Several years ago the hot idea for parents was that quality time always trumped quantity time. Experts reasoned that kids really didn’t care too much if their parents weren’t around as long as they made it count when they were home.
According to this viewpoint, quantity time was not valued if spent doing the mundane: the grocery shopping, the vacuuming, merely sitting in the same room together. Quantity time was boring and did little to bolster a child’s development the way that quality time did.
That kind of time, they said, was filled with the precious stuff memories are made of: snuggling up with a book, focusing all attention on the humans in the room instead of media trappings, baking cookies, building forts with tattered blankets and clothespins.
I can’t argue that quality time is special; that it does make memories.
But quantity time needs to hold its head up high once again. If we parents are tauting quality time to assuage our guilty consciences, then we’re missing the point.
The heart of a child does not separate life into categories of possible awesome memory-makers vs. epic wastes of time with mommy.
To a child, being with mommy cannot be trumped by anything.
To a child, grocery shopping means singing in the car and getting a donut on the way out. Vacuuming becomes a game of scooping up socks and blankies before they’re gobbled up by the growling monster.
Are we really so foolish as to think that quantity time is less valuable? I hope not.
- …makes way for quality. Kids need togetherness. Period. Without quantity, the quality will be hard to come by.
- …shows kids that small moments make up a life. We are a sum of our days. Finding ways to make the mundane special shows your children that each minute in this world is a gift that piles up to create a history. Recognizing this challenges me to make my small moments count.
- …models that we are to be thankful in every circumstance. (I Thess 5:18). Yep–the laundry will always be there. Dishes will always need washing. Toilets won’t be going away. But we are commanded to be thankful…not to indulge in an attitude of boredom. Modeling thankfulness is the most powerful way to teach gratitude.
Quality time is an important part of any healthy home. The experts are right when they warn that a dad who clings to his buzzing phone or a mom sucked into the latest reality show certainly do not foster the kind of love that kids long to see demonstrated.
But let’s not assume that our absence can be quickly patched over with a few exciting outings or an extra Happy Meal. Let’s not assume that our children do not feel an emptiness when we repeatedly choose something else to be more worthy of our time.
Spend tonight making something mundane sparkle with possibilities. A quiet walk or bike ride becomes a time to marvel at God’s creation together. Making dinner becomes a shared experience and a time to work side-by-side. Driving in the car becomes the best time to catch up on the lives of your kids (did you see Modern Family this week?).
Let’s not disregard the ordinary. Let’s not label it “boring.”