There are few quality of life issues that are felt more widely and personally than the work-family squeeze. Many of us find ourselves caught between drive to provide the type of life that we want for our families and the desire to spend time enjoying that life with our families. As many of us find ourselves spending more time focused on work and the business of providing for our families, we realize that there is less time to spend with our families. This predicament is probably what gave birth to the expression “quality time.”
“Quality time” represents an effort to make up in quality for the quantity of time missed due to other demands. When both parents need to work, or a single parent has to work and provide childcare, responsibilities at home and on the job are increasingly in conflict. In an effort to make the most of the time that we do have, we try to spend periods of uninterrupted time with our children, spouses and friends. We want this time to be enjoyable, relaxing and free from conflict. We try to fill that time with meaningful activities and opportunities to connect with our loved ones.
The problem is that we usually find scheduling “quality time” isn’t as simple as making an appointment. Finding the right time for quality time can be difficult given the need to balance not only a parents responsibilities but activities and interest of their loved ones too. Even when everyone can get together as planned, it is not realistic to expect all are in a good mood to enjoy planned family events and activities.
Quality family time isn’t something that has to be planned or follow a specific agenda. This time can be spontaneous and last a few minutes or several hours depending on the activity and situation. No one family member has to be the center of attention, and often the time is more fulfilling when the families focus on doing activities together. Having realistic expectations and being flexible can help improve the quality the time you have to spend with your family.
- Take every opportunity to talk to your children. Keeping the lines of communication open contribute to a relationship where children feel comfortable discussing topics that concern them.
- Listen to your child. Making the time to listen to their thoughts and ideas tells children that what they think is important.
- Participate in activities that your child is interested in. Letting your child participate in the planning of these activities is one way of ensuring their enthusiasm for planned events.
- Invite your child enjoy your interest with you. Sharing your hobbies helps create wonderful excuses to spend more time together.
- Get your child involved in new and interesting activities that stimulate their curiosity.
- Read to or with your child. Reading is a fun way to begin to explore the world and is a great source of ideas for family outings.
- Do chores with your child. Spending time with your child doing ordinary tasks are excellent opportunities to talk, laugh and teach.