In church one day, I heard a woman say that quality time mattered more than quantity time. My mom happened to be visiting, and whispered to me that quantity time definitely still mattered.
I was looking at a journal entry when I had little tiny kids, and I wrote that I found it very difficult to sit and entertain my two-year-old every day. I felt too much guilt because I couldn’t always make the quantity time into quality time. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and a homeschooling mom, and for a white, I spent basically every moment of my life with my children. It was hard, and to be honest, I didn’t love it. But I still think it was valuable to be there, even if I wasn’t always enjoying myself.
Because often the quality times don’t happen unless there is quantity time first. I try to plan out quality family time, but it often implodes on me, and all I get is kids who complain because it wasn’t near as fun as we expected. But then quality time can sneak up when I least expect it. The other day, I discovered an impromptu dance party in my living room.
There isn’t a tradeoff between the two–they work together, and to maximize quality time, I maximize quantity time first. But I’m going back to school full time in the fall and I won’t be home as much. My kids will all be in school full-time. We also like running around to various sports and activities. How do we keep spending time together as a family?
First thing: turn off screen time and increase green time. The impromptu dance party only happened because it was a no screen day. Many studies show that screen time can have a negative impact on mental health and green time increased mental health outcomes. So going outside more, particularly as a family, is really beneficial for all of us.
Here are some other ideas:
- If I’m not physically home, I can put up a camera that allows me to check on home and talk to those that are there.
- I can write and leave notes for my kids.
- I can wake up earlier and get ready before the kids are away so that I’m present before the kids go to school.
- I can use the random minutes here and there. Car rides together. Late evenings. Intersections. Cooking dinner and doing dishes.
- And I can involve my kids with what I am doing and what I am thinking.
And instead of looking only at days, I can look at weeks and months (I got this idea from Laura Vanderkam). I’m not maximizing time spent with my children on a daily basis; I’m maximizing it over weeks and months and years. I may not spend six hours with my kids every day, but I can spend three hours with them on the weekdays and 10 hours with them on the weekends. We can make up time with each other by going on vacation during summer break and using weekends for family time.
What are your ideas to maximize quantity and quality time with your kids?