No Time For “Quality Time?” It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

It seems as if life moves at the speed of light – we’re often overwhelmed, exhausted, on auto-pilot.

We get up every morning and probably follow the same routine with our kids.  Rush, rush, run around all day, fall down exhausted at the end, only to repeat it the next day.

As the weeks fly by in a haze, there are some important things to do for our children before the fleeting moments of their childhood are gone.

Sure, we pack our kids’ lunches, wash their clothes, take them to school or practice, and tuck them in at night.

If we’re lucky, we grab a few moments to read them a bedtime story or play catch in the backyard.  The week is full of work and school and routine; the weekends often spent cleaning, running errands, and working on the yard.

So where’s the “quality time,” and why do we think that it is something that we have to plan for instead of every day being one of quality?

If we build special moments into every day, just as we do with all the things that must be done, it becomes a habit that makes life more meaningful for the entire family.

We all need something to look forward to when we spend most of our time doing things that we may not really enjoy – work or school to name a few.

Why wait for Saturday or one week a year when we go on vacation?

There are small things that we can consciously make happen each day that will benefit our children and add to our own sense of fulfillment.

Let’s be realistic.  When our little ones ask us to play a board game after a long day of work, it may not be what we really feel like doing.  After all, who has the energy after all we’ve already done that day?

But these are the moments that matter.  Building them into our everyday routine makes them second-nature and means the world to our kids.

What if we step back and plan to do something special for our families each day?

One night can be “movie night in our pajamas.”  One can be for every family member to make dinner together, or in the warm months, set the table and eat outside while catching fireflies.

Taking an evening walk, playing a board game, doing an art project, or making a batch of cookies are not just for weekends.

Doing something enjoyable every day isn’t just quality time – it’s a quality life.

How many times do we tell our kids, “It’s been a long day; we’ll do something fun this weekend?”

But this is why, as adults, we dread Mondays and usually the rest of the week.

We must spend meaningful time with our kids each and every day.  It helps us to learn about our kids, notice little ways they are growing and changing, and helps them to understand who we are – not just bored adults on auto-pilot, but former kids ourselves who may have forgotten how to relax and have fun.

Dr. Harley Rotbart discusses this theme in his book, No Regrets Parenting: Turning Long Days and Short Years into Cherished Moments with Your Kids.

As reported by Parents, he reminds us:

When you’re overwhelmed with your responsibilities, it’s easy to toggle into automatic pilot with your kids. But if your mind is elsewhere during the precious moments you’ve worked hard to preserve, you have lost your kids’ childhood just as surely as if you hadn’t spent the time with them at all.”

Those are pretty chilling words for all of us, and we’re all guilty of just “getting through the week.”

Instead, he suggests that we really meditate on what is going on each day.  What are our kids thinking, feeling, interested in?  Are we listening – really listening – to them, or just hearing them?

Are we often frustrated when they ask us something over and over again?  Are they misbehaving because they’re bored and craving some one-on-one time?

If we picture our lives before kids – or into the future when they’ve left home and started their own lives — we can’t imagine how we could ever survive without their messy hands, their little voices calling out to us, their need for a cuddle.

That’s why we must enjoy every moment.  It may be hard to summon up the energy on an ordinary weekday, but that may be when we all need something special to help us appreciate the day.

So get out there and play in the sandbox on a Monday evening in the summer.

Play a couple rounds of their favorite board game after dinner on a Tuesday.

Have family movie night on a Wednesday – wear your pajamas, pop some popcorn, lay on blankets on the floor.  Or maybe even grab the sleeping bags and camp out in the living room.

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You can even sit down with a calendar on the weekends and plan something special for each night with the input of the entire family.

It can be something as simple as going out for ice cream one night after dinner.  You can do the same thing every week on the same night or switch it up each week.

This is for all of us – whether only one parent works out of the house or both do.  No matter what our circumstances, we’re probably not doing all we can to capture these moments as a family unit.

These are not just weekend or vacation moments.  Every day holds promise.  Every day is one day closer to our kids not wanting to do these things with us.

“If you find a way to make the most of every moment that you have with your kids, you will not only be a wonderful parent, but you will also be teaching your kids how to be good adults and wonderful parents themselves someday. Show your children how important your time with them is, and you will be impacting generations to come,” writes Dr. Rotbart.

You know how quickly the days have already flown by.  They’ll be teenagers before you know it.

But the great thing is that if you’ve created everyday special moments, you’re giving them amazing memories, and they’ll likely want to keep doing special things with you even when they don’t have to!

It will make them more loving, patient, and productive adults – and amazing parents when it’s their turn.

So power through the stress and the fatigue of a long day and do something special as a family – every day of the week.

We guarantee that once you get into the habit, you’ll look forward to it all day, just as your kids will.

Do you create special moments in each “ordinary” day?  What are some of your ideas for making each day “quality” instead of planning for “quality time?”  Leave us your thoughts.