Quality Time = Being Present

I am a big proponent of spending quality time with my children. Any family member, in fact. Our time is one of the most valuable gifts we can give. Yet, time isn’t created equal.

I have a sibling with an adult child. Nothing against my niece, but she doesn’t care much for cleaning. She can live in clutter and mess. (I’m envious.) She’ll get to it when she wants to.

Or when her mother decides to visit.

Now, my sister knows her daughter like all mothers know their child. When she visits, she pops in and heads to the sink, water running and dish soap in hand. It’s not that she can’t handle the mess, she simply wants to help. I mean, wouldn’t we all love it if someone just popped into our homes and tackled the unsightly pile of laundry, the overflowing sink, and maybe that cringe-worthy toilet?

Except, time is limited.

While my sister is elbow-deep in bubbles, her mouth rattling off in conversation, she’s missing out on the quality time my niece desires. The one-on-one, face-to-face interaction. And this, my friends, is where time is not created equal.

An hour spent multitasking and buzzing around, cleaning my niece’s apartment is not the same as an hour spent deep in conversation.

I am guilty of this 100 times over. I do for my kids instead of being present with my kids. It’s hard! Those dishes are calling, the laundry is accumulating, and those bills need to be paid. Multitasking is my friend! I rely on it heavily. I’ll rattle off spelling words while meal prepping. I’ll research an article while listening to the lasted Fortnight victory. I’ll run a damp cloth over the vanity while waiting to start bedtime prayers.

But sit still and listen? Not always my strong suit.

My niece knows her mother. Therefore, she cleans prior to the visit so their time together is quality time. Much in the same way, I need to step away from the sink, try really hard to follow the blow-by-blow of virtual combat, and sit on the couch sans TV and phone.

If I want to teach my children to understand the value of face-to-face—you have my complete attention—interaction, I need to be the one to start. While some conversations are just fine elbows deep in bubbles, some are even better without.

Jennie is a native Nebraskan and aspiring writer. She’s a stay-at-home mom to three kids, two cats, a bearded dragon, and a handful of fish. When she’s not playing chauffeur, maid, cook, housekeeper, tutor, laundress, or answering to “Mom” a million times over; she hides in her writing nook and lives vicariously through her fiction characters. Jennie likes to read, take long walks, go on crazy road-trip vacations her wonderful husband plans, or simply sit on the deck with friends.