moment, and yes, put down your phone

As fall schedules rev up and it feels like there is less of you to go around, that’s okay. You can make use of the time you do have, and know it is enough. Remember, just a few minutes of quality time really does count.

First written in the Parents’ Resource Guide Summer 2017 Edition