Monday, June 27, 2011

how do you define quality time?

It has long been my opinion that the term "quality time" is bullshit and that whoever created this term did so to make moms feel like they weren't doing a good enough job mothering their children. I recently had my dedication as a parent questioned, which has caused me to go over the time I spend with my children on any given day, and led me to wonder how would I define "non-quality time"? Is it the time I spend getting them prepared to get out the door to school in the morning, ensuring they have clean clothes, healthy lunches, are wearing matching shoes and are safely strapped into their car seats? Or what about the time I spend holding both of their hands as we walk into Max's school yard and wait for the bell to ring? Letting Max's teacher know how he slept, and finding out what I need to bring for him the next day while I tussle his hair and say goodbye? And then there is my second drop-off of the day, taking Cameron to daycare. Holding her chubby little hand as we go up the stairs two at a time to her classroom, or more likely me carrying her as she has been demanding lately. Does any of that count as quality time?

Granted, a lot of my time is spent doing things for my kids, versus with them. Endless family laundry, grocery shopping, cutting up fruits and vegetables, cleaning the kitchen, preparing medication, the endless pile of Max paperwork, intangibles like buying clothes and shoes and being the one people call when there is a problem. That's all me. Those are things I do so that they can have a "quality" life. Nobody else does these things and while I don't expect to be thanked, I do think that the things I do to keep my home running somewhat seamlessly are of value.

But lets get back to this notion of quality time. Every weekday, I pick Max up after lunch from school to drive him to therapy. He waits for me expectantly and has a huge grin for me when I arrive. I get the low down on how his day went from his EA and then we hit the road. The thing is, we have about 45 minutes to kill before therapy starts, so every day, I build something in for us to do to fill up that time. My old faithfuls are going to the grocery store or lately, Pier 1 Imports. Max loves the grocery store, and I quiz him on what different things are, their colour, whether they are hot or cold, and what we do with them? At Pier 1 we wander the packed aisles, and work on staying calm in a store where there is no cart for Max to sit in. I have him label all of the odd sculptures (brass frogs and marble turtles), and tell me what colours the pillows are, and have him feel the different textures. We get to therapy right on time and I then give the therapist the 411 on how Max is doing so far that day. Some may call that glorified taxi service, but I think it may in fact qualify as quality time.

When the kids get home at 4:30 with their Nana and Bumpa, I am at the door to greet them. They are lucky that they get to hang out with their grandparents every day. Between the three of us we keep them entertained, get them fed and amuse them through the dreaded witching hours before bed. Nana and Bumpa typically peel out around 6pm and Scott gets home around 7:15pm. I am usually pooped by the time he gets home, so I take a breather upstairs until Scott gets Max to bed at 8pm. Cam is a bit of a night owl and usually plays with the iPad in the family room or up on the bed with me until she falls asleep.

I would say that any time spent with your kids is quality time. You don't need to be down on the floor in their face for your time with them to count. In my book, being a quality parent means keeping a lot of balls in the air on any given day. Let's bury this "quality time" term and parent without feeling guilty for not doing everything all the time and all at once. We only have two arms people!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:41 p.m.

    "Quality time" is a term invented by parents that do not spend ANY TIME with their kids, it makes them feel good but the real one to lose out is the child. Lots of parents out there but not near enough Moms and Dads.