Quantity Time vs. Quality Time

The longer I’m a parent . . . 

(Don’t you love how I talk like I’m an old pro or something?  In reality, I have just short of eight years of parenting experience, so take anything I say with a large grain of salt.)

But anyway.  What I’m learning, the longer I’m a parent, is that quantity time with my children is at least as important as quality time.

Take this afternoon, for example.  I rarely watch a TV show with my children.  I generally use the TV as a free babysitter.  And since I try to limit their TV time to an hour a day, when it’s on, well, that’s prime blogging time, dontcha know!  After all, at what other time during the day are they sitting still in one spot for more than five minutes?  And besides, the TV is about the only way I get a break from the Festival of Questions that accompanies my 4-year-old daughter wherever she goes.

But today she looked so precious sitting all by herself, watching Clifford The Big Red Dog, that I couldn’t help but get up from my computer chair and join her on the couch.  You would have thought I offered her a bag of lollipops (or "bah-bah-bahs", as her baby sister refers to them).  She snuggled up to me, looked up with adoring eyes, and said, "Mom, are you going to watch with me?"  When I confirmed that I was, in fact, going to watch TV with her, she grinned from ear to ear and laid her head on my shoulder and hugged my arm as if she was never going to let me go.

And it hit me, right then and there, how very important it is to just "be there" for them, to be around, to be engaged with them and available to them, whether they’re watching TV or eating breakfast or playing Polly Pockets on the living room rug.

I generally try to take advantage of the times when my kids are occupied to get chores done or to do things that I want to do.  But I’m realizing that if I want to be there for the "Aha!" moments, then I need to be around for the ordinary moments as well.  You know, my friend "Fsutrill" pointed this out when we were talking* recently, and I agreed with her at the time.  But today really brought the whole concept home to me.

*It was more like emailing, but who’s splitting hairs?

The other thing that occurred to me recently is that a great way to identify with my son would be to become an avid Phillies fan.  Sometimes when he’s watching a baseball game, he starts to share with me an exciting and often complicated play.  I smile and nod appropriately, but I usually don’t have a clue what he’s talking about.  My knowledge of baseball goes about as far as 3 strikes make an out.  But I know he would love it if I really took an interest in the game.  I guess this is getting into the realm of quality time, but of course quality time is important too.

It’s easy to relate to my daughter.  She already loves to shop, loves makeup, loves pretending to be a mommy.  But my relationship with my son has always taken more work because our interests are so different.  But as he gets older, as they all get older, I am committed to finding the balance between the quality and the quantity of time that I spend with them.

Oh experienced moms of the internet, what are YOUR best secrets to establishing and maintaining open and honest relationships with your kids?