Is it better to spend more time, quantity, with your children or is it better to spend better time, quality, with them? How many parents ask themselves this question? How many professionals have answered this question? Does it matter? Do the kids even care? I would say yes both matter and the kids do care.
My son told me awhile back this story of how when ever he has something important to share or something he is excited or unsure about he calls his best friend. That when he is fighting with his best friend it is very hard for him to fully accept what is happening to him if he is unable to share with his best friend. It turns out I am his best friend. I was touched and honored to make this status with my oldest child. Growing up he and I had a lot of struggles finding a balance that worked for our communication styles and his medical issues. My son suffers from ADHD, Oppositional Behavior Disorder and recently diagnosed with PTSD. He also had some scary anger issues growing up as well and became violent on a few occasions. I believe that I achieved this honored status by both quantity and quality time spent with him and his younger sisters.
I was never one of those lucky parents who had access to unlimited childcare. My family watched my children whenever I needed to work and occasionally so I could go out but never for silly things like shopping or house cleaning. Those times I had to take my little ones along with me. We spent a lot of quantity time together when they were very young. Running here, doing that, driving them across town to my parents so I could go to work and then back again at the end of the day. During those times my children learned a lot of things. How to push my buttons was a great one and then they learned when mom says no don’t ask again.
We also did spend quality time together. My children had a very extensive collection of board games and movies. We would spend my time away from work doing nights of dinner and a movie where they would pick what we ate and what we watched. For holidays especially we had many years of no TV and had to spend our time doing other things like playing games and hanging out together. Some of my favorite quality times are when they allowed me to read to them. For years I read to them every night before they went to bed and if they didn’t fall asleep while I was reading I would lay with them and talk about their days, their hopes and dreams and occasionally tell them stories.
Finding your own balance between quantity and quality is the key. Today it seems I get very little of either considering my children are moving fast into adulthood or are already there. My favorite compliment when the kids were growing up was from another single mom who told me she admired how much time I spent with my children because it seemed like we were always together and almost always laughing and have fun.