My dad talked about quality vs. quantity time when I was growing up. His philosophy was that quality mattered more than quantity when it came to spending time with his six kids. I’m not sure what brought him to that conclusion–maybe it was his way of making himself feel better about the fact that he traveled frequently for his job–but I am going to have to respectfully disagree with a man that I very much loved and admired.
There is a myth when it comes to parenting and “quality time.”
Armand M. Nicholi, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, explained that time to a relationship is like oxygen to the body; a minimal amount is not good for either one.
Research shows that kids need both quantity and quality time with their parents. In fact, the more involved parents are with their children – more meaning amount of time–the less likely kids are to have social, emotional, or academic problems, use drugs or alcohol, become involved in crime, or engage in premarital sex.
Here’s the deal: it’s not always possible to plan meaningful interactions with your kids. Such spontaneous moments can’t always be scheduled into a few minutes of “quality time” every day.
Many opportunities to teach or model values can pop up without warning and will be gone in the blink of an eye. You can’t seize those powerful and precious moments if you’re not there to do the seizing. And that means the amount of time you spend with your kids is important.
If you are arguing for quality over quantity, you may need to rethink your priorities. The fact that you’re debating “quality” vs. “quantity” suggests that you may be justifying your busy schedule and the smaller amounts of time you are spending with your family.
If you’re not sure, ask yourself a couple of questions.
Is your job a matter of simply providing or are you motivated by always wanting more things and more significance?
Are you more concerned about your status or appearance than you are about the well-being of your family? After all, a spotless and beautifully maintained home aren’t nearly as important as a close relationship with your spouse and children.
How to Find More Quality Time
One of the easiest ways to find more time for your family is to turn off the TV. In the average American home, the television is on 49 hours a week. In contrast, the average amount of time that both parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 39 minutes a week.
If you need more time with your family, turn off the TV and try playing games, reading, going for a walk, playing in the backyard or just sitting and talking. It may feel weird at first, but as you spend more time with your kids, you will be opening up more opportunities for great conversation and your influence in their lives.
If you find that you are caught in a trap of not having enough time with your kids and would like some help brainstorming a solution, give me a call. Schedule a free consult here.