When it comes to hanging out with your kids, is quantity more important than quality?
Obviously, as parents, we want to spend as much time with our kids as possible, but we have to take into account that our moods and well-being directly influence our children. So is it better to spend more time with the “littles” even if you aren’t fully engaged, or less time, but make sure that you are fully present and interacting powerfully?
It may be that the sheer amount of time that we spend with out children does not outweigh productive, enjoyable and stimulating time in smaller amounts. A large-scale longitudinal study in the Journal of Marriage and Family by Melissa Milkie concluded that it is important to focus on quality and meaningful time with your children.
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As a working mom, the article does help the guilt that I feel when I cannot be there for every moment of my children’s lives! It is tough to miss a cool field trip, a book fair or the first day of a new sport. I do try to make the Holiday activities, End of Year shows, sports games, many practices and art shows. I try to schedule these way in advance with teachers so that I can attend and adjust my calendar 6 months early. Being available as a room mom can also help by having direct contact with teachers and understanding the lay of the land at school. I have been lucky to work with incredible teachers in my children’s preschool and elementary school. They understand the plight of the working mom as they have children of their own and also feel the need to make it to important aspects of their children’s lives. I think that being involved with my children’s school has shown them that I think education is very important and I emphasize that in their lives.
The article points out that mothers in 2010 spent 5 hours more with their children per week than mothers in 1985. So we are emphasizing that as families.
It does say however that parent time can be harmful to children when mothers are anxious, stress and sleep-deprived. We need to take time for ourselves so that we can feel whole and portray that onto our children. Take that extra yoga class, grab a healthy smoothie or meet up with friends for coffee—do what you need to do to BE HAPPY!
Quality time with children can lead to positive outcomes for children. They notice warmth and sensitivity in parents. It is important to read with your child, share meals, talk with them and engage in individual conversations with them. Show how proud you are of their school accomplishments, artwork, sporting event, or chore completion.
One thing I have enjoyed with my children is a QUESTION BOOK. For dinner each night we look up the date and turn to that question. Each child and parent answers the questions and we laugh or talk about the results. It is a nice segue to sparking further conversation. I have been using Q & A a Day for Kids: A Three-Year Journal. It is really interactive and an inside scoop to the minds of my toddlers! (WOW!) Check it out and good luck with the quality time!!
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