Do you ever wonder if you are spending enough time with your kids? Or if the time that you spend with them even counts if it’s not so-called “quality” time? Or perhaps you ask yourself whether you are screwing them up for life because you aren’t physically around them and engaged enough? Well, I’ve got some pretty exciting answers for you based on the results of a study that addresses whether the amount of time that mothers spend with children or adolescents matters.
No, don’t click away, I’m telling you this is going to make you feel so MUCH better.
Usually, when a study comes out about parenting, I don’t even really want to read about it because it’s probably just going to make me feel guilty about something I’m doing wrong as a mother and I already have enough self-inflicted maternal guilt to deal with. However, right now I’m super excited because according to this study published by the Journal of Marriage and Family the bulk of time a mother spends with her children between the ages of 3 and 11 years old does not significantly affect the “children’s behavioral, emotional or academic outcomes.” The study did find positive outcomes for teens that spent about six hours a week with engaged parents, but even then, you guys, six hours is NOT that much time.
So what does this mean? This means what we already suspected: that it’s not about the quantity of time that we spend with our kids, but about the quality of the time we spend with them. Let’s start off by letting go of the guilt we feel for leading busy lives and not being there for our kids 24/7 and before we start feeling guilty that the time we do spend with them is not actually quality time, let’s redefine what quality time is, okay?
Quality time does not have to be a special occasion. Quality time with your child can happen every single day and turn the ordinary moments of family life into the extraordinary moments of family bonding.
5 Ways To Enjoy Quality Time With Your Children
Here are five ways to put the quality into the time you already spend with your children:
1. Car rides. Any time you find yourself in the car with your kids can be turned into quality time. Talk to each other, ask each other questions, sing out loud together or play car games. We play a game together that my eldest invented called TAXI! We keep an eye out for taxis, school buses and trains. Whoever calls them first, gets one point for a taxi and two points for a school bus or train. It keeps us engaged and it’s a great way for my girls to practice their math skills.
2. Cooking time. Cooking with your kids is the best. They can help, they can learn and you are making something together. It’s also a great way to pass on your cultura.
3. Dinner time. Everyone seems to know at their core that coming together for dinner as a family is ideal. I know that with everyone’s busy schedules it doesn’t always work out, but if you can enjoy dinner or any meal together use it to make eye contact and genuinely connect over nourishing food and conversation.
4. Reading. Reading time is great, because it helps children develop intellectually and it also provides great fodder for conversation about what it is that you are reading. When your children are able to read on their own, have them read to you and then talk about it.
5. Errands. All parents have errands to run and quite often we find ourselves bringing our kids along. Don’t make the mistake of considering this time spent together as unimportant. It’s quality time in the making! You are still together, you can talk and you can even use a grocery shopping trip as a way to hone your child’s math skills.
Mamis, give yourselves a break and know that the amount of time you spend with your growing child does not matter as much as making the time you spend with your child matter.
Image via froboy/Flickr