A common problem that you might face when you have a child is that your time feels limited. You often feel like you are not spending enough time with your child. I know during the newborn phase this is a very common feeling. As your children get older and have activities and hang out with friends, the time you spend with them seems to get shorter and shorter. In this video, we discuss quality time versus the quantity of time. If you have to choose one, which one is better? We want to figure out if the quantity of time you spend with your child is more important than the quality of the time. Let’s look at some other examples and see how quality versus quantity effects it.
How about a marriage or relationship? Can a marriage be built and thrive by only seeing each other every once in a while? or could it survive on just living in the same place and seeing each other quite a bit, but rarely spending quality time together? We hear about marriages falling apart because someone was too busy or they didn’t have enough time for each other. Or on the other side they didn’t spend any real quality time together: dates, talking, intimacy, etc. Well it seems like both quantity and quality are needed in a marriage.
Let’s take another example: learning a foreign language. If you were learning to speak in another language and only spent a short amount of time practicing it, would you learn it? Probably not. You have to have good quality practice over a long period of time. Again, like marriage it’s both that is needed.
So what about the time spent with your child? Quality or quantity? Here is where it gets interesting. A study in 2015 in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that the amount of time parents spend with their kids between the ages of 3 and 11 has virtually no relationship to how the child turns out. This included the children’s academic achievement, behavior and emotional well-being.
There you go. We don’t need to feel guilty about not spending enough time with our kids, right. Well, sort of. There is a saying “If you feel guilty, you probably are”. Your child does benefit from spending time with you even if it is not quality time. They get a chance to observe, learn things, and in some cases, your presence alone can help make them feel secure. But if you are on your phone, talking with someone else, or otherwise distracted, your child is not going to feel connected and it certainly wouldn’t qualify as quality time. If you have to pick one, it seems that quality time is more important.
What this means is that if you don’t get the chance to spend a lot of time with your child, make the time you do count. When you come home from work, give them a long hug and kiss. If you can tuck them in at night, spend a few minutes snuggling with them. Give them your attention, interact with them and try not to be distracted with other things. The time goes by really fast.