“Hurry up, Hope, it’s time for our quality time. We only have 10 minutes! If we don’t start now we are not going to have enough time!”
Have you ever said this to one of your children? I mean, after all, you did set aside the time and that was no easy feat! There are at least a dozen other things you could have been doing at that moment but you alloted the time especially to focus on your daughter. Why isn’t she rushing over and quickly pouring out her life to you so that you can move onto the next item on your checklist?
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to make time with our children just one more thing that we need to accomplish in the day. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually get “quality” just because you have alloted a special time to it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly fine, good, and respectable to set aside this time but a little bit naive to assume that quality will magically flow out of that time just because we call it “quality time.” In this scenario, time is too limited and expectations are too high for it to really be all that we hope and want.
I like to think of our time with our children more in terms of “quantity of time” meaning having lots of time together integrated into the regular routine of their lives. The goal is to give lots of regular one-on-one time for each individual child in which quality will naturally flow instead of putting the expectation on merely one focused time in which quality must happen.
For one child, I make sure that I always drive her to school alone a few times a week giving her my undivided and affirming attention. For another daughter, I sit alone with her after school to debrief her day until she is out of words (remember girls have 14,000 to use up) and I still give her a teenager tuck-in at night. For another daughter, I drive her to allergy shots and violin lessons and use waiting time to connect about her hopes and dreams. Finally, for my last daughter, we do laps in the neighborhood while waiting for a sibling at a flute lesson while discussing the antics on the elementary school playground.
I never know when those golden moments are going to come but when they do I sure am glad that I was there. Some of the time, it may just seem uneventful or unmemorable, but my hope is that each of my children know they can count on me to be there and to be there often to catch quality left and right whenever and however it comes. And there is alot to be said for just the time together even in silence.
Be there for your kids and be there alot. Go for “quantity” and out of it will surely come “quality.” Let’s plan on this together!