Quality versus quantity – time, that is
By: Jill Pertler, Pine Journal
When my children were toddlers, I rejected the concept of quality time. I didn’t believe one minute of the day had more value than another simply by labeling it as such. An hour with my kids was an hour with my kids, and those 60 minutes (however long or short they may have seemed) couldn’t be replicated or equaled by a mere 15 minutes of quality time – even if it was spent singing the ABC song with my 2-year-old (over and over and over again).
Quality time – back when I was a young mom, the experts were selling; I wasn’t buying. I guess I used to be sort of a know-it-all when it came to the topic. At least that’s what I thought.
But, time marches on. The clock kept ticking, and before you could say “time flies,” my kids morphed into the life form otherwise known as teenagers. At this point in my parenting timeline, revisiting the authenticity of the quality time issue was not only prudent, it was practically mandatory.
When kids are in the single-digit years, they want to spend minutes, hours and days with the likes of mom and dad. They want to tell you things. They want to show you things. They want to sit next to you on the couch while you hold the remote. They even listen (and sometimes laugh at) your jokes.
Then, in a matter of a handful of years, these same kids become teenagers and enter the black hole better described as their bedroom – never to be seen again, unless they are looking for the car keys, a new cell phone, a few bucks or perhaps a midnight snack.
Quantity time is a rare and unfamiliar occurrence once you have teenagers. I live with a couple of teenagers, which is why I now believe, wholeheartedly, that the myth of quality time is no myth at all.
I used to give my kids a time out when they did something naughty. Now I long for a night of time in – eating dinner, watching TV, playing Scrabble – without any worries of missed curfews or cars going into the ditch. (Although there’s something to be said for the quality and quantity time afforded to a father and son while they dig said car out of said ditch.)
Aside from ditches, flat tire repairs and handing my credit card over for gas purchases, time with my teens consists of brief instances when they are in between the more important matters that now make up their life.
There is a glimmer of good news. I’ve found a few skills useful in maximizing time with teens. For instance, I am able to count to 21 and therefore make a worthy nemesis at the game of blackjack (so long as no one else is available to play). I possess a willingness to surrender the TV remote and watch zombie movies on Saturday afternoons. I have a habit of surfing You Tube in search of videos of crazy home movie stunts. Finally, I am available for impromptu chats at any hour, but have found after midnight is the most popular time to talk. I may be yawning, but I’m there in spirit. Really I am.
When my kids were itty-bitty bits, I was the proud owner of quantity time. Since then, quantity has drifted through my fingers like sand in an hourglass, leaving me with the more humbling possession of quality time. When counted in minutes and seconds, it may not seem like much, but it’s what I’ve got.
When my children were toddlers, I rejected the concept of quality time. I didn’t believe one minute of the day had more value than another. Now I know better – especially right around midnight.
Follow Slices of Life on Facebook. Cloquet resident Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication.” Email her at email@example.com or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.